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August 31, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 PM

THE DOG HAS FRIENDS

'Dog is dead' sparked Najaf arrests (News Interactive, September 1, 2003)
TWO Saudis arrested after the Najaf attack in Iraq that killed leading Shiite cleric Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim were picked up after sending an e-mail saying "mission accomplished: the dog is dead", The Times reported today quoting a source close to the Iraqi inquiry.

The men were grabbed by a crowd and taken to the nearest police station after being seen sending the e-mail from an Internet cafe, the source said.

Isn't this precisely the kind of attentiveness and willingness to act that we need from the Shi'ites?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:09 PM

HARDLY AUDIE

Rufus Wainwright Journeys to 'Gay Hell' and Back (ANTHONY DeCURTIS, August 31, 2003, NY Times)
"I'm a bit hesitant to talk about all this," he said. "I don't know what the impact will be. But I'm only doing it because it might help
somebody -- and to say that there is no such thing as casual crystal meth use!"

Mr. Wainwright, who is gay and has been out since he was a teenager, was not always convinced of that. Methamphetamine is one of a number of drugs -- including ecstasy, cocaine, K (or ketamine, an anesthetic) and alcohol -- to which he has turned over the years to bolster his confidence and to propel his quests for anonymous sex. Despite creating a body of work whose central theme is the search for true love, he has never been in a serious relationship, a consequence, he says, of having been raped by a man he picked up in London when he was 14.

Typically in recent years, he would get high, go online to discover willing partners and arrange meetings. Eventually Mr. Wainwright found himself drawn to a subterranean world that he described in the most lurid terms as a "gay hell."

"I'm not talking about a bar in the meatpacking district," he said.

Mr. Wainwright believes that crystal meth presents specific dangers -- and specific temptations -- for homosexual men, and that its use is a menace to their community. "Years of sexual insecurity, the low-grade discrimination you suffer, the need to belong -- speed takes care of all that in one second," he said. "It was a world where people are going so crazy that they're not making sense any more. If you wanted safe sex, you were a nerd, uncool. I was one of the nerds who did have safe sex, thank God. But I'm still mentally shattered by the whole experience."

"For years, and I mean thousands of years, the gay man's mind has been treated as perverted, clandestine and dirty," he went on, "and speed reinforces and glamorizes that as an ideal. And with drugs, what's more dangerous is more sexually exciting. On that drug I had really horrible thoughts that turned me on. I had a few of those real gay lost weekends, where everything goes out the window, where you want to make pornos or you want to have sex with children. I mean, your mind is just completely ravaged."

That's one heck of a progression: gay men are attracted to the drugs because the rest of us are mean to them and then it's the drugs' fault that they degrade themselves. A more direct conclusion would be that the drug use is consistent with, in fact complimentary to, the sexual deviance.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:59 PM

CONVULSIVE THERAPY

Bombing Democracy in Iraq (REUEL MARC GERECHT, 8/31/03, NY Times)
The attack, which killed scores of Iraqis, including the prominent cleric Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim--and which came less than a week after a bomb went off at the home of Mr. Hakim's uncle, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Said al-Hakim -- has convulsed the Shiite community. That should be of vital concern to the United States, whose fortunes in Iraq will rise or fall with the political sentiments of the Shiites, who make up at least 60 percent of Iraq's population.

These bombings were undoubtedly intended to terrorize Iraq's clerical establishment and to snuff out the growing dialogue between mainstream Shiites and Americans. Both ayatollahs had been talking directly to American officials and favored democracy. Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim controlled the only effective Shiite paramilitary force, but had chosen not to direct it against the occupation. This had angered Shiite extremists, notably the young cleric Moktada al-Sadr, leader of a violent faction known as the Sadriyyin.

There is already a lot of finger-pointing, but it may never be totally clear who planned the two bombings: the Sadriyyin, fundamentalist Sunni Muslims, Baath Party loyalists or agents of Iran's hard-core mullahs. Some American officials and Ahmad Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, quickly blamed anti-American Sunnis.

This may well be true, but it is important to note that the Baath Party loyalists and Sunni fundamentalists, at least until now, have kept their distance from the Shiite south, killing "collaborationists" and American G.I.'s only in the Sunni regions. Killing Americans in the south wouldn't be hard ? many operate there with light security ? and could be the best way to derail the United States' post-Saddam planning. Nor, according to Pentagon officials, have the jihadists coming over the Syrian and Iranian borders tried to attack Americans in the

This seems quite wrong. Who cares if we ever find out whether it was "the Sadriyyin, fundamentalist Sunni Muslims, Baath Party loyalists or agents of Iran's hard-core mullahs" that did the bombing; is't the point here that we want the mainstream Shi'ite community to oppose all those groups and to help us get rid of them?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 PM

JUDGE OLSON'S BITTER FRUIIT

Blind to a nightmare (SCOTT FORNEK, August 31, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
He built a court system that became a model for the nation. He wrestled with ways to prevent crime, not just punish the criminal. He was a pioneer in the field of criminal psychology.

When he died in 1935, a Chicago Daily News editorial writer predicted that "the interesting thing about Judge [Harry] Olson's life and works is that no one can now write their epilogue, because the full fruit of the man's life may be borne in the future."

Nearly 70 years later, the epilogue has been written. And unfortunately for the judge's memory, some of that fruit is clearly rotten.

A new book paints a dark view of Olson, suggesting that he and other American proponents of the now discredited pseudo-science of eugenics helped fuel one of the most horrific nightmares of modern times.

In War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race, award-winning investigative author Edwin Black connects the Holocaust and other Nazi war crimes to the American eugenics movement, a crusade for selective breeding that led to the forced sterilization of nearly 70,000 Americans deemed "unfit."

A best-selling writer on the Holocaust, Black does not blame Olson and his colleagues for the Nazi atrocities. But he does argue that they hatched the quest to create a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master race here in the United States.

He points the finger at top scholars of the era, political leaders, self-styled reformers and the wealthy industrialists who funded it all.

"What we have here is corporate philanthropy engaged in ethnic cleansing," Black said.

And Olson's role was to help craft a U.S. sterilization law. It would be imitated by Nazi Germany--a feat Olson viewed with pride before his death in 1935.

"It was Judge Olson who helped proliferate and propagate these bizarre theories into every jurisdiction--local, state and national . . . and overseas," Black said. "He was a major mover in some of the most far-reaching persecution, oppression and genocidal campaigns the world has ever seen."

Despite Olson's prominence in the eugenics movement, he is a minor character in Black?s book, published by Four Walls Eight Windows and due out Sept. 7.

So the Sun-Times decided to take a look at Olson, poring over yellowed newspaper clippings, moldy letters and personal papers once stored in an Indiana chicken coop and musty documents on file at the Chicago Municipal Reference Library.

Was Olson a malicious race theorist or a would-be reformer with bizarre ideas about the mentally ill, caught up in a movement that spiraled out of control?

This is somewhat unfair in several ways: first, the connection between the euthanasia movement and the Holocaust is far more
important
, but we don't like to talk about that because euthanasia is politically popular, while you don't have to worry about offending the few remaining eugenicists; second, whenever you lift a man out of his times and judge him by the standards of your own you are doing him a disservice. This article ends with the following passage:
Barry Mehler, director of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism at Ferris State University, said he believes it is pointless to try to discern Olson's true motives, arguing that they are irrelevant to what he must ultimately be judged on.

"By the damage that was done to tens of thousands of victims in the United States, who were sterilized, by the millions of victims worldwide," Mehler said. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

"You don't judge people by their intentions. You judge people by the outcomes."

But if we accept this as true then the Justices who voted in favor of Roe v. Wade and thereby paved the way for forty million abortions must be held to be evil, rather than seen to be morally blind on the issue, which seems a fairer assessment. One's actions can result in evil without one being evil. There actually is a deffirence between those who have diminished the value that we place on human life by advocating things like eugenics, abortion, euthanasia, etc., and those who then used this dimishment as an excuse to engage in systematic murder. The distinction is of no consolation to the victims but is owed to the advocates.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 PM

WE ALWAYS RUN THE EXPERIMENT

Girls get extra school help while boys get Ritalin (USA Today, 8/28/2003)
In classrooms nationwide, girls are pulling ahead of boys academically. Recent federal testing data show that what starts out as a modest gap in elementary-level reading scores turns into a yawning divide by high school. In 12th grade, 44% of girls rate as proficient readers on federal tests, compared with 28% of boys. And while boys still score slightly higher on federal math and science exams, their advantage is slipping.

Most startling is that little is being done to correct the imbalances. All of the major players — schools, education colleges and researchers — largely ignore the gender gap. Instead of pursuing sound solutions, many educators merely advocate prescribing more attention-focusing Ritalin for the boys, who receive the drug at four to eight times the rate of girls, according to different estimates. "Too often the first reaction to an attention problem is 'Let's medicate,' " says Rockville, Md., child psychologist Neil Hoffman. "Some schools are quick to recommend solutions before they've fully evaluated the problem." [...]

One fact explains why educators are ignoring boys' needs: You can't address a problem that you don't admit exists. The U.S. Department of Education concedes that no serious research is available comparing different instructional methods that might help boys. In fact, many education researchers are hostile toward research aimed at exploring gender differences in learning.

Last April, when Kenneth Dragseth, superintendent of schools in Edina, Minn., presented a paper describing his district's gender gap at the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting in Chicago, he says the reception ranged from chilly to hostile. Female education researchers in the audience questioned whether helping boys would mean hurting girls.

Their attitude follows years of lobbying by groups such as the American Association of University Women, which alerted educators to the fact that girls were being shortchanged academically in the fields of math and science. The extra attention helped focus schools on girls' difficulties, but it has made it too easy for educators to overlook the problems of boys. Among them:

--Boys and girls learn differently. The best research on boy-girl learning differences is produced more by accident than by design. The lack of data in this field can hurt girls as much as boys. For instance, as part of an ongoing 20-year dyslexia study focusing on Connecticut schools, Yale neuroscientist and pediatrician Sally Shaywitz discovered that schools were identifying four times as many dyslexic boys as girls. Yet when her team entered schools to screen children, it diagnosed just as many dyslexic girls as boys. Shaywitz found that the mostly female teaching staff was quicker to identify rambunctious boys than quiet girls.

Ritalin is in many ways the first great "success" of the age of bioengineering. Parents, teachers, schools, doctors, etc. have found a way to make boys more docile and easier to control. These are, of course, the people we'd expect to have the boys' best interests at heart, if anyone does, but they don't: they are self-interested. If there's a drug that will quiet the kids down then give it to them and the secondary effects be damned. Welcome to our future.

MORE (via Mike Daley):
Do the math: Girls tops on campuses (Kay Lazar, August 31, 2003, Boston Herald)
"I don't mind being superior, education-wise, to someone I'm dating,'' said Leann Gould, 23, a first-year law student at Northeastern, where women command a 64 percent majority of the law school's freshmen class.

"But I am concerned about finding a man who would accept this,'' she added.

For Northeastern sophomore Liz Schwartz, 19, a nation of less-educated men is not such a bad thing.

"There would be more opportunities for (women) if the guys weren't as qualified,'' she said.

Statewide, female students command a 57.5 percent majority among private and public colleges, according to the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

Even in schools that have traditionally attracted more men - males comprised 66 percent of MIT's undergrads a decade ago - women are gaining ground. Today, women make up 41 percent of MIT's undergrads, and they outnumber men in 15 of the school's 22 undergraduate majors.

Some schools with large female majorities are aggressively working to level the gender imbalance. BU, for instance, says it is "giving more weight'' in admissions to SAT scores - where men traditionally score higher - and redesigning its brochures from ones that show mostly women to images that are more mixed.

The point being that the SAT tests ability while the conferring of degrees expresses "qualification". Reducing emphasis on the former in order to achieve the latter was really a rather straightforward exercise in social engineering when you get right down to it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:32 PM

BOOKNOTES

George Washington's False Teeth: An Unconventional Guide to the Eighteenth Century by Robert Darnton (C-SPAN, 8/31/03, 8 & 11 pm)
A master historian's excavations into the past unearth a world that is unexpected and compelling.

The most famous character in eighteenth-century Paris, apart from the public hangman, was "Le Grand Thomas," a tooth puller who operated on the Pont-Neuf. A gigantic man seated high above the surrounding supplicants, he commanded instructions to his assistants and the "toothaches seemed to expire at his feet."

George Washington was not so lucky. He was
inaugurated as president in 1789 with one tooth in his mouth, a lower left bicuspid. The Father of His Country had sets of false teeth that were made of everything but wood, from elephant ivory and walrus tusk to the teeth of a fellow human.

With characteristic learning and bracing insight, Robert Darnton shows us that the Enlightenment had false teeth too?that it was not the Father of Our Modern World, responsible for all its advances and transgressions. In restoring the Enlightenment to human scale, Darnton locates its real significance as a movement, a cause, a campaign to change minds and reform institutions. So too with the French Revolution, another icon of the eighteenth century: Darnton explores its origins in the gossip, songs, and broadsides that formed the political nervous system of Paris in the Old Regime.

Figures that we think we know--Voltaire, Franklin, Jefferson, Rousseau, Condorcet--emerge here afresh, their vitality (if not their teeth) intact. Was the leader of the Girondists, Jacques-Pierre Brissot, a dedicated revolutionary or a police spy? Darnton shows the past to be an unruly place, sometimes confounding to the present, always unexpected, compelling, and rewarding.

Posted by David Cohen at 6:22 PM

PRACTICING DECONSTRUCTION IS NOT CONSTRUCTIVE.

The Unbearable Complexity of Being (Joshua Green, Boston Globe, 8/31/03)
IT'S NOT EVERY DAY that a professor issues a public apology to his students for leading them astray intellectually. But in his most recent book, "The Moment of Complexity" (Chicago), Mark C. Taylor, a distinguished professor of humanities at Williams College, does just that.

Nearly 20 years ago, Taylor established himself as a preeminent American practitioner of deconstruction with his book "Erring: A Postmodern A/Theology." But in "The Moment of Complexity," which appears this week in paperback, he claims he will no longer teach students the paralyzing deconstructive conceit that "all they have to look forward to is the endless struggle to undo systems and structures that cannot be undone." Deconstruction, an unregenerate product of the Cold War, is addicted to futility, Taylor writes.
Here is Richard Posner on deconstruction:
Orthodox language theory regards all these impediments to perfect conceptual transfer, or "intersubjectivity," as impurities or corruptions that nomally, if not always, can be overcome. And this is the point against which decontruction mounts its theoretical assault: it insists that to regard those properties of signifiers that impede communication as secondary is arbitrary and culture-bound rather than, as the orthodox theorists suppose, logical or "natural." It is just as logical, just as natural, deconstruction insists, to subordinate the communicative function of discourse to the communication-impeding effects of the signifiers that the speaker or writer uses, and thus to attend to the "play of the signifiers," which is to say to the relations between the signifiers and other concepts besides the one intended to be signified. The practitioner of deconstruction may take an ostensibly serious prose passage and immediately get hiung up on the first word, which may be an unintended pun or a homonym or a false cognate or may contain a subordinate meaning (perhaps deeply buried in its root) at war with the surface meaning. Or he may become fascinated with the shape of the letters or the visual pattern that they make on the page. Or he may juxtapose passages that are unrelated at the level of commuication, in order to jar the reader out of his conventional response and into attending to the play of the signifiers. Or he may treat an earlier writing as a commentary on a later one. Moreover, consistent with his program of forcing attention to the noncommunicative aspect of language, the deconstructionist will insist on the problematic character of regarding an author as "present" in his text in the same way tat we suppose a speaker to be present in his utterance. He will point out that writing, by its permanence (relative to speech), can outlive the communicative occasion that brought it forth by outliving the author, the readers whom the author intended to address, and its original linguistic and cultural context. [Emphasis added.]
Posner, Richard, Law and Literature, A Misunderstood Relation (Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1988), at 212-213.

I would ordinarily make some snide comment about it taking Taylor twenty years to figure out that deconstructionism is not constructive, but to absolve him of any blame if any of his students were so far gone as to take this seriously. But Posner goes on to note "Cain's mordant comment on Derrida's contribution to Deconstruction and Criticism, . . . 'for readers with a lifetime to spare, there is also a 100-page essay by Jacques Derrida, dealing with a subject yet to be determined'" (Ibid., at 215 n.5 (citation omitted)), which makes me wonder if Taylor hasn't crammed a lifetime of learning into twenty short years.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:52 PM

THE LIGHT SLOWLY DAWNS

Worried Democrats See Daunting '04 Hurdles (ADAM NAGOURNEY, 8/31/03, NY Times)
The race for the Democratic presidential nomination shifts into a more intense phase this Labor Day weekend, with some party leaders worried about the strength of their field of candidates and fearful of what they view as President Bush's huge advantage going into next year's election.

Many prominent Democrats said that Mr. Bush might be vulnerable, given problems with the economy, and continued American fatalities in Iraq. But they said he could be unseated only by an aggressive, partisan challenge that built on Democratic anger lingering from the 2000 election, and by a nominee who somehow managed to survive a complicated nominating fight that was pulling their party to the left.

This is not an election that the Democrats can win. If there's any question about that, consider this: if the election had been held any time over the past two months--while the daily killings of GI's in Iraq have been going on and while the economy has been flat--Mr. Bush would have gotten 54+% of the vote. In other words, given the conditions that Democrats hope for, the President would have been re-elected easily.

But it gets worse: Democrats are now counting on the economy staying in the doldrums and the Iraq situation being the same (and our primary foreign policy concern) a year from now. Those are absurd expectations and do not comprise an election strategy. They are a hope against history and against the interests of the nation. Add in the inevitability of a New Englander liberal as the nominee and you've the recipe for not just a Bush victory but an epic one. The only safe state for the Democrats at this point isn't even a state but the District of Columbia. George Bush will not only be competitive but could win everywhere else, including the home states of both Dr. Dean (when did that start?) and John Kerry--which both elected Republican governors just this past November.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:30 PM

LATE, BUT WELCOME

U.S. and the Iraqis Discuss Creating Big Militia Force (DEXTER FILKINS, August 31, 2003, NY Times)
Iraqis involved in the talks said the force could consist of thousands of Iraqis already screened by the various political parties for prior affiliations with Saddam Hussein's government. Iraqi officials said such a militia could ultimately take control of Iraqi cities from American soldiers.

Some Iraqi leaders said a force of several thousand men, most of them with military experience, could be ready in little more than a month.

"The situation has changed, and there is a new receptiveness to the idea," said Mudhar Shahkawt, a prominent Iraqi exile who took part in the discussions today. "This force could move inside the cities and allow coalition forces to withdraw to places outside." [...]

The discussions about an all-Iraqi security force followed the devastating car bombing in the holy city of Najaf on Friday, when 82 people were killed and 95 were listed as wounded. Prominent among the dead was Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim, one of the most revered leaders of the world's 120 millions Shiite Muslims and a political moderate who had showed himself willing to deal with the American occupiers.

The attack, coupled with the repeated assaults on Americans and Iraqis here, has prompted leaders of several political parties to declare that they have lost confidence in the ability of the Americans to protect their leaders and sacred places.

Today, they began to demand that Iraqis become more involved in security. Indeed, some political leaders said they might be unable to keep their own followers from moving against their enemies, especially if the attacks continued.

"The knife is at our neck," Said Nael Musawi, a Shiite religious leader, told a group of American soldiers guarding the gate of the Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters in Baghdad, as thousands of demonstrators swirled about them. "I don't know how much longer I can control my people."

It';s an obvious failure of American policy that such a force wasn't put together immediately and power turned over more quickly, but this looks promising. One troublesome note: the Shi'ites should be encouraged to move against their enemies, not restrained from doing so. Reprisals for actions that occurred under Saddamite rule are a healthy thing.
Posted by David Cohen at 11:09 AM

HUMANITARIANISM IS ITS OWN PENALTY

Condi's Phony History - Sorry, Dr. Rice, postwar Germany was nothing like Iraq. (Daniel Benjamin, Slate, 8/29/03)
In practice, Werwolf amounted to next to nothing. The mayor of Aachen was assassinated on March 25, 1945, on Himmler's orders. This was not a nice thing to do, but it happened before the May 7 Nazi surrender at Reims. It's hardly surprising that Berlin sought to undermine the American occupation before the war was over. And as the U.S. Army's official history, The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-1946, points out, the killing was 'probably the Werwolf's most sensational achievement.'

Indeed, the organization merits but two passing mentions in Occupation of Germany, which dwells far more on how docile the Germans were once the Americans rolled in—and fraternization between former enemies was a bigger problem for the military than confrontation. Although Gen. Eisenhower had been worrying about guerrilla warfare as early as August 1944, little materialized. There was no major campaign of sabotage. There was no destruction of water mains or energy plants worth noting. In fact, the far greater problem for the occupying forces was the misbehavior of desperate displaced persons, who accounted for much of the crime in the American zone.
I've seen and heard accounts of the German Werwolves, trained to resist the occupation, that are more sympathetic to the Administration's account, including a story on NPR yesterday, but frankly I don't care. The lesson I take from this is that, in this limited area, there is a price to pay for not bombing your enemy to the edge of existence, in not decimating his army and in not executing the top officials of his government. In not, that is, making it evident to the meanest intelligence and the most fanatical believer, that he has been beaten. I agree with the Administration in making this trade off, which, among other things, certainly lowered our combat deaths. But now the bill is due and we're going to be paying it for a while.

MORE:
On the history of the Werwolves, see: here and here, but see here. If Biddiscombe can be trusted, it looks like the Werwolves had successes, but mostly in occupied territory before the war was over. After the war, although they tried to continue to resist, they were opposed by the general population and didn't accomplish much. There is some indication that the Werwolves were more successful in the Russian sectors, where the population was much more eager to slow down the occupation and may even have killed a Russian general.
Posted by David Cohen at 10:44 AM

OH, SO HE DOES KNOW THAT

Thrown aside: Pettitte, Yankees strong-arm Sox as Martinez falters (Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, 8/31/03).
Running baseball teams for nearly a quarter-century has convinced Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino to emblazon one overriding principle in his formula for success.

'You need pitching, pitching, and more pitching,' Lucchino has said from Day 1 of spring training.

What he got yesterday was something else altogether. While his widely feared offense continued to rip apart opposing pitchers like so much confetti, several of Lucchino's hurlers, including the pep-less Pedro Martinez, served as little more than party favors for the Yankees, who romped to a 10-7 victory before 34,350 at Fenway Park.
Despite the triumph of evil, this was a great game to be at. Being at the Park was as much fun as ever, my son gets more and more from the game with each one he attends and the Sox kept it close until the end. This was a particularly good game for Boston's favorite sport, second guessing the manager. Arroyo looked good and should have been kept in. Pedro should have been yanked earlier. Embree makes you nervous just walking to the mound.

Grady Little has two bad habits. First, he makes things too complicated, pinch hitting and trying for tactical pitching changes. These don't work that well at the best of times and are dangerous when facing Joe Torre. Second, and a little contradictorily, he always waits a little too long -- one or two batters too long -- before yanking a tiring pitcher. Having said that, Pedro was pitching nicely in the first three innings, but the Yankees (they really are a great team, damn them) chipped away at him, fouling off as many pitches as they could and running up the pitch count. By the 4th, he had thrown almost 100 pitches and was in trouble. That's the sort of small thing that adds up to a championship. The Sox, on the other hand, rarely start a rally before having two outs, the sort of small thing that adds up to 85 years of frustration.
Posted by David Cohen at 8:35 AM

WHO, OH, WHO, CAN SAVE US?

Worried Democrats See Daunting '04 Hurdles (Adam Nagourney, New York Times, 8/31/03)
The race for the Democratic presidential nomination shifts into a more intense phase this Labor Day weekend, with some party leaders worried about the strength of their field of candidates and fearful of what they view as President Bush's huge advantage going into next year's election.

Many prominent Democrats said that Mr. Bush might be vulnerable, given problems with the economy, and continued American fatalities in Iraq. But they said he could be unseated only by an aggressive, partisan challenge that built on Democratic anger lingering from the 2000 election, and by a nominee who somehow managed to survive a complicated nominating fight that was pulling their party to the left.

'It's going to be tough,' said Walter F. Mondale, the former vice president who lost his challenge to Ronald Reagan in 1984. 'You're trying to beat an incumbent who has all this money, and who has got the field all to himself, while all this infighting is going on in the Democratic Party.' . . .

"I think it is a weak field," said John Meyer, 41, an architect from Henniker, who said he was waiting to see if Gen. Wesley K. Clark would enter the race. "A lot of them are lackluster candidates." . . .

But many Democrats express reservations about both these New Englanders, and that is reflected in the failure of either to draw the institutional party support that typically rallies around a perceived winner. Some Democrats worry that Dr. Dean would prove an easy mark for Mr. Bush, given his liberal views and his lack of any experience in foreign affairs; others warn that Mr. Kerry is an awkward public figure who has run a timorous campaign. . . .

Associates of General Clark have said he has told them that he will probably join the race. But aides to most of the other candidates say he is too late to have a good shot, and they view him more as competing for a second spot on the ticket. . . .

Though the Labor Day weekend is a traditional demarcation point in American campaigns, the Democrats have spent much of the past eight months making policy speeches, raising money, nailing down supporters and traveling to states like Iowa, South Carolina, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and, of course, here in New Hampshire. But they are now preparing to move into a significantly more intense and higher profile part of the race. . . .

What is increasingly clear, several Democrats said, is that primary voters are not likely to choose someone who is promising to run a nuanced campaign against Mr. Bush. Dr. Dean has set the tone on that, as he made clear again today. . . .

One prominent Democrat said that while Mr. Bush was "eminently beatable," the Democratic nominating process seemed nowhere near producing someone who could do the job. "The trouble in 2004 is not that Bush is going to be strong, but rather than we are going to be weak," this official said.
There is so much here. Does anyone other than the Times, for example, still take advice from Walter Mondale, the only man ever to lose elections in all fifty states? There is also a lot that's not here. Has the Times not noticed that popular attention is being drained into California, making it even harder for the Democrats to make progress against the President and changing the traditional rule that people focus on the primary races after Labor Day? Why not mention the President's belief that August is a wasted month during which he doesn't bother to make policy speeches or counter attacks against him? Couldn't they spare a sentence for the effect on the Senate if Edwards has decided to give up a long-shot senate reelection for no shot at the presidency?

There is also less here than meets the eye. This is a column that gets written whenever a popular incumbent president is heading into reelection. Just in the nature of things, his party is solid and unified while the opposition has any number of second-tier people seeking its nomination. Because the president is popular, he looks like a giant compared to the pygmies running against him. Fighting an incumbent is always an uphill battle. The party is always split between those who think they need to draw sharp lines to show how empty the incumbent's platform is (Walter Mondale, anyone) and those who think they need to come as close as they can to the incumbent, while arguing that they will be more competent (Michael Dukakis).

The real point of this article, though, made at the beginning, the middle and the end, is that the best nominee is not running. The field is weak. Kerry is toast. Dean is muddling and too far to the right on various important issues. Gephardt will lose Iowa and drop out. Clark, who it might be thought is the kind of tough, strong candidate with a compelling story that the Democrat's need, is really only seeking the v.p. spot (true enough, as it happens). Does the New York Times know of any possible aggressive, partison candidate who could step in after Labor Day, who could rally and unify the party, who would not be wounded by vicious primary attacks, who could viciously attack the president, who could raise a lot of money, who could be strong not weak, who is not lackluster, who has a natural claim to build on Democratic anger lingering from the 2000 election and who can be presented as not too far left? Who is the New York Time's dream candidate and how do you spell Chapaqua?

August 30, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:28 PM

WHO AMONG US WAS NOT A RECIDIVIST?

Cyclist to stand trial for 'falling off bike' (Associated Press, 30th August 2003)
An 11-year-old boy in Greece is to stand trial after falling off his bike during a race.

The boy on the eastern Aegean Sea island of Chios has been ordered to stand trial on October 13 for allegedly violating eight articles of the penal code and one traffic violation for falling off his bicycle during an annual race. [...]

The island's prosecutor said the boy fell because he was "not driving carefully and with constant rapt attention" and ordered him to appear in juvenile court.

Lucky he wasn't trying to sell lemonade from the bike or he might get the death penalty.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:14 PM

MORE CHOICE

Cole offers students new options: Kids select 'academy' best suited to individual interests (HEATHER LAKE, August 30, 2003, Antelope Valley Press)
Teachers and administrators at Cole Middle School are challenging the traditional methods of teaching by offering its student body a choice in how they learn.

When the bell rang at the start of this school year, 40% of the sixth- through eighth-grade student body were not only checking out who they would be sitting with in home room, but also who they would be sitting with in almost every class, until they graduate the eighth grade.

Beginning last December, students and parents were disseminated information about academies and asked to choose the one of three they thought was the best fit.

Two smaller academies, a Science and Technology academy and an Oral Written and Visual Arts academy, each contain 20% of the student body.

The remaining 60% of the students are in the Liberal Arts academy, so named in keeping with the "looping" theme, but basically a traditional learning option.

Looping is the name for the process that puts students with the same teacher for certain subjects year after year.

If all goes as planned, sixth-graders just starting at Cole will be the first group to graduate from the eighth grade having spent their entire middle school education not only with the same students but for the most part, with the same teachers.

This isn't necessarily the sort of school you'd choose for your kid, but imagine a system with hundreds of thousands of such experiments going on and the best ones being adopted by other schools.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:59 PM

AL QAEDA IN A QUAGMIRE

Al-Qaida operative arrested in Iraq: Man allegedly planned to use missiles on troops (JOHN HENDREN, 8/30/03, Los Angeles Times)
A man believed to be an al-Qaida operative, found with 11 surface-to-air missiles, has been arrested in Iraq by U.S. troops and has acknowledged that he had been training with Ansar al-Islam fighters to use the weapons against American forces, a senior U.S. official said Friday.

The arrest marks the first time the U.S.-led coalition has apprehended someone believed to be a member of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network who is operating in Iraq.

The unnamed suspect was captured during an Aug. 20 raid in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, the capital, along with two other unnamed men, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. At least one of the other two men was believed to be a member of the extremist group Ansar al-Islam, the official said.

Intelligence officials said they found the suspected al-Qaida member's account, given during interrogation, "credible."

Al Qaeda has an advantage in asymmetrical warfare, not in going face to face with our troops. Iraq may be their Vietnam.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:26 PM

YOU PAID WHAT FOR WHO?

Bustamante receives $500,000 from Indians; FPPC has doubts (Alexa H. Bluth, August 30, 2003, Sacramento Bee)
A day after meeting with tribal gambling interests, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante on Friday reported receiving a $500,000 campaign donation from a tribe -- the second six-figure contribution he has taken from Indians for the Oct. 7 recall election.

But it remains a matter of legal interpretation whether the $500,000 check Bustamante received Thursday from the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians and other large contributions he has received were proper donations under state campaign finance rules.

The state's Fair Political Practices Commission issued a statement late Thursday questioning the Democrat's practice of collecting large donations in an old campaign account for his recall efforts.

Seizing on what some believe is a loophole in the new Proposition 34 campaign finance laws, Bustamante has collected $1.1 million in the past week from Indian tribes and unions in his 2002 lieutenant governor's account, which he plans to transfer to the committee raising money for his recall bid.

Looks like the Indians' business sense hasn't improved any since they sold Manhattan Island for $24. At the rate they're paying they ought to be able to buy Penelope Cruz instead of Cruz Bustamante.

MORE:
Bustamante's MEChA past fuel for conservative critics (Philip J. LaVelle, 8/30/03, San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:32 AM

SORRY

YACCS
Friday, August 29, 2003 12:15 PM EST
Rate Your Music and YACCS are down due to a server failure.
Services are expected to return to normal in 24 - 48 hours.
Thanks,
Hossein Sharifi

We're painfully conscious of the fact that the comments here are superior to the posts and hope this situation will be rectified soon. Thank you for your patience and thank all of you who take the time to comment.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 AM

NEGIOTIATING WITH THEMSELVES

WTO gives final approval to cheap drugs deal (AP, 8/30/03)
Following an impassioned appeal from Africa, the World Trade Organization on Saturday sealed a deal to allow poor countries to import cheap copies of patented drugs for killer diseases like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

"All people of good will and good conscience will be very happy today with the decision that the WTO members have made," said Kenyan Ambassador Amina Chawahir Mohamed. "It's especially good news for the people of Africa who desperately need access to affordable medicine."

The United States has been trying to protect the interests of drug companies, which feared they could lose control of patent rights. U.S. concessions this week broke an eight-month deadlock on the issue.

The final breakthrough followed a meeting Friday during which representatives of many African countries pleaded with other diplomats to stop trying to win last-minute advantages for their own nations. [...]

But groups campaigning to give poor people better access to lifesaving drugs criticized the agreement.

"Today's deal was designed to offer comfort to the U.S. and the Western pharmaceutical industry," said Ellen 't Hoen of the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders. "Unfortunately it offers little comfort for poor patients. Global patent rules will continue to drive up the price of medicines."

Pretty pitiful that the developing countries had to plead with each other to stop mucking up the deal and the lobbyists who are supposedly trying to help them are still opposed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM

TWO TO TANGO

What are the roots of religious violence?: A professor travels the world for an answer a review of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill By Jessica Stern (Jason Thompson, August 24, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle)
Fundamentalism makes life simpler, dividing the world neatly into jihadi and infidel, homeland and axis of evil. "Religion is a kind of technology," as Jessica Stern puts it in "Terror in the Name of God." "It is terribly seductive in its ability to soothe and explain, but it is also dangerous."
Religious violence springs from a desire to find a clear purpose in the confusion of a world dominated by American capitalism. Fundamentalism fills the "God-shaped hole" (Sartre's phrase) in secular modernity. Terrorist groups emerge in response to sociopolitical grievances, using religion to enlist desperate individuals who justify murder in the guise of martyrdom. Believers sublimate feelings of rage and hopelessness in the blissful experience of a divine-sanctioned mandate to avenge the perceived oppressor. Terrorism is less a military target than a powerful idea. [...]

For all its horrors, terrorism is comprehensible. Fundamentalism provides an insidiously seductive story that gives anomie an outlet. In the view of extremists, a New World Order has "created an engine of modernity that is stealing the identity of the oppressed." Religious terror strives to attack the industrialized world both physically and psychologically. The latter is more dangerous.

"Perhaps the most truly evil aspect of religious terrorism is that it aims at destroying moral distinctions themselves," Stern concludes. "Its goal is to confuse not only its sympathizers, but those who aim to fight it." The hardest battle is against the creep of spiritual dread. In that battle, through its explanatory power and lucid insight, Stern's book provides a valuable psychic shield.

Karen Armstrong, in her unintentionally hilarious book Battle for God, makes the point that:
We tend to assume that the people of the past were (more or less) like us, but in fact their spiritual lives were rather different. In particular, they evolved two ways of thinking, speaking, and acquiring knowledge, which scholars have called mythos and logos. Both were essential; they were regarded as complementary ways of arriving at truth, and each had its special area of competence. Myth was regarded as primary; it was concerned with what was thought to be timeless and constant in our existence. Myth looked back to the origins of life, to the foundations of culture, and to the deepest levels of the human mind. Myth was not concerned with practical matters, but with meaning. Unless we find some significance in our lives, we mortal men and women fall very easily into despair. The mythos of a society provided people with a context that made sense of their day-to-day lives; it directed their attention to the eternal and the universal. It was also rooted in what we would call the unconscious mind. The various mythological stories, which were not intended to be taken literally, were an ancient form of psychology. When people told stories about heroes who descended into the underworld, struggled through labyrinths, or fought with monsters, they were bringing to light the obscure regions of the subconscious realm, which is not accessible to purely rational investigation, but which has a profound effect upon our experience and behavior. Because of the dearth of myth in our modern society, we have had to evolve the science of psychoanalysis to help us to deal with our inner world.

Myth could not be demonstrated by rational proof; its insights were more intuitive, similar to those of art, music, poetry, or sculpture. Myth only became a reality when it was embodied in cult, rituals, and ceremonies which worked aesthetically upon worshippers, evoking within them a sense of sacred significance and enabling them to apprehend the deeper currents of existence. Myth and cult were so inseparable that it is a matter of scholarly debate which came first: the mythical narrative or the rituals attached to it. Myth was also associated with mysticism, the descent into the psyche by means of structured disciplines of focus and concentration which have been evolved in all cultures as a means of acquiring intuitive insight. Without a cult or mystical practice, the myths of religion would make no sense. They would remain abstract and seem incredible, in rather the same way as a musical score remains opaque to most of us and needs to be interpreted instrumentally before we can appreciate its beauty.

In the premodern world, people had a different view of history. They were less interested than we are in what actually happened, but more concerned with the meaning of an event. Historical incidents were not seen as unique occurrences, set in a far-off time, but were thought to be external manifestations of constant, timeless realities. Hence history would tend to repeat itself, because there was nothing new under the sun. Historical narratives tried to bring out this eternal dimension. Thus, we do not know what really occurred when the ancient Israelites escaped from Egypt and passed through the Sea of Reeds. The story has been deliberately written as a myth, and linked with other stories about rites of passage, immersion in the deep, and gods splitting a sea in two to create a new reality. Jews experience this myth every year in the rituals of the Passover Seder, which brings this strange story into their own lives and helps them to make it their own. One could say that unless an historical event is mythologized in this way, and liberated from the past in an inspiring cult, it cannot be religious. To ask whether the Exodus from Egypt took place exactly as recounted in the Bible or to demand historical and scientific evidence to prove that it is factually true is to mistake the nature and purpose of this story. It is to confuse mythos with logos.

Logos was equally important. Logos was the rational, pragmatic, and scientific thought that enabled men and women to function well in the world. We may have lost the sense of mythos in the West today, but we are very familiar with logos, which is the basis of our society. Unlike myth, logos must relate exactly to facts and correspond to external realities if it is to be effective. It must work efficiently in the mundane world. We use this logical, discursive reasoning when we have to make things happen, get something done, or persuade other people to adopt a particular course of action. Logos is practical. Unlike myth, which looks back to the beginnings and to the foundations, logos forges ahead and tries to find something new: to elaborate on old insights, achieve a greater control over our environment, discover something fresh, and invent something novel.

In the premodern world, both mythos and logos were regarded as indispensable. Each would be impoverished without the other. Yet the two were essentially distinct, and it was held to be dangerous to confuse mythical and rational discourse. They had separate jobs to do. Myth was not reasonable; its narratives were not supposed to be demonstrated empirically. It provided the context of meaning that made our practical activities worthwhile. You were not supposed to make mythos the basis of a pragmatic policy. If you did so, the results could be disastrous, because what worked well in the inner world of the psyche was not readily applicable to the affairs of the external world. When, for example, Pope Urban II summoned the First Crusade in 1095, his plan belonged to the realm of logos. He wanted the knights of Europe to stop fighting one another and tearing the fabric of Western Christendom apart, and to expend their energies instead in a war in the Middle East and so extend the power of his church. But when this military expedition became entangled with folk mythology, biblical lore, and apocalyptic fantasies, the result was catastrophic, practically, militarily, and morally. Throughout the long crusading project, it remained true that whenever logos was ascendant, the Crusaders prospered. They performed well on the battlefield, created viable colonies in the Middle East, and learned to relate more positively with the local population. When, however, Crusaders started making a mythical or mystical vision the basis of their policies, they were usually defeated and committed terrible atrocities.

Logos had its limitations too. It could not assuage human pain or sorrow. Rational arguments could make no sense of tragedy. Logos could not answer questions about the ultimate value of human life. A scientist could make things work more efficiently and discover wonderful new facts about the physical universe, but he could not explain the meaning of life. That was the preserve of myth and cult.

By the eighteenth century, however, the people of Europe and America had achieved such astonishing success in science and technology that they began to think that logos was the only means to truth and began to discount mythos as false and superstitious. It is also true that the new world they were creating contradicted the dynamic of the old mythical spirituality. Our religious experience in the modern world has changed, and because an increasing number of people regard scientific rationalism alone as true, they have often tried to turn the mythos of their faith into logos. Fundamentalists have also made this attempt. This confusion has led to more problems.

We need to understand how our world has changed. The first part of this book will, therefore, go back to the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, when the people of Western Europe had begun to develop their new science. We will also examine the mythical piety of the premodern agrarian civilization, so that we can see how the old forms of faith worked. It is becoming very difficult to be conventionally religious in the brave new world. Modernization has always been a painful process. People feel alienated and lost when fundamental changes in their society make the world strange and unrecognizable. We will trace the impact of modernity upon the Christians of Europe and America, upon the Jewish people, and upon the Muslims of Egypt and Iran. We shall then be in a position to see what the fundamentalists were trying to do when they started to create this new form of faith toward the end of the nineteenth century.

Fundamentalists feel that they are battling against forces that threaten their most sacred values. During a war it is very difficult for combatants to appreciate one another's position. We shall find that modernization has led to a polarization of society, but sometimes, to prevent an escalation of the conflict, we must try to understand the pain and perceptions of the other side. Those of us--myself included--who relish the freedoms and achievements of modernity find it hard to comprehend the distress these cause religious fundamentalists. Yet modernization is often experienced not as a liberation but as an aggressive assault.

That "God-shaped hole" of Sartre's is mythos and the hole is real. Mere reason or logos can not fill our lives. It can't answer the questions that really matter to us--how should we live? why are we here?--instead it tries to answer questions that don't much matter--by what physical process did the tail become a coccyx? As Ms Armstrong says, the modernists have made the mistake of trying to make a faith out of reason and fundamentalists have made the mistake of trying to equate their faith with reason.

We've a tendency, especially the media and liberal elites who think that logos suffices, to look only at fundamentalism as the source of the problem, but to do so is to study only the reaction, not the action, that is the true precipitator of the crisis. If fundamentalism is one extreme, it's important to recognize that a thoroughly secularized and rationalized modernity lies at the other extreme. If the answer to how we should live and think about the world doesn't lie somewhere in the middle, then we'll all have to choose sides and modernity isn't as compelling a belief system as some folks would like to think.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:23 AM

LIGHT FOR THE WORLD

J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth (Zenit, 8/30/2003)
Tolkien wrote in an oft-quoted letter to a close friend in 1953 that "The Lord of the Rings" is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. And Tolkien was a devout and practicing Catholic throughout most of his life. According to his son Michael, Roman Catholicism "pervaded all his thinking, beliefs and everything else."...

My personal favorite [Christian symbol] is the Elvish Lembas, translated as the "way bread" or "life bread." Even one piece of the bread can sustain a person for a day. Tolkien wrote that it "fed the will," and certainly without it, neither Frodo nor Sam would have made the journey across Mordor and up Mount Doom....

When Gandalf faces the Balrog, he not only accepts death, but he names his master, the Secret Fire. According to what Tolkien told a friend, the Secret Fire was the Holy Spirit....

True myth, [Tolkien held], drew its inspiration from the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. Tolkien wrote in his academic essay, "On Fairy-Stories," that to reject the Christ story is to lead to either sadness or wrath.

It seems true that the nations that have always rejected the Christ story -- Iraq, for example -- have mostly experienced sadness and wrath; while those that have accepted it, like the U.S., are happiest; and those that have increasingly rejected it, as in Europe, are experiencing life as increasingly dreary.

Christians will take this as evidence for the truth of Christian doctrine; unbelievers will argue that it may be a chance correlation. But at some point, the evidence piles up.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:04 AM

INTELLECTUALS AS EPHRAIMITES

ON LANGUAGE: Bible (JEFFREY McQUAIN, August 24, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
"In religion,'' George Gray challenges a contestant on TV's ''Weakest Link'' game show, ''what is the third book in the Old Testament of the King James Bible?''

The player replies, ''Revelations.''

That's wrong on two counts. The third book of the Bible is actually Leviticus, which chronicles the laws and rituals overseen by the priestly Levites. Less obvious, however, is the mistake in saying ''Revelations,'' because the Bible contains no such book.

Instead, the final book of the New Testament is titled ''Revelation,'' without an ''s.'' This error has appeared frequently in print, from a Chicago Tribune quotation on ''the apocalyptic messages that are found in Revelations'' to Maureen Dowd's New York Times mention of ''a musical based on the Book of Revelations.''

Bible experts consider that kind of mistake a shibboleth, from a story in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) about using words as a test. In the 12th chapter of Judges, the conquering Gileadites are able to identify their enemies, the conquered Ephraimites, by making them say the word shibboleth, meaning ''ear of corn.'' Because of language differences, the Ephraimites pronounce it ''sibboleth'' and are immediately executed.

Today the penalties for mispronunciation tend to be less severe, although a shibboleth still acts to identify outsiders.

It's interesting the way George W. Bush uses nucular as a kind of shibboleth, the pronunciation alone marking him out as a good ole boy, not a wonk.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:01 AM

NOTHING LIKE A DAME

Helen Mirren on sex and a life on screen (Demetrios Matheou, 03 August 2003, Sunday
Herald)
IT took a while for Britain to wake up to Helen Mirren, to afford her the respect and affection that it now does. The voracious wild child who burst on to the theatre scene with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the Sixties, then starred in such arty fare as Ken Russell's Savage Messiah (1972) or Lindsay Anderson's O Lucky Man! (1973), didn't enjoy the instant rapport with audiences of, say, Kate Winslet. There was something too wilfully maverick about her, something self-contained. On screen she would dare everything -- not least nudity -- but didn't belong to anyone. Helen Mirren was always her own woman.

But the first series of crime drama Prime Suspect (1991) took her into prime time and the public's consciousness in a way none of her films had. As the no-nonsense, short-tempered loner DCI Jane Tennison, she was playing her age, early-40s, without the faintest pretence to glamour or sweetness – and thereby won a legion of fans, both adoring males and women who saw her as a feminist icon. This time the critical plaudits she'd always had for her work seemed to make more waves -- not least the Oscar nominations for The Madness Of King George (1994) and Gosford Park (2001). And when, in June, she was made a Dame in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, Mirren's place as one of the country's most celebrated -- and now most loved -- actresses was assured. [...]

She was born Ilyena Lydia Mironoff, granddaughter of a White Russian general who came to England to buy arms for the Russo-Japanese war, then found himself stranded (or, as Mirren contemporises it, he and his family became asylum-seekers) when the Russian revolution started behind him. Her father was two years old.

The role in King George is pretty thankless, mostly moaning about his fate, but her work in Prime Suspect may be the best ever done for television by an actress, as she makes a difficult character quite compelling. MORE: -FILMOGRAPHY: Helen Mirren (IMDB.com) -AUDIO: Mirren Returns to PBS' 'Prime Suspect' (NPR Morning Edition, April 9, 2004)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM

RECLAIMING MARRIAGE

The Next Sexual Revolution: By practicing what it preaches on marriage, the church could transform society. (Christianity Today, 08/27/2003)
First, we must admit that the church's current record is dismal. Divorce statistics inside the church are indistinguishable from those outside.

Second, we need to repent for allowing the Zeitgeist of expressive individualism to permeate the way many of our churches relate to marriage, divorce, and remarriage.

Third, we need to restore the community context of marriage. A married couple is more than the sum of its parts. It is a thread in a community fabric. Societies are built out of people who are loyal to one another and who work and sacrifice for the common good. Expressive individualism is a poor foundation for a society, and marriages so conceived do not build loyalties or give us practice in sacrificial service. Marriages and families are schools for service.

Fourth, we need to recover the sense of human limitation inherent in marriage and family life. This is the beautiful biblical picture: a two-gendered, complementary couple improving on and channeling nature, but neither conquering it nor twisting it. [...]

Fifth, churches must help their members recover the link between marriage and procreation. In the 1970s, the evangelical subculture rightly affirmed the delights of marital sex through popular books like The Total Woman and Intended for Pleasure. ("Fundies in their undies!" joked church historian Martin Marty in response.) Unfortunately, even in the church, the procreative dimension of sex has been sidelined by economic pressures, cultural ideals, and technological fixes. Churches need to celebrate the fact that every marriage is procreative by design.

Sixth, churches must continue to help their members learn the practical skills associated with all of the challenges of married life. [...]

The truth about marriage is embedded in nature, and nature has a way of reasserting itself. Inevitably, the Big Yellow Taxi factor will come into play: People will long for what once was. The challenge to the church is to be a countercultural outpost, modeling marriage as it should be for the world. Those with an impoverished understanding of marriage will be able to grasp it only when they see the real thing.

It's time to start the revolution.

When the Wife and I went to meet with the Justice of the Peace who was to marry us--made necessary by her being Jewish and me Baptist--we went over what he'd say in the vows. He read a few samples and we asked: "Where'd the 'til death bit go?"

JP: No one says that anymore.

Us: We're going to.

JP: You can't; it's not done.

Us: Put it in.

JP: It's too old-fashioned.

Us: You expecting to get paid?

Who can be surprised that in a culture where the people doing the ceremony don't take it seriously enough to make you swear the most solemn vow possible that the institution of marriage is falling apart. Bring back the death proviso and enforce it.

MORE:
-Make marriage matter more (Jim Wooten, 8/31/03, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:31 AM

5, 5, 5, 4?

20th suspect arrested in probe of terrorist cell (Stewart Bell, August 30, 2003, National Post)
A 20th person has been taken into custody in connection with an investigation into a possible al-Qaeda sleeper cell in the Toronto area, Canadian officials said yesterday.

Of course there's a 20th.

MORE:
Case of 19 terrorists unravelling (MARINA JIMENEZ, COLIN FREEZE and VICTORIA BURNETT, 8/30/03, Globe and Mail)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:16 AM

ONE COLD WAR WAS ENOUGH, THANKS

Sovietizing the economy (Martin Hutchinson, 8/25/2003, UPI)
The United States economy has changed significantly since the September 11 attacks, in a thoroughly unpleasant direction. While Gross Domestic Product has risen by 4.6 percent (in real terms) from the third quarter of 2001, government consumption has risen by 8.2 percent, while private fixed asset investment has declined. As always, disaster has tended to "Sovietize" the economy, increasing the share of output absorbed by products and services that nobody wants. [...]

The September 11 attacks brought a major re-orientation to the U.S. economy. Some of it was reflected in public spending. Airport security was federalized, a new Department of Homeland Security was created, military reserves were called up, defense spending rose, and an airline bailout fund was created (the last being off-balance-sheet as far as the federal government was concerned.)

Other diversions of resources occurred in the private sector. Property insurance premiums rose, for the same or lesser amount of coverage. Airline charges rose, to cover the new security costs. New "security construction" was undertaken to make businesses more secure against terrorist attacks.

Still further costs of the attacks are not reflected in economic data at all. As anyone who has flown in the last year will tell you, the average check-in time for flights originating in the U.S. has lengthened by 30-60 minutes. For passengers, this is completely lost time, accompanied by a considerable amount of aggravation, yet it is not reflected in published data.

The Immigration and Naturalization Services has tightened up its controls, and introduced many new procedures, requiring students coming to the U.S., for example, to file a new application annually, rather than simply one for the course of study as a whole. As a consequence of this, and of tightened enforcement, students validly attempting to attend U.S. colleges are being sent back to their home country, at enormous deadweight cost to them and their families. Again this is not reflected in official economic statistics -- INS inefficiency, and that of the colleges, of course greatly increases this cost burden.

In all three ways, therefore, the disaster of September 11 has diverted resources to items people don't want. This is not the same as diverting them to the public sector. A Medicare prescription drug provision, for example, would provide senior citizens with goods they undoubtedly do want -- prescription drugs -- albeit in a manner that may be inefficient and economically damaging. Conversely, higher insurance premiums do not provide customers with any services they are not already getting, they merely increase the costs of those services. Disasters thus reduce the efficiency of the economy; they increase expenditure on services and goods that provide no additional value to their consumers, while apparently increasing economic activity.

This case was most famously expressed, though with dreadful timing, by Paul Kennedy in his book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers:
Once their productive capacity [is] enhanced, countries...normally find it easier to sustain the burdens of paying for large-scale armaments in peacetime and of maintaining and supplying large armies and fleets in wartime. It sounds crudely mercantilistic to express it this way, but wealth is usually needed to acquire and protect wealth. If, however, too large a portion of the state's resources is diverted from wealth creation and allocated instead to military purposes, then that is likely to lead to a weakening of national power over the longer term. In the same way, if a state overextends itself strategically--by, say, the conquest of extensive territories or the waging of costly wars--it runs the risk that the potential benefits from external expansion may be outweighed by the great expense of it all--a dilemma which becomes acute if the nation concerned has entered a period of relative economic decline.

But the problem with his particular application of the thesis--his argument, explicit or implicit, that the United States was forcing its own decline by waging the Cold War--was that the U.S. was not, in fact, in a period of economic decline and that, though the Cold War had indeed been a costly mistake, we were about to win it even as he wrote. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the current twenty year economic boom both unfortunately served to discredit an argument that has much wisdom to it. One result is that we are probably not paying as much attention to the Buchanacons as we should, though their hysteria admittedly makes it difficult to do so.

It is a worthwhile and well-justified task at the moment to confront terrorists and terror regimes, particularly Islamicists in the Middle East and the remaining Communist state (N. Korea, Cuba, China), but we should remain aware of the price we stand to pay in terms of retardation of our own economic development and moral compromise as we co-operate with despicable "allies" and we should limit ourselves to the doable, not necessarily the easily doable, but certainly the conceivably doable. So, for instance, toppling the Taliban was ridiculously easy, but building a stable democracy in Afghanistan seems little more than a pipe dream. Right now, the Afghan government has sufficient control and credibility that it has allowed us to duck out gracefully, but it seems unlikely that this government can endure in the long term, given the ethnic/tribal rivalries that have characterized that unhappy country's history. We should by all means lend them financial and political support and hope that they do manage to create a relatively liberal and democratic society, but if they do so it will be surprising and it will be because of their determination, not because of our continuing intervention. Nor is such a government truly necessary to our purposes. It will take less time, effort, and money to vanquish subsequent enemy regimes there than to try to prop up a friendly one.

Similarly, one has to be concerned about stories like the following, Get real: Driven by a neo-conservative dream, the US is loath to relinquish control in Iraq. But the price for Washington's stubbornness may be failure (Brian Whitaker, August 26, 2003, The Guardian):
Talk of impending failure in Iraq may sound like whinging when it comes from those who opposed the war, but last week the unspeakable seven-letter F-word was uttered by one of the bastions of US neo-conservative hawkery.

Under the headline "Do what it takes in Iraq", an editorial in the Weekly Standard called for a huge commitment of more troops, more money and more civilian workers to fend off disaster.

"Make no mistake," the magazine said. "The president's vision will, in the coming months, either be launched successfully in Iraq, or it will die in Iraq ... the future course of American foreign policy, American world leadership, and American security is at stake. Failure in Iraq would be a devastating blow to everything the United States hopes to accomplish."

Unfortunately for President Bush, this is true. He has left no face-saving escape route for himself or his country.

The neo-conservative solution is to devote to Iraq whatever it takes and for as long as it takes, for a whole generation if necessary. The Weekly Standard wants an immediate allocation of $60bn (£38.4bn) for reconstruction. If the Bush administration is serious, "then this is the necessary down payment," it said, while the official Washington line has been that reconstruction will be funded by Iraq's (still largely non-existent) oil revenue.

Only total commitment on a scale not seen since the end of the second world war can ensure US success in Iraq, the Weekly Standard insisted, but the problem for George Bush is that he can't give that commitment, at least not if he values his presidency.

This is absurd. The rebuilding of Europe didn't work out terribly well--as its cultural decline and economic stagnation demonstrates--but it had at least been an integral part of the West and there was some reason to believe it could be salvaged. Most importantly, the people of Europe obviously wanted our help and shared a substantial portion of our vision of how they might be saved (though not a large enough portion as things turned out). The same can hardly be said for Iraq and the idea that we should make a commitment comparable to the one we made in post-War Europe is deranged. It is the triumph of hope over reason and of ideology over self-interest.

Better to heed the counsel of a great scholar of the Middle East, Put the Iraqis in Charge: Why Iraq is proving much tougher than Afghanistan. (BERNARD LEWIS, August 29, 2003, Wall Street Journal):
What then should we do in Iraq? Clearly the imperial role is impossible, blocked equally by moral and psychological constraints, and by international and more especially domestic political calculations. An inept, indecisive imperialism is the worst of all options, with the possible exception of subjecting Iraq to the tangled but ferocious politics of the U.N. The best course surely is the one that is working in Afghanistan--to hand over, as soon as possible, to a genuine Iraqi government. In Iraq as in Afghanistan, a period of discreet support would be necessary, but the task would probably be easier in Iraq. Here again care must be taken. Premature democratization--holding elections and transferring power, in a country which has had no experience of such things for decades, can only lead to disaster, as in Algeria. Democracy is the best and therefore the most difficult of all forms of government. The Iraqis certainly have the capacity to develop democratic institutions, but they must do so in their own way, at their own pace. This can only be done by an Iraqi government.

Fortunately, the nucleus of such a government is already available, in the Iraqi National Congress, headed by Ahmad Chalabi. In the northern free zone during the '90s they played a constructive role, and might at that time even have achieved the liberation of Iraq had we not failed at crucial moments to support them. Despite a continuing lack of support amounting at times to sabotage, they continue to acquit themselves well in Iraq, and there can be no reasonable doubt that of all the possible Iraqi candidates they are the best in terms alike of experience, reliability, and good will. It took years, not months, to create democracies in the former Axis countries, and this was achieved in the final analysis not by Americans but by people in those countries, with American encouragement, help and support. Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress deserve no less.

One suspects that we'd do best to make Mr. Chalabi's group share power pretty extensively with the Shi'ite majority, but all we're really looking for is a graceful way to get out, having fulfilled our mission already when we got rid of the Saddams. As Mr. Lewis says, we can stand by ready to help if the Iraqis choose to create and maintain democracy, but right now we're really just in the way and the worst option available is the neocon notion of trying to rebuild the whole place ourselves.

We're quite fortunate--though our good fortune, it must always be remembered, is the residue of brilliant design--in that our political, military, and economic power is so massive that we've been able to conduct a couple of wars on the cheap. It would be an ill-fated decision though that saw us devote ever larger portions of our economy to the essentially imperial task of trying to govern the Islamic world from Washington. The Buchanacons are wrong about the use of American military might, but right about the futility of nation-building and correct to worry about what such exercises will do to our own society.

By all means let us wage war on terror--including in N. Korea, Syria, and battles yet to come--but let us do so rapidly, ruthlessly, and efficiently, and let us be cognizant of the insidious way in which seeming military strength can conceal structural damage being done to an economy and a resulting decline in real power. The war on terror should be treated like a war, in which we confront and defeat enemies, and that shouldn't take terribly long--perhaps five or six years. Talk of turning it into a generational struggle, with us taking responsibility for the future shape of the Middle East is truly frightening. The neocons have long been looking for a national greatness project, some excuse for conservatives to wield a big government. But this is not a project that conservatives should support. Statism, under whatever guise, is destructive of society, of the economy, and ultimately of liberty.

MORE:
Iraqis must be left to build democracy at their pace (David Warren, 8/30/03, National Post)
The issue in Iraq is...not whether the U.S. should stay or leave. It is instead the extent to which the U.S. should engage in "nation-building" there. As his critics remember, and his friends, too, George W. Bush campaigned against the whole idea of nation-building by Americans abroad.

What he has been trying to do comes perilously close to what he rightly campaigned against. Not nation-building, by the U.S., but a concentrated U.S. effort to enable nation-building to take place within Iraq, and Afghanistan, and soon elsewhere. I compared it myself, a year ago, to one of the labours of Hercules -- the cleaning of the Augean stables. He is trying to create the conditions for the "river of democracy" to wash through the Middle East; just as President Reagan before him tried to create those conditions for Eastern Europe.

The American role in Iraq should thus be limited to providing security, for the transition to an Iraqi government much more acceptable to Iraqis and to the world, than the horrific government that preceded it.

Leave it to America: There are now calls for greater UN involvement in Iraq. That’s the last thing the country needs (Mark Steyn, 8/30/03, The Spectator)
The Canal Hotel turned out to be a perfect microcosm of the UN: a group of naive internationalists refusing to take the murkier characters prowling the corridors at face value and concerned only to keep the US at arm’s length. Yet for Kofi Annan, the French, the Democratic party and the world’s media, the self-inflicted insanity of what happened to the UN in Baghdad apparently demonstrates the need for Washington to hand over more control of Iraq to the blue helmets because ‘they’ve got far more experience in these kinds of situations’. The UN’s track record at nation-building varies according to the strength of the local obstructionist. Mr Vieira de Mello did such a good job transforming East Timor from the brutalised province of a Muslim dictatorship to a functioning infidel democracy that whoever makes Osama bin Laden’s audio tapes these days added it to his list of grievances against the West. But the dapper diplomat did a less impressive job in Cambodia, where Hun Sen decided to hijack the state, King Sihanouk strung along, and the UN colluded in the subversion of its political settlement.

If Kofi got his hands on Iraq, as world opinion so devoutly wants, the Cambodian scenario would be more relevant than the East Timorese. The most determined obstructionists in this case would be Iraq’s Arab neighbours: Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and co. don’t care whether the country winds up under another Baathist psychotic or a rent-a-rant mullah, or even a restored Hashemite as long as he’s at least minimally repressive. But they object very strongly to the idea of the Iraqi people living in liberty under a representative government with a free press, etc., because that’s not the kind of thing they want catching on. Putting the UN in charge of Iraq is a vote for ‘stability’ in the Middle East — the fetid cesspit stability of the Assads and Ayatollahs that, as argued in this space many times, is the principal ‘root cause’ of the region’s problems.

That’s why I’d rather the Americans stayed in control.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 AM

THE MAN WHO RODE BUCEPHALUS

ALEXANDER THE WHO?: Face to face with history's Greatest (VICTORIA JAMES, Aug. 27, 2003, Japan Times)
The future conqueror of almost all the known world, who acceded to his father's throne at age 18 and died of fever aged just 33, claimed descent from the immortal Hercules. His mother, Olympias, stoked her son's god-complex by claiming she was impregnated not by Alexander's father, Philip II of Macedonia, but by a giant serpent.

All these myths collide in "Alexander the Great," an exhibition now showing at Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park, which displays a number of representations of the great leader (statues, busts and coinage) in company of which he would doubtless have approved -- an extensive pantheon of classical gods and heroes.

Alexander was certainly divinely good-looking. Three images (one a nearly contemporaneous head of a statue, the others two Imperial Roman copies of third-century B.C. originals) clearly represent the same face over a period of time. The first is a beautiful boy with a head of curls; the next a youth with a resolute, firmly set chin; the third a mature man, his face filled out slightly though not a whit less handsome for it.

But Alexander's reputation didn't rest on his looks. At age 6 he is said to have received Persian envoys during his father's absence; at age 13 he began to study under Aristotle; at 16 he served as his father's regent; and, while still a teenager, in a wager with his father he subdued and rode a wild horse that no one had been able to handle. (The steed, named Bucephalus, became Alexander's warhorse.)

That was merely Alexander's grooming for greatness, and the beginning of the legend.

Nice short essay about Alexander, but for a fuller portrait we recommend the excellent biography by Peter Green, Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B. C.: A Historical Biography. Also, Baz Luhrmann is working on a biopic of Alexander's life, which might be great itself if he can pull it off.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:01 AM

THE SKEPTIC?

The Domesticated Savage: Science reveals a way to rise above our natures (Michael Shermer, August 11, 2003, Scientific American)
One of the most striking features in artificially selecting for docility among wild animals is that, along with far less aggression, you also get a suite of other changes, including a reduction in skull, jaw and tooth size. In genetics, this is called pleiotropy. Selecting for one trait may generate additional, unintended changes.

The most famous study on selective breeding for passivity began in 1959 by Russian geneticist Dmitri Belyaev of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Siberia. It continues today under the direction of Lyudmila N. Trut. Silver foxes were bred for friendliness toward humans, defined by a graduating series of criteria, from the animal allowing itself to be approached, to being hand fed, to being petted, to proactively seeking human contact. In only 35 generations the researchers produced tail-wagging, hand-licking, peaceful foxes. What they also created were foxes with smaller skulls, jaws and teeth than their wild ancestors.

The Russian scientists believe that in selecting for docility, they inadvertently selected for paedomorphism--the retention of juvenile features into adulthood--such as curly tails and floppy ears found in wild pups but not in wild adults, a delayed onset of the fear response to unknown stimuli, and lower levels of aggression. The selection process led to a significant decrease in levels of stress-related hormones such as corticosteroids, which are produced by the adrenal glands during the fight-or-flight response, as well as a significant increase in levels of serotonin, thought to play a leading role in the inhibition of aggression. The Russian scientists were also able to accomplish what no breeder had ever achieved before--a lengthened breeding season.

Like the foxes, humans have become more agreeable as we've become more domesticated. [...]

A plausible evolutionary hypothesis suggests itself: limited resources led to the selection for within-group cooperation and between-group competition in humans, resulting in within-group amity and between-group enmity.

Well, yeah, except that the rational choices made by humans and applied to themselves and to silver foxes are actually the opposite of natural selection.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 AM

I DON'T KNOW, BUT DO SOMETHING

Ice ages key to understanding change (Fred Pearce, 8/26/2003, Boston Globe)
We know about past levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere because researchers have been able to recover bubbles of ancient air trapped in ice. These bubbles reveal past temperatures and concentrations of gases in the air. They show that when the world was at its coldest, carbon dioxide levels in the air were low; and when it got warmer, they rose.

But they reveal something more startling. The changes between these two situations were not smooth and gradual. They were extremely quick. It is almost, Watson said, as if the planet has a rather crude thermostat, with just two settings -- ice age, and not ice age.

Put another way, there appear to have been two "stable states" for the planet's climate system. Once one of them broke down, the entire system switched within a few centuries to the other. [...]

None of this is proved. But whatever the precise mechanism, Watson said, we are left with the worrying fact that, in the past 2 million years or so, the world had two stable climatic states -- anchored at 190 ppm and 280 ppm of carbon dioxide. Why worrying? Because, Watson said, we have now slipped the anchors. By burning fossil fuels, we have forced up carbon dioxide levels to 370 ppm today. That is probably higher than for millions of years. And the level is still rising by almost 20 ppm a decade.

The question now is: How will the planet respond? Until now, climate scientists have mostly expected that a gradual rise in greenhouse gases will cause a gradual increase in temperatures. Now there are two other possibilities. The planet might find a way to keep temperatures down. Or it might make another jump -- to perhaps a third "stable state" about which we as yet know nothing.

How might that happen? Peter Cox of the British government's meteorological service, said that within 50 years, rainforests and their soils could begin to dry out and die as warming gathers pace. That would release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and accelerate warming. Others predict changes in the ocean circulation systems that reduce the oceans' abilities to absorb carbon dioxide from the air.

Nothing is certain in this. Climate scientists are being forced to acknowledge how little they know about how the planet works. But that ignorance, they say, should make us more worried rather than less.

The willingness of scientists to recommend radical courses of action despite "how little they know" is far more worrisome than the lack of knowledge itself.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:46 AM

AL QAEDA VS. THE SHI'ITES?

4 With al-Qaida Ties Nabbed in Najaf Blast (AP, 8/30/03)
Iraqi police have arrested four men in connection with the bombing of Iraq's holiest Shiite Muslim shrine, and all have links to al-Qaida, a senior police official told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The official, who said the death toll in the bombing had risen to 107, said the four arrested men - two Iraqis and two Saudis - were caught shortly after the car bombing on Friday.

The bombing killed one of the most important Shiite clerics in Iraq, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, who had been cooperating with the American occupation force.

The police official, who led the initial investigation and interrogation of the captives, said the prisoners told of other plots to kill political and religious leaders and to damage vital installations such as power plants, water supplies and oil pipelines.

The police official said the men arrested after the attack claimed the recent bombings were designed to keep Iraq in a state of chaos so that police and American forces would be unable to focus attention on the country's porous borders, across which suspected foreign fighters are said to be infiltrating.

It's almost too much to be hoped for that these bombings would be al Qaeda related. What could they achieve other than to turn the Shi'ites against them? This would be the best of all possible outcomes for our purposes and would put enormous pressure on the Iranians who are reportedly holding several al Qaeda prisoners.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:19 AM

SPEECH?

Ashcroft to Defend Ban on Some Abortion Protests (ERIC LICHTBLAU, August 30, 2003, NY Times)
The Justice Department plans to go to court to defend a federal law that bans protesters from blocking access to abortion clinics, a move that is angering some opponents of abortion who have been strong supporters of Attorney General John Ashcroft.

A federal judge in Houston, in a little-noticed decision, declared this month that part of the 1994 law, known as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, is unconstitutional because it exceeds the power of Congress to regulate commerce. The decision freed a man who had rammed a van through the front door of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston in a protest over abortion.

Anti-abortion leaders called the Texas decision an affirmation of the First Amendment rights of protesters. [...]

"It's very surprising, given the attorney general's stated position in support of the right to life," Colleen Parro, director of the Republican National Coalition for Life, said in an interview.

"Pro-life people expect John Ashcroft to be just and fair and act in the interests of the right to life whenever possible," said Ms. Parro, whose group is based in Texas. "If the Justice Department is standing up for this law, that is not going to give people confidence that John Aschroft is looking out for the babies. This will cause disappointment."

Mr. Ashcroft's stance on the clinic protection law became an issue at his Senate confirmation hearing in 2001. Critics said they were concerned that his strong opposition to abortion would color his enforcement decisions on abortion-related issues.

Mr. Ashcroft acknowledged at the hearing that he believed that the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion was "wrongly decided" and that he was personally opposed to abortion. But he added, "I well understand that the role of attorney general is to enforce the law as it is, not as I would have it."

You can't really expect the chief law enforcement official in the nation to defend your "right" to use a vehicle as a weapon.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:13 AM

CROSSING THE LINE

Manslaughter Count Filed Against a Congressman (MICHAEL JANOFSKY, August 30, 2003, NY Times)
Representative Bill Janklow, who served four terms as governor of South Dakota before winning election to Congress last year, was charged in his home state today with second-degree manslaughter because of a traffic fatality there two weeks ago.

That felony charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, threatens to end a long and distinguished career that has made Mr. Janklow, a 63-year-old Republican, one of the most prominent politicians in the state's history. Before the accident, South Dakota Republicans were urging him to run next year for the Senate seat held by the minority leader, Tom Daschle. [...]

The prosecutor in the case, William J. Ellingson, the Moody County state's attorney, ruled out a charge of vehicular homicide, more serious than the manslaughter charge, after tests determined that no drugs or alcohol had been involved. In similar cases, Mr. Ellingson said, the manslaughter count has resulted in successful prosecutions.

Somehow, we draw a line between speeding, which it seems safe to say nearly every driver does, and running stop signs, which is unthinkable to most. And God help him if he'd been drinking. But he does deserve jail time and it wouldn't be surprising to see him resign from Congress before then.

August 29, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 PM

CASH OUT

Video Music Awards Celebrate 20 Years (Marla Lehner, August 29, 2003, Fox News)
The award-winners were a mixed bag. Missy 'Misdemeanor' Elliott, the female rapper who had a leading eight nominations going into the show, walked away with a moonman for best hip-hop video and the coveted video of the year award, beating out crowd favorite, Johnny Cash, as well as 50 Cent, Timberlake and Eminem.

Cash, who many were predicting would sweep the awards, was unable to make an appearance because he was hospitalized, and won only one award, for cinematography. His video of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt” was seen as a swan song for the 71-year-old crooner.

When Timberlake beat Cash for the best male video, he expressed shock over the decision.

“This is a travesty. I demand a recount,” he said. “My grandfather raised me on Johnny Cash....I think he deserves this more than any of us in here tonight."

Whoever Justin Timberlake is, that's a stand-up thing to say.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 PM

WE NEED MORE CHAOS

Death and Hesitation in Iraq (DEXTER FILKINS, August 30, 2003, NY Times)
Until now, the Americans have enjoyed relative stability among the country's Shiite and Kurdish populations, in the south and north, as they have battled a ferocious insurgency in the central part of the country.

The killing of Ayatollah Hakim, by stirring up the country's Shiite population, threatens to spread the chaos. Much will depend, it seemed today, on whom the Shiites blame for Ayatollah Hakim's death: remnants of Mr. Hussein's government, composed mainly of Sunni Arabs, or radical members of their own religious group.

The Governing Council, a group of Iraqis representing the tapestry of Iraq's ethnic and religious groups, has long been seen as a central piece in the American plan to nurture democratic government here.

But in recent weeks, American officials have expressed frustration over what they describe as the reluctance of the 25-member Council to seize the reins of political power. The Iraqis, meanwhile, have complained that the Americans, while talking about democracy, have refused to turn over power where it matters.

A kind of paralysis has resulted, according to both Iraqis and American officials, with the Governing Council taking little action in its first six weeks. "On the Council, someone makes a suggestion, then it goes around the room, with everyone talking about it, and then by that time, it's late afternoon and time to go home," said an aide on the Council. "We don't get a lot done."

As they have done on several previous occasions, American officials stood back today and waited for the Iraqis to act, reluctant to upstage them. "The Iraqi interim government is in control of the situation," said a spokesman for the Coalition Public Authority, the American branch of the government. "We have issued a statement, and that is all we have for now."

The studied reluctance by American officials and military officers to move in place of the Iraqis appeared risky. Shiites, accounting for 60 percent of the population, are deeply divided between moderates and radicals; those divisions are now likely to grow. At the same time, the entire Shiite population is suspicious that Sunnis loyal to Saddam Hussein may be behind the killing, Iraqi analysts said. All these tensions could quickly lead to further violence.

The solution to these problems is the same as it's been all along: put the Shi'ites in charge and let them deal ruthlessly with the Ba'ath remnants and with their own extremists.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 PM

NOT SO ANNOYING AFTER ALL

Arthur Miller joins run for Idiotarian on the Year (Thought Mesh, 27 August 2003)
[W]e have some commentary by playwright Arthur Miller. In it he compares his play The Crucible to Senator McCarthy.
Miller himself commented […]

“They would say to me, ‘this is all fraudulent - there never were any witches, but there are Communists’,” he said.

“I could only say that in 1692, if you had stood on the main street of Salem, Massachusetts, and said ‘there are no witches’, I wouldn’t want to be your insurance man.”

I know that cultural / literary figures today are expected to be almost completely disconnected from reality, but this is delusional even for the glitterati. If someone had said “there are no witches” back in 1692 (and I suspect that some did) it would have been true but politically incorrect. The analogy for McCarthy would have been for someone to announce in 1950 that there were no Communists and had it have been true and politcally incorrect. Miller seems to think that the only thing stopping people from admitting that Communists didn’t exist was fear of the political consquences, not the billions of people oppressed by Communists. Just who Miller thinks was running the USSR, Eastern Europe and China at the time isn’t clear. I’ve heard plenty of apologists for Communism but never before one who denied the very existence of it.

AOG making the signal point that the existence of a "witch hunt" doesn't disprove the existence of witches.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 PM

MULTILATERALISM IN ACTION

Talks impasse threatens cheap drugs deal: Accusations of sabotage sour WTO negotiations (Charlotte Denny, August 30, 2003, The Guardian)
A deal to provide cut-price copies of life-saving drugs for the world's poorest people was on the brink of collapse yesterday in Geneva, after developing countries objected to a last-minute compromise worked out to pacify the US pharmaceuticals industry.

A marathon session of negotiations ended early yesterday morning with no deal amid bitter recriminations and accusations of sabotage. [...]

The compromise hammered out by the US and four key developing countries was supposed to be ratified by all 146 members of the WTO on Thursday night. But when the Philippines indicated it was unhappy with the requirements on developing countries to prevent smuggling, dissent swelled among developing countries, with 20 indicating they had problems with the draft deal.

In the fervid atmosphere following the collapse of talks at midnight, some trade envoys accused development lobby groups of stirring up developing countries to sabotage the deal at the last minute. Kenya, one of the four developing countries which cut the original deal with the US, held up talks for six hours until its Geneva representative was overruled by Nairobi.

The Philippines then is pro-smuggling?
Posted by David Cohen at 9:18 PM

ORDINARILY, I'D STICK THIS IN THE COMMENTS.

Bustamante Proposals Bold Weight Loss Program For State (AP, 8/29/03)
ANAHEIM -- Standing at the gates of Disneyland, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante said Friday that as governor he would propose an amendment to the California State Constitution to deal with what he called a burgeoning epidemic of obesity.

"Look at all these fat people," Bustamante said, gesturing to the lines waiting to enter Disneyland. "Californians are too fat. According to doctors I have spoken with, one-third of all Californians weigh too much, and ultimately those fat people will die. That will end up costing the state money that we don't have, and will threaten our pristine Californian environment as we have to dig wider and wider graves."

Bustamante unveiled a proposed new amendment to the state constitution, to be submitted to voters at the same time as the current recall question, that would cut gravity in half. "What we are proposing," Bustamante explained, "is to decrease what scientists call the 'acceleration of gravity' to 16 feet per second per second from 32 feet per second squared. This will cure our state weight problem in one fell swoop. We have been forced to take this action by the criminal neglect of the Bush Administration."

Bustamante went on to explain that fat Californians drive up gasoline prices because the added weight of having fat people in the car increases fuel consumption. He said that his proposal "will improve our health, reduce gasoline usage, reduce fuel prices, help our ailing aeronautical industry and should increase by 10% the number of games won by our California sports teams, except for the Clippers." Bustamante also claimed that last years electricity shortages were exacerbated because "fat people need more air conditioning."

Bustamante ended by noting that "The law of gravity is a cruel law, which I know well as it imposes its heaviest burden on our poor Latino communities. The people of California deserve to weigh less and I won't rest until they do. Our slogan is No on the recall, Yes on Bustamante, No to gravity."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 PM

CAN THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD BE FAR BEHIND?

The lieutenant governor proposes amending the state Constitution to regulate gasoline prices. (Matea Gold and Elizabeth Douglass, August 29, 2003, LA Times)
Charging that international oil companies are manipulating the gasoline market, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante said Thursday that as governor he would work to bring the industry under state regulation in an effort to control gas prices.

Bustamante, who compared the behavior of oil companies to deception in the electricity industry, proposed amending the California Constitution to define gasoline as a public utility and subjecting gas prices to approval by the state Public Utilities Commission. [...]

Hawaii approved a price cap on gasoline that is set to take effect in July, but no state regulates the oil industry as Bustamante proposes. Oil companies would likely challenge the new law as a violation of the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

"Gasoline -- and the business of selling gasoline -- is part of interstate commerce that belongs to Congress to regulate, if at all," said Anthony Sabino, an associate law professor at St. John's University's Peter J. Tobin College of Business in New York. "With all due respect to Mr. Bustamante, he is either very ignorant of the law, or he's getting incredibly bad advice from his advisors, or it's a publicity stunt."

Maybe he really is as big an idiot as everyone says.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 PM

THE WIND BENEATH THE EMU'S WINGS

Old Europe (Ian Campbell, 8/28/2003, UPI)
"Four legs good, two legs bad" becomes the mantra of the pigs in George Orwell's "Animal Farm." "U.S. good, Europe bad" might be the mantra of many an American businessman.

For though the antiquities of Rome, the pubs of Dublin and the boulevards of Paris enchant Americans, old Europe tends not to charm economically or politically in the United States.

The European economy is seen as hugely inferior to the American one: less competitive, more expensive, less flexible, more statist. America leads; Europe does not follow: it is pulled along -- by the higher growth of the United States.

Politically, meanwhile, Europe is seen as the home of uncommitted and the plain wrong. The "old Europe" of France and Germany, to use U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld's disparaging term, opposed attacking Saddam Hussein's Iraq while Britain stepped forward. Europe laughed at Reagan and his "tear down this wall" message to Mikail Gorbachev. Look what happened.

And Reagan's supply-side economics? Twenty years on it is the economics rather than the laughter that has lasted.

If ever there was a moment when the world needed Europe to be a serious economic factor it was immediately after 9-11, when an American economy that had already slowed received a horrific shock. Instead, Europe proved itself useless.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 PM

AS THE KAERU BOILS

Spending slashed as incomes fall again: Wage earners tightened their belts by a mind-boggling 6% in July (The Japan Times, Aug. 30, 2003)
Spending by wage-earner households fell 6 percent in July in real terms from a year earlier for the largest monthly contraction in nine years and reversing the previous month's 0.4 percent increase, the government said Friday.

Average monthly household spending came to 326,772 yen, the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said in a preliminary report.

Their average monthly income, including summer bonuses, dropped 1.1 percent in real terms to 575,142 yen, falling for the 16th consecutive month. Disposable income declined a real 1.7 percent to 479,433 yen. [...]

The key gauge of consumer prices in Tokyo edged down 0.3 percent in August from a year earlier for a record 47 consecutive months of decline, the government said in a preliminary report Friday.

But the plaintive cry comes: "They make better cars...."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 PM

UNCOMMON SENSE

Religion and the American Revolution (Christine Leigh Heyrman, National Humanities Center)
Teaching the American Revolution presents a prime opportunity to instruct your students in the ways that religion shaped the American past. [...]

The second approach--and my favorite--involves introducing students to Thomas Paine's Common Sense. This celebrated (and admirably brief and accessible) treatise was the eighteenth-century equivalent of a runaway bestseller. Published in January of 1776, it became an overnight sensation--a pamphlet pored over by people in the privacy of their homes and read aloud in taverns and other public gathering places everywhere in British North America. In short, a wide range of colonials, literate as well as illiterate, felt the force of Paine's arguments for breaking with Britain, and what he wrote persuaded enough undecided men and women to embolden the Continental Congress to endorse the Declaration of Independence by July of 1776.

Why did Common Sense succeed so brilliantly as a piece of political propaganda? Among other reasons, because it is a kind of secular sermon, an extraordinarily adroit mingling of religion and politics. Look at the opening paragraphs ("Time makes more converts than reason.") in which Paine casts the decision to support the cause of rebellion as a matter of feeling rather than thought, as a process akin to that of evangelical conversion. Review his assault on monarchy, which boils down to the proposition that all kings are blasphemous usurpers who claim a sovereign authority over other human beings that rightfully belongs only to God. Notice, too, how vehemently Paine insists that the Jews of the Old Testament rejected monarchical government--the obvious conclusion being that God's new "chosen people" in America should follow that example. Consider his assertion that the colonies are an asylum of religious liberty, implying that Americans must pass from argument to arms to protect freedom of conscience for religious dissenters. And, finally, don't miss how often the cadences of Common Sense echo and even reiterate the language of the Bible.

Ironically, Thomas Paine was anything but an orthodox Christian. Although bred to Quakerism in England during his youth, he had shed that religious influence years before writing Common Sense and later proudly proclaimed his deistical views in a pamphlet entitled The Age of Reason--which prompted pious Protestants, even as late as the twentieth century, to denounce him as a "dirty little atheist." But even if Paine was less than sincere--indeed, entirely disingenuous--in invoking the evangelical sentiments that suffuse Common Sense, he had an intuitive grasp of religious appeals that would move his American audience to political action. In other words, while Common Sense is not a reliable guide to Paine's private religious opinions, its enthusiastic reception in America tells us a great deal about the religious views of his audience.

There was some earlier discussion of whether the 55 mph speed limit was fundamentally based on morality or not. Note here how Jimmy Carter too knew that the way to sell an idea to the American people is to make it a moral/religious issue, President Carter's Address to the Nation: July 15, 1979:
We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our Nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.

Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.

In little more than two decades we've gone from a position of energy independence to one in which almost half the oil we use comes from foreign countries, at prices that are going through the roof. Our excessive dependence on OPEC has already taken a tremendous tool on our economy and our people. This is the direct cause of the long lines which have made millions of you spend aggravating hours waiting for gasoline. It's a cause of the increased inflation and unemployment that we now face. This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our Nation.

The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them. [...]

[T]he solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country. It can rekindle our sense of unity, our confidence in the future, and give our Nation and all of us individually a new sense of purpose.

You know we can do it. We have the natural resources. We have more oil in our shale alone than several Saudi Arabias. We have more coal than any nation on Earth. We have the world's highest level of technology. We have the most skilled work force, with innovative genius, and I firmly believe that we have the national will to win this war.

I do not promise you that this struggle for freedom will be easy. I do not promise a quick way out of our Nation's problems, when the truth is that the only way out is an all-out effort. What I do promise you is that I will lead our fight, and I will enforce fairness in our struggle, and I will ensure honesty. And above all, I will act.

We can manage the short-term shortages more effectively and we will, but there are no short-term solutions to our long-range problems. There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice.

Twelve hours from now I will speak again in Kansas City, to expand and to explain further our energy program. Just as the search for solutions to our energy shortages has now led us to a new awareness of our Nation's deeper problems, so our willingness to work for those solutions in energy can strengthen us to attack those deeper problems.

I will continue to travel this country, to hear the people of America. You can help me to develop a national agenda for the 1980's. I will listen and I will act. We will act together. These were the promises I made 3 years ago, and I intend to keep them.

Little by little we can and we must rebuild our confidence. We can spend until we empty our treasuries, and we may summon all the wonders of science. But we can succeed only if we tap our greatest resources -- America's people, America's values, and America's confidence.

I have seen the strength of America in the inexhaustible resources of our people. In the days to come, let us renew that strength in the struggle for an energy-secure nation.

In closing, let me say this: I will do my best, but I will not do it alone. Let your voice be heard. Whenever you have a chance, say something good about our country. With God's help and for the sake of our Nation, it is time for us to join hands in America. Let us commit ourselves together to a rebirth of the American spirit. Working together with our common faith we cannot fail.

Thank you and good night.

The tragedy of his presidency was that he was so weak a leader, as you'll see if you read the positively cringe-inducing first half of the speech, that he could no longer galvanize the nation to action.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 PM

PRANKISH LORD

Hare Krishna Temple (LUCKY SEVERSON, August 29, 2003, RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY)
MARY ALICE WILLIAMS, guest anchor: Hare Krishna. The name conjures up saffron-robed devotees and 1970s songs. But where are they today? They have their own congregations now, a new temple in which to worship, and help from unlikely strangers. Lucky Severson found one vital Krishna community at the Stone Center of the Latter Day Saints.

LUCKY SEVERSON: About 60 miles south of the Salt Lake Mormon Temple, along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, at the very epicenter of Mormondom, there is one edifice that is distinctly not Mormon. For a split second, you might wonder if you were in a far away country, like India. What you have here is the very first traditional Hare Krishna Temple built in the U.S.A.

Ten years ago when the Hare Krishna first proposed building a temple on a hill in a county that was over 95 percent Mormon, you could imagine the overall reaction here. It could best be described as disbelief. [...]

As his wife Vie looks on, Caru Das entertains a group of curious senior citizens. The Temple has become one of the most popular attractions in Utah County.

CARU DAS (President, Hare Krishna Temple, Utah): The first words coming out of many of our visitors' mouths when they come through the doors is: How did you guys get to be here? What are you doing here? How did this happen?

SEVERSON: It happened after [Dr. Stan Green, a radiologist, and a Stake President, which is a Mormon position above bishop] dropped by to check out the strange folk with ponytails, who had come to the area in the mid 1970s after learning that people here are exceptionally religious. The two men became good friends, and that led to offers of help from the neighbors and a $25,000 check from the Mormon Church -- otherwise known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, or LDS for short. It is not the first time the LDS Church has contributed to other religions within Utah.

Dr. GREEN (State President, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints): And I'm not sure they could do all of this if they had to pay for everything, and yet certainly they deserve a place to worship just like I deserve a place to worship.

CARU DAS: You know, we think of ourselves as the little brother in the area. And the LDS Church, metaphorically speaking, as the big brother, comes up, pats you on the back, and says good work, you know, we're glad you're here. Keep it up, and here's something to help out, and that was great for us.

Stands in sharp contrast to the bombing in Najaf, no?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:44 PM

LIBRARY OF PC AMERICA?

Containing Multitudes: The Politics of the "Library of America" (Peter Wood, August 29, 2003, The Claremont Institute)
Last year, the now-defunct Partisan Review held a conference on the 50th anniversary of its seminal "Our Country, Our Culture" conference. The 1952 event marked a sea change among many American intellectuals who had begun to sense some of the deep attractions of American life and were finding ways to back out of the reflexive scorn for their country and their culture that had long been the identity badge of the American Left. In the year following 9/11, a similar re-discovery seemed to be in progress. At the opening dinner, I found myself at a dinner table with Gerald Weissmann, distinguished physician, biomedical researcher, and eloquent man of letters. I knew him, however, only by reputation and had never turned a page in The Woods Hole Cantata, Darwin's Audubon, or any of his other discursive books on the shoreline between science and literature. Perilous, those chance conversations with luminaries you know to be luminous but about whose actual work you are as ignorant as a sea cucumber.

We chatted about a project whose origins lay in that earlier rapprochement between America and the Left: the Library of America (LOA). Edmund Wilson in 1958 called on the United States to follow the example of the French, who had their Pleiade editions of great French writers. Americans had been notoriously more fickle towards their best writers. Not only had Moby Dick sunk to the cold depths of obscurity but, scandalously, William Faulkner's works at one point had all gone out of print. Here was a noble cause: gather the best American prose and poetry and publish it in uniform, reasonably priced editions that would stay in print for as long as the Republic would stand.

Wilson didn't live to see the realization of his dream, which came in 1979 with the help of the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. LOA was seen by many as a victory of Wilson's dream over a rival scheme favored by the Modern Language Association, but the series soon went in directions that Wilson never could have imagined.

I observed to Weissmann that the Library of America had started well but in recent years it had begun to pad its list more and more with writers of little real distinction. Some, like Kate Chopin, had been added to please the feminists. Some, like Zora Neale Hurston, appeared to be diversity hires. Nathanael West, author of The Day of the Locusts and Miss Lonelyhearts? Gay icon, I guess. A volume of John Muir's writings registers the environmentalist sympathies of our age. And then there is Gertrude Stein, who merits two volumes. Stein is a writer whose entire range lies between monotonic and moronic. Weissmann murmured in stern disapproval, and our conversation died away.

A week later I read in Darwin's Audubon Weissmann's tribute to a remarkable mind, "Gertrude Stein and the Ctenophore." Stein, he says, "changed forever the way we read the English language."

Personally, I think Hurston should be there, though Chopin, Stein, & West are sketchy. Anyway, it would be nice to see an LOA edition of Albert Jay Nock, but we conservatives do already have the Liberty Fund.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:32 PM

NO SHERMAN, SHE

Mrs. Clinton Denies 2004 Presidential Run (AP, Aug. 29, 2003)
A drop in President Bush's poll numbers has increased speculation about New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton jumping into the 2004 Democratic presidential race - a notion the former first lady rejected Friday.

"I am absolutely ruling it out,'' Clinton said during a visit to the New York State Fair in Syracuse, N.Y. She had insisted in recent months that she will not consider entering the race for president this year even if that is what some Democrats want.

Fueling the speculation has been talk of a fall visit to Iowa, site of the nomination's kickoff caucuses Jan. 19, but no confirmation yet from her staff on whether Clinton will go.

A meeting of her fund-raising team next month is expected to include at least some discussion of presidential politics - more likely the 2008 race, according to some familiar with planning for the session.

And, there is her own campaign Web site, which includes a section called "Hill Notes'' - a sampling of supportive e-mail messages assembled by her staff. On a recent day, seven of the first 10 messages urged a presidential run, or alluded to the possibility.

"Though I had previously been dismissive of the need for me to run in 2004, I now find myself unable to refuse the heartfelt pleas of my Party and the thousands of people who have joined the spontaneous "Draft Hillary" movement. What I do now I do despite my firm wishes to fill out my first term but I do it because I have been convinced that my Party and our Country need me."
Posted by David Cohen at 7:17 PM

HELLOOOOOOO.

Rate Your Music
Friday, August 29, 2003 12:15 PM EST

Rate Your Music and YACCS are down due to a server failure.

Services are expected to return to normal in 24 - 48 hours.

Thanks
YACCS is our commenting service.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:34 PM

CRUZ CONTROLLED

Pair back tribes on gambling: Bustamante and McClintock deny any dealing for donations.(Margaret Talev, August 29, 2003, Sacramento Bee)
Two of the three top candidates seeking to replace Gov. Gray Davis in the recall election took their cases to moneyed Indian tribes Thursday, promising to support more gambling and less government intrusion on tribal lands in California.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock drew standing ovations after their remarks to the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, according to members who attended the closed-door session at the downtown Hyatt Regency Sacramento. [...]

"In terms of Hewlett-Packard or any other industry group in California, we don't put a limitation on any of them," Bustamante said. "We don't say, 'You can only sell so many computers' or 'You can only have so many franchises.' What we do is let the market determine a lot of what is needed." [...]

New campaign laws limit donors to giving no more than $21,200 per replacement candidate in the recall campaign.

Through a loophole in election law, however, Bustamante can raise larger amounts by funneling them through his 2002 campaign account. Last week, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation used that loophole to donate $300,000. Bustamante has said the campaign could cost him $15 million.

That $300,000 is, by the way, about half of what Mr. Bustamante has raised so far. Meanwhile, the suggestion that a vice like gambling should not be subject to greater government controls than other businesses is totally irresponsible. It's one thing to say that gaming should be legal, quite another to say that we're obligated to let the free market determine its extent. At worst it should be treated just like its peers--alcohol, cigarettes, etc.--legal but regulated.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:17 PM

COGITO ERGO SOMETHING OR OTHER

Machine Thinks, Therefore It Is (Michelle Delio, Aug. 27, 2003, Wired News)
A new type of thinking machine that could completely change how people interact with computers is being developed at the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories.

Over the past five years, a team led by Sandia cognitive psychologist Chris Forsythe has been working on creating intelligent machines: computers that can accurately infer intent, remember prior experiences with users, and allow users to call upon simulated experts to help them analyze problems and make decisions.

Forsythe's team was originally trying to create a "synthetic human" -- software capable of thinking like a person -- for use in national defense.

The thinking software was to create profiles of specific political leaders or entire populations. Once programmed, the synthetic human(s) could, along with analytic tools, predict potential responses to various hypothetical situations.

But along the way, the experiment took a different turn.

Forsythe needed help with the software, and asked some of the programmers in Sandia's robot lab for assistance. The robotics researchers immediately saw that the technology could be used to develop intelligent machines, and the research's focus quickly morphed from creating computerized people to creating computers that can help people by acting more like them.

Enlightenment Man in his desperation latched on to the absurdly inadequate assertion of Rene Descartes--"I think, therefore I am"--but as this story helpfully shows, thinking is rather a meager thing in the long run. Computers will sooner or later "think", but the fact that we'll be able to program them to accept any reality we choose suggests just how tenuous a basis that is upon which to base the claim that reason renders greater certitude than faith.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:58 PM

WHAT HAPPENS IF GOD IS DEAD AND YOU'RE BUT A DIM REFLECTION OF HIM?

Has experimenting on human life lost its power to disgust? (Michael Cook, August 19 2003, The Age)
A US-trained scientist at Shanghai Second Medical University, Dr Huizhen Sheng, has published a peer-reviewed article in an international journal based in China describing how she created 400 embryos by injecting human DNA into the eggs of New Zealand rabbits. One hundred of these survived for several days.

Sheng says she won't be implanting these embryos in human surrogate mothers to create carrot-loving babies with floppy ears and big front teeth. Her interest is extracting embryonic stem cells - ultimately to work miracles such as getting Christopher Reeve to walk again, curing juvenile diabetes or reversing Parkinson's disease.

Her overseas colleagues were a tad sceptical about her work, but very interested. If her results are verified, they will mark a significant advance in cloning technology. [...]

None of the cloning experts interviewed by various newspapers overseas had ethical qualms about the hybrid embryos.

On the contrary, Robin Lovell-Badge, of Britain's National Institute for Medical Research, said he was impressed.

Harvard University cloning expert Douglas Melton said "I'm glad to see it published, as it will encourage others to try it." [...]

Not even two years ago, a tiny American biotech company, Advanced Cell Technology, set alarm bells ringing around the world when it claimed it had cloned a handful of human embryos. The ensuing controversy made front-page news, with abundant chatter about "standing on the threshold of a brave new world". [...]

It has taken less than two years to habituate ourselves to regarding human embryos as pharmaceutical fodder.

Now we've reached the point where scientists play at the ghastly fantasies of The Island of Dr Moreau and no one blinks.

The trouble with slippery slope is that we don't slip accidentally; we race down gleefully into the abyss.
Posted by David Cohen at 4:37 PM

DON'T READ THIS ANYWHERE YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SEEN TEARING UP.

Fresh Glimpse in 9/11 Files of the Struggles for Survival (Jim Dwyer, New York Times, 8/29/03)
Until yesterday, when the Port Authority released its raw historical records from Sept. 11, the two men were remembered from glimpses as the north tower of the World Trade Center was heaving toward collapse. One was short, the other tall. They carried a crowbar, a flashlight and walkie talkies. Beyond that, say some who survived that day, the smoke had blurred their faces and hair and clothes into gray.

With their tools, the two men — Frank De Martini, an architect, and Pablo Ortiz, a construction inspector — attacked the lethal web of obstacles that trapped people who had survived the impact of the plane but could not get to an exit.

At least 50 people stuck on the 88th and 89th floors of the north tower were able to walk out of the building because Mr. De Martini, Mr. Ortiz and others tore away rubble, broke down doors and answered calls for help. Everyone above the 91st floor died.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has released to the press transcripts of emergency calls made on 9/11.
Posted by David Cohen at 2:39 PM

GLAD TO HEAR IT.

USMTC: US Machine Tool Consumption (American Machine Tool Dealers Association)
June machine tool consumption up 3 percent

June U.S. machine tool consumption totaled $244.55 million, according to AMTDA, the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association, and AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology. This total, as reported by companies participating in the USMTC program, was up 67.1% from May and up 3.3% from the total of $236.79 million reported for June 2002. With a year-to-date total of $952.86 million, 2003 is down 17.9% compared to the same period in 2002.

These numbers and all data in this report are based on the totals of actual data reported by companies participating in the USMTC program.

'June orders were up 3 percent from June 2002, the first growth in a monthly year-on-year comparison since November 2000,' noted Albert W. Moore, AMT President. 'A single instance does not constitute a trend but a trend must have a starting point. Thanks to the expensing provisions in President Bush's jobs and economic growth tax relief bill this year is looking more promising.'
"A single instance does not constitute a trend", but the industrial market has been moribund for the last couple of years and any sign of an uptick is good news. Mr. Moore is exactly right to put the emphasis on the expensing provisions of the administration's tax bill -- business can now expense (immediately write off) a much greater amount of capital investment than they could last year. This amounts to a tax subsidy for business investment that, along with low interest rates, should result in industry buying a lot of machines, making a lot of stuff more efficiently and keeping inflation down.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:24 PM

"FRIENDLY" FIRE?

Top Shiite cleric killed in Najaf blast (Pamela Hess, 8/29/2003, UPI)
At least 17 people, including a top Shiite cleric, have been killed in an explosion in the holy Shiite city of Najaf.

Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, the spiritual leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, was among those killed, Ahmed Chalabi, a member of Iraq's U.S.-backed governing council told the Arabic language network.

An attempt was made on the life of his nephew, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim, in the same city Sunday. A bomb exploded outside the nephew's home and office, killing two bodyguards and his driver. Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim suffered light injuries and was moved to a safe house. He is one of four top leaders of the Hawza, the clerics that direct much of Shiite life around the world.

Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, 64, was based in Iran for much of Saddam Hussein's rule, and was seen as a key figure in Shiite politics in Iraq. He was killed Friday as he was leaving the gold-domed Imam Ali mosque after leading Friday prayers. [...]

After coming back to Iraq, al-Hakim said he would not remake Iraq in Iran's image.

"We don't want an extremist Islam," he said.

"We Muslims have to live together. We have to build security for our new society," al-Hakim said in May. "We want a democratic government,
representing the Iraqi nation, the Iraqi people, the Muslims, Christians and all the minorities."

But his initial opposition to the U.S. occupation of country was well known. He boycotted the first U.S.-backed meeting of Iraqi groups in April.
Later, however, SCIRI softened its position. Al-Hakim's brother, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, is a member of Iraq's new Governing Council.

Obviously in a region where the main way to communicate one's displeasure is by blowing oneself up it's impossible to say who did something like this, but it does nothing to allay the belief that this series of truck bombings is the work of Shi'ites settling scores. The three targets have been: the Jordanian embassy after Jordan offered asylum to Saddam's daughters, having previously opposed the first Iraq War; the UN which adminstered the embargo and opposed the war; and now a Shi'ite cleric who advocated co-operation with the Allies and whose brother is on the US-formed governing Council. The great hope in Iraq was that the Shi'ites would be so anxious to finally govern themselves and so happy to be out from under Saddam's thumb that they'd be able to form a relatively stable new state. If they're going to kill each other instead, there may be no reason to hope for a decent Iraq. In fact, if moderate Muslims are to be legitimate targets of other Muslims, the entire region is in even deeper trouble than we all knew it to be.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:51 AM

FIRE IN THE STEPPES

Cossacks back to fight again (Sarah Rainsford, 8/29/03, BBC)
[S]ince the early 1990s the Cossacks have been busy reviving their culture. Their influence growing, they are now demanding federal status and land rights and believe it is a battle they can win. [...]

As they parade proudly past their ataman in full festival dress, the Cossacks certainly look like a formidable force. At the gateway to the Caucasus in the troubled Russian south, these nationalist-minded men cast themselves as modern-day defenders of Russia's borders and her Orthodox faith.

The Cossacks' own past is chequered but Ataman Nikolai Gankin from Kamchatka in the Far East believes their revival and the revival of Russia, will go hand in hand.

"The Cossacks today are at the vanguard of our people," he says. "Our souls ache for Russia and her fate. We must be united as Cossacks to stop our country being torn apart."

Most Cossacks these days are careful to keep within the law. In their historic heartland around Rostov-on-Don, pogroms are a thing of the past. However, in neighbouring Krasnodar region, relations with a Turkic minority remain tense.

The Cossacks believe the rugged steppe of the south is theirs, steeped in the blood of their ancestors. Anyone is welcome to live there, they say, as long as it is by Cossack laws. Some, like the burly Viktor Demyanenko, remain ready to fight those they see as intruders.

"The Russian nation is being diluted," Mr Demyanenko declares as large beads of sweat roll from his brow. "There are no Russians left at all in some villages! The foreigners are like weed, like locusts destroying everything in their path. So sometimes we have to jump in and scare them a bit."

The Cossacks are obviously a mixed blessing, but--like the Serbs--it would seem a bad idea to stifle the great warrior peoples who border the Islamic world, just in case it becomes a front line.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 AM

TIMBER!

Remembering what our society was based on (MICHELE MARR, August 28, 2003, LA Times)
In 1957, the American Bar Assn. erected a memorial to acknowledge the influence of the Magna Carta on our Constitution and
American law.

The memorial, a classical, open-stone rotunda that shelters a pillar of English granite inscribed with the words, "To commemorate Magna Carta, symbol of Freedom Under Law," sits on the banks of the Thames in Runnymede, England, where the Magna Carta was sealed in June 1215 by King John.

Recent photos of the 5,280-pound monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments and 14 other texts that attest to the bond God has to our laws and liberties and placed in the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building by Chief Justice Roy Moore reminded me of the memorial at
Runnymede.

The Magna Carta Memorial does not mention God as Moore's courthouse memorial does but the document it honors vociferously does. Like our own foundational charter of freedom, the Declaration of Independence, its preamble acknowledges God as the ultimate source of human law and liberty.

The preamble of that Great Charter of English Liberties concludes, "Know ye that we, unto the honour of Almighty God, and for the salvation
of the souls of our progenitors and successors, Kings of England, to the advancement of holy Church, and amendment of our Realm, of our mere and free will, have given and granted these liberties following, to be kept in our kingdom of England for ever."

The Declaration of Independence also establishes the tie between human rights, laws, liberty and God. It begins with an appeal to "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle" a people. Then it asserts, "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."

The Magna Carta Memorial has stood in Runnymede for nearly five decades. Moore's monument stands to be removed from public view, on the order of Alabama's Supreme Court, "as soon as practicable."

If you try to chop out every root of freedom that traces back to a Judeo-Christian origin there'll be nothing left to support the tree of liberty.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:30 AM

MORE SATCHELMOUTH

Satchel Paige's State of the Game
1. Coaches try to change motion and batting stances of young players. They should leave 'em alone.
2. I call this night baseball heaven, playing when it's cool. Guys now don't know how it was. Now it's like falling into a mint of money.
3. Pete Rose is the toughest hitting in the game today. He gets a piece of the ball. I love him, he plays hard, like I did when I pitched.
4. All the young hitters try to hit home runs all the time. There's no more squeeze or drag bunting.
5. Millionaires took over and changed the game completely.
6. Pitchers today have arm trouble because they sit on the bench and don't work enough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 AM

TOO CLEVER FOR US DIMS

Alabama, Faith, and the Senate (Charles Krauthammer, August 29, 2003, Townhall.com)
Senate Democrats are opposing [Alabama Attorney General Bill] Pryor for the content of his beliefs about abortion, a political sin made doubly abominable in the view of Schumer because they are so sincerely and deeply held.

Is Schumer therefore anti-Christian or anti-Catholic? No. But the net effect of Schumer's "deeply held views'' litmus test, now slavishly followed by his fellow Senate Democrats, is to disqualify from the bench anyone whose personal views of abortion coincide with those of traditional Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

This test is not a religious test. It's an ideological test -- that has the obvious effect of excluding from the bench tens of millions of believers who
suffer from "very, very deeply held views.''

The Schumer test is thus not a violation of the Article Six prohibition against religious tests for office. It is simply a clever way to get to the sameresult.

As always with Mr. Krauthammer, this is a very well thought out column which brings great precision to the issue. But its explanation is a bit too clever for us. If your test excludes every person of relatively orthodox religious views then it's an anti-religious test in our book. However, what's good for the goose is good for the gander; were we Senators we'd not vote to confirm anyone who did not have religious compunctions about abortion, homosexuality, etc. Of course, the difference is Democrats can't admit to having an anti-religious test or they'd get slain at the polls, while we'd feel quite confident going before the electorate with our anti-anti-religious test.

Here's a useful illustration of just how far out of touch congressional Democrats, the media, and other intellectual elites are on the centrality of
Judeo-Christianity to American life, USATODAY/CNN/Gallup poll results (USA Today, 8/27/03):
Do you approve or disapprove of a federal court decision ordering an Alabama court to remove a monument to the Ten Commandmentsfrom public display in its building?

Approve
19

Disapprove
77

No opinion
4

2003 Aug 25-26

When eight out of ten Americans agree on an issue, they're right. There's no reason they should yield to the judiciary's bizarre reading of the
Establishment Clause.
Posted by David Cohen at 9:11 AM

ANOTHER LIBERTARIAN VOTER.

No license? No pop stand, St. Paul tells 2 youngsters (Kevin Duchschere, Star Tribune, 8/29/03).
Mikaela Ziegler, 7, and her 4-year-old sister, Annika, were selling refreshments Wednesday afternoon near the State Fairgrounds when a woman approached them. But she wasn't there to buy.

'She said, 'You can't sell pop unless you have a license,' ' Mikaela said.

That's how it came to be that an inspector with St. Paul's Office of License, Inspections and Environmental Protection shut down Mikaela and Annika's pop stand. . . .

"I don't think that was right," [Mikaela] said, "Cause you should be able to just sell stuff without having something that you don't know you're supposed to be having."
Government -- making life miserable for millennia.

August 28, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 PM

MOOT COURT

Off the hook - for now: Blair's balancing act at the Hutton inquiry was adept, but Iraq could yet be his undoing (Polly Toynbee, August 29, 2003, The Guardian)
Deftly, he delivered a challenge to Hutton that was almost an affront. His words had an apparent ring of nobility when he said that if the BBC's allegation that he knowingly lied had been true, it would have "merited my resignation". "This was an attack that not only went to the heart of the office of prime minister but an attack on how our intelligence services operated ... and on the country as a whole."

Yet on reflection, this resignation remark holds a knife to the throat of Lord Hutton - "Back me or sack me." It suggests, none too subtly, that if this inquiry finds the BBC in the right and Downing Street in the wrong, Hutton will have prime ministerial blood on his hands. That's the kind of thing that gives unelected judges the constitutional heebie-jeebies. How else could this be interpreted? Blair spoke in the past tense - "it would have merited my resignation" - as if the inquiry was already done and dusted, the conclusion foregone and any danger to himself long past. It might have been more politic to assume Lord Hutton still has to make up his mind about that, even if the evidence is swinging Blair's way.

One thing was clear from the back-to-back evidence yesterday of the prime minister and the chairman of the BBC, Gavyn Davies. The ferocity of the enmity between the two sides remains unabated, a pair of stags with antlers fatally locked. The battle is still on and it has not been cooled one iota by the still perplexing death that brought all this to a crisis.

There was a laugh among the press when Blair described a private telephone call with Davies, a last-ditch attempt to make peace at the top. His "compromise" proposal? That the BBC should admit their story was wrong, and the government would admit the BBC had the right to broadcast it!

One needn't be too cynical to adhere to the view that when people take responsibility for things it generally means they think they didn't do anything wrong. Neither Mr. Blair nor George W. Bush has wavered one inch on their belief that the case against Iraq was dispositive and no Congressional committee or its Parliamentary equivalent is going to go to the mat with a head of government on a simple question of judgment. To do so would make a mockery of representative government.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:03 PM

MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL...

Don't Count Hillary Out (Richard Reeves, August 27 2003, Hartford Courant)
The race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 has changed totally in the past few weeks. At the beginning of the summer, Hillary could comfortably deny having national presidential ambitions because the comfortable conventional wisdom was that it didn't really matter who the Democratic candidate would be, because President Bush had a lock on re-election. (I'm sure that the thought has never crossed her mind that it would be better for her if Bush won in 2004, leaving her a clear field in 2008.)

But now! With Bush looking more vulnerable because there are not enough jobs at home and not enough peace abroad, Sen. Clinton has to check some numbers. If a Democrat, say Kerry, defeats Bush next November and then runs for re-election in 2008, then her next chance to run would probably be in 2012, when she will be 65 years old. And who knows what the world will look like then?

For the record, our new senator has said she was not interested in the presidency. So has former Vice President Al Gore, who might be rethinking his own future. Not for the record, though, Hillary and her advisers, including her husband the ex-president, her money men and pollsters, will meet shortly after Labor Day - Sept. 6, I hear - to discuss whether she should go for it. It is a decision that has to be made earlier rather than later because of November and December filing deadlines for the early primary elections that will almost certainly (and very quickly) identify the 2004 Democratic nominee.

We've been saying for two and a half years now that she's going to run in '04 and see nothing to make us change our minds. In politics if you want to run for president and the nomination is yours for the taking, you go for it. The interesting thing about the dynamics of the race is that the rest of the field has pursued the Party's Left so hard that, with a pliant media, she can probably get away with portraying herself as the Center-Right candidate of the lot.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 PM

THE GALE SAYERS CANDIDACY

The Conservative Who Would Be Governor: Tom McClintock is running third in California, but he may be the one who determines the outcome of the race. (Bill Whalen, 08/27/2003, Weekly Standard)
McClintock is about as unlikely a "darling" as you'll find in California politics. He's not telegenic--he is seemingly incapable of cracking a smile on television, or even batting an eyelash for that matter. Nor is he well liked within the upper echelons of his party. Last fall, McClintock ran for state controller. Though he was the lone Republican and in a position to win his race, the California Republican party instead gave more than $1 million to Gary Mendoza, the GOP candidate for insurance commissioner, and nearly $350,000 to Republican state senator Bruce McPherson, who was running for lieutenant governor. McPherson lost by 550,000 votes; Mendoza, by 350,000 votes. McClintock fell a mere 17,000 votes short of victory.

Now, nearly 10 months after that election, McClintock has turned the tables on the Republican establishment. He doesn't have enough support to lead the recall field--take McClintock's best showing (12 percent, according to the Los Angeles Times), add half-to-two-thirds of the support from the now-departed Bill Simon, and at best McClintock runs at 15-20 percent. That's not enough to win, but it could condemn Arnold Schwarzenegger to a second-place finish and hand the race to Bustamante.

McClintock's appeal is that he's a conservative non-Arnold. Just listen to the voiceover on his newly released TV ad: "We must have a governor who knows every inch of this state government, and who stands willing to challenge the spending lobby that controls it." That's as much as shot at Schwarzenegger's credentials as it is at Democrats' lack of thrift. McClintock's ad also says: "California used to be the Golden State. Taxes were low. Jobs were plentiful. Tom McClintock was there." That's an appeal to older conservatives who voted for Proposition 13 back in 1978 and probably know little about Arnold's movies.

Indeed, much of the McClintock strategy is based on the premise that voters will choose a feisty legislator instead of a conciliatory actor/activist. If elected, McClintock has promised to slash bureaucracy, place a cap on state spending and outsource government services. He's promised to balance the state budget through executive fiat and ballot initiative, if need be. Them is fighting' words, in Sacramento.

Given a Republican legislature, Mr. McClintock would be an excellent choice for governor of California, better than anyone he's running against. But California has a Democrat dominated legislature and he's not going to win. Is he willing to be responsible for electing Cruz Bustamante instead of a Republican, even if a moderate Republican?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 PM

EASY CHAIR

AUDIO INTERVIEW: Ed Gillespie (Laura Knoy, 2003-08-28, The Exchange: NHPR)
We speak with Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie about the state of the party, including how this year's Republican races are shaping up. Laura's guest is Ed Gillespie.

I'd not previously heard an extended interview with the Party's new chairman, but he handled himself extremely well here today.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 PM

ONE MISREGISTRATION = TWO FOOT LICKINGS

The perils of Pauline Hanson: why support for Australia’s version of Jean-Marie Le Pen surged last week after she was sentenced to three years in jail Sydney (Anthony Daniels, 30 August 2003, The Spectator)
Pauline Hanson irrupted on to the Australian political scene in the early 1990s, giving voice to blue-collar Australians who resented the immense social changes that had been brought about without their consent. They felt that the world of ice-cold tubes and meat pies was under threat, economically and culturally, from the world of kir and sun-dried tomatoes, a world in which the mainstream politicians, of whatever political stripe, increasingly lived and moved and took their being. When Hanson spoke in crude terms of the dangers of Asian immigration (a return to the yellow peril) and of the feckless Aborigines, she immediately won 22 per cent of the vote in her native Queensland. The proletarian lava had suddenly broken through the bourgeois crust.

From an outsider’s point of view, Hanson’s crime seems to have been relatively trivial. She registered her party — One Nation — without the number of members required by law, claiming that mere supporters at meetings were members. It is even possible that she failed to understand the law, rather than that she broke it deliberately, for the one thing upon which all educated Australians agree is her stupidity. Her one lasting achievement so far is to have bestowed upon Australian English the catchphrase ‘Please explain’‚ which she asked whenever anyone used a word of more than two syllables, such as ‘xenophobic’.

Having thus registered her party illegally, she and her co-founder, David Ettridge, who was also sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, accepted a subsidy of A$500,000 from the public purse to fund her election campaign (election campaigns are publicly funded in Australia). Although she subsequently paid the money back by raising it from her supporters, she was nevertheless charged with fraud. There are also charges pending that she used A$20,000 for her own private purposes.

Hanson had never been convicted of anything before, and it was swiftly pointed out in newspaper editorials and letters pages that killers have been known to receive lesser sentences. On the other hand, a former convict was reported as saying that since Hanson had asked for longer sentences, it was only right that she should receive one. And the only Aborigine in the Australian senate requested that Hanson be given special protection, because the prison to which she had been sent was full of the very Asians and Aborigines whose immigration and conduct she had so vociferously condemned. Truly, the whirligig of time brings in its revenges.

There's something seriously wrong with a democratic state where registering your political party incorrectly can land you in prison.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 PM

DECONSTITUTING THE RECONSTITUTED

Up to 40 More Taliban Killed in Fighting - Report (Reuters, August 28, 2003)
More Taliban fighters were killed on Thursday as a major operation by Afghan soldiers backed by U.S.-led forces and aircraft to find hundreds of guerrillas entered its fourth day, officials and news reports said.

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) agency quoted Afghan Colonel Qudratullah as saying he saw around 40 bodies on the battlefield in the Tangi Chinaran area of Dai Chopan district, part of Zabul province where the fighting has raged.

Afghan officials had already claimed 70 Taliban losses in the first three days of fighting, as Afghan soldiers and small groups of U.S.-led special forces searched for up to 1,000 militants. [...]

While estimates vary, it could be the largest concentration of Taliban fighters since the hardline Islamic regime was ousted late in 2001, raising concerns that the movement has rallied support to undermine the U.S.-backed central government.

Zabul governor Hafizullah told Reuters that at least four Taliban had been killed by around midday, before the heaviest clashes began.

Asked about reports that the Taliban's supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar may be among the fighters, he replied:

"I cannot tell you about that. I am not sure. I have not seen him with my own eyes."

There were reports today that the Mullah had been killed, though the Taliban claims he's not even in that part of the country. You have to wonder that these guiys are still so stupid that they'd gather 800 guys in one spot. Do they hold up signs saying: "Kill us"?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:50 PM

SCHROEDINGER'S FCAT

NAACP files complaint against Florida education department (BRENDAN FARRINGTON, August 28, 2003, Associated Press)
The NAACP filed a federal complaint against Florida's education department Thursday, seeking to stop use of statewide assessment tests until the achievement gap between minority and white students is eliminated.

If you don't open the results envelope does the disparity not exist?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 PM

BABY, I'M SINKIN' DOWN

Palestinians are at the crossroads (SALIM MANSUR, August 28, 2003, Toronto Sun)
In the following decades, Palestinians paid a mounting price for rejecting the UN settlement of 1947.

Finally, suffering greater abuse from their Arab brothers than from Jewish denial of their rights, the Palestinian leadership indicated its willingness to take a page of history from the Israelis and settle their differences by diplomacy.

The world applauded. America opened its doors to the Palestinian leadership. The seal of approval came with the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Yasser Arafat and his Israeli counterparts, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.

But then Palestinians allowed themselves to be overtaken by fanaticism. George Santayana defined it as "redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim."

For Palestinians, there can be no progress through blaming Israeli bigots for fuelling the spiral of violence, since the smoke of death suffocates all dialogue. Following 9/11, the demand on the Palestinian leadership has been unambiguous: to end violence whatever the excuse, and work with the international community to reach its goal.

Palestinians have to choose. And, having arrived at the fork in their road, the world watches with dismay their inability, or unwillingness, to end their dance with death and affirm life unconditionally.

At some level the decision does seem to be as simple as this: would Palestinians rather live themselves or keep killing Jews. To choose the latter is insane by definition.

MORE:
Palestinian Authority Freezes Funds of Islamic Charities (Ibrahim Barzak, Aug 28, 2003, Associated Press)
Palestinian authorities said Thursday they froze the bank accounts of nine Islamic charities to investigate whether the organizations funnel money to militants - the Palestinians' most striking action yet in a U.S.-sought clampdown on armed groups.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 PM

"INFINITE BREADTH BUT ZERO DEPTH"

The Natural Law Is What We Naturally Know: an interview with J. Budziszewski (Religion & Liberty, May/June 2003)
R&L: The concept of natural law underpins the analysis in your latest book What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide. What is the natural law?

Budziszewski: Our subject is called natural law because it has the qualities of all law. Law has rightly been defined as an ordinance of reason, for the common good, made by the one who has care of the community, and promulgated. Consider the natural law against murder. It is not an arbitrary whim, but a rule that the mind can grasp as right. It serves not some special interest, but the universal good. Its author has care of the universe, for he (God) created it. And it is not a secret rule, for God has so arranged his creation that every rational being knows about it.

Our subject is called natural law because it is built into the design of human nature and woven into the fabric of the normal human mind. Another reason for calling it natural is that we rightly take it to be about what really is—a rule like the prohibition of murder reflects not a mere illusion or projection, but genuine knowledge. It expresses the actual moral character of a certain kind of act. [...]

R&L: What are the promises and perils of advancing a natural-law argument in the context of public policy disputes?

Budziszewski: The natural-law tradition maintains that the foundational principles of morality are “the same for all, both as to rectitude and as to knowledge”—in other words, they are not only right for everyone, but at some level known to everyone. If this is true, then the task of debate about morality is not so much teaching people what they have no clue about, but bringing to the surface the latent moral knowledge or suppressed moral knowledge that they have already. There is an art to this; people often have strong motives not to allow that knowledge to come to the surface, and they may feel defensive. One has to get past evasions and self-deceptions, and it is more difficult to do this in the public square than in private conversation. Even so, certain basic moral knowledge is “down there,” and our public statements can make contact with it. When this is done well, the defensiveness of the listeners is disarmed, and they reflect, “Of course. I never thought of that before, but somehow I knew it all along.” [...]

R&L: What role, if any, does natural law play in determining the substance of the laws that govern a particular society? What happens if natural law is banished from the legal process?

Budziszewski: Try to think of a law that is not based on a moral idea; you will not be able to do it. The law requiring taxes is based on the moral idea that people should be made to pay for the benefits that they receive. The law punishing violations of contract is based on the moral idea that people should keep their promises. The law punishing murder is based on the moral ideas that innocent blood should not be shed, that private individuals should not take the law into their own hands, and that individuals should be held responsible for their deeds. If we refuse to allow discussion of morality when making laws, laws will still be based on moral ideas, but they will be more likely to be based on false ones.

R&L: How does individual liberty function under the natural law?

Budziszewski: Natural law and natural rights work together. I have a duty not to murder you; you have a right to your life. I have a duty not to steal from you; you have a right to use the property that results from the productive use of your gifts. If we all have a duty to seek God, then we must all have the liberty to seek him.

The correlation of liberties and duties may seem nothing more than common sense, but that is what natural law is: Common moral sense, cleansed of evasions, elevated and brought into systematic order. Unfortunately, the contemporary way of thinking about liberty denies common moral sense. For example in 1992, when the United States Supreme Court declared that “[a]t the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life,” it was propounding a universal moral right not to recognize the universal moral laws on which all rights depend. Such so-called liberty has infinite breadth but zero depth. A right is a power to make a moral claim upon me. If I could “define” your claims into nonexistence—as the Court said I could “define” the unborn child’s—that power would be destroyed, and true liberty would be destroyed along with it.

That insistence that one's claim to liberties carries with it no corresponding duties must ultimately be destructive of liberty.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:04 PM

THE SOFT UNDERBELLY OF THE WEST

The Islamization of France (Jean-Christophe Mounicq, 08/28/2003, Tech Central Station)
If Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilization” theory is right, France is on the front line. With at least six and maybe eight million Muslims living in its territory among a total population of 60 million, France is the most “islamized” Western country. Seeing France’s inability to adapt to globalization or to the aging of its population, it could be bad news for the world that the French are the first to be forced to facilitate the emergence of a “modern” Islam.

As nearly every Western country absorbs a fast growing Muslim minority, every Westerner should look closely at France. A French failure to integrate Muslims could lead to a general European and Western failure. Those who don’t believe in the clash of civilizations might at least see a clash between traditional Islamic values and Western republican values. This raises the question of the compatibility of Islam with secular democracy (separation of church and state) and human rights (especially the rights of women and of non-Muslims).

All Muslims do not interpret the Koran identically and do not practice the same forms of Islam. But which Islam is going to win in Western countries? Even if they do not say it openly, more and more French citizens fear an Islamist victory that could lead to religious and civil war. The vote in favour of Jean-Marie Le Pen is emblematic of this fear. Locally, votes in favour of the National Front are linked to the proportion of Muslim immigrants in the population.

The big question though is will Germany, when it's predominantly Turkish, still defeat France regularly in war, when it's predominantly North African?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:39 PM

THAT DOES NOT COMPUTE

Outside a mosque, Sunnis critique the new Iraq: Under Saddam, the Sunni minority enjoyed favored status. Now they find themselves outnumbered on the Governing Council. (Cameron W. Barr, 8/29/03, CS Monitor)
[T]alk of loving the Americans was the exception. The rule was the assertion that the occupying powers are unfairly promoting the interests of Iraq's Shiite muslims and fomenting sectarian discord.

"They are causing the disputes between Sunni and Shiite," said Samir Mohammed Mahmoud, a retired official of Iraq's Finance Ministry. He said he regretted that the Coalition Provisional Authority, the US-led administration running Iraq, had not found a way to hold elections to establish the Governing Council, a group of 25 Iraqis the US selected through closed-door consultations. "The Americans provided the Shiite with the opportunity to take a large part of the [Governing] Council."

Shiites hold 13 of the council's seats. Many Shiite leaders say that they should get the power that they deserve in the new Iraq. Shiite Muslims constitute some 60 percent of Iraq's population, and have long been politically repressed.

As a result, Mr. Mahmoud argued, "no one agrees with this [Governing] Council, not even the Arab countries." The 22-member Arab League has refused to recognize the council, although some Arab states have indicated a willingness to work with the group without extending any formal approval.

"The British government came and occupied us in the 1920s," Mahmoud elaborated. "They used policies to separate Shiite and Sunni - it seems the Americans are using the same idea now."

"We've gotten over this thing of Sunni and Shiite," added a white-bearded, white-robed gentleman who declined to give his name but said he held a doctorate. "[The Americans] want us to be more and more divided."

"The Governing Council doesn't represent all Iraqi people; it's a sectarian council. Especially the Sunni [members] - they are exiles, they came in on American tanks," he continued.

Hard to figure out how it's possible both that the Sunni dominated the Shi'ites under Saddam and that the Iraqis are past all this sectarian stuff except for us trying to stir it up. And, if they are over their sectarianism, why does it matter how the power on the Council is divided?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:32 PM

PROUD MARY

Economy improves in second quarter, raising hopes for second-half rebound (Jeannine Aversa, 8/28/03, Associated Press)
Idling for months, the economy finally shifted into a higher gear in the second quarter as consumers and businesses bought more and the federal government ramped up military spending on the Iraq war. The improvement reinforced the belief that the economy will pick up speed through the rest of the year.

The broadest measure of the economy's performance, gross domestic product, grew at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the April to June quarter, according to revised figures released Thursday by the Commerce Department.

That was faster than the 2.4 percent growth rate first estimated a month ago and came after two straight quarters of lackluster economic growth. GDP, which measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States, increased at just a 1.4 percent pace in the final quarter of 2002 and the first three months of this year.

''The economy is rolling forward now with considerable momentum and there's no reason to think we won't have strong economic growth through the rest of the year,'' said Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:15 PM

NOT ON OUR SIDE

Deporting convicted killer wrong: U.N. (Toronto Star, 8/28/03)
A United Nations committee has ruled Canada shirked its international responsibilities when it deported a convicted killer to the United States in 1998 even though he faced a death sentence.

In a decision experts say is a giant step forward for human rights, the U.N. Human Rights Committee dismissed Canada's arguments that its decision to deport Roger Judge didn't constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Charter of Rights.

The U.N. ruling, issued last week, said countries such as Canada that have abolished the death penalty are obliged to protect life in all circumstances.

"They may not remove, either by deportation or extradition, individuals from their jurisdiction if it may be reasonably anticipated they will be sentenced to death," the committee, said.

Just supposing that Osama bin Laden showed up in Montreal tomorrow--if the Canadians refused to deport him to the U.S. would anyone quarrel with sending the American military to take him by force?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:05 PM

NOT JUST THE AK-47

New penis grown on boy's arm (Annanova, 8/16/01)
Doctors have grown a new penis on a Russian boy's arm after he lost his old one in a bizarre accident.

The 16-year-old, named only as Malik, lost his penis after receiving an electric shock while urinating on an electric wire.

Big deal; every time Senator Clinton walks into a room with her husband people say she has one on her arm.

MORE:
Texas Man Wakes Up After Operation, Penis Missing ((Reuters, Aug 28, 2003)
An out-of-court settlement has been reached in the case of a North Texas man who woke up from bladder surgery only to find that doctors had amputated his penis without permission, lawyers said on Thursday.

Terms of the out-of-court settlement were not disclosed but Hurshell Ralls, 67, had been seeking over $5 million in a civil suit he filed in Wichita Falls, Texas, against the two doctors who removed his penis. They did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement. [...]

Ralls' attorney Steve Briley said that his client was having surgery in 1999 to remove a cancerous bladder, which would likely include the removal of his prostate gland. [...]

Ralls and his wife have not been able to recover from the anger and shock they felt after the surgery, his attorney said.

"Mr. Ralls was not informed that he was going to wake up and not have a penis," Briley said.

As long as they left him an arm it's apparently reversible.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 3:27 PM

WHO'S ENTITLED TO INTERPRET THE LAW

The Era of Entitlement: What Alabama Judge Roy Moore, File "Sharers," and the Catholic Church Have in Common (Marci Hamilton, FindLaw's Writ, 8/28/2003)
This is the Age of Entitlement. I do not mean entitlement only in the sense of the belief that one is entitled to a government handout. I also mean entitlement in the simpler sense of the belief that one deserves to get exactly what one wants - regardless of the law and despite the public good.

Four examples drawn from recent legal controversies illustrate this point....

I went to bat for the Recording Industry Association of America.... In response, I received numerous emails from individuals who hold the belief that they have an entitlement to free music on the web....

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and his followers have insisted on Justice Moore's supposed entitlement to keep the huge, stone rendition of the Ten Commandments he personally had installed in his courthouse....

Fortunately, the Entitlement Era may be coming to a close. With more and more institutions inclined to call lawbreaking just what it is ... entitlement is under siege. Lawbreaking is lawbreaking no matter who the perpetrator is - whether a church, or a state Supreme Court justice, or a college student - and increasingly, some have come to insist on that very truth.

Ms. Hamilton is absolutely right. The Entitlement Era has infected even the federal judiciary, who think they are entitled to issue edicts not clearly founded on either Constitutional or statutory law, and which others must obey. But this era of judicial entitlement may be coming to a close, as more institutions call judicial lawbreaking just what it is. Lawbreaking is lawbreaking, even if the perpetrator is a federal judge, and increasingly, some have come to insist on that very truth.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:21 PM

THE HAWKISH AMERICANS

Most say Iraq war was worth fighting (Richard Benedetto, 8/28/03, USA TODAY)
The news from Iraq is mostly bad, and criticism of President Bush from Democrats is relentless. But nearly two-thirds — 63% — of Americans say the war in Iraq was worth fighting, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows. (Related: Full poll results)

That is not to say, however, that they are fully satisfied with the way things are going.

Overall, 54% say the president does not have a clear plan for the postwar effort to bring stability and democracy to the country. [...]

Fifty-seven percent say they believe the war in Iraq is part of the overall war on terrorism. Bush has repeatedly made that argument, and the poll suggests his message is getting through.

Bush's handling of the Iraq situation is approved by 57%, down slightly from 60% a month ago; 66% approve of his handling of terrorism in general.

And 59% approve of the job he is doing overall, a range he has maintained for more than a month, regardless of the ups and downs of the news from Iraq.

The BBC did a bit last night about how much the war was costing America, then went to some man-in-the-street interviews to see how people felt about it. The interviewee's were so supportive of the war and dismissive of the costs the piece could have run on Fox News.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:13 PM

THERE WERE ARTICLES IN OUI?

Schwarzenegger Makes Light of Wild Past (Reuters, August 28, 2003)
On the same day that Arnold Schwarzenegger received the endorsement of 20 state Assembly Republicans in his bid to become governor of California, a decades-old interview resurfaced in which the actor copped to a number of titillating high jinks and kinky sexual acts during his years as a bodybuilder.

Just as Schwarzenegger was making the radio talk show rounds Wednesday to clarify his positions on several issues, the interview in the August 1977 issue of Oui magazine appeared on the Smoking Gun Web site, which was linked to via the political/celebrity gossip Web site the Drudge Report.

In the five-page interview with writer Peter Manso, Schwarzenegger admitted to smoking "grass and hash," hanging out with "entertainers, hookers and bar owners" during his early years in Venice, Calif., and participating in a group-sex encounter with a single female and several fellow bodybuilders from Gold's Gym, Schwarzenegger's early stomping ground.

"Having chicks around is the kind of thing that breaks up the intense training," he said, according to the reprint of the interview.

Schwarzenegger brushed off the story, saying only that he had things other than politics on his mind all those years ago.

"I haven't lived my life to be a politician," he said during a radio talk show.

In CA isn't the most damaging part of this likely to be the reference to women as "chicks"?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:33 PM

PROTESTING OUR PROVOCATIONS ABOUT THE PLAYA'S, PIMPS, & PLUTOCRATS OF THE PIGSKIN

Why Is Baseball So Much Better Than Football? (Thomas Boswell, January 18, 1987, Washington Post)
(24) Marianne Moore loved Christy Mathewson. No woman of quality has ever preferred football to baseball.

Steve Martinovich, Canada's very own version of Robert Neville, took such exception to Mr. Boswell's assertions that he answered every one:
1. Granted
2. Granted
3. Cheerleaders...God's gift to men.
4. Granted
5. Given some of the people who've sang that song, not a plus for baseball
6. Football has also had The Purple People Eaters and the Steel Curtain
7. Not entirely true.
8. I might give you that.
9. Baseball also has Don Zimmer who dresses in a satin jacket.
10. The Redskins haven't had someone who could kick in eight seasons
11. Billy Martin was better than anything in football on this score
12. Nor should he have been ashamed.
13. That was a good Lasorda line
14. Hah! Major leaguers don't chew any more because "It's bad for you!" Hardly manly
15. No experience with pro football in that context
16. Ditto
17. Ditto
18. Ditto
19. Generalization and unfair given steriods in baseball
20. I'm Canadian, there's no such thing as cold weather
21. And 150 of them tend to be meaningless. Every football game counts
22. Granted
23. Anyone who quotes Adolph Hitler or George Carlin automatically loses an argument :-)
24. Many women in Wisconsin would disagree
25. This is true, baseball books are generally better. They also tend to be more maudlin.
26. True
27. True
28. That's true.
29. Screams of anguish! Soldier Field? Notre Dame Stadium? I could name several more easily. A lot of people consider Fenway to be a piece of crap
30. I can dig that.
31. This is a good argument. I'm not convinced because the skill set is so different, but is a good argument.
32. I played football...the face mask is useful.
33. True. Outside of RBs, WRs and QBs, I doubt many football players would be recognized
34. I almost laughed out loud at this one. Many of baseball's early owners were men who were at best ethically challenged. Today? I can
begin and end a conversation with Peter D'Angelos in Baltimore. Today, most baseball teams are owned by corporations so they can conveniently duck a charge into the character of a single person or family.
35. Pete Rose? That's rich.
36. So is any army. And?
37. QB ratings are a clear formula.
38. granted
39. There are a lot of stats in baseball that are useless. Most in fact are.
40. the DH is the death of real baseball
41. Bah.
42. The Fudge Hammer...No jokes about that one.
43. Sigh.
44. Wild cards serve what purpose in baseball? To expand the number of teams? And they want to expand it further? Stones...glass walls...
45. That's plain silly.
46. That bothers me as well.
47. Pass interference bothers me as well.
48. Agreed to a point
49. Half truth.
50. I hate instant replay. Is that computerized ump system any better?
51. That means football is more manly.
52. Absolutely untrue.
53. And they miss a great tradition.
54. Not true.
55. Not really true.
56. True to a point.
57. True. NFL refs should be full-time
58. And there are no reps in baseball?
59. See 51
60. Not true
61. Compared to changing the height of the pitcher's mound? The strike zone (which no one knows what it is even if its defined officially)?
62. Sigh, no long-lived football players? Jerry Rice? I could go on...
63. True
64. Actually it means fall has arrived
65. Ha ha, right
66. Neither is a winner here.
67. I doubt baseball is that clean
68. Agreed
69. That was funny in the 1940s.
70. The only people who praise Fenway are the ones who don't sit in the small seats...and that's from Boston sports writers
71. Ref. Homer Simpson: I never knew baseball was so boring without alcohol.
72. And?
73. Somewhat true
74. This means nothing
75. False
76. Real dances have been banned for years. And football lost something with that.
77. Some rules are bad.
78. And?
79. Not true.
80. Stupid managers don't exist in baseball?
81. True
82. And?
83. Ty Cobb.
83. Hello? Ref. Whining by Roger Clemens
84. True
85. Whatever
86. True
87. There's plenty of humour in football.
88. Funny.
89. Different sports, different methods. Do apples taste like oranges?
90. See 89.
91. No experience with football stadiums...one baseball stadium. I wasn't that impressed
92. True
93. I'll take his word for it. Isn't he in baseball?
94. Ha ha, because they're up in the luxury boxes eating food no baseball fan can afford at the park.
95. Could be.
96. And who cares until September?
97. So?
98. The manliness issue again. Let's see a baseball player get hit by another baseball player and not go on the 15 DL.
99. Whatever.

I'd just point out that the two best books ever written about football are essentially anti-football tracts: North Dallas Forty and Friday Night Lights.

At any rate, Mr. Martinovich is generally far more sound in his reasoning, as you'll see at his fine magazine, Enter Stage Right, perhaps the last bastion of conservatism in Canada.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:18 PM

DIESELS HUMMIN'

Message of civil rights anthem remains powerful (CATHLEEN FALSANI, August 28, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
Since its release in the winter of 1965, the lyrics of the song "People Get Ready" by the Chicago group The Impressions have sunk into collective American consciousness, a civil rights anthem for the struggle that continues today in America and elsewhere.

The song, written by Curtis Mayfield, was long thought to have been inspired by the Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream of an America where children will be judged "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

In fact, "People Get Ready" was penned a year or two before the historic march on Washington, according to Cook County Commissioner Jerry "The Iceman" Butler, a former member of the Impressions.

Mayfield, who didn't attend the 1963 march, never minded that people thought it was because it was inspired by the same issues that launched the march, Butler said.

"When we started performing back in the 1950s around town here, it was right after Emmett Till was slain," Butler said, referring to the 14-year-old black Chicago boy who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after he reportedly whistled at a white woman.

"All of those things impacted on us because we were Till's age. . . . Then we got involved in terms of being aware of what was happening in the
South, in particular, and in our neighborhoods in general. All of that, I think, influenced his writings," Butler said.

Mayfield's song--the first successful gospel-influenced song to become a crossover hit on the Billboard charts--is laced with spiritual and biblical language.

With all due respect the great Impressions, the two best versions are by The Blind Boys of Alabama and by Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart.

The tune itself though is brilliant:
People get ready, there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket you just thank the lord

People get ready, there's a train to Jordan
Picking up passengers coast to coast
Faith is the key, open the doors and board them
There's hope for all among those loved the most
There ain't no room for the hopeless sinner whom would hurt all mankind
Just to save his own
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
For there is no hiding place against the kingdoms throne

People get ready there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket you just thank the lord

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:58 PM

PAGING ASA HUTCHINSON

Another GOPer Opts Out (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris and Clothilde Ewing, 8/28/03, CBS News)
Wednesday, Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., nixed a run against Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who Republicans are hoping to knock off in 2004. "This is not the time to abandon the job I have," Huckabee said at a news conference yesterday.

Huckabee’s decision is interesting since he is term-limited when his term expires in 2006 and he could have run for the Senate while sitting as
governor. Perhaps he’s setting his sights on taking on first-term Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in 2008.

Meantime, Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., who was widely expected to seriously challenge Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid, decided Monday he’ll stay in the House. "There is no doubt in my mind that I could defeat the existing senator on Election Day, but my decision has nothing to do with Sen. Harry Reid," Gibbons said at a news conference.

Other Republicans abandoning Senate bids in 2004 include: former college basketball coach Dale Brown against Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.; Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash., against Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. (although Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., did decide to run); and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., against Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., is still waiting to hear if he’ll have a formidable GOP challenger. There’s talk about former Rep. John Thune, R-S.D. - who lost a 2002 Senate race by 524 votes - taking him on.

One negative, though entirely worthwhile, aspect of the GOP having a hammerlock on the House for the forseeable future is that more senior
members who are in line for significant leadership positions and committee chairs are likely to stay put in their safe seats rather than go expend maximal effort to become very junior members of the Senate.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:46 PM

WE ARE NOT THEM

UN nuclear chief slams US for double standards (Agence France-Presse, August 27, 2003)
The head of the UN nuclear agency accused the United States in a German magazine interview of effectively breaking a ban on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction through its research into so-called "mini-nukes."

Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told the German weekly Stern, in its upcoming Thursday edition, that double standards were being used.

"Double standards are being used here. The US government insists that other countries do not possess nuclear weapons.

"On the other hand they are perfecting their own arsenal. I do not think that corresponds with the treaty they signed."

Of course there's a double standard. We can be trusted to use nuclear weapons for decent purposes; in fact we've been guilty of not using them as often as we should have. Other nations aren't trustworthy and we should be prepared to use our nuclear arsenal to stop them from developing their own. The wages of proliferation should be preemption.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:40 PM

WATERING THE TREE OF LIBERTY

Civil war: A do-it-yourself guide (Spengler, 8/29/03, Asia Times)
Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority's scapegoat-in-chief, so deeply abhors the prospect of a Palestinian civil war that he cannot bring himself to attack Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Chin up, Mr Abbas: civil war is the sine qua non of nationhood. Permit me to try to sell you on the merits of having a civil war of your very own. Think of a civil war not as a luxury, but as an investment.

It is unpopular these days to draw attention to the merits of violence, particularly the sort that inevitably entails "collateral damage", that is, the slaughter of innocents. Progress supposedly brings us non-violent conflict resolution. Au contraire. The faster the world changes, the more people find themselves left behind, and the more people are left behind, the more diehards are willing to fight to the death.

Real nations, as opposed to romantic visions of nations, have no room for irredentists and other rejectionists. They need the sort of people who show up on time, pay dues to a respectable political party and get along (if grudgingly) with the neighbors. Having a civil war is de rigeur. All the right people do it. It shows that the prospective nation has the grit to sort out its own problems.

The truth, Mr Abbas, is that no one will take you seriously until you have your own civil war. [...]

If you let your lawn go to seed or let your dog bark all night, your neighbors will become impatient and compel you to take action. The same applies to civil wars. If you don't do it yourself, the neighbors may do it for you, and end up damaging your property.

It's no use to say, "They can't get all of us!" They don't need to get all of you. Consider that the American criminal justice system has incarcerated or otherwise controlled one out of every three black Americans between the ages of 20 and 30. That is nothing less than the ruin of a generation, but it correlates to a big decline in the rate of commission of violent crimes.

If America is willing to exterminate large numbers of its own discontented population, don't expect any compunction when it comes to you. In a war of attrition, the side with more resources and more killing capacity always wins. If you make yourself sufficiently obnoxious, the Americans will take the leash of the Israelis and let them sort you out, however long it takes.

No mistake could be worse for the Islamic fundamentalists than to buy their own rhetoric about how soft America has become. Even if true in some moral and cultural senses, it will not stop us from killing just as many as it takes to guarantee our security. Liberal democracies are efficient and enthusiastic practitioners of massively lethal warfare.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:32 PM

KHATAMI V. KHAMENEI V. DEMOCRACY

Iran's reformers, conservatives square off (Safa Haeri, 8/29/03, Asia Times)
Iranian political analysts are unanimous in predicting that not only are the conservatives determined not to allow the next unicameral house be controlled by the reformists (as is the case now), they also want an end to the present political chaos caused by the endless feuds between the system's two opposed concepts of theocracy based of one man's absolute rule versus a republicanism mixed with a "tolerant religion", as defined by Khatami.

In the view of the analysts, the recent harsh crackdown on political dissidents and the independent press, which is close to the reformists, by the judiciary, a power that is directly controlled by Ayatollah Khamenei and which serves as the conservatives' political and police arms, is a clear indication of the hardliners' plans in that direction.

At the same time, the analysts say, the government's unprecedented firm stand in facing up to the conservatives is aimed at recovering at least part of the popularity that it has lost with its base, made up mostly of young voters, because of its dramatic failure in delivering the reforms that it had promised on the one hand and Khatami's continued bowing to the conservatives on the other.

To "punish" the reformers, Iranians who in all recent presidential and parliamentary elections had massively voted for Khatami and the reformers, deserted the polls in the last city and village council elections, offering Tehran municipality to the conservatives.

"The reformists' big mistake from the outset was that the political system of the Islamic Republic, based on the absolute rule of one person, is anything but democratic in the Western terminology of the concept," Dr Qasem Sho'leh Sa'di, a lawyer and outspoken political dissident speaking for the neo-reformists told Asia Times Online.

Contrary to the official reformists who insist on reforming Iran's constitution, the neo-reformers want drastic changes to the system, replacing the present theocracy with a secular democracy.

One thing you can say is that the Iranian experiment in Islamicism has been recognized as a failure in Iran far more quickly than was the Western experiment with Communist totalitarianism.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:21 PM

THE BLACK HOLE

'High-Risk' Finance at the Federal Level (Kelly Patricia O Meara. 9/02/03, Insight on the News)
The introduction to the General Accounting Office (GAO) "high-risk" list of federal agencies engaged in dubious accounting practices provided by Comptroller General of the United States David Walker reads in part: "The high-risk status reports are provided at the start of each new Congress. This update should help the Congress and the administration in carrying out their responsibilities, while improving government for the benefit of the American people." In other words, the purpose of the "high-risk" list is to provide helpful information to Congress about management of government agencies and departments.

But, even though the status reports are well into their second decade, one is hard-pressed to find in them detailed information that might in fact be useful to Congress in appropriating funds. Nowhere is this more evident than in financial management of the agencies and departments, about which this magazine has reported with care for nearly five years.

To provide a sense of how government bureaucrats are handling the people's money the GAO has provided an upbeat, yet sobering, breakdown. In 2001 there were 23 departments or agencies on the high-risk list. Two years later the number has increased to 25. The good news is that the Social Security Administration's (SSA) supplemental-security-income program and the Department of Justice's asset-forfeiture program have been removed from the list.

However, four new designations have been added, including the Department of Homeland Security, the disability programs at the SSA and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, federal real property and deteriorating facilities, and the Medicaid program. And, although it will come as no surprise to anyone remotely familiar with the problems plaguing corporate pensions, months after the official "high risk" was made public, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. (PBGC) was added to the list, raising the total yet another notch to 26. [...]

[W]alker again has raised the issue of the apparent inability of federal agencies properly and accurately to account for funds entrusted to them by taxpayers.

Apparent?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:08 PM

ASAP

Perle Cites Errors in Iraq, Urges Power Transfer (Reuters, 8/27/03)
Richard Perle, a leading Pentagon adviser and architect of the U.S. war to topple Saddam Hussein, said the United States had made mistakes in Iraq and that power should be handed over to the Iraqis as fast as possible.

In an interview with the Le Figaro daily newspaper to be published Thursday, Perle defended the U.S.-led war in Iraq and restated his belief that France had been wrong to lead international opposition to the conflict.

"Of course, we haven't done everything right," said Perle, according to the French text of the interview. "Mistakes have been made and there will be others.

"Our principal mistake, in my opinion, was that we didn't manage to work closely with the Iraqis before the war, so that there was an Iraqi opposition capable of taking charge immediately," he said.

"Today, the answer is to hand over power to the Iraqis as soon as possible," he added.

Uh-oh, his fellow neocons aren't going to tolerate that.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM

DUPED BY THE MORON

The Kids Left Behind (BOB HERBERT, 8/28/03, NY Times)
Next week the Senate will take up the education budget proposed for next year by the White House and Senate Republicans. From the perspective of those who are pro-children, it's loaded with bad news. Not only does the bill fall far short of the photo-op promises Mr. Bush made to provide funding for programs to improve public education, but it would actually cut $200 million from the president's very own (and relentlessly touted) No Child Left Behind Act.

We're talking about a real cut -- $200 million less than is being spent on this already underfunded initiative.

The proposed cuts, according to Congressional officials who have studied the budget proposal, would eliminate a high school dropout prevention program, would prevent more than 32,000 children with limited proficiency in English from participating in federally supported English instruction programs, would drastically cut high school equivalency and college assistance for migrant children, and would end the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship program.

The proposal would also cut more than 20,000 teachers from professional training programs, despite Mr. Bush's promise that teachers would "get the training they need to raise educational standards." And it would completely eliminate training for teachers in computer technology.

Among those who are steaming over the proposal is Senator Edward Kennedy, one of a number of Democrats who gave the president the kind of good-faith, high-profile, bipartisan support that was crucial to the passage of No Child Left Behind.

The Smart Party gets it anyway: the education bill was never about money, but about vouchers. George W. Bush was willing to give Ted Kennedyt whatever dollar figure the Senator insisted on, knowing that he could gut the bill later, so long as he got testing to show that schools are failing and vouchers so that kids can get out of those schools. That much was easy, because Democrats (and the libertarian Right) underestimated him. The hard part, even with the coming Republican super-majority, will be to reform the program so that vouchers can be used in private and parochial schools as well as public.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 AM

ROBERT B. ZOELLICK, SUPERSTAR

In Reversal, U.S. Nears Deal on Drugs for Poor Countries (ELIZABETH BECKER, 8/28/03, NY Times)
Poor countries already have the right to manufacture copycat versions of brand-name medicines in the event of a health emergency by issuing what is called a compulsory license. But the poorest nations have no factories to produce such medicine. The pending trade agreement solves that problem by allowing these countries to import the generic drugs from developing nations like Brazil or India under the compulsory license.

Jeff Trewhitt, a spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry group for research-based American pharmaceutical companies, said there would be no comment until a final deal was reached. But officials who have met with American pharmaceutical executives said that the companies would not lobby against the agreement.

Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick, the United States trade representative, was credited today by several officials with persuading the American pharmaceutical industry, as well as the White House, that a compromise had to be reached before the trade talks start on Sept. 10.

In the last few days, the United States struck an accord with a crucial group of developing countries--including Brazil and India, which are large producers of generic drugs, and South Africa and Kenya--raising the odds for a full agreement by the 146 members of the trade organization.

In exchange for these new assurances sought by the pharmaceutical industry, the United States dropped its demand that the agreement cover only a few diseases and that it limit the number of countries eligible to import the generic drugs, several diplomats said.

Instead, the United States has successfully lobbied more than 20 developed nations to agree to voluntarily opt out of using this agreement to import generic medicines, several officials said.

"This is better than what the United States originally wanted and doesn't limit the scope of diseases," said Nelson Ndirangu, a member of the Kenya delegation to the World Trade Organization.

But several nongovernmental organizations said the compromise did not go far enough to ensure that generic versions of medicine could be produced and exported wherever they were needed.

The opposition of the NGOs is reassuring.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:13 AM

METHINKS THE LADDIE DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH

Moore's Law: The immorality of the Ten Commandments. (Christopher Hitchens, August 27, 2003, Slate)
The row over the boulder-sized version of the so-called "Ten Commandments," and as to whether they should be exhibited in such massive shape on public property, misses the opportunity to consider these top-10 divine ordinances and their relationship to original intent. Judge Roy Moore is clearly, as well as a fool and a publicity-hound, a man who identifies the Mount Sinai orders to Moses with a certain interpretation of Protestantism. But we may ask ourselves why any sect, however primitive, would want to base itself on such vague pre-Christian desert morality (assuming Moses to be pre-Christian).

The first four of the commandments have little to do with either law or morality, and the first three suggest a terrific insecurity on the part of the person supposedly issuing them. I am the lord thy god and thou shalt have no other ... no graven images ... no taking of my name in vain: surely these could have been compressed into a more general injunction to show respect. The ensuing order to set aside a holy day is scarcely a moral or ethical one, unless you assume that other days are somehow profane. (The Rev. Ian Paisley, I remember, used to refuse interviewers for Sunday newspapers even after it was pointed out to him that it's the Monday edition that is prepared on Sunday.) Whereas a day of rest, as prefigured in the opening passages of Genesis, is no more than organized labor might have demanded, perhaps during the arduous days of unpaid pyramid erection.

So the first four commandments have almost nothing to do with moral conduct and cannot in any case be enforced by law unless the state forbids certain sorts of art all week, including religious and iconographic art—and all activity on the Sabbath (which the words of the fourth commandment do not actually require). [...]

It's obviously too much to expect that a Bronze Age demagogue should have remembered to condemn drug abuse, drunken driving, or offenses against gender equality, or to demand prayer in the schools. Still, to have left rape and child abuse and genocide and slavery out of the account is to have been negligent to some degree, even by the lax standards of the time. I wonder what would happen if secularists were now to insist that the verses of the Bible that actually recommend enslavement, mutilation, stoning, and mass murder of civilians be incised on the walls of, say, public libraries? There are many more than 10 commandments in the Old Testament, and I live for the day when Americans are obliged to observe all of them, including the ox-goring and witch-burning ones. (Who is Judge Moore to pick and choose?) Too many editorialists have described the recent flap as a silly confrontation with exhibitionist fundamentalism, when the true problem is our failure to recognize that religion is not just incongruent with morality but in essential ways incompatible with it.

As always with Mr. Hitchens, this is most interesting from a psychoanalytic viewpoint--reflecting the kind of rage against God that surely presages his imminent conversion to Catholicism, just as his rage at Henry Kissigner presaged his conversion to realpolitik American military interventionism.

As for the rest he achieves some comic effect only by playing stupid. To begin with, there's obviously no possibility of a stable and enduring morality without a single authority, which is why the initial Commandments describe God and our duties to him--that we recognize His supremacy, that we not imagine Him to be objectifiable, that we respect Him, that we take time to contemplate Him and His works, etc.. They not only "have to do with moral conduct" but make morality possible. The alternative to this--which Mr. Hitchens used to be an advocate of, but wisely is no longer-is to erect in His place a State which enforces its will upon us and requires all the same things...except rest and contemplation. In the absence of morality there are only man-made rules and those rules must come from a human source that we all have to listen to--the State.

As for his laundry list of wished for additions in the final paragraph, several are of course already covered by the Commandments, while others are not demonstrably immoral. A couple for instances: thou shalt not murder would seem to rule out genocide while neither "offenses against gender equity" nor slavery need be forbidden by a coherent moral scheme, rather they are fundamentally political decisions we've tacked on, and not generally for the good.

Meanwhile, Thomas Aquinas offered this Summary of the Law: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." And the Ten Commandments are perfected by Christ's order to his disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you..." That should adequately cover Mr. Hitchens' main objections, though it does suggest that he might be uncomfortable as a Jew--requiring that last mandatum from Christ in order to achieve clarity.

Even setting all of this aside though, when we turn to the particular question of why Americans should seek to recognize Judeo-Christian morality in public places, we need look no further than the foundational document of the nation, which reads: "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." The Republic is an edifice built on one very simple idea, that God Created Man and in so doing endowed us with a small, but massive, bundle of rights that no mere government can have the legitimate authority to violate. If Mr. Hitchens is truly hostile to that idea, let him enunciate a better. His last idea--that all rights should be subordinated while the State make us all Equal--kinda went bung.

August 27, 2003

Posted by David Cohen at 10:59 PM

IS THIS A SLEDGEHAMMER I SEE BEFORE ME? (Via Ransom Danegeld)

Enter the neo-Canaanites (Bret Stephens, Jurusalem Post, 8/21/03)
A . . . recent [Haaretz] profile (August 8) is of Meron Benvenisti and Haim Hanegbi. Benvenisti was once an old-style Labor Zionist who served in the 1960s as Teddy Kollek's deputy and in the 1980s became a muse of sorts for the New York Times's Tom Friedman. Hanegbi, a much less accomplished figure, was with Uri Avnery a leader in the ultra-Left Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) until he found the group too moderate for his views.

What unites Benvenisti and Hanegbi is that they have separately concluded that the two-state solution can't work. Many other Israelis, disillusioned with Oslo, have also come to this view, but not quite in the same way. For Benvenisti and Hanegbi, it isn't a Palestinian state that's a problem. It's a Jewish one. 'Israel as a Jewish state can no longer exist here,' says Hanegbi. Says Benvenisti: 'This country will not tolerate a border in its midst.' . . .

Probably by chance, on the same day the Benvenisti-Hanegbi profile appeared, Haaretz carried a long feature by Daniel Gavron on the so-called Uganda scheme, which was debated at the sixth Zionist conference 100 years ago. Headlined 'Nowhere in Africa,' after the recent film about a German-Jewish family that escaped from the Nazis to Kenya, Gavron's article asks 'whether [the scheme's] rejection by the seventh congress was a fatal historical error."

The article is a mostly competent piece of journalism. It covers the historic ground well. It also leaves little doubt that a Jewish state had no chance of establishing itself, much less succeeding, on the Uasin Gishu plateau in East Africa - or anywhere else on the continent, for that matter. Nor is it likely that even a temporary African haven would have saved large numbers of Jews from the Holocaust. Few had the foresight to leave Germany and Eastern Europe while it was still possible to get out. A dusty outpost in Africa would hardly have been an enticing destination.

"Even the land of Israel and Jerusalem," Gavron writes, "were only just powerful enough magnets to attract a sufficient number of Jews to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish state." . . .

What's interesting, then, about the Uganda article isn't what it says but the fact that it was written at all. It suggests an incredible fragility of belief in the Zionist enterprise as it came to be - and a negative belief at that. Are we here because it is, in some meaningful sense, our home? Not at all. We're here because it was the only workable and least-bad solution to an urgent refugee problem. Nowadays, however, perhaps it's not the ideal solution.

Of course I may be extrapolating too much. And Gavron and Haaretz are hardly typically Israeli. But Benvenisti touches on something very deep when he says that Israel's conflict is not between two national movements but between "a society of immigrants and a society of natives." It suggests that Jews no more belong here than they would have in Uganda. It suggests that Jews remain, at best, refugees. It suggests the Zionist enterprise is colonialist. And it means that the Jewish state is as illegitimate as it is doomed.

"In the end," says Hanegbi, "the region will be stronger than Israel, in the end the indigenous people will be stronger than Israel." The only solution is to abandon the idea of a Jewish state - "the mad dream," he calls it - to mix with our Arab neighbors in mixed cities and mixed neighborhoods and mixed families, and to "take part in the democratization of the Middle East." Let's stop trying to be Jews, counsels Benvenisti, and let's stop trying to build a "Jewish state." We're "neo-Canaanites" now.
Victory is the only option (Caroline B. Glick, Jurusalem Post, 8/22/03)
The one move that the Abbas-Dahlan (Arafat) junta has made since ascending to international celebrity is the PA's sponsorship of the hudna [ceasefire]. Over the past two months, every time that they were asked about their moves to dismantle the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah terror organizations, they pointed to the hudna and said that this was all that was necessary to bring peace. Initially, Israel decried the hudna as a farce. But once Hamas and its friends in Islamic Jihad and the PA announced its implementation six weeks ago, the government immediately began to play ball.

The media also got taken in by the hudna. The day after 20 Israeli children and their parents were disemboweled and scorched in Jerusalem, the question that dominated the papers was: Is the hudna over? Even after Hamas announced yesterday the hudna was off, Israeli commentators continued to ask whether Hamas was serious about "restarting" its terrorist slaughter. . . .

A decision to kill, deport, or arrest Arafat and try him for crimes against humanity in an Israeli court of law would be an immediate catalyst for a military operation that would in fact bring this country victory and the security that would ensue. Why is this? Because the only way to win a war is to identify who the enemy is. After 10 years of lying to ourselves, the blood on the streets of our capital city calls out the truth. Hamas and Islamic Jihad could never operate if it weren't for the PA and Arafat and his new straw men Abbas and Dahlan. The longer our leaders dither and deceive us, the longer our army officers will believe that their work is meaningless and the longer our lives will be at the mercy of our enemies.

Our future lies in the hands of our leaders. Victory is the only option. What will it take for them to find the will to lead us to it?
Those of us old enough to remember when Art Buchwald was funny -- or to remember him at all -- will remember a column he wrote towards the end of every year imagining the meetings in which the most disastrous decisions of the year had been made. In that spirit, let's imagine the meeting leading to Israel's establisment: "Hm, we have a population of wretched, oppressed Jews who have been locked up in Europe's ghettos and shtetls for the last 1500 years. What should we do with them." "Obviously, send them off to a desert in the midst of a sea of rabid antisemites." One senses that this looked generous only in comparison to the Holocaust.

Fifty years later, the Israelis find themselves, through a series of logical steps, in a position in which they have to be restrained in their response to babykilling. The United States would have decimated any enemy that had done a tenth as much. Now the Israelis should be deciding between two stark choices -- capitulation or all out war. Naturally, in the aftermath of the latest bombing, there are those who counsel capitulation and those demanding war, but I expect that the Israelis, prodded by Washington, will punt. They will try, once again, to reconcile the irreconcilable, reminding us that the Jews are truly crazy; doing the same thing again and again but expecting a different outcome each time.

For my part, I remain convinced that the true guarantor of the future of the Jewish people is the United States. We even have some open desert of our own that could use some flowering and I don't think the Jackalopes are antisemitic, even if they are rabid. But my heart agrees with Ms. Glick. Kill Arafat. Try him if you must, but kill him.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:58 PM

EVEN CARDINALS CAN BE IDIOTS

That old-fashioned Jew-hatred (Alan M. Dershowitz, Aug. 25, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Meridiaga, who is the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, has been telling anyone who is willing to listen that "the Jews" are to blame for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners!

The Jews? How did Cardinal Rodriguez ever come up with this ridiculous idea? Here is his "logic." He begins by asserting that the Vatican is anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. It follows, therefore, that "the Jews" had to get even with the Catholic Church, while at the same time deflecting attention away from Israeli injustices against the Palestinians.

The Jews managed to do this by arranging for the media which they, of course, control to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal. Listen to Rodriguez's own words:

"It certainly makes me think that in a moment in which all the attention of the mass media was focused on the Middle East, all the many injustices done against the Palestinian people, the print media and the TV in the United States became obsessed with sexual scandals that happened 40 years ago, 30 years ago.

"Why? I think it's also for these motives: What is the church that has received Arafat the most times and has most often confirmed the necessity of the creation of a Palestinian state? What is the church that does not accept that Jerusalem should be the indivisible capital of the State of Israel, but that it should be the capital of the three great monotheistic religions?"

Rodriguez then goes on to compare the Jewish-controlled media with "Hitler," because they are "protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the Church."

When asked whether he wanted to reconsider his attack, Rodriguez replied: "I don't repent sometimes it is necessary to shake things up."

At the point where you're bragging about receiving one of the world's worst terrorists you should have sense enough to shut up.

AS CAN B'NAI BRITH:
Jewish and Christian leaders launch countermissionary campaign (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 27, 2003)
B'nai Brith Canada today announced the launch of a campaign to inform members of Toronto's Jewish community about the activities of "Jews for Jesus."

Calling it the "Proud to be Jewish" Campaign," B'nai Brith's goal is to warn members of the Toronto Jewish community about the presence and methods of the missionary group and to advise them of their rights.

"This isn't about free speech," said Rochelle Wilner, president of B'nai Brith Canada.

"Targeted missionizing, especially when done in a manner calculated to deceive the unsuspecting, is offensive to our community. Christianity is not a branch of Judaism it's a different religion altogether, and any attempt to portray it as anything but a different religion is subterfuge.

"The term 'Jews for Jesus' makes about as much sense as 'Baptists for Buddha' or 'Catholics for Krishna,'" she said.

Ms Wilner would be right except that Christ and all of his initial followers were Jews and except for the basis of most of Christianity being Judaism. Typically it's anti-Semites who try to portray Christianity as wholly separate from Judaism.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 PM

CAN'T BEAT THE CLASSICS

U.S. troops using confiscated Iraqi AK-47s (Andrew England, 8/24/2003, Associated Press)
An American soldier stands at the side of an Iraqi highway, puts his AK-47 on fully automatic and pulls the trigger.

Within seconds the assault rifle has blasted out 30 rounds. Puffs of dust dance in the air as the bullets smack into the scrubland dirt. Test fire complete.

U.S. troops in Iraq may not have found weapons of mass destruction, but they're certainly getting their hands on the country's stock of Kalashnikovs and, they say, they need them. [...]

In Humvees, on tanks but never openly on base U.S. soldiers are carrying the Cold War-era weapon, first developed in the Soviet Union but now mass produced around the world.

The AK is favored by many of the world's fighters, from child soldiers in Africa to rebel movements around the world, because it is light, durable and known to jam less frequently.

Now U.S. troops who have picked up AKs on raids or confiscated them at checkpoints are putting the rifles to use and they like what they see.

Some complain that standard U.S. military M16 and M4 rifles jam too easily in Iraq's dusty environment. Many say the AK has better ''knockdown'' power and can kill with fewer shots.

''The kind of war we are in now ... you want to be able to stop the enemy quick,'' said Sgt. 1st Class Tracy S. McCarson of Newport News, Va., an army scout, who carries an AK in his Humvee.

It may be the only truly well-designed thing the Soviets ever made themselves, but as someone on NPR also said it may be one of the most important machines of the 20th Century. Given how many people it's killed that sounds about right.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 PM

FRIVOLOUS, BUT I DON'T WANT TO BE THE ONE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

Federal judge punts, sends Democrats' suit to 3-judge panel : Kazen critical of both sides in redistricting standoff (R.G. RATCLIFFE, Aug. 27, 2003, Houston Chronicle)
A federal judge told lawyers for runaway Democratic senators today that he believes their lawsuit seeking voting rights and free speech protections is all but totally frivolous, but he agreed to leave the final decision to a three-judge panel.

U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen said he believes Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's push for mid-decade congressional redistricting is wrong and a waste of taxpayer money. However, Kazen also criticized the Democratic senators for fleeing to Albuquerque, N.M., to break the Senate's quorum.

"We're almost like the Middle East. We've got these two camps over here, and it's total victory or total surrender," Kazen said.

Kazen refused to grant the Democrats' request for a restraining order to prevent the Senate sergeant-at-arms from arresting them in case there is another special session. Kazen also urged Perry not to call a session until the three-judge panel hears the Democrats' lawsuit in about two weeks.

"Let's chill out for awhile. Let's stop spending the taxpayers money for awhile," Kazen said.

The self-exiled Democrats had hoped to find a friendly judge by filing the lawsuit in Laredo. Kazen was appointed by former President Jimmy Carter. But the judge made it clear from the start of today's hearing that the only reason he was not throwing the case out was that federal case law requires voting rights questions to be answered by a three-judge panel unless the lawsuit is wholly frivolous or fictitious.

"The agreement we've made is your lawsuit is not wholly frivolous," Kazen told Renea Hicks, a lawyer representing the Democrats.

Well, if Judge Kazen weren't so gutless the issue would be dead and no more taxpayer money would be spent. He's the one who kept it alive this time.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 PM

CONSERVATIVE ENOUGH

Schwarzenegger lays out opinions on abortion, drugs, gays, other topics (ERICA WERNER, August 27, 2003, Associated Press)
Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger made his clearest statements to date on abortion and other social issues on talk shows Wednesday, after weeks of criticism for not spelling out his views for voters in the California recall.

He said he favors legalizing marijuana for medical purposes and protecting a woman's right to abortion, but is against gay marriage and granting drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. He said illegal immigrants already in the country should stay here, but he said it was a federal issue and a spokesman said he wasn't proposing an amnesty program. [...]

Schwarzenegger described himself as "pro-choice" but said he did not support late-stage procedures described as "partial-birth" abortions.

Asked whether he is in favor of parental notification when minors seek abortions, he replied, "I am. But in some cases when there is abuse in the family or problems in the family, then the courts should decide."

Schwarzenegger said he supports domestic partnerships but not gay marriage.

At worst he's a moderate in the John-McCain-running-for-president mold.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:55 PM

SEND HIM TO CANADA

Foot Licker Gets 18 Months in Jail (AP, Aug 27, 2003)
A man accused of licking a woman's feet in a Bellingham grocery store was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to assault just before his trial was to begin.

Raymond Dublin, 36, formerly of Providence, R.I., pleaded guilty Tuesday at Uxbridge District Court to charges of assault and battery and lewd and lascivious behavior.

His attorney asked for a sentence of two years of counseling, but Judge Paul Losapio said counseling wasn't sufficient for Dublin, a two-time convicted sex offender who just completed a one-year sentence on similar foot-licking charges at a Woonsocket, R.I., supermarket.

"I don't know what type of counseling someone could undergo for this kind of behavior," he said.

Dublin was charged with sneaking up behind a woman at the Bellingham Save-A-Lot supermarket and licking her feet and toes in June 2002.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 PM

NUMEROLOGY

EWN Exclusive Recall Election Poll (ABC7.com, 8/27/03)
The candidates vying to be California's next Governor have only been campaigning for a few weeks, but we've already seen front runners lose their lead in the polls - only to move back up again.

An exclusive Eyewitness News poll conducted by Survey USA, shows Arnold Schwarzenegger has a wide lead again, with support of 45-percent of registered voters. Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante has 29-percent.

Our exclusive survey could come as a surprise to some. It only counts registered voters who say they will cast a ballot October 7. The poll is based on 591 California residents who say they are certain to vote Oct. 7.

Though the Republican vote is splintered Arnold Schwarzenegger would win office today even though Cruz Bustamante is winning endorsements.

The numbers are reversing since August 11th survey.

Tom McClintock and Peter Uberroth top the rest of the field and the survey could give Governor Gray Davis some concern. If the recall election were today, he would be ousted by 64-percent of the vote with only a 35-percent vote of confidence.

There was an LA Times poll over the weekend that had Bustamante ahead, but the numbers were ridiculous and it was contradicted by internal polling, including that of Bill Simon, which had led to him conceding he couldn't beat Arnold Schwarzenegger and getting out of the race. The thing about this poll is that it has Mr. Schwarzenegger just slightly ahead of what Mr. Simon finished with in 2002 (45% to Mr. Simon's 42%). This would seem to be a realistic number, though it may well be the highwater mark--45% to 47% may be about as well as any Republican can do in CA at this point. Though, you'd have to think that if Tom McClintock gets out of the race and endorses and campaigns for Arnold, that could put him in at least striking distance of 50%.

Given the Democratic nature of the electorate it's hard to do other than make Cruz Bustamante the favorite, but it's a very winnable race for Arnold.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 PM

THE VOUCHER SYSTEM TED KENNEDY ACCIDENTALLY HELPED PASS

At school, a new era of multiple choices for parents: Moms and dads get new options regarding the schools kids attend and add-on services. (Gail Russell Chaddock, 8/27/03, The Christian Science Monitor)
This fall marks the first year when neighborhood public schools feel the brunt of a new national experiment in accountability - and the impact on parents may be even greater than that on students and their teachers.

One result: more choices for parents. This fall, parents of 54 million students nationwide will see more comparative data about public schools than has been available, even to top administrators.

Parents will know which schools have highly qualified teachers, and which do not. They will know which schools are making "adequate yearly progress" toward state standards, and which are not.

The question is: What to do with the new information?

If parents act on new insights by moving their kids to different schools - ones that aren't deemed "in need of improvement," for example - it could have big implications not just for the future of their children but also for the shape of school reforms nationwide.

Already, charter schools, sought after by many parents for innovative approaches, house 685,000 students.

The No Child Left Behind Act, which President Bush once dubbed "the cornerstone of my administration," adds new choices. It requires that all groups of students - whatever their race, ethnicity, poverty level, English proficiency, or disability - demonstrate "adequate yearly progress." If not, parents have options, which begin to kick in this year.

For parents in the least successful of US schools, the choice may be to leave the neighborhood school or to tap into some $2 billion in federal funds to buy academic help, such as tutoring or after-school program.

"The new law says that choices should not depend on your ZIP code or your personal wealth. The goal now is to make choice a permanent part of public education for every student, and we're definitely moving in that direction," says Lisa Graham Keegan, former Arizona Superintendent of Education and CEO of the Education Leaders Council, an education reform advocacy group. But she adds that school districts are still far from complying with the laws provisions, and are especially lax in informing parents that services are available. "Last year, only about $40 million of the $2 billion in funds available were accessed by parents. This is a huge potential market of intervention for students.... We are not tapping it adequately."

Most of the nation's 15,000 school districts are still calculating which schools fall into the "need of improvement" category. They are then required by law to inform parents of this option, to offer alternative placements for children who want to move, and to help with transportation to get them there.

How many more stories like this will it take before the Stupid Party realizes they won secretly won a key battle in what will be a long fight with the No Child Left Behind Act.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:47 PM

WE ALL HAVE OUR LIMITS

U.S. Ends AIDS Funding in Africa, Asia (AP, 8/27/03)
The State Department has cut off funding for an AIDS program benefiting African and Asian refugees, saying it believes a group taking part in the program supports involuntary abortions and sterilization in China.

State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said Wednesday funds were offered to six of seven groups that received money from the department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

But the consortium of groups turned down the funding after the department excluded the seventh group, Marie Stopes International.

"We offered this funding to six of them, in order to continue supporting the good work that they've done on prevention and response to HIV/AIDS in refugee settings,'' Reeker said. "It was the consortium's decision not to accept the funding.''

Marie Stopes International was excluded because of its partnership in China with the United Nations Population Fund, a group the Bush administration said last year had violated a 1985 law against supporting forced abortion or sterilization.

Driving to work today there was a car with three bumper stickers (VT plates, of course):

"John Kerry for President"

"I'm Pro-choice America"

"Never, never, never, never shake a baby"

It's an interesting case of line-drawing, especially since Senator Kerry supports partial-birth abortion. Can you shake them for the first few hours or days?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:11 PM

WHERE BELIEF IN MARKETS STOPS AND FAITH IN THE STATE BEGINS

Markets Versus Monopolies in Education: The Historical Evidence (Andrew Coulson, 9 June 12, 1996, Education Policy Analysis Archives)
The debate over educational funding and administration is an old one. Writing to his friend Tacitus almost two thousand years ago, the Roman lawyer Pliny the Younger described his plan to establish a secondary school in his home town, but added that he had decided to pay only one third of the total cost.

I would promise the whole amount were I not afraid that someday my gift might be abused for someone's selfish purposes, as I see happen in many places where teachers' salaries are paid from public funds. There is only one remedy to meet this evil: if the appointment of teachers is left entirely to the parents, and they are conscientious about making a wise choice through their obligation to contribute to the cost. (Pliny, 1969, p. 277-283)

Over the last decade, proposals for introducing a degree of parental choice and inter-school competition into education have abounded, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. In some cases, such plans are already in place. With few exceptions, though, current choice programs pose barriers to the entry of new schools and to the exit of unpopular ones, exclude religious and/or profit-making institutions, restrict admissions and staffing policies, and otherwise control the supply and demand for education. Though private schooling exists in most industrialized countries, there is only limited competition at the primary and secondary levels. The comparatively heavy burden of tuition, when compared to the "free" status of tax-supported schools, greatly limits the clientele for private education. This in turn keeps the density of private institutions to a much lower level than if government did not provide schools. As a result, there is no nation currently offering a truly free and competitive market in education.

The Case Against

As market-inspired reform has gained in popularity, it has been subjected to a great deal of criticism. Attacks have been directed at the possible ill-effects of parental- choice, of for-profit schools, and of market systems as a whole. The most often heard argument against a market is that parents cannot be expected to make sound educational choices for their children, and must instead leave the key decisions to experts. A significant number of parents, it is assumed, would either fail to inform themselves about competing schools, or would base their choices on the "wrong" criteria. This contention has been directed at the population as a whole (Carnegie Foundation, 1992; Wells & Crain, 1992), and also at specific groups such as the poor or the poorly-educated (Payne, 1993; Levin, 1991; Kozol, 1992). A related criticism is that racial and economic isolation might be increased if families selected their schools based on race, ethnicity, or social status (Cookson, 1994; Kozol, 1992).

On the supply side, skeptics argue that for-profit schools with bold promises, flashy advertising, and special programs would lure customers away from academically superior institutions (Krashinsky, 1986). Murnane (1983), and others have noted the possibility of fraud in voucher systems, in which corrupt principals could offer kick-backs to parents who chose their institutions. Profit-making schools are also expected by some critics to reject difficult-to-educate children, e.g. those with disabilities or serious discipline problems. According to Shanker and Rosenberg (1992), these children would be more expensive to teach and hence would either be expelled more readily or refused admission entirely.

All these objections have in common the idea that education is fundamentally different from other human exchanges, and that as a result, the natural checks and balances of the market would fail to operate as they normally do. There is a second line of argument that takes the opposite position, namely, that an educational market would fail precisely because it would operate in the same way as other markets (Krashinsky, 1986). Education, so the argument goes, benefits not only the students and their families, but their fellow citizens as well. These indirect benefits are said to include social harmony, political stability, and a thriving economy. According to Levin (1991), public school systems are capable of producing the aforementioned benefits, while a competitive market of private schools could either not produce them at all, or do so only at prohibitive regulatory expense.

The remaining criticisms are based on the results of "limited choice" or "public school choice" programs, which place many restrictions on schools and families, and generally do not allow the participation of private or parochial schools. Smith and Meier (1995), for example, argue that since programs allowing parents to choose from among different public schools have failed to substantially increase student learning, the same should be expected of an unregulated market. The experience with heavily regulated parental choice in the Netherlands (Brown, 1992; Elmore, 1990) is also cited in arguments against the effectiveness of competition. In the United States, comparisons between existing public and private schools have led Cookson (1994) to conclude that a market would not improve education. The same author also reasons that since private schools have rarely been included in choice programs, there is insufficient evidence to support free market educational reform.

The Case in Favor

Virtually all of the criticisms discussed above have been disputed by proponents of parental choice. Members of the minority groups assumed to be incompetent or uninterested in their children's education are foremost in defending their ability and prerogative to choose. State representative Polly Williams (1994), herself an African-American single parent, championed a private school choice plan in Milwaukee Wisconsin on the grounds that public schooling had failed the urban community and that competitive private provision offered a superior education. Similar arguments have been made by Native- American educator Ben Chavis (1994). Empirical studies have shown that poor parents with limited formal education, from Massachusetts (Fossey, 1994) to the mountain villages of Nepal (Pande, 1977), can and do choose schools on rational grounds (see also U.S. Dept. of Education, 1995; Martinez et al, 1994).

Arguments that racial segregation would increase under a free market have been challenged from two different perspectives. The late James Coleman (1990) observed that racial segregation within the American public school system was greater than that among private schools. So, while the percentage of African-American students in the public sector is greater than the percentage in the private sector, public schools are more likely to be all-white or all-black than their private counterparts. Opposing the very essence of the segregation claim are educators such as Derrick Bell (1987), who believe that the freedom to create separate schools for African Americans would be a boon rather than a hardship.

The assertion that private schools might defraud parents is commonly countered with the argument that such problems exist everywhere, including public schools. The cases of East St. Louis (Schmidt, 1995) and Washington D.C. are notorious examples. Rinehart and Lee (1991) note that a competitive market would at least exert pressure on a school to deal honestly and fairly with parents in order to maintain a healthy reputation, while the public monopoly offers educators no such incentive. Along the same lines, John Coons (1991) has observed that public schooling has not engendered the external benefits of social harmony and effective democracy assumed by its defenders. The American experience of Protestant bias in the education of immigrants at the turn of the century, as well as government-enforced racial segregation, are presented as evidence of this claim. Coons also contends that by removing the coercive element from school selection and allowing parents to choose for themselves, the goal of effective democracy would be strengthened.

To resolve the issue of difficult-to-educate children, Myron Lieberman (1991), investigated the current practices among private institutions. He found that rather than focusing on easy-to-educate students, the single largest group of for-profit schools actually serves the disabled. Studies have also suggested that urban private schools are able to maintain a higher level of discipline than their public counterparts with few if any admissions requirements, and only infrequent student expulsions (Blum, 1985).

For the supporter of free markets, objections based on public school choice programs are seen as misguided. To function effectively markets require significant competition, the lure of profit-making, and a minimum of restrictions on buyers and sellers. Few if any of these criteria hold among existing choice programs (OECD, 1994), and as a result it is argued that they cannot be expected to show any significant benefits (Lieberman, 1989).

The above rebuttals aside, the economic case for an educational market rests on two main presumptions: that monopoly control of education leads to coercion, indifference to the needs of families, and stagnation in the form and content of instruction, while competition and the profit motive would lead to greater quality and efficiency. The first case has been made at both national and school levels. While inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending in U.S. public schools tripled between 1959/60 and the present (U. S. Department of Education, 1993), test scores either held constant or declined (Sowell, 1993; Boaz, 1991). Comparisons between public school administrations and those of the private Catholic sector have shown the public bureaucracy to employ as many as thirty times the number of administrators per-pupil (Boaz, 1991). On a school by school basis, Eric Hanushek (1986; 1989) studied correlations between spending and student achievement only to find that the relationship was not statistically significant. Similar results have been reported by Childs & Shakeshaft (1986). Because of the absence of any truly competitive market in education, little direct contemporary evidence is available to demonstrate its effects on efficiency or achievement. In those cases where a limited degree of competition does exist, however, Hoffer et al. (1990), Borland and Howsen (1993), and others have found small but significant positive effects. Outside the field of education, the superiority of markets to monopolies is widely accepted, and Winston (1993) has demonstrated that reductions in regulation are generally associated with lower prices and better services for consumers, and even yield higher revenues for producers.

The Present Work

As can be gleaned from the arguments cited above, the debate over a market in education has drawn almost entirely from the limited body of contemporary evidence. With the exception of E.G. West's (1994) analysis of 19th century England, the historical evidence regarding market vs. monopoly provision in education has been largely ignored. Education, however, is not a recent invention. Two and a half thousand years of schooling, from the informal to the regimented, from complete parental freedom to totalitarian domination, have preceded current practice. The study of educational history thus offers a wealth of insights into the effects of monetary incentives and centralized administration on the actions of parents and educators.

The next section looks at the educational experiences of four historical periods and places: classical Greece, Germany at the Reformation, England during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and France after the Revolution. This selection is a more or less representative sample from a larger survey of the subject currently in progress. The most valuable lessons these histories have to teach us concern the relationship between school governance and school quality. In particular, they highlight the differences between markets and centralized bureaucratic school systems on three important measures of school performance: how well they respond to and satisfy the demands of parents and students (e.g. through innovation and diversity in curriculum), the degree to which they benefit their students directly (e.g. higher literacy, job/life skills), and their indirect benefits to the rest of society (e.g. thriving economy, social harmony). [...]

Having described the history of schooling in these four different contexts, it is useful to see what commonalities present themselves. In particular, it is fruitful to look back at the three measures of quality listed in the introduction, namely: responsiveness and innovation, direct benefits, and indirect benefits.

There is no question that competitive educational markets have been more responsive to the needs and demands of parents than centrally controlled, subsidized systems. This has held true whether the monolithic systems have been run and paid for by governments, as was most commonly the case, or by religious societies. In Athens, changing public demand resulted in changes to the elementary curriculum, and even led to the creation of secondary education. Spartan schooling, both due to implicit features of its organization and to the explicit wishes of its rulers, kept all innovation and progress at bay for hundreds of years. In pre- reformation Germany, it was the small private school that was first to offer instruction in the vernacular, both to adults and children. The state-run schools fostered by Luther and Melanchthon often ignored the wishes of the public, insisting on a classical course of studies useless to the common man. The same was true of England's endowed grammar schools. English Dame schools, by contrast, taught only what parents were willing to pay for, even attracting families away from the subsidized schools run by religious societies. For centuries, the most sophisticated and modern instruction in England was to be had at private secondary schools, which introduced the sciences, practical engineering and surveying techniques, naval skills, and living foreign languages. Before they were squeezed out of existence by tax-subsidized public schooling, there was simply nothing that could compare to them. In France, monitorial schools led the way in pedagogical innovation and in meeting public demands--so much so that other schools were forced to adopt their methods in order to avoid losing pupils.

In looking at the direct benefits bestowed on students by different approaches to educational organization, the clearest distinction to be found is between the practical and the pointless. Privately financed and operated schools have tended to offer programs of practical benefit to their clients, while centralized systems have taught only those subjects chosen by their founders or administrators--in most cases subjects of little value to the average member of the public. While private schools have consistently taught literacy in the vernacular of their clients for thousands of years, this has only rarely been the case in state or charity-run schools. When it was finally taught by the religious societies in England, they often deliberately omitted teaching writing. Similarly, practical training in mathematics and science has been ignored by bureaucratic school systems until quite recently, while their history dates back to the 5th century B.C. in private schools.

Perhaps the most glaring contradiction between the beliefs of modern public school advocates and the historical evidence is in the area of indirect or social benefits (also called positive externalities). Defenders of public schooling argue that only it can preserve social harmony and a sound economy, while a competitive educational market would lead to social strife and presumably economic deterioration. Nothing could be further from the truth. Government-run schools have in fact been far more coercive, and far more likely to lead to social discord than their private counterparts. Tying themselves to a single religion or ideology, public schools have often alienated all those who did not share the chosen views. When French monitorial schools encouraged the intermingling of children of different social classes, and respecting intellectual merit no matter what its source, they were actually criticized for it by the ruling powers of public schooling. When English law forbade non-conformists to teach, they taught nonetheless, privately and illegally, and generally admitted students irrespective of their religion. Because private schools allowed families the option of pursuing the particular kind of education they value, conflicts were avoided.

Whenever the state chooses one world view over all others, it places its own people into conflict with one another. This has been happening for centuries, and it continues to happen today.

It's a strange thing, ask someone if their workplace would function more efficiently and their job be more satisfying if government bureaucrats took control of the company and, with the rare exception of the remaining unreconstructed New Deal/Great Society types, you're certain to get a "don't be ridiculous" for an answer. Yet these same folks are devoted to the notion that their kids' schools should be run by the State.
Posted by John Resnick at 5:05 PM

WITH THE HEART OF A LION

The Realities of Courage (David Hogberg, 8/27/2003, AmericanProwler.com)
What do you suppose the phrase "you have to admire their courage -- and their realism" applies to? Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? Protesters in Iran? Nope, it applies to Republican governors who are willing to raise taxes. So said Washington Post columnist David Broder last Wednesday.

In a classic example of how not to think outside the box, Broder praised South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Alabama Governor Bob Riley who, unlike President Bush, "have chosen a different -- and more difficult -- course." When both were in Congress, they, presumably, took the easier path of opposing tax increases.


Funny how fleecing the taxpayer is somehow courageous but protesting the voracious appetite of government is cowardly and heartless. We're not in Kansas anymore.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:35 PM

THE WISDOM OF JANGLING

How to Keep Young (Satchel Paige)
1 Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.
2 If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.
3 Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.
4 Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain't restful.
5 Avoid running at all times.
6 Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:18 PM

OKAY, NOW MAKE A LEFT

Nascar: Engine of Change: Southern culture is driving back into the American idea. (DAVE KANSAS, August 27, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
Last Saturday night, in the sparsely populated eastern hill country of Tennessee, more than 160,000 people gathered in this small town to watch cars race around a tiny oval. It was another sold-out event for Nascar, a sports juggernaut that now rivals the NFL in popular appeal.
It's a curious thing, Nascar's massive success. In an age of watered-down appeals to the lowest common denominator and concern about offending tender sensibilities, Nascar revels in its throwback authenticity. Races showcase muscular patriotism, grease-filled masculinity, fast cars and the unembarrassed invocation of God. All that goes down very well in the Bible Belt, where Nascar has its roots. But the remarkable growth of the sport has taken Nascar to places that squirm when too many American flags are flown. Even the green-minded Pacific Northwest is a strong television market for this gas-guzzling spectacle.

Nascar's growth has created challenges as the heirs of moonshiners start to mingle with urban wine sippers. While the good-ol'-boy concept has worked so far, Nascar frets about its image. One official says there's pressure to make the annual banquet--held in foreign territory (Manhattan)--"hipper." In addition, Nascar has shed smaller, Southeastern venues in favor of races in places like Chicago, Las Vegas and California. It's even talking about building a track near New York City.

"For me, leaving some of the smaller tracks, where the fans were closer to the action and there's more history, is a loss," says Robert Johnson, dean of the Lee College of Engineering at UNC-Charlotte, home to a motor-sports engineering program that attracts students from around the nation. "But at the same time, this is a sport, despite its incredible growth, that still provides access to the stars. It's hard to meet a pro football player, but these drivers are accessible, and they'll talk to you."

Still, it's not just the intimate aura of the sport. Nascar's growth coincides with a larger trend: The reincorporation of the South into the broader American idea. And to that end, Nascar finds itself rubbing off on the broader culture as much as it is trying to adapt to its broader fan base.

One of the most healthy things to happen in NASCAR in recent years was the rejection of Jeff Gordon by the fans, precisely the kind of crossover type who was supposed to appeal to the multi-culti crowd, right down to his Rainbow Warrior nickname. But the death of Dale Earnhardt left a void that does need to be filled, by his son or another, to keep the good ole boy image intact.

It's too much to hope though that you'd find another this great, The Last American Hero (Tom Wolfe)
The legend of Junior Johnson! In this legend, here is a country boy, Junior Johnson, who learns to drive by running whiskey for his father, Johnson, Senior, one of the biggest copper-still operators of all time, up in Ingle Hollow, near North Wilkesboro, in northwestern North Caro- lina, and grows up to be a famous stock car racing driver, rich, grossing $100,000 in 1963, for example, respected, solid, idolized in his hometown and throughout the rural South. There is all this about how good old boys would wake up in the middle of the night in the apple shacks and hear a supercharged Oldsmobile engine roaring over Brushy Mountain and say, "Listen at him-there he goes!" although that part is doubtful, since some nights there were so many good old boys taking off down the road in supercharged automobiles out of Wilkes County, and running loads to Charlotte, Salisbury, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, or wherever, it would be pretty hard to pick out one. It was Junior Johnson specifically, however, who was famous for the "bootleg turn" or "about-face," in which, if the Alcohol Tax agents had a roadblock up for you or were too close behind, you threw the car up into second gear, cocked the wheel, stepped on the accelerator and made the car's rear end skid around in a complete 180-degree arc, a complete about-face, and tore on back up the road exactly the way you came from. God! The Alcohol Tax agents used to burn over Junior Johnson. Practically every good old boy in town in Wilkesboro, the county seat, got to know the agents by sight in a very short titne. They would rag them practically to their faces on the sub- ject of Junior Johnson, so that it got to be an obsession. Finally, one night they had Junior trapped on the road up toward the bridge around Millersville, there's no way out of there, they had the barricades up and they could hear this souped-up car roaring around the bend, and here it comes-but suddenly they can hear a siren and see a red light flashing in the grille, so they think it's another agent, and boy, they run out like ants and pull those barrels and boards and sawhorses out of the way, and then-GgghEzzzzzzzhhhhhhggggggzzzzzzzeeeeeong! -gawdam! there he goes again, it was him, Junior Johnson! with a gawdam agent's si-reen and a red light in his grille!

I wasn't in the South five minutes before people started making oaths, having visions, telling these hulking great stories, all on the subject of Junior Johnson. At the Greensboro, North Carolina, Airport there was one good old boy who vowed he would have eaten "a bucket of it" if that would have kept Junior Johnson from switching from a Dodge racer to a Ford. Hell yes, and after that-God-almighty, remember that 1963 Chevrolet of Junior's? Whatever happened to that car? A couple of more good old boys join in. A good old boy, I ought to explain, is a generic term in the rural South referring to a man, of any age, but more often young than not, who fits in with the status system of the region. It usually means he has a good sense of humor and enjoys ironic jokes, is tolerant and easygoing enough to get along in long conversations at places like on the corner, and has a reasonable amount of physical courage. The term is usually heard in some such form as: "Lud? He's a good old boy from over at Crozet." These good old boys in the airport, by the way, were in their twenties, except for one fellow who was a cabdriver and was about forty-five, I would say. Except for the cabdriver, they all wore neo-Brummellian clothes such as Lacoste tennis shirts, Slim Jim pants, windbreakers with the collars turned up, "fast" shoes of the winkle-picker genre, and so on. I mention these details just by way of pointing out that very few grits, Iron Boy overalls, clodhoppers or hats with ventilation holes up near the crown enter into this story. Anyway, these good old boys are talking about Junior Johnson and how he has switched to Ford. This they unani- mously regard as some kind of betrayal on Johnson's part. Ford, it seems, they regard as the car symbolizing the established power struc- ture. Dodge is kind of a middle ground. Dodge is at least a challenger, not a ruler. But the Junior Johnson they like to remember is the Junior Johnson of 1963, who took on the whole field of NASCAR ( National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Grand National racing with a Chevrolet. All the other drivers, the drivers driving Fords, Mercurys, Plymouths, Dodges, had millions, literally millions when it is all added up, millions of dollars in backing from the Ford and Chrysler Cor- porations. Junior Johnson took them all on in a Chevrolet without one cent of backing from Detroit. Chevrolet had pulled out of stock car racing. Yet every race it was the same. It was never a question of whether anybody was going to outrun Junior Johnson. It was just a question of whether he was going to win or his car was going to break down, since, for one thing, half the time he had to make his own racing parts. God! Junior Johnson was like Robin Hood or Jesse James or Little David or something. Every time that Chevrolet, No. 3, appeared on the track, wild curdled yells, "Rebel" yells, they still have those, would rise up. At Daytona, at Atlanta, at Charlotte, at Darlington, South Carolina; Bristol, Tennessee; Martinsville, Virginia-Junior Johnson!

And then the good old boys get to talking about whatever happened to that Chevrolet of Junior's, and the cabdriver says he knows. He says Junior Johnson is using that car to run liquor out of Wilkes County. What does he mean? For Junior Johnson ever to go near another load of bootleg whiskey again-he would have to be insane. He has this huge racing income. He has two other businesses, a whole automated chicken farm with 42,000 chickens, a road-grading business -but the cabdriver says he has this dream Junior is still roaring down from Wilkes County, down through the clay cuts, with the Atlas Arc Lip jars full in the back of that Chevrolet. It is in Junior's blood-and then at this point he puts his right hand up in front of him as if he is groping through fog, and his eyeballs glaze over and he looks out in the distance and he describes Junior Johnson roaring over the ridges of Wilkes County as if it is the ghost of Zapata he is describing, bound- ing over the Sierras on a white horse to rouse the peasants.

A stubborn notion! A crazy notion! Yet Junior Johnson has followers who need to keep him, symbolically, riding through nighttime like a demon. Madness! But Junior Johnson is one of the last of those sports stars who is not just an ace at the game itself, but a hero a whole people or class of people can identify with. Other, older examples are the way Jack Dempsey stirred up the Irish or the way Joe Louis stirred up the Negroes. Junior Johnson is a modern figure. He is only thirty-three years old and still racing. He should be compared to two other sports heroes whose cultural impact is not too well known. One is Antonino Rocca, the professional wrestler, whose triumphs mean so much to New York City's Puerto Ricans that he can fill Madison Square Garden, despite the fact that everybody, the Puerto Ricans included, knows that wrestling is nothing but a crude form of folk theatre. The other is Ingemar Johanssen, who had a tremendous meaning to the Swedish masses-they were tired of that old king who played tennis all the time and all his friends who keep on drinking Cointreau behind the screen of socialism. Junior Johnson is a modern hero, all involved with car culture and car symbolism in the South. A wild new thing-

Wild-gone wild, Fireball Roberts' Ford spins out on the first turn at the North Wilkesboro Speedway, spinning, spinning, the spin seems almost like slow motion-and then it smashes into the wooden guard- rail. It lies up there with the frame bent. Roberts is all right. There is a new layer of asphalt on the track, it is like glass, the cars keep spin- ning off the first turn. Ned Jarrett spins, smashes through the wood. "Now, boys, this ice ain't gonna get one goddamn bit better, so you can either line up and qualify or pack up and go home-"

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:07 PM

SELF-GOVERNMENT, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT

Dial down U.S. involvement in Iraq (Amitai Etzioni, 8/27/03, USA Today)
It is high time for a basic shift in approach: We must let Iraqis run most operations and openly take responsibility for them.

Once that happens, if there is not enough work, water or electricity to go around, Iraqis no longer will be able to blame us. If a water main or an oil pipeline blows up, it will be their own new government that is undermined, rather than U.S. forces and credibility.

The only matters that should remain under our control are the production and acquisition of weapons and the creation of a military force. This we can do from a small number of heavily fortified encampments outside of the major cities.

This radical change, critics may say, will allow the Baath party to reassert itself. As I see it, we should be willing to live with such a side effect during a transition period, just as we allowed many Nazi officials to keep running German ministries and factories after World War II -- for a while. Moreover, de-Baathification should be left to the Iraqis. If they refuse, they will live with the consequences.

Some may say that such a policy will lead to a Taliban-like Shiite government in the country's south. We should not be scared by such predictions. As long as we make it clear that if Iraqis host terrorists we will deal with them the same way we dealt with the Taliban, then they will be most unlikely to embark on such a course. And if the Iraqis are willing to put up with such a rigid, regimented life, that is their choice. Actually, given that many Iraqis, especially in parts of the country other than the south, oppose such fundamentalism, there will be plenty of opportunities for secular and religiously moderate Iraqis -- rather than Americans -- to confront the Shiites.

And what about the growing number of foreign terrorists? They did not come to fight a truly Iraqi government -- only our handpicked one. If they tried to tangle with a homegrown government, the Iraqis would run them out of town.

As Mr. Etzioni notes, freedom means, in part, being free to choose crappy governance.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:00 PM

THE DEVIL EATS BACK BACON (via Brian Boys)

Overcoming Inertia on Porn: Sexual images of children are the target of Canadian Christian campaign. (Carol Lowes, 08/18/2003, Christianity Today)
Two years ago, Dallas police officers, U.S. postal authorities, and the Justice Department announced the arrests of 100 people in a global Internet child pornography ring. More than 250,000 people from 60 countries were paid subscribers, netting organizers more than $1 million a month. The bust has led to the arrests of hundreds of suspects around the world.

But comparatively few arrests have been made in Canada, even though police have the names of over two thousand suspects. Many understaffed police units have not followed up on the names and credit card numbers of the 2,300 Canadians who downloaded images advertised as child porn. Child porn generates $3 billion annually in online sales, according to a report by Internet Filters Review.

Robert Matthews of Ontario's police unit investigating child porn told the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, "Canadians produce as much or more child pornography, per capita, as any other developed country." [...]

Many Christian groups are calling for action. But they are finding inertia hard to overcome. Many Canadians consider graphic sexual content involving minors as a matter of free expression.

Maybe everything really is Canada's fault.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:51 PM

THE ULTIMATE INDISTINGUISHABILITY OF TOTALITARIANISMS

Napoleon's Legacy Leads to the Gulag (Stephen Goode, Aug. 27, 2003, Insight on the News)
Dramatic subtlety has become an oxymoron in book marketing and among the reviewers who serve it, so it is not surprising that the prestigious journals that review literature didn't see anything to link these two new books. They should have.

Paul Johnson's concise and closely argued Napoleon is a biography of only 199 pages about the man who conquered most of Europe during the early years of the 19th century. It is part of the highly regarded "Penguin Lives Series" of the world's great men and women.

And, at 667 pages, Anne Applebaum's powerful and magisterial Gulag: A History isn't short at all. It is a detailed and deeply moving look at one of the 20th century's great evils, the vast network of Soviet concentration camps known as the Gulag where millions of men and women suffered, were starved and forced to do slave labor in the decades between 1917 and the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991.

The first of these books is set in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and is about one man; the other encompasses much of the 20th century and tells the stories of millions. But in truth the two works tell us much about the same thing: the origins of modern dictatorships and the evils unleashed on the world by those dictatorships. [...]

How do the Gulag and Napoleon connect? In several ways. First, because it was Napoleon who set up the apparatus of state necessary to tyranny. Second, because of his example of ruthlessness. As Johnson points out, Napoleon's minister of police, Joseph Fouch?, "operated the world's first secret police," the prototype of the Gestapo under Adolf Hitler and in the U.S.S.R. of the secret police, known under various acronyms as the Cheka, OGPU, NKVD, MVD and KGB. But under whatever name, it was the Soviet secret police who were responsible for much of the horror perpetrated in the U.S.S.R.

Napoleon's taste for mass slaughter, too, portends that of the Soviet Union. Millions died in Bonaparte's military adventures - Johnson estimates the number at between 4 million and 5 million. At Jaffa during his Egyptian campaign, Napoleon ordered the slaughter of 4,500 prisoners. The mass killing was done by bayonet or by drowning to save ammunition.

In April 1940, the NKVD murdered more than 20,000 Polish officers at Katyn on Stalin's explicit orders, shooting each man in the back of the head, Applebaum reminds us. Then he covered it up, with subsequent help in doing so from his new ally Franklin Roosevelt, claiming that the Germans committed the massacre. It wasn't until 1991 that Boris Yeltsin admitted Soviet responsibility.

Johnson sees Napoleon as the prototype of much that has happened since his death. But, behind Bonaparte, Johnson names the French Revolution as the source of Napoleon's own lawlessness and contempt for life and tradition. Napoleon fulfilled the revolution's "example and teaching," Johnson argues. What was that example and teaching? "The revolution was a lesson in the power of evil to replace idealism, and Bonaparte was its ideal pupil. Moreover, the revolution left behind itself a huge engine: administrative and legal machinery to repress the individual such as the monarch of the ancien r?gime never dreamed of; centralized power to organize national resources that no previous state had ever possessed; an absolute concentration of authority ... that had never been known before; and a universal teaching that such concentration expressed the general will of the people."

As Simone Weil said: "It is not religion that is the opiate of the people, but revolution."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:58 PM

WHERE WILL THE WHEEL STOP?

NEVADA: Nothing But Musers And Poseurs? (The Hotline, 8/27/03)
Richard Ziser, ex-chair of the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, has become the first GOPer to enter the fray following Rep. Jim Gibbons' (R-02) decision not to run against Sen. Harry Reid (D). Other possible GOPers who said they my run included Sec/State Dean Heller, Treas. Brian Krolicki, LG Lorraine Hunt and Realtor Jack Woodcock (AP, 8/27).

Ralston Report's Ralston writes on "all these trial balloons floating by musers and poseurs alike." Ralston takes a "quick look at" the GOP "constitutional officers, who get mentioned" as Reid challengers "just because they have run statewide."

AG Brian Sandoval "would never leave so soon after being elected to his first term. He has patience."

Heller "wanted Gibbons' congressional seat. The most viable. He is really looking at it. Has personal considerations -- four kids, including one just starting college -- in four schools. Very supportive spouse. Will decide within two months. Won't run to lose just to acquire more name recognition. Will see if party" in NV and DC "will support him."

The fundraising matters less than having a credible candidate so long as the congressional elections get nationalized, which the President seems intent on doing.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:37 PM

LINE KING

Jack Kirby Heroes Thrive in Comic Books and Film (ELVIS MITCHELL, 8/27/03, NY Times)
The characters that spilled out of Kirby's pen are not confined to the DC books or to the astonishing run that Marvel Comics had in the 1960's. In some cases Kirby pasted his characters over photo collages, furthering the Pop Art homage paid to him by Roy Lichtenstein. He also made a template in the 1940's by creating Captain America with Joe Simon.

In "The Great Comic Book Heroes," Jules Feiffer summarized the appeal of Kirby's 1940 comic books, a style that took on a smooth and magnetic elan: "Muscles stretched magically, foreshortened shockingly. Legs were never less than four feet apart when a punch was thrown. Every panel was a population explosion--casts of thousands: all fighting, leaping, falling, crawling."

Mr. Chabon agreed with Mr. Feiffer's assessment. "He could make the comics panel seem too small to contain the stories he was telling," he said. "What I loved about him then, and continue to admire about him now, was that sense of the inexhaustibility of his imagination in every issue of whatever comic he happened to be working on. He worked all over the place his entire career and would just fill each one with 15 great ideas for a story and just push them all into the same book together. And then the next issue would come out, and he'd have 15 more."

What's most interesting is to contrast his work to that of Steve Ditko.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:25 PM

WHICH WOULD MAKE HIS CRITICS THE GENERALS

3 Plead Guilty as Terror Investigation in Virginia Expands (NEIL A. LEWIS, 8/27/03, NY Times)
Three members of a suburban Virginia group that federal prosecutors say was training to wage Islamic war abroad, notably in India, have pleaded guilty to weapons charges, and administration officials said today that they planned to expand their investigation into the group. [...]

One of the three who pleaded guilty on Monday, Yong Ki Kwan, admitted to a federal judge that he had trained with firearms at the camp of Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan in preparation for a possible mission abroad on behalf of an Islamic political cause.

Another defendant who pleaded guilty, Khwaja Mahmood Hasan, acknowledged visiting the camp. His lawyer, Thomas Abbenante of Washington, said in a statement that Mr. Hasan regretted his actions, which were out of character and the result of "youthful indiscretion and his being persuaded by the preaching of a misguided Islamic cleric," an apparent reference to Mr. Timini.

The third defendant who pleaded guilty on Monday, Donald T. Surratt, did not travel to Pakistan but admitted having transported weapons used in terrorist training.

The guilty pleas were especially satisfying to the Justice Department because a federal judge had criticized the indictments as weak and sought to release some of the defendants on bail. At the time of the June indictment, many experts in civil liberties denounced the investigation as harassment of Muslims who simply liked to play paintball together.

John Ashcroft is on a winning streak that must make Meadowlark Lemon envious.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:22 PM

SPECIAL DELIVERY

A cry for radical change in Palestine (Rami G. Khouri, 8/27/03, The Daily Star )
As Israel-Palestinian mutual military and political violence increases, we are likely to see the most visible consequences of this within Palestinian society. The tensions between President Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas are the most obvious, but not the only, signs of this. Two prevailing Palestinian power structures are slowly falling apart - the one established 40 years ago when Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and others in the mid-1960s founded Fatah and quickly took control of the Palestinian national movement after the 1967 war debacle, and the more recent self-governing Palestinian National Authority that was established after the 1993 Oslo accords, also dominated by Fatah and its partners. Both these Palestinian leaderships are slowly collapsing in a heap of unfulfilled expectations and self-inflicted incompetence.

These problems are not the sole making of the Palestinians. Israel has been miserly and inconsistent in agreeing to a fair and comprehensive peace based on ending its colonization of occupied Palestinian lands. It has consistently made progress toward a negotiated two-state solution dependent primarily on Israel’s a priori demand for ironclad security, rather than the more politically realistic attempt to fulfill Palestinian and Israeli security requirements simultaneously.

The United States is also an erratic third-party mediator. Its occasional dramatic gesture (President George W. Bush’s June trip to the region) is negated by two chronic failures: It has not used its power to push both sides to implement the peace-making dynamics that it has fostered and, more often than not, it lands closer to the Israeli than the Palestinian side on key controversies (e.g.: Washington just signed a $9 billion loan guarantees foreign aid package with Israel without carrying through on its recent threat to deduct from it part of the cost of Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank; and it has been much more explicitly understanding of Israel’s security concerns and right to retaliate and protect itself than it has been of the corresponding Palestinian viewpoint). The other “Quartet” sponsors of the current “road map” peace plan - Russia, the EU, the UN - seem to have washed their hands of the matter or are on an extended political vacation.

The US and Israel gambled when they pressured the Palestinians to name Abbas as prime minister. His impossible mission comprised the American-Israeli demand to crack down on Palestinian terror and legitimate armed resistance against Israel and the Palestinian popular demand to end the Israeli occupation. Abbas has not satisfied any of his four key constituencies - the Palestinians under occupation, the other 4 million Palestinian refugees abroad, the Israelis, and Washington.

Abbas will struggle now to dig himself out of this hole, where his failure to deliver translates quickly into irrelevance and oblivion. The Americans and Israelis hand-picked him in haste, and will drop him just as swiftly if he proves useless to them.

Mr. Abbas is not required to deliver anything, only to accept delivery of statehood, which will then make him appear to have delivered for the Palestinian people. If we can keep him alive that long.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:13 PM

JOHN WHO?

Dean Jumps Out To Big Lead In New Hampshire: Survey Shows Surge By Former Vermont Governor (AP, August 27, 2003)
Dean leads Kerry 38 percent to 17 percent in the Zogby International poll of likely primary voters conducted this week. Kerry, the Massachusetts senator, led in New Hampshire earlier this year, with a 26 percent to 13 percent advantage in February. The two candidates were essentially tied in a poll by Zogby in June.

What is the premise of the Kerry candidacy if he can't win NH?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:08 AM

WARNING--SILLY ITEM! (via Glenn Dryfoos)

Warning -- Serious Item! (Gregg Easterbrook, 8/26/03, TMQ)
Judge Roy Moore, the publicity-seeker who put the 2.5-ton Ten Commandments in the Alabama state courthouse, declared Monday that he could disobey the direct order of a federal judge because "judges do not make laws, they interpret them." Since, Moore continued, an interpretation can be wrong, therefore he may defy a judicial order. So presumably Judge Moore also thinks that if he sentences a man to prison, the man can declare that the interpretation might be wrong and walk free? It's exactly the same logic.

Moore further said that the First Amendment precept, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion," does not apply to him because "I am not Congress." Drag this incompetent lunatic out of the court quickly, please. Anyone with entry-level knowledge of Constitutional law knows that the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, was intended to extend the Bill of Rights to state governments; that a 1937 Supreme Court decision specifically declared that the First Amendment binds state officials like Judge Moore.

We're big fans of Mr. Easterbrook--for his political writing, and despite his love of the anti-American/anti-human NFL--but note the core silliness of the argument that the 14th binds all state officials to federal standards is demonstrated in the incorporation rulings a mere 70 years later. It's like saying the Constitution was intended to protect abortion rights as shown by Roe v. Wade. Folks who favor judicial activism should at least have the honesty to acknowledge that, no matter how much they like the results, it is anticonstitutional and antidemocratic.

Further, it is Mr. Easterbrook's logic that is specious: judges, including Judge Moore, are quite specifically given the authority to sentence people to jail; there is no similar grant of authority to federal judges to apply the Bill of Rights universally. James Madison and company may be dead, but if the Left wants to bind states with the Court's interpretations of the Bill of Rights, it should be easy enough to draft such an amendment. And it will be adopted on the 4th of never, which is why they don't use constitutional means to achieve their end.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:35 AM

OTHER THAN THAT WE'D BE PALS

The Shi'ite-Sunni divide: Part 2: Slowly building bridges (Sultan Shahin, 8/27/03, Asia Times)
It is common knowledge that the militant Pakistani organization Sipah-e-Sahaba, that is accused of targeted killing of Shi'ites, has for years been financed by the Wahhabi rulers of Saudi Arabia. Iran is said to be financing Tehrike-Nifaze-Fiqhe-Jafria, a militant Shi'ite organization in Pakistan. These two organizations have kept fanning the flames of growing Shi'ite-Sunni enmity in Pakistan.

As for the Arab world, renowned US-based Islamic scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr says, "A great deal of money and effort has been spent in the last few years to fan the fire of hatred between Shi'ites and Sunnis in the Persian Gulf region, with obvious political and economic fruits for the powers-to-be."

It was not too long ago that Arabs conferred "near-unanimous legitimacy" to Saddam's invasion of Iran in the 1980s on the specious plea that the growing Shi'ite power in the neighborhood was a danger to the Sunni Arab rulers of the Gulf region. The eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war, that did more than anything else to widen the Shi'ite-Sunni divide, was supported to the hilt by the Western powers.

It is this unholy alliance of secular Arab nationalism of Saddam's Iraq, the Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalism of Saudi Arabia and Western imperialism with its massive media resources that has created the present perception of a vast Shi'ite-Sunni divide. It is not for nothing that the Western media seldom mention an Iraqi as Muslim. There are no Muslims in Iraq, only Shi'ites, Sunnis or Kurds; just as there were no Muslims in Kosovo, only ethnic Albanians.

The fact that the widely predicted Shi'ite backlash against the decades-long Sunni domination of Iraq has not materialized may mean that the imperialist project of divide and rule has not succeeded in that country, at least so far. Now it is for Shi'ites and Sunnis in other parts of the world to build on the Iraqi example and seek to bridge the gulf separating the two sects to promote harmony and peace undeterred by the bigotry of extremists and the machinations of imperialist powers.

If only we had sense enough to fan the flames. But it seems germane that we betrayed the Shi'ite uprising after the First Iraq War, a cause which would have served such purposes well.

August 26, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:35 PM

IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM; SILENCE 'EM

GAO Cites Corporate Shaping of Energy Plan (Mike Allen, August 26, 2003, Washington Post)
The White House collaborated heavily with corporations in developing President Bush's energy policy but repeatedly refused to give congressional investigators details of the meetings, according to a federal report issued yesterday.

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said in the report that Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham privately discussed the formulation of Bush's policy "with chief executive officers of petroleum, electricity, nuclear, coal, chemical and natural gas companies, among others."

An energy task force, led by Vice President Cheney, relied for outside advice primarily on "petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, electricity industry representatives and lobbyists," while seeking limited input from academic experts, environmentalists and policy groups, the GAO said.

So the Attorney General shouldn't talk about the nation's laws and the administration shouldn't talk to energy companies about energy policy? And Judge Moore shouldn't display the Ten Commandments and Mel Gibson shouldn't tell the story of the Crucifixion? Is the Left trying to outlaw the mere communication of conservative ideas? Are they incapable of answering them with ideas of their own?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:52 PM

STORYBOOK ENDING

Loner who shot Reagan 'ready to be released' (Toby Harnden, 27/08/2003, Daily Telegraph)
John Hinckley, 48, has been confined to secure wards in St Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington for more than 20 years after being found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity, but could soon be released without supervision.

After making several visits, accompanied by psychiatric staff, to bowling alleys, bookshops, cinemas and the beach over the past three years, Hinckley has applied for 10 unsupervised visits to his parents' home in Virginia, including five overnight stays.

In court documents, Hinckley's lawyer, Barry Levine, stated: "It is undisputed that Mr Hinckley's psychosis and depression have been in full remission and that he has shown no symptoms thereof for over a decade.

"Mr Hinckley does not pose a risk of danger to himself or others now or in the reasonable future." [...]

Several of Hinckley's day trips around Washington have been with Leslie deVeau, a former patient at St Elizabeth's who was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of her 10-year-old daughter, Erin, in 1982. [...]

Previous applications for release were withdrawn due to Hinckley's obsession with the actress Jodie Foster. In 1987, he was discovered with 20 photos of Foster, with whom he had become fixated after seeing her in the film Taxi Driver.

He was also found to have corresponded with the serial killer Ted Bundy and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1985.

The tragedy is that Mr. Hinckley could well be of more sound mind now than two of his victims: Ronald Reagan and James Brady.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 PM

MAJORITY RULES

Dewhurst can change Senate's two-thirds rule, Justice Department says: Ruling comes day before Republicans and Democrats head to federal court (Austin AMERICAN-STATESMAN, August 26, 2003)
As the Legislature ended its second special session on congressional redistricting today, all the players in the partisan standoff geared up to take their battle to a Laredo courtroom on Wednesday.

But within hours of the session's end, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a ruling that raised new questions about whether the courts will have any authority to settle the dispute.

The ruling found that the Senate did not need pre-clearance from the Justice Department to get rid of an internal rule that requires two-thirds of senators to sign off on any legislation.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst had waived that rule to clear the way for a new congressional map that would likely give Republicans a majority in the state's 32-member congressional delegation. The map is supported by a majority of state senators, but not two-thirds.

Senate Democrats - who left the state to break the Senate's quorum and kill the map - sued in federal court, saying Dewhurst had violated the federal Voting Rights Act by changing the chamber's rules to draw a new map that will affect minority voters.

"Our analysis indicates that the practice in question is an internal legislative parliamentary rule or practice - not a change affecting voting - and therefore is not subject to the preclearance requirement," Joseph Rich, chief of the voting section in the Justice Department's civil rights division wrote to state officials.

Federal law requires changes to voting patterns or districts in southern states to be considered by the Justice Department before taking effect to ensure that minorities' voting rights are protected.

Now where are they going to hide?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 PM

YOU DON'T NORMALLY LOOK TO GERMANY FOR GOOD POLITICAL IDEAS (via Rick Turley)

German Group Lobbies for Child's Right to Vote (NPR, 8/26/03)
In Germany, a nonprofit organization makes a child's right to vote the centerpiece of its agenda. The German Family Association says giving children the right to vote would force politicians to pay more attention to the younger generation and lead to policies that could reverse the country's dropping birth rate.

The better idea would be to allow fathers to vote for their children, so a father of three would have four votes.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:48 PM

HERD ON THE STREET (via Budd White)

Debunking the myth of the 'Arab street' (Ari Melber, August 26, 2003, Baltimore Sun)
Politicians in the Middle East and the United States agree on one thing: The occupation of Iraq will shape how America is viewed in the infamous "Arab street." But any examination of public opinion in the region should begin by discarding this misleading cliche.

The Arab street is inaccurate, disrespectful and obstructive to U.S. efforts to engage the Middle East. There is no monolithic Arab street stewing with a singular hatred of the United States; the populations of 18 different countries and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories do not think as one group.

It suggests a mob mentality; even when France is frustrating we don't decry the "French street." It is simply hypocritical to talk of public opinion at home and ethnic streets overseas.

Defenders say the term emphasizes the gap between Arab dictators and their citizens. But it is precisely those rulers who advance the impression that the "street" may erupt at any moment (even as they control information and limit expression). This is the most dangerous part of perpetuating the "street" fiction: It feeds the scare tactics of dictators in the Middle East.

Liberties -- for lefties only (Debra J. Saunders, August 26, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle)
Some of the very people who are attacking the Patriot Act on civil libertarian grounds are raising questions as to whether Attorney General John Ashcroft has the right to lobby in its favor.

Here's an idea for a new slogan: Free speech -- Ashcroft need not apply.

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to Ashcroft that speeches he delivered in U.S. cites to boost the besieged Patriot Act appeared to conflict with congressional rules regarding "publicity or propaganda purposes not authorized by Congress." Conyers objected to Ashcroft's goal of setting the record straight on the USA Patriot Act -- that is, correcting the anti-Patriot Act propaganda -- and suggested that Ashcroft "desist from further speaking engagements" until he could establish that what he was doing was legit. (DOJ attorneys disagree with Conyers' interpretation.)

In a press release, the American Civil Liberties Union "questioned" the Department of Justice's "use of public money to counter broad public concern about the expansive surveillance powers of the law."

Note that both Conyers and the ACLU object to Ashcroft speaking out. If he had agreed with them, if he were not a dissident on their issue, apparently there would be no problem.

Somehow it's easier to believe that the experts are channeling the Arab street than it is to believe that the ACLU speaks for broad public concerns in America.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 PM

ANY WAY YOU SLICE THEM, YOU GET STATISM

Faith, Ideology, and Politics (David Forte, August 2003, John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs)
Many in the West think, or used to think, that the problem of violence in the Middle East lay within Islam itself. Jihad and Islam were, and are, seen as the same thing. There is no doubt that there is a strain of violence within Muslim culture, as there was a strain of violence within medieval culture, and within many tribal cultures. And my studies convince me that some elements of the legal tradition in Islam held by some particular writers can work to validate atavistic violence: the death penalty for apostasy, the prohibitions against blasphemy, the (otherwise normally appropriate) constraints on certain sexual activities, the approval of slavery, and the sometime legal degradation of religious minorities.

But what the recent bombing attacks in Israel and Baghdad show is that the enemy in the Middle East is not Islam, or at least the mainline tradition of Islam, but Fascism. The Baathists are overt Fascists, but so are Hamas and Hezbollah. Sometimes this brutal strain of Fascism wears an Islamic mask, but it is still in its essence the same kind of Fascist totalitarianism that ruined Europe, the same kind of Fascist/Communist totalitarianism that ruined Russia and China, and wounded Africa and Latin America. It is the Fascism that made the Holocaust in Europe and would do so again in the Middle East if it could.

The mask it wears, however, is important. In Germany, Fascism wore the mask of maintaining a rich cultural tradition, and seemed more valid because generations of intellectuals had accepted Social Darwinism. In Russia, Communism wore the mask of humanitarian concern for the worker and the poor, and it seemed more valid because generations of intellectuals had accepted the class dichotomies of Fabian Socialism and Progressivism. In the Middle East, Fascist terrorism tries to wear the mask of Islam, and it seems more valid to many because of its surface connection to a deeply held faith.

Considered simply as the idea that there should be an extremely powerful central State and that it should control every aspect of the nation's life, there really is no difference among Nazism, Communism, and Islamism
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 PM

STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS COLD

Don't believe all you hear about California economy: Despite gloomy portrayals by candidates for governor, the state is staging a recovery. (Christopher L. Tyner, 8/27/03, The Christian Science Monitor)
To hear the gubernatorial candidates talk about it, you'd think California has become a Third World nation, a Bangladesh where people wear a lot of spandex. As the would-be governors pitch their wares for the Oct. 7 recall, they tell the same bedtime story: How the California dream has turned into a nightmare.

Yet their gloomy scenarios may be a bit melodramatic, even by California standards. True, the state is facing a serious budget problem and, like the rest of the nation, is struggling to pull itself out of an economic hole.

But the economy here is doing better than many states, and California still has some built-in strengths that others don't. Successes like Electronic Arts or Lockheed Corp. - busy building 100 C-17 military cargo planes in Long Beach - were created by a hothouse of growth ingredients that only California can serve up: a pool of educated workers, prestigious universities, great weather, entrepreneurial vigor, and a walletfull of venture capital.

It's the formula generating a $1.36 trillion economy - the fifth largest in the world. It draws 40 percent of the nation's venture capital to the state and has helped create an explosive housing market as well as awaken the slumbering high-tech industry.

It's gathering momentum despite the continued effects from the Sept. 11 terror attacks, a national economic downturn, the impact of the SARS epidemic on state travel and business, and the effects of the Iraq war.

Whenever a polity is struggling, folks ask who would want to run it. But that's precisely the time to get elected because you'll get credit for the inevitable recovery, even if you had nothing to do with it: witness Bill Clinton.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:17 PM

HURRY SLOWLY

Iraqis impatient for promised democracy: Four months after the US occupied Iraq, citizens wonder when they will have a say in the new government. (Cameron W. Barr, 8/27/03, The Christian Science Monitor)
"The Americans said they came ... to liberate Iraq from the former regime and promised to help us stand up again and reconstruct the country," says Salah al-Ezzi, a doctor who presides over one of Iraq's many tribes from a verdant, palm-fringed yard in a village an hour outside of central Baghdad. Four months later, he continues, Iraqis instead face arrests and checkpoints. "They don't pay any respect to the people," he says of the Americans.

Dr. Ezzi's views may be partly the product of impatience. It has been a year and eight months since the US toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and general elections there are still 10 months away. It took US occupation authorities in post-World War II Japan more than a year and a half to hold elections. Postwar Germany was occupied by the allies in June 1945, with the first zone elections in 1946, and the first West German parliamentary vote held only in August 1949. [...]

Council member Mowaffak al-Rubaie says the US is pushing too fast toward a democratic system. "I personally feel the Americans are rushing us toward democracy," says Dr. Rubaie ruing the absence of a "democratic culture" in the country. [...]

Rubaie credits Bremer and his colleagues for appointing the members of the Council in a way that reflects Iraq's sectarian and ethnic diversity. "Show me one component of the Iraqi community that is not represented here," Rubaie says.

Others aren't so pleased. "You're dissecting the country," says Mudhar Showkat, a senior member of the Iraqi National Congress, a group formed in exile that has advocated speedy elections and a quick return to Iraqi sovereignty. He argues that the allocation of seats according to background sets a dangerous precedent. "You're building up something that will lead to a clash as it did in Lebanon," he warns, citing a country where complex formulas for apportioning power devolved into years of civil war.

Got that?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:25 PM

A HISTORIC MOMENT, BUT HOT HIS

McClintock sees recall election as historic moment (Daniel Weintraub, August 26, 2003, Sacramento Bee)
When California lawmakers voted in 1999 to approve legislation giving state employees more generous retirement benefits and opening the door to a round of big increases in local government pensions, only a handful of legislators opposed the bill.

One of them was then-Assemblyman Tom McClintock.

A couple of years later, when both houses of the Legislature overwhelmingly approved a rich new contract for state prison guards, giving them a 35 percent increase over five years, there was even less resistance. Just one lawmaker voted no. It was McClintock, who was by then a state senator.

Both bills became law and today stand as monuments to the worst excesses of the Legislature and Gov. Gray Davis. They also could be exhibits A and B in McClintock's campaign for governor in the recall election, vivid examples of how things would be different if he won on Oct. 7.

"Governor McClintock could have stopped both of those, and would have," the Ventura County Republican told me in a recent interview.

The pension bill is costing taxpayers more than $500 million a year, with the ripple effects on local government probably at least that big and still growing. The tab for the prison guards' contract, when fully implemented, has been estimated at upwards of $600 million annually by the non-partisan legislative analyst. Alone the two actions account for more than 10 percent of the structural gap between spending and revenues in the state budget.

McClintock, 47, believes that bills such as those are only the start of the problem. He has cast himself as the one candidate capable of taking on what he calls the "spending lobby" of interest groups, a loose and ever-changing coalition of public employee unions and advocates for the services they provide.

Mr. McClintock seems like a worthy guy, but he's not going to be the next governor of CA and if he were he couldn't get anything through the legislature anyway. He should cut a deal with Arnold and Karl Rove to back him in a campaign against Barbara Boxer in exchange for getting out of this race.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:17 PM

JUST KEEP MOVING THE GOALPOSTS

Bush, Speaking to Veterans, Says Iraq May Not Be Last Strike (DAVID STOUT, August 26, 2003, NY Times)
President Bush defended his policy on Iraq today, declaring that the United States had struck a blow against terrorism in overthrowing the government of Saddam Hussein. And Mr. Bush said the United States might carry out other pre-emptive strikes.

"No nation can be neutral in the struggle between civilization and chaos,'' Mr. Bush told members of the American Legion gathered in St. Louis for the group's convention.

"We've adopted a new strategy for a new kind of war,'' Mr. Bush said, to loud applause. "We will not wait for known enemies to strike us again. We will strike them in their camps or caves or wherever they hide, before they hit more of our cities and kill more of our citizens.''

"We will do everything in our power to deny terrorists weapons of mass destruction before they can commit murder on an unimaginable scale,'' Mr. Bush said. "The security of this nation, and our friends, requires decisive action, and with a broad coalition, we're taking that action around the globe. We are on the offensive against terror, and we will stay on the offensive against terror.''

The president also repeated his vision of a Palestinian state living in peace with Israel. But he added, "A Palestinian state will never be built on the foundation of violence,'' and he said organizations that helped to finance Middle East terrorism under the guise of charitable giving must be thwarted.

Let's hear Howard Dean run against a war while we're fighting it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 PM

WE MAY NOT BE BAKING OUR PARENTS, BUT WE ARE ALL ON VACATION

DUBYA TROUBLE? (John Podhoretz, August 26, 2003, NY Post)
A PAGE-ONE Washington Post article summed up this week's conventional wisdom perfectly: "The president no longer enjoys the aura of invincibility that surrounded him only a few months ago . . . Democrats especially have re-evaluated his presidency and concluded that, on the issues now dominating the political debate, Bush does not have the upper hand."

Only one problem: The article by Dan Balz and Dana Milbank was published a year ago - on Aug. 11, 2002.

Its thesis was that President Bush's standing had faded after 9/11, that he was vulnerable, and that the White House was getting scared.

It's déjà vu all over again. [...]

The August madness of 2002 is not exactly the same as the current hysteria. Bush's polls are worse; 9/11 is almost two years in the past, and the post-war situation in Iraq is nervous-making and difficult.

But it's August. August means Bush and his staff have gone on vacation - they're working, and fund-raising, but they are not generally speaking playing offense.

They'll be back, with bells on, after Labor Day - as they were last year, when Bush went to New York on the anniversary of 9/11 and then, the very next day, confronted the United Nations with the necessity of challenging Iraq's defiance.

Meantime, let's get serious.

No line better exemplifies the degree to which this Administration uses big time business operations as a model for governance and the discipline with which they apply the insight than Andy Card's statement from last year: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 3:29 PM

)

The University in the Future - Response (Professor Andrew Abbot, University of Chicago, 4/4/2001)
[L]et me unmince a few words about one of the local sacred cows, a cow I have tended carefully over the last decade. We don't have a faculty taught core. It's more so than elsewhere, and maybe it's better designed than elsewhere, but it's not truly faculty taught. Our humanities core was cut--I was there, my friends--because the faculty involved no longer wished to teach it. They don't believe in teaching students about values. According to what many of them write, they're not really clear whether they have any values themselves. They're not sure what they want to teach (although they'd certainly like to teach it in Paris rather than Chicago). The social sciences core is sometimes thought to be a little healthier intellectually--that's the shibboleth of me and my fellow social scientists--but still a good half the social science faculty avoid teaching in it. The reality of the curricular wars here is that many faculty would like to settle into the fatuous routine of lecture courses, disguised as very-much-needed surveys, in which they can do less work. Most faculty here secretly think it a waste of time for eminent academics with planet-wide reputations like theirs to be at the same time teaching somewhat randomly chosen elite 18-year-olds how to write a paragraph of prose. Surely somebody else can do that.

Subject of the experiment: University professors. Stimulus: Virtually unlimited federal funding. Observed response: Professors avoid teaching and commonly substitute declarations of opinion for research. Conclusion: Money without accountability corrupts.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:28 PM

MAKING THE WORST OF THE INEVITABLE

Shiite Clerics Clashing Over How to Reshape Iraq (NEIL MacFARQUHAR, 8/26/03, NY Times)
The clerics who hold sway over Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority are locked in a violent power struggle pitting the older, established ayatollahs counseling patience with the occupation against a younger, more militant faction itching to found an Islamic state. [...]

The tense standoff, as described by clerics from both factions, is playing out among the twisting alleyways of this holy seat, a battle for the leadership of Iraq's Shiite community, which accounts for 60 percent of the country's population of about 25 million.

In one corner sit the senior ayatollahs clustered around Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, all betting that it is only a matter of time before the United States delivers a democratic state that the Shiites can dominate through sheer numbers.

Arrayed against them are more activist opponents of the American-led occupation who back Moktada al-Sadr and who believe that Shiites should aggressively pursue an Islamic state modeled on clerical rule in Iran.

"It goes back in history to two distinct lines in Muslim and particularly Shiite thought," said Sheik Shaibani, a 33-year-old cleric who runs the Islamic court in Najaf in defiance of the elder clergy.

"There are those who say you must undertake jihad in times of oppression, and those who say we must stay silent until the reappearance of the Mahdi," he said, referring to the Shiite savior.

Although not calling for an outright holy war, the young clerics hint at the possibility.

Since Shi'a rule is inevitable, one wonders what point is served by our seeming to stand in the way of it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 AM

"RAV PAM HAPPY"

The sage and his ‘special’ friend (Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, 8/26/03, Jewish World Review)
In the winter of 1989, a son was born to Rabbi and Mrs. Baruch Rabinowitz of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. The child, Nota Shlomo, was born with Down Syndrome.

In the years that followed, Rabbi Avraham Pam, dean of Brooklyn's Mesivta Torah Vodaath, one of America's premiere institutions of higher Jewish learning and one of this generation's greatest Torah luminaries, developed a deep attachment to the child. He also agreed to act as Nota Shlomo's sandak, godfather

When Nota Shlomo was past the age of four, his father began taking him to shul (synagogue) on Shabbes (Sabbath) at the rabbinical school. Nota Shlomo did not disturb the praying; instead, he would circle the perimeter of the Torah Vodaath sanctuary with quick steps, again and again. Someone suggested that perhaps this was not in keeping with k'vod hatefilla (respect for prayer). Rabbi Pam disagreed. "Perhaps this is his way of praying," he said, for he perceived that Nota Shlomo possessed a lofty neshoma (soul). "If it's not really disturbing, we should not stop him."

Sometimes during prayer, Nota Shlomo would place himself to the right of the aron kodesh (holy ark) with a Tehillim (Psalms) in hand and shake to and fro, lift both his hands upward and make sounds as if he was praying. Rabbi Pam mentioned this in a public address, and commented that one cannot know what such a child accomplished with his "prayer." Similarly, when Nota Shlomo hurried to open the aron kodesh prior to the Torah reading, Rabbi Pam remarked that, certainly it was of great significance for the congregation that he was the one performing this honor, though what Heavenly ramifications this has is beyond us.

Wouldn't life be banal if there were no things that are beyond us?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:24 AM

LINE OF FIRE

US KILLING 'NOT ERROR' (London Mirror, Aug 26 2003)
A REUTERS cameraman was deliberately killed by US troops after he filmed them digging a mass grave, his brother claims.

[N]azmi Dana said: "The US troops killed my brother in cold blood.

"Mazen told me by phone a few days before his death that he discovered a mass grave dug by US troops to conceal the bodies of their fellow comrades killed in Iraqi resistance attacks.

"US forces knowingly killed him to prevent him from airing his finding."

Boy, these Reuters guys don't even pretend to be objective journalists do they.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 AM

LEGAL, SAFE, AND FREQUENT

The Key To Immigration Is Assimilation, Not Separatism (SEAN HIGGINS, 8/26/03, INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY)
IBD: How exactly is immigration changing California?

[Victor Davis] Hanson: It used to be done in a way that was legal and measured, and allowed the natural process of assimilation to work pretty well.

But since about 1975, the number of the people who are coming has grown. And we, the host country, have given up on assimilation and allowed separatism to occur in our schools. The result is that we are creating an amoral apartheid society. [...]

IBD: Is assimilation in fact occurring?

Hanson: It is. I make that clear in my book. There is a powerful engine for that in popular culture, whether it is the Williams sisters or Tiger Woods or Jennifer Lopez. People of all different races are intermarrying. They have the same taste in television and in movies.

But the schools are promoting a multicultural separatist ideology — whether it's bilingual education or separate graduation ceremonies. We are in a race between the powers of assimilation and the powers of separatism.

That is the issue at the heart of it. We just need people to come in from Mexico in a little smaller numbers and through a legal process, so we can assimilate them legally.

IBD: Many free-market economists say the benefits of mass immigration outweigh the costs. What do you think?

Hanson: One thing I've noticed is that each side tries to produce statistics that refute the other. It's hard to adjudicate which body of evidence is correct.

My feeling is that the contribution of unskilled labor to the overall GDP of the U.S. is rather small. But it's very important to localized sectors like restaurants, building and agriculture within the Southwest.

It's a sad commentary on California when you have a 9% unemployment rate in many counties and the employers are saying nobody will work and they have to bring in people from Mexico. [...]

IBD: So this is primarily a matter of changing the political process?

Hanson: It has to start with a dialogue. Those on the open borders-corporate-libertarian side have precluded debate by demonizing people as nativist, protectionist or Neanderthal. They work hand in glove with the racial left, which demonizes people as racist. Between the two, they have precluded almost all debate on it.

IBD: Do we need stuff like English-only laws?

Hanson: We've never needed them before. We just need to revert back to what we used to do: encourage them to learn English.

The point here is that the problems with immigration are mainly our fault: our abandonment of the teaching of our own culture in schools; a welfare system that makes possible the refusal of the native poor to work undesirable jobs; and declining fertility rates that require importation of workers.

MORE:
Latinos are Looking Up (Zev Chafets, 8/26/03. Jewish World Review)
Latinos aren't wealthy - most families earn less than $40,000 a year - but they are staunchly optimistic. Sixty percent think the economy will be better in a year. Almost 75% believe their children's lives will be better than their own.

The majority put assimilation ahead of diversity - 51.2% hope for greater assimilation. Less than 40% support "keeping [their] own culture, even if it means staying somewhat separate from the rest of American society."

Neither are Latinos inclined to see themselves as victims. Asked about the main barrier to success in the U.S., a large plurality listed language.

Almost 70% could think of no instance in the past year in which they suffered ethnic or racial discrimination. Just 3.7% regard bias as the most important problem they face.

Fully 85.5% say that affirmative action should be based more on need than on race. Among potential Democratic primary voters, the Rev. Al Sharpton got just 1.8%.

Politically, a majority of Latinos call themselves conservative or moderate, and this is evident in their social and economic views. Fifty-six percent favor government vouchers for private or church schools. A similar number support tax cuts for individuals and businesses. Less than 7% want to raise taxes to increase government spending. Although twice as many Latinos identify with the Democratic Party as with the GOP, these are unmistakably Republican positions. [...]

Seen through the prism of this poll, Hispanics appear to be less a group of disaffected minority voters than a fairly typical community of Catholic immigrants. A generation ago, the Republicans converted working-class Italian-, Polish- and Irish-Americans into Reagan Democrats. This year, they will be trying to repeat the act, in Spanish.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM

DOESN'T IT SEEM THEY'RE REPORTING THIS AS A VICTORY?

From: "CBSNews---Breaking_News"
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003 08:37:13 -0400
To: orrin@brothersjudd.zzn.com
Subject: CBSNews.com News Alert!

The number of U.S. soldiers killed in post-Saddam Iraq has surpassed the
number killed during major combat. In the latest incident, a GI was killed
in a roadside bombing.

For news 24 hours a day, log on to www.cbsnews.com
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 AM

HEY, WAIT, THE RELIGIOUS CAN'T BE SKEPTICAL ABOUT US!

Faith and Works: a review of 'For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and The End of Slavery' by Rodney Stark (Lisa Jardine, Washington Post)
In his latest book, For the Glory of God, Stark maintains that the extraordinary scientific and mathematical achievements of Newton and his contemporaries were in fact a direct consequence of their Christian beliefs. The so-called European Scientific Revolution, therefore, was a coherent rational development, driven by faith, and grew directly out of the strenuously rational theology of the medieval Church. [...]

Stark's argument is driven by the belief that "whether we like it or not, people acting for the glory of God have been a dramatic force for cultural change." It is hard to see why he should consider this view to be provocative. Most of us would concede that strong conviction drives those who aspire to alter the world in which they live. The case Stark goes on to make, however, is deliberately contentious. He claims that both enlightenment and bigotry are undertaken "for the glory of God." There is also something calculatedly obtuse about Stark's insistence that we ought to applaud the Church for its motivating rationality, while he freely admits that the officials of the established churches of the day were responsible for vigorously persecuting those who held beliefs incompatible with doctrine. Similarly, his apologetic claims that the witch-hunts resulted in far fewer deaths than conventionally claimed by historians and that the Church "strenuously opposed" slavery long before abolitionism seem perverse on the basis of the wealth of information now assembled by historians, and woefully under-documented compared with tables and statistics he produces elsewhere.

I fear that this book has been deliberately pitched at those who would dearly like to believe that the unifying thread through European and North American progress toward modernity has been and remains an explicitly Christian set of beliefs. I base this conclusion on a section that Stark tucks into the discussion of the emergence of science and which is headed "Evolution and Religion." Here he argues with characteristic directness that the hostility of Christianity to evolutionary theory derives from shortcomings within that theory, rather than from any more general difficulty the church may have had historically with science. Darwinism, he maintains, is not actually a theory at all but rather a set of surmises. Problems with evolutionary theory have been "hushed up." A recent survey of biologists found that 45 percent "acknowledged that the process of evolution is guided by God." In spite of his many disclaimers, stressing the even-handedness and sociological rigor of his approach, Stark appears here himself to adopt the skeptical position of the creationists.

And skepticism is inappropriate because it's a received truth or something? Should he adopt the credulous position of the Darwinists?

August 25, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:23 PM

EVERY MAN HAS HIS BREAK POINT (via ef brown)

The Great Escape, or how I finally shook off the state (Harry Mount, 25/08/2003, Daily Telegraph)
Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last. I have finally slipped free of any form of state control. Transport, health, education, the day at work, the evening at play - the Government's great, big, dirty paw no longer messes with my day-to-day existence and my life now rattles happily along, on smooth, privately-run, rails.

Everything turns up on time. Everyone I deal with is polite. If anything goes wrong, it's only ever my fault. And, what's more, this pampered world costs less than the battered version that the state provides.

The final breaking of the bonds came when I did my back in last weekend playing tennis.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 PM

CRANK UP THE VCRs

A TWENTIETH CENTURY TESTIMONY BY MALCOLM MUGGERIDGE (EWTN)
This engaging encounter with a controversial journalist exposes the twentieth century's idolatries, ideologies, and pretenses, and why they crumble after an encounter with Christ. This documentary follows Muggeridge - who embraced Catholicism in his eightieth year - to his English country estate, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum where he is immortalized, and to the Holy Land.

Sunday August 24, 7:00 PM
Tuesday August 26, 1:00 PM
Friday August 29, 3:00 AM

It was on yesterday and it was about the most pastoral hour of television imaginable.

MORE:
-ESSAY: RUSSIA REVEALED: The Five-Year Fiasco (Malcolm Muggeridge, 5th June 1933, The Morning Post)
-ESSAY: RUSSIA REVEALED: Crucifixion of the Peasants (Malcolm Muggeridge, 6th June 1933, The Morning Post)
-ESSAY: RUSSIA REVEALED: Terror of the G.P.U. (Malcolm Muggeridge, 7th June 1933, The Morning Post)
-ESSAY: RUSSIA REVEALED: How World is Deceived: Art of Gulling our Intelligentsia (Malcolm Muggeridge, 8th June 1933, The Morning Post)
-ETEXT: JESUS REDISCOVERED (MALCOLM MUGGERIDGE)
-ESSAY: THE HUMANE HOLOCAUST (Malcolm Muggeridge, Winter 1980, Human Life Review)
-The Great Liberal Death Wish (Malcolm Muggeridge, May 1979, Imprimus)
-ESSAY: A Knight of the Wounded Countenance (Malcolm Muggeridge)
-ESSAY: The Oddest Prophet: S?ren Kierkegaard (Malcolm Muggeridge)
-ESSAY: Impending Resurrection (Malcolm Muggeridge)
-ESSAY: Blaise Pascal (Malcolm Muggeridge)
-ESSAY: Saint Augustine (Malcolm Muggeridge)
-ESSAY: William Blake: Eye for Eternity (Malcolm Muggeridge)
-ESSAY: Jesus (Malcolm Muggeridge)
-REVIEW: of Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome> (Malcolm Muggeridge, The Guardian)
-The Malcolm Muggeridge Society
-Malcolm Muggeridge: The Iconoclast
-Malcolm Muggeridge (Spartacus)
-FILMOGRAPHY: Malcolm Muggeridge (IMDB.com)
-Malcolm Muggeridge Centenary (May 22-23, 2003) (Wheaton College)
-Malcom Muggeridge (Wikipedia)
-EXCERPT: Muggeridge: The Biography By Richard Ingrams
-LECTURE: Malcolm Muggeridge's Scourging of Liberalism (Russell Kirk, September 21st, 1989, The Heritage Foundation)
-ESSAY: Piano-player in a brothel: Christopher Howse says that Malcolm Muggeridge, born 100 years ago, was very much a man of the 20th-century world -- but rebelled against it (The Spectator)
-ESSAY: Malcolm Muggeridge's journey (Roger Kimball , June 2003, New Criterion)
-ESSAY: The Collision of Two Minds: Malcolm Muggeridge Meets Francis Schaeffer (David Virtue, Touchstone)
-ESSAY: Saint Mugg (R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr  , American Spectator)
-ESSAY: A tale of truth and two journalists (Ian Hunter, 3/27/00, Report Magazine)
-ESSAY: "Deliberate," "diabolical" starvation: Malcolm Muggeridge on Stalin's famine (Marco Carynnyk, May 29, 1983, The Ukrainian Weekly)
-ESSAY: Top 100 Catholics of the Century: #58 Malcolm Muggeridge (Daily Catholic, 9/21/99)
-ARCHIVES: Malcolm Muggeridge (NY Review of Books)
-ARCHIVES: Malcolm Muggeridge (Find Articles)
-ARCHIVES: Malcolm Muggeridge (Mag Portal)
-REVIEW: of Malcolm Muggeridge: A Biography by Gregory Wolfe (Christopher Hitchens, Weekly Standard)
-REVIEW: of Malcolm Muggeridge: A Biography by Gregory Wolfe (Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonweal)
-REVIEW: of Malcolm Muggeridge: A Biography by Gregory Wolfe (Digby Anderson, National Review)
-REVIEW: of Malcolm Muggeridge: A Biography by Gregory Wolfe (First Things)
-REVIEW: of Muggeridge: The Biography By Richard Ingrams (Frances Stead Sellers, Washington Post)
-REVIEW: of Muggeridge: The Biography By Richard Ingrams (John Gross, New Criterion)
-REVIEW: of Muggeridge: The Biography By Richard Ingrams (Bruno Maddox, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of Malcolm Muggeridge: A Life By Ian Hunter (Edward B. Fiske, The New York Times)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 PM

BUTTERFLIES, WITCHES, AND SAN FRANCISCO SUPERVISORS

Taking 'college protest' to a new level this fall: S.F. school will offer a degree in activism (Joe Garofoli, August 12, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle)
San Francisco's New College of California is offering something for the socially conscious this fall that they'd never get marching in the streets: a college degree in activism.

For $5,500 to $6,000 a semester, the 32-year-old Mission District school is offering bachelor's and master's humanities degrees with a concentration in "activism and social change." While schools from Vermont to Santa Cruz boast versions of do-gooding curricula, degrees in activism are hard to come by.

"Students can shape their own (activist) program at other schools," said Michael Baer, senior vice president at the American Council on Education and former provost at Northeastern University. "But to have it all together -- the theoretical and the practical -- under one roof and labeled as such is somewhat rare."

Almost as rare is New College's eclectic lineup of activist instructors, a progressive all-star team that includes tree-sitting environmentalist Julia "Butterfly" Hill, "ecofeminist witch" and author Starhawk and San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly.

Baer called the program instructors at the 800-student school accomplished and "as competent as any you'd see at a similar-sized school. The difference is, at at a larger school, you'd be exposed to wider array of different perspectives."

If Mr. Baer managed to say "the practical" without smiling, he's a pod person or a robot.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 PM

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There is Something Wrong With Humanism (Jeremy Stangroom, Butterflies and Wheels)
If humanists do indeed bring non-scientific criteria to bear when judging scientific theories, it might be objected that they do not do so in the name of humanism. If humanism is nothing more than a rational secularism, then there isn't any extra humanist ingredient against which scientific theories can be judged. However, the difficulty with this objection is precisely that it only works by setting up an equivalence between humanism and rational secularism. It is true that some people see humanism this way, but many people do not.

What then is this possible extra ingredient, properly humanist, against which the merits of scientific theories might be judged? The answer is that it is the constellation of ideas which constitutes the human-centred aspect of humanism. These ideas include: that human beings are free, rational agents; that they are, in various ways, the source of morality; that human dignity and flourishing are important; and that there are significant common bonds between people, which unite them across biological, social and geographical boundaries. These ideas - and variations on them - are espoused in numerous humanist writings (just type 'humanism' into Google - and read at your leisure). However, the claim is not that all humanists accept all these ideas. It is rather that they are representative of a discernible and significant thread in humanist thought. Or, more strongly, it is at least arguable that if a person has no sympathy at all with these kinds of ideas, then they are not a humanist. As Kurtz and Wilson put it, in their Humanist Manifesto II: "Views that merely reject theism are not equivalent to humanism. They lack commitment to the positive belief in the possibilities of human progress and to the values central to it."

What evidence is there then that these kinds of ideas might be involved in the judgements that humanists make about scientific theories? Let's take, as an example, the article by Kenan Malik, "Materialism, Mechanism and the Human Mind", which appeared in the Autumn 2001 edition of New Humanist magazine. In this article, Malik argues that human beings are "exceptional" in that they "cannot be understood solely as natural beings". In pursuing his argument, Malik attacks "mechanistic" explanations, which reduce human beings, and the human mind, to the equivalent of sophisticated machines. He argues that this view is flawed in that it fails to recognise that humans are conscious, capable of purpose and agency. According to Malik, human beings are, in a sense, outside nature, able to work out how to overcome the constraints of biological and physical laws. In his words: "Our evolutionary heritage certainly shapes the way that humans approach the world. But it does not limit it, as it does for all other animals."

It is quite hard to make sense of this argument. For starters, the idea that the evolutionary heritage of human beings does not limit the way we approach the world is highly questionable. For example, it's hard to see how we can rule out the possibility that had our brains evolved differently, then puzzles that presently seem intractable (for example, the fact that there seems to be something that it is like to be a human being) would have long ago been solved.

But, more significantly, the whole idea that human beings are somehow outside nature is slightly odd. It seems here to amount to the claim that things like consciousness, agency and free will are real - though non-physical - and that they are, in principle, beyond scientific, or at least mechanistic, explanation. But the trouble is that Malik, in this article at least, does not argue for this position. He merely repeats what everybody already knows - that it certainly seems that we all have inner lives (and everything that entails), and it's a bit of a puzzle.

So what's at stake here? Why not draw less hard and fast conclusions about the proper domain of scientific explanation? Perhaps part of the story has to do with the spectre of anti-humanism, which seems to be in the background of all scientific attempts to get to grips with the stuff of human existence. [...]

The important point is that Malik is grappling with a tension that lies right at the heart of humanism. If a person is serious about science then they cannot, without fear of contradiction, embrace a doctrine which requires, as humanism might, that human beings have free will or that the stuff of consciousness is non-physical and causally efficacious. To escape the possibility of contradiction by asserting the truth of the kind of science or philosophy which is, in principle, anti-reductionist in its approach to humans is to allow ideology to govern scientific and philosophical commitments.

This contradiction is why we so delight in taunting those who claim to be rationalist/materialist/secularist/whatever: they're too decent to deny free will (too devoted to the species), but too doctrinaire to let go of their anti-religious bent, so they descend into just this kind of endlessly amusing incoherence. They end up arguing that all is determined by natural/material forces, but then, almost magically, Man is set free from the constraints of Nature and has free will, a conscience, etc..
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:55 PM

WHAT'S WITH THIS NEW COOL STANDARD?

Conservative -- and cool: How the right has come to reflect middle America's pop culture (James Sullivan, August 24, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle)
With California's recall election scheduled for Oct. 7, Gov. Gray Davis is facing the prospect of losing his own gig. His detractors say it's the budget woes, but the underlying issue is an image problem: Gray Davis is a profoundly un-funky man.

For better or worse, Davis represents the present-day face of the Democratic Party in America -- apparently humorless, wonkish, staid and distant. The party of John F. Kennedy and Jesse Jackson has turned an embarrassed cheek to its own charismatic past, preferring in recent years to cast itself as efficient, businesslike and not in any way associated with the radical longhairs some of its members may have been during the dreaded 1960s.

Meanwhile, the Republicans, once considered your father's Grand Old (and hopelessly out-of-touch) Party, are addressing middle America in their own language, which is to say, their popular culture. George Bush drives a pickup truck, hams it up with Ozzy Osbourne and speaks about world affairs in simple, homely terms so "the boys back home in Lubbock" can understand.

Don't try telling this to that Ed Villainy guy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:49 PM

60-40 VISION

Gibbons says he could beat Democrat Reid in Nevada Senate race ( SCOTT SONNER, August 21, 2003, Associated Press)
Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., says he's convinced he could unseat Democratic Sen. Harry Reid next year though he hasn't decided whether to try.

The four-term congressman said he intends to announce by the end of the month whether he'll run against the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate.

"We're very close to making a decision. We are getting the right information that we need to have," Gibbons said in an interview this week.

"One of the questions is whether or not we have the base of support and the resources to win the race," he said.

"My belief is that it would be a very winnable race. We could do it," he told The Associated Press.

The sorry state of congressional Democrats is amply demonstrated by the fact that their two highest ranking members in the Senate are both considered vulnerable in 2004.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:42 PM

KILL HIM

Yasser Arafat Reasserts Authority Over Palestinian Security Forces, Appointing Security Adviser (STEPHEN GRAHAM, 8/25/03, Associated Press)
Yasser Arafat appointed a new national security adviser Monday, an apparent bid to reassert control over the Palestinian security forces and undermine his prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas.

Arafat is locked in a struggle over control of the Palestinian security forces with Abbas, who has Washington's backing and is under pressure to crack down on Palestinian militants following a Hamas suicide bombing last week. The bombing and Israel's fierce response has thrown the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan into turmoil.

America and Israel have shied away from what needs to be done because they've always believed that only Arafat could make a final peace deal. But there's never going to be such a deal, only an imposed two state settlement, so kill him.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:23 PM

"ENORMOUS ABSENCE"

THE ANTI-ANTI-AMERICANS: A summer of obsessions in France. (ADAM GOPNIK, 2003-09-01, The New Yorker)
“Anti-Americanism in France is always a magnet for the worst,” Bernard-Henri Lévy said one evening in July. He was sitting in the study of his apartment on the leafy Boulevard Saint-Germain, and even for a casual meeting he wore, as he has done in public for thirty years, an elegant uniform of black suit and open white shirt, the collar lapping over his lapels. B.H.L., as everyone calls him, who remains one of the central media figures in France, has had a great critical success with a book entitled “Qui A Tué Daniel Pearl?” (“Who Killed Daniel Pearl?”), which is, in a way, the most vivid and intensely realized of all the “pro-American” texts. It is an inquiry into the kidnapping and murder in Pakistan last year of the Wall Street Journal reporter, and will be published next month in English by Melville House Books. Unapologetically personal, the book recounts B.H.L.’s own investigation in Pakistan and India, and also in America, with sidelights on his previous campaigns in Bosnia and Bangladesh. One reason for its success in France is that it is written almost in the tone of what the French call a polar, a noirish police thriller, full of one-sentence paragraphs and portentous cliff-hangers (“He was the man who knew too much. But what did he know?”). It also attempts, on a deeper level, to paint a character portrait of the man who did kill Danny Pearl, or, at least, arranged his kidnapping: Omar Sheikh, the Islamist who was convicted in Pakistan last year. Like Mohammed Atta, he turns out to be not a barefoot wild-eyed Mahdi but a child of the West, London-raised and educated—the New Naipaulian Man, lost between two cultures, enraged at the West and mesmerized by a fantasy of Islam, only now armed with a total ideology and an A-bomb.

On a third level, “Who Killed Daniel Pearl?” is a demonstration piece, a deliberate embrace by a French intellectual of an American journalist, and a book that insists that the death of an American journalist (and one who worked for the Wall Street Journal, at that) was as important for France as for America. B.H.L.’s purely political, or forensic, conclusion is that it is naïve to speak of Al Qaeda as an independent terrorist organization. At most a band of Yemenis and Saudis, the Al Qaeda of American imagination and fears—the octopus of terrorism capable of bringing tall buildings down in a single morning—is largely controlled by the Pakistani secret service, he says, and he concludes that Pearl was kidnapped and murdered with its knowledge. Pearl was killed, B.H.L. believes, because he had come to understand too much about all of this, and particularly about “the great taboo”: that the Pakistani atomic bomb was built and is controlled by radical Islamists who intend to use it someday. (He writes that Sheikh Mubarak Gilani, the cleric whom Pearl had set out to interview when he was kidnapped, far from being a minor figure, is one of Osama bin Laden’s mentors and tutors and has a network in place in the United States. John Allen Muhammad, the Washington sniper, Lévy claims, in a detail that, if not unknown, is unpublicized in the United States, had transferred from the Nation of Islam to Gilani’s sect shortly before he began his killing spree.)

The essential conclusion of this central Parisian thinker and writer is, therefore, not that the American government ought to be more conciliatory toward the Islamic fundamentalists but that our analysis of the situation and its risks is not nearly radical enough. “I am strongly anti-anti-American, but I opposed the war in Iraq, because of what I’d seen in Pakistan,” Lévy said. “Iraq was a false target, a mistaken target. Saddam, yes, is a terrible butcher, and we can only be glad that he is gone. But he is a twentieth-century butcher--an old-fashioned secular tyrant, who made an easy but irrelevant target. His boasting about having weapons of mass destruction and then being unable to really build them or keep them is typical--he’s just a gangster, who lived by fear and for money. Saddam has almost nothing to do with the real threat. We were attacking an Iraq that was already largely disarmed. Meanwhile, in some Pakistani bazaar someone, as we speak, is trading a Russian miniaturized nuclear weapon.”

The relentless first-person address of Lévy’s new book has been mocked--“Tin-Tin in Pakistan”--but its egocentrism feels earned, and even admirable. There are three kinds of writers addicted to the first person: the kind whose “I” remains a pillar of self-reliance, supporting the text (Camus and Bruce Chatwin are both masters of this sort); the kind whose “I”s magically become “you”s (Montaigne, Thurber); and then a third, rarer kind (Mailer, Malraux), whose insistent “I”s somehow become an extended and inclusive “we,” and who, through sheer lack of embarrassment about their own self-dramatization, end up enacting the dream life of their generation. B.H.L. is, or has become, in his last three books, a writer of that kind, and of that stature.

“The real issue, which the Americans don’t see, is that the Arab Islamist threat is partly manageable,” he went on. “One can see solutions, if not easy ones, to the Israeli-Palestinian question, to the Saudi problem. The Asian Islamist threat, though, is of an entirely different dimension. There are far more people, they are far more desperate, and they have a tradition of national action. And they have a bomb. Even North Korea is less dangerous than Pakistan--a Stalinist country with a defunct ideology and a bomb is infinitely less dangerous than a country with a bomb and a new ideology in the full vigor of its first birth. That is the real nexus of the terrorism, and fussing in the desert doesn’t even begin to address it.

“The French opposition to the war was opportunist in part, rational in part, but mostly rooted in a desire not to know. What dominates France is not the presence of some anti-Americanism but an enormous absence--the absence of any belief aside from a handful of corporatist reflexes. This whole business with the intermittents is typical: it’s corporatism pursued to the point of professional suicide. All that we have to replace it with is the idea of Europe; so far, we have overcome romantic nationalism, but we have nothing left to replace it with.”

What's important to recognize is how seductive that absence of any belief at all is. The ceaseless pleading for toleration and "respect for other cultures", the hysterical baying when George W. Bush refers to evil, and the opposition to the display of the Ten Commandments, all have their sources in this notion that if only we had no core beliefs ourselves we'd be able to get along with everyone. The problem, in the first instance, is that your own lack of beliefs is never a guarantee that the next person you meet won't have something he believes in, quite possibly something antithetical to your interests. Secondly, even supposing that we achieved the epoch where all men let each other "do their own thing", no one is willing to live for long with their neighbors doing things they find repellant. What sounds warm and fuzzy in theory turns untenable when you're supposed to ignore things like, just for example, female circumsicion or sati (widow burning); or, in France's case, something rather less objectionable like the wearing of headscarves. It turns out we all do believe things after all, and believe them strongly enough that we're willing to say that others should adhere to them, no matter how much conflict that causes. Witness the willingness of those who wished we believed in nothing to try to force absence on the people of Alabama.


MORE:
Western culture is superior (Mona Charen, August 19, 2003, townhall.com)
To say that Western culture is superior is not to say that any particular person living in the West is superior to any person living elsewhere. That would be ridiculous. But it is equally ridiculous to deny that the moral standards, customs and beliefs of the West contribute to fairer and far more humane societies than are found elsewhere.

We are now engaged in a mission to remake the Middle East -- to introduce democracy, the rule of law and religious pluralism. But as we undertake this task, which would be extremely difficult under the best of circumstances, we are hampered by the fact that a sizeable minority of our own people does not believe at all that our way is better. They, in fact, regard the very suggestion as obscene. Any shortcomings of more primitive societies, when they are acknowledged at all, are blamed on others, usually on us.

Feminists who are quick to file lawsuits for even the smallest slight in this country are strangely reluctant to make common cause with women in nations like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Why? Is it because championing those women would imply that Western society -- which feminists have so long derided as sexist -- is far better than any others when it comes to the treatment of women?

Is it really arrogance, as the liberals would have it, to believe that the system and the culture we've inherited is superior to others? Or is it ingratitude to deny it?


The Angry Man (Phyllis McGinley 1905-78)
The other day I chanced to meet
An angry man upon the street--
A man of wrath, a man of war,
A man who truculently bore
Over his shoulder, like a lance,
A banner labeled “Tolerance.”

And when I asked him why he strode
Thus scowling down the human road,
Scowling, he answered, “I am he
Who champions total liberty--
Intolerance being, ma’am, a state
No tolerant man can tolerate.

“When I meet rogues,” he cried, “who choose
To cherish oppositional views,
Lady, like this, and in this manner,
I lay about me with my banner
Till they cry mercy, ma’am.” His blows
Rained proudly on prospective foes.

Fearful, I turned and left him there
Still muttering, as he thrashed the air,
“Let the Intolerant beware!”


MORE:
-Phyllis McGinley (Academy of American Poets)
-Phyllis McGinley Papers (Syracuse University Library )
-STAMP: Phyllis McGinley
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:21 PM

STILL SETTING

Studying Japan from the Inside: What comes next for Japan's economy? Masako Egawa, executive director of Harvard Business School's Japan Research Office, sees a period of fundamental change ahead. (Cynthia D. Churchwell, Aug 25, 2003, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge)
Churchwell: What has been the most interesting company to write about in your case development?

Egawa: All the companies on which we developed cases are very interesting, and it is difficult to choose one. But if I have to choose one, I would say I enjoyed the case on Nissan Motor, the auto manufacturer that had been turned around by Carlos Ghosn. Ghosn was sent from Renault, the French auto company, which acquired management control of Nissan in March 1999. At the time Nissan had been in deep financial distress and had no choice but seek a foreign partner. Ghosn, who had never worked in Japan but had extensive experiences in other parts of the world, motivated the middle management at Nissan and transformed the culture of the company, leading to the dramatic recovery of its performance. What struck me most from this case was the power of the great leader. It was fascinating to learn that all the reforms Ghosn implemented were originally proposed by the middle managers who had been working for Nissan for twenty years, and that they were instrumental in the transformation process. The same group of people who had been working for an under-performing company can produce outstanding results if they have the right leader.

The point being, as Bill Emmott wrote years ago, it's not a culture that values, heeds or rewards creative thinking, which is one of the reasons they're in eclipse.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 2:17 PM

SWEET MUSIC -- 'FLED TO FRANCE'

Saddam’s Orphans (Amir Taheri, National Review, 8/25/2003)
Two prominent Lebanese pan-Arabists have fled to France to avoid paying the mobs they hired for pro-Saddam demonstrations in Beirut last winter.

So the Arab street was in it for the money? We should offer them double to demonstrate for democracy, more U.S. intervention, and peace with Israel. Since they accept credit, the demonstrations should come real cheap.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:13 PM

RUDY RIDES AGAIN

RUDY PUMPED TO STUMP (DEBORAH ORIN, August 25, 2003, NY Post)
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani is getting ready to throw his muscle behind muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger in the California governor's race now that longtime pal Bill Simon is out, sources told The Post yesterday.

"Rudy will support him, and if it helps him [to campaign with Giuliani], I think we'll do it," said a source close to Giuliani, who's on a quick trip to Australia and will be back Friday.

Giuliani is expected to consult with Simon then and try to convince him to also enlist in Arnie's army. [...]

Giuliani, who became "America's Mayor" after leading New York City through 9/11, has become one of the Republican Party's top assets, recruited by candidates across the country for help in their races.

Mr. Giuliani is going to have a danged big pile of chits to call in when he runs for either Charles Schumer's senate seat or the NY governorship.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:07 PM

THEY'RE NOT ON OUR SIDE

France to Israel: No evidence Hamas, Islamic Jihad are ''terror groups'' (Al Bawaba, 25-08-2003)
France expressed objections to placing Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the European Union (EU)'s list of "terror organizations", according to an Israeli report on Monday.

Israel's Yediot Aharonot website reported that diplomatic advisor to French President Jacques Chirac, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, told the Israeli ambassador in France, Nissim Zvilli, during a weekend meeting, that there is no evidence that these two organizations are "terror groups."

"If we find that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are indeed terror groups opposed to peace, we may have to change the EU's stand," Gordo conveyed. "However, we mustn't limit ourselves to one, clear cut, position."

It's time to stop humoring the Atlanticists and start treating the French like what they are: an enemy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:01 PM

EVERYONE SHOULD OWN ONE (OR ELEVEN)

MoveOn Moves Into Texas Fight (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris and Clothilde Ewing, 8/25/03, CBS News)
MoveOn.org is raising money to support the 11 Democratic Texas state senators who’ve been camped out in New Mexico for almost a month to delay a vote on a GOP congressional redistricting plan.

MoveOn, which was formed to oppose the Clinton impeachment but has since morphed into an all-purpose lefty activist group, has raised more than $850,000 toward its $1 million goal in its "Defend Democracy" fundraising drive. The money will be used to help pay the mounting expense of the Democrats, who’ve been in Albuquerque since July 28 in order to deny the Texas Senate quorum in a special session called by Republican Gov. Rick Perry. [...]

MoveOn’s cash will certainly help the 11 Democrats, who have been staying a hotel for almost a month. A Texas political consultant working with MoveOn says 27,000 people have given money so far, including 2,000 Texans, the AP reports.

One would have thought it was illegal to purchase influence with elected officials, but, if not, it raises the age old question: "We've established what you are; now what's your price?"
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:35 PM

PUT THE DEPOSIT OF FAITH IN CDS

At Elite Prep School, Parents Do the Math (Wall Street Journal, 8/25/2003)
In discussing his pay as headmaster of the elite St. Paul's prep school, Bishop Craig Anderson is fond of invoking a biblical maxim: Of those to whom much is given, much is expected.

The Episcopal clergyman has been given much. Last year Mr. Anderson, whose official title is "rector," made $524,000 in salary, benefits and deferred compensation -- more than most college presidents. That doesn't include the seven-bedroom, 14,062-square-foot mansion that St. Paul's provides for him or the $32,000 stipend for his wife to assist in his official duties.

That compensation package has sparked an ugly fight at this genteel boarding school ...

Critics have attacked the school's vice rector, Sharon Hennessy, for her $316,400 in total compensation and the perks of her position, including a stipend for her spouse, membership in the upscale Canyon Ranch spa and an annual two-week summer sojourn on the French Riviera....

The 61-year-old rector says he's "baffled" by the complaints....

Since they joined St. Paul's, Mr. Anderson's total compensation has more than doubled; Ms. Hennessy's has gone up 79%. The school underwrites the rector's membership in a golf club in Maine and pays for business-class travel with his wife to raise funds from alumni in Europe and Asia. As part of his total compensation, St. Paul's also paid $25,000 a year for his daughter to attend the University of Chicago.

Old Gospel: "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." (Acts 3:6)
New Gospel: "Silver and gold I will have, plus mansion, education, and luxury vacation."
Old Gospel: "If we have food and clothing, we shall be content.... For the love of money is the root of all evils." (1 Timothy 6:8,10)
New Gospel: "I can't imagine why anyone would challenge my well-deserved income. Their attitude is baffling!"

By the way, have you heard the Episcopal Church's new definition of "Apostolic Success-ion"?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 AM

BEEF, BEER, BLACK COFFEE, BACK HAIR AND 6-BUCK HAIRCUTS?

What (men) do women want? (Suzanne Fields, August 25, 2003, Townhall.com)
Do conservative women look for different qualities of masculinity in men than liberal women do? Is sex appeal not so much in the eye, but in a point of view? [...]

The American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank, devotes the current issue of the American Enterprise magazine to the sexual differences between Democrats and Republicans, lauding the Bush administration in a cover story: "Real Men, They're Back"

Jay Nordlinger, managing editor of National Review, recalls the formulation of the Democrats as the "mommy party" and the Republicans as the "daddy party" and declares that men like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have made it "daddy party time" in the nation's capital.

This formulation echoes George Lakoff, professor of cognitive sciences at the University of California at Berkeley, who argues that modern conservatives speak to people in terms of "the strict father morality," and liberals act like the "nurturant parent."

In his configuration, "conservatives have left liberals in the dust" because their arguments frame the issues in a more compelling way. The father teaches right and wrong, self-discipline and self-reliance while preserving the safety net of "compassionate conservatism."

This last is how George W. Bush may be able to make the GOP the majority party again. Being the disciplinarian is all well and good, but folks want to know they're going to be taken care of too. A system of privatized/individualized/voucherized socal services would combine self-discipline, self-reliance, and compassion in a new way.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:06 AM

DIM ENLIGHTENMENT

How the Enlightenment made Christian belief impossible. (Peter Sellick, August 19, 2003, Online Opinion)
What were the intellectual moves that made faith impossible for modern man? It is important to understand that these moves were made by people who believed in God, not by atheists. They came later in the Enlightenment history and founded the basis of their atheism on the mistaken theism of the early Enlightenment.

Modernity began with Descartes and his grounding of the certainty of existence on the thought of the individual. Clear and certain ideas could be obtained via this thought. The emphasis on certitude is the key. In the thought of John Locke, who was a defender of the faith, certainty was a moral imperative and it was thus immoral to make religious statements that were irrational. He was prompted to think thus by the excesses of the religious enthusiasts of his day who were fond of claiming as a revelation from God their own religious ideas, as so often still happens in or own day. While I sympathise with this thinking as regards undisciplined claims on the authority of God, it set up a false alternative between certain knowledge and faith. If we entertain beliefs that cannot be rationally upheld then we are morally corrupt and socially pernicious: we take the stand that "anything goes". Locke held that believers should be challenged to validate their beliefs according to a particular tradition of rationality. This assertion neglected the rationality of theologians which had guided theology from the beginning. Locke's move opened the way for a positivist critique of faith.

It did not take long for Continental philosophers like Diderot to use this critique to the devastation of belief. Many educated, especially scientifically educated, men and women in the West reside in this critique that makes even a step towards the church impossible. To acquiesce in any religious belief is to let down the side and demean oneself. If there is no valid reason for believing that God exists then to believe so is reprehensible and to open the way to antinomianism. It is ironic that the rationality that was thought to be a property of God became God's demise.

Part of our problem in this is that Christianity has been confused with a theism that is more the product of early Enlightenment thought in which God became and object in the universe. This identification broke the nexus between God and the tradition of scripture, liturgy, practice and thought that was a mark of the medieval church. God was perceived to be an immaterial entity that could nevertheless interact with the material world. Such a construction produced obvious problems with the theology of creation and was a sitting duck for a rationality that demanded validation. While fundamentalism strived to believe in such a god no matter what, liberalism let this god go but was left with trying to fulfil the assumed religious needs of humanity. Thus human subjectivity replaced God. It is obvious that both fundamentalism and liberalism are products of Enlightenment thought. This is why the present-day church must look beyond the 17thC to search out those rich traditions that bear witness to a reality that is not so easily disposed of by human reason and which informs and confronts our living.

If the church is to become an authentic voice in our time it must confront the false alternatives that have come down to us from the Enlightenment and write a theology that is faithful to the early church. This can be done in the face of our changed thought about mechanism in the world because God is not a part of that mechanism. Any god that is part of the world is world, and a god of the world is an idol. This conception is faithful to the creation narratives in that God is distinct from creation.

If modernity produced fundamentalism that is irrational and the liberal church that has nothing to say, post-modernity must produce the post-liberal church that finds its life in close contact with those rich texts and practices that produced the cultural coherence of the past. It is the loss of this coherence that lays waste our cities and our citizens.

The process of secularisation has proceeded to the point that the church has now no voice in public life other than as the moral guardian beset by a sea of relative values. Again the irony; the quest for certainty has finally found its expression in the absence of all certainty.

The greatest irony of all is that even as reasons has demonstrated that all certainty is illusory, even a certainty that the thinker himself exists, the rationalists have staked their claim of superiority over religion on the notion that their beliefs (which they call evidence or facts instead of beliefs) are more certain than religious beliefs. Instead, accept that all is faith and can ultimately only be judged by the beauty of the discrete set of beliefs and it is awfully hard to argue that materialism, which is incapable of producing morality or a purpose to life, is superior to Judeo-Christianity which provides coherent and compelling visions of both.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:46 AM

IF YOU WANT A SHIASTAN YOU'LL HAVE TO FIGHT FOR IT

Senior cleric targeted in latest Iraq violence (Gareth Smyth and Edward Alden, August 24 2003, Financial Times)
A senior Shia cleric was the target of a bombing in the central Iraqi city of Najaf yesterday that killed three guards and wounded 10 people, the latest in a string of attacks at the weekend that underscored the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.

Ayatollah Mohammed Said al-Hakim, one of Iraq's most senior Shia clerics, escaped with cuts to the neck.

Ayatollah Hakim recently told the Financial Times that the measures taken by US-led occupation forces against supporters of the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein were not strong enough, and called for the transfer of more decision-making in security and other fields to Iraqis.

A spokesman for Sciri, the leading Shia Muslim political group, said last night it had begun an investigation into the bombing, and suspected it was the work of loyalists of the former regime.

US-led forces have a very limited presence in Najaf, which is a scholastic city revered as the burial place of Imam Ali, son-in-law of the prophet Mohammed.

The bombing came on a weekend when ethnic clashes between Turkomen and Kurds broke out in the northern city of Kirkuk, leading to several fatalities.

This too is a hopeful sign. Folks on the Left are assuring us that all of Iraq will magically set aside centuries of ethnic and sectarian hatred to unite in opposition to the infidel Americans. But we need the Shi'ites to focus on purging the Ba'athis remnants and preventing al Qaeda and other foreign troublemakers from gaining a toehold. That process should include our turning over real power to them as quickly as possible.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 AM

FREELOADING IMMIGRANTS?

12-year-old med student at U. of C. (MARTHA IRVINE, August 25, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
Sho Yano's mother hands him his lunch for school in a brown paper bag--a turkey sandwich and cookies included.

''You don't need any bones today? No bones?'' Kyung Yano asks her quiet, spectacle-wearing 12-year-old, who shakes his head ''no'' as they head out their apartment door. She wants to make sure he isn't supposed to take his samples of spinal bones and a human skull to class, where he's learning about human anatomy.

That class isn't at the local junior high, but at the University of Chicago, where Sho is a first-year medical school student--and the youngest person ever to attend one of the university's professional schools. [...]

If he weren't also getting his Ph.D. along with his medical degree--thus, pushing his age at graduation to 19 or 20--he'd also be on course to become the youngest person to graduate from any medical school. According to Guinness World Records, a 17-year-old graduated from medical school in New York in 1995.

For his part, Sho is utterly uninterested in setting records. He also shuns the labels often used to describe him--''prodigy'' and ''little genius'' among them.

Yes, he has an IQ over 200. And yes, he graduated in three years from Chicago's Loyola University, summa cum laude. But for him, going to school is about learning as much as he can. [...]

Born in Portland, Ore., Sho spent most of his early years in California, where his father, Katsura, now runs the American subsidiary of a Japanese shipping company. Sho lives in the university's family housing with his mother, who originally came to this country from Korea to study art history, and his 7-year-old sister Sayuri, a talented student in her own right who wants to be a cardiologist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:06 AM

FUTILE, BUT NOBLE

U.S. Said to Plan Bigger Afghan Role, Stepping Up Aid (DAVID ROHDE, 8/25/03, NY Times)
A senior American diplomat said President Bush, viewing the situation "like a businessman," had decided that investing more reconstruction money here now could lead to an earlier exit for American forces and save money in the long run. The United States currently spends $11 billion a year on its military forces in Afghanistan and $900 million on reconstruction aid. [...]

Under the new initiative, American reconstruction aid is expected to double, to $1.8 billion a year, officials said. A dozen senior American government officials would work as advisers to Afghan government ministers. Up to 70 staff positions would be added to the embassy in Kabul, where virtually the entire senior staff is being replaced.

The proposals are likely to be well received in Congress, given the widespread criticism there that the aid effort so far has been inadequate, officials said. [On Sunday, a White House spokesman declined to comment on the reports.]

United Nations officials say Afghanistan is entering what is arguably the most critical period since the fall of the Taliban in December 2001. National elections are to be held next June, and American officials are eager for the moderate government of President Hamid Karzai to fare well.

Visible progress must be shown in reconstruction, disarmament and security, particularly in the south, if a Taliban insurgency is to be curbed and any semblance of a fair election held, United Nations officials said.

No businessman would invest in the "rebuilding" of what never has been and never will be a coherent corporate entity.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:58 AM

CANADIAN SCIENCE

Major cigarette brands fail fire test (Tom Blackwell, August 25, 2003, National Post)

From the headline, don't you assume they must be too hard to light?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:34 AM

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING WHAT TO GET US FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Diamond Jews -- and we don't mean jewlery: There have been 141 Jewish baseball players in the Major Leagues. Now you can collect them all in a unique new baseball card set. (Joe Eskenazi August 25, 2003, Jewsweek)
For anyone who says a Jew can't make it as a big-time athlete, Martin Abramowitz has an answer. Well, 141 answers, in actuality. The Newton, Mass.-based fan has created a baseball card set encapsulating every Jew who ever laced up a pair of spikes and stepped between the lines, going back to the days before pitching mounds and mitts.

Even the most ardent Jewish baseball fan will probably pause to utter a lengthy "uhhhhhh" after naming Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg and, maybe, Shawn Green. But Abramowitz's 141-card set has them all: Lipman Pike, Andy Cohen, Harry "The Horse" Danning, and Ken Holtzman get their due. [...]

The card set, known as "American Jews in America's Game," was born in Abramowitz's kitchen when he had a baseball epiphany. "I collect vintage Jewish baseball player cards," says Abramowitz, who is planning director for Boston's Combined Jewish Philanthropies when he isn't collecting cards or sitting at Fenway Park.

"So we were sitting at the table one day and [my son] Jacob was looking at his Ken Griffey Jr. and Michael Jordan cards and I was looking at my cards and I said I could never have a complete set because about 40 of these guys never had cards.

"He was half paying attention and he said, 'Make 'em yourself.' And he took out a piece of paper and scribbled a logo with a baseball and a Jewish star." [...]

The set is now distributed by the AJHS and can be ordered at www.ajhs.org. It will also be sold at the Hall of Fame, incidentally.

Before Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler made it to the majors a few years ago, there was a period when the only Jewish player was J. J. (Jose Juan) Batista. It always seemed particularly ironic that the Tribe's sole representative was named John the Baptist.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:05 AM

THEY DON'T DESERVE MICKEY:

Disney fini? Don't take the Mickey (Telegraph, 8/25/2003)
It is clear by now that France never deserved Disneyland. It has never embraced it. Politicians and intellectuals still hold it up as an exemplar of the debased American culture.

Jean Baudrillard, the country's pre-eminent philosopher, wrote a book recently in which he ranted about "Disneyisation" and the "Disney Connection" of global corporations moulding the world into a single image. Disneyland is an easy target for politicians such as the former minister and presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Chevenement, who calls it a setting for "mass schizophrenia".

But the French are hypocrites over Disney. They appear to despise it and yet, since its construction, theme parks have become big business in France. There is now Vulcania, a volcano park in the Auvergne; Micropolis, an ant-themed park in Aveyron; Pescalis, a fishing park in Niort, not to mention countless new water ride parks around the country.

The French are reactionary: only their desire to compete with America motivates them to develop French culture. We innovate, they follow with an inferior French version. Were America not leading, who knows how desolate the life of French children would be.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:46 AM

TAKE BACK THE FAITH

Evangelicals poised to take over the Church (Jonathan Petre, 25/08/2003, Daily Telegraph)
Evangelicals, dismissed as a vociferous minority by senior liberals during the Jeffrey John affair, are now poised to take over the Church of England.

A new study suggests that, if current trends continue, evangelicals will make up more than half of all Sunday church worshippers in 10 years' time, up from about a third now.

As they grow quickly, Liberals and Anglo-Catholics continue to decline, says Dr Peter Brierley, a former government statistician who heads Christian Research.

Moreover, all but a tiny proportion of the new breed of evangelicals will be theologically conservative, viewing sex outside marriage, including homosexuality, as outlawed by Scripture.

According to the new analysis, they are consolidating their grip on the Church's income, contributing a significant amount of money to church funds.

Also, half of all ordinands training to be the next generation of clergy are attending evangelical colleges.

The combined effect could be to provide the evangelical wing of the Church with an unprecedented power base as long as their numbers are reflected in the membership of the General Synod and the Church's leadership in future years.

Dr Brierley's projections are expected to alarm liberals, who have portrayed them as fringe fundamentalists whose influence is out of proportion to their numbers. His analysis indicates that, based on several national surveys by Christian Research, about 35 per cent of churchgoers in 1998 were evangelicals and that proportion could rise to half by 2010.

Of this, he estimates, just eight per cent will be "broad" or "liberal" evangelicals, who are relaxed over issues such as homosexuality. The remainder will be mainstream or charismatic hard-liners.

Another survey, detailed in this year's Religious Trends handbook, indicates that the total giving of evangelical churches is already about 40 per cent of the Church's national income.

Gotta love the term mainstream hard-liners.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:32 AM

OVER REACH

Pakistan troops killed in Taliban ambush on truck (Noor Khan, 8/25/03, Examiner)
TALIBAN fighters ambushed a truck full of government soldiers in the southern province of Zabul, killing several, the provincial governor and a Taliban spokesman said yesterday.

The sides gave differing death tolls from Saturday’s attack. Mohammed Hanif, a Taliban spokesman who contacted the Associated Press by satellite telephone, said 12 government soldiers were killed and that no Taliban fighters had died. Governor Hafizullah Khan said five soldiers and three Taliban were killed. [...]

Hanif said the bodies of the dead government soldiers were left behind, but Taliban attackers took 17 automatic rifles from the vehicle before leaving the scene.

He said Abdul Rahim, a former Taliban commander of the border region of Spinboldak, led the attack. Rahim is one of several former Taliban being sought by the Afghan government. In talks with neighbour Pakistan, the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai has expressed concern that Rahim and other former Taliban have found refuge in Pakistan’s conservative tribal regions.

Attacks against the government soldiers and police have been stepped up in recent weeks. Dozens of police have been ambushed or their police stations attacked by suspected Taliban.

There are reports from former Tal iban that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s leader, has reorganised his religious militia, appointing military commanders to areas of control. Rahim is well-known in the southeastern regions of Afghanistan.

It seems like one of our biggest problems in finishing off the Afghan phase of the war is that the Taliban remnants and al Qaeda can seek refuge in Pakistan. They're doing us a favor if they start attacking Pakistani forces and give that government an excuse to help us.

MORE:
U.S. jets attack Afghan Taliban camp, killing at least 14 (AP, 8/25/2003)
U.S. jets pounded a Taliban mountain hideout Monday, killing at least 14 insurgents in the deadliest air assault since rebels launched a series of strikes against Afghan government targets, U.S. and Afghan officials said.

Sweeping through the rugged mountains of southeastern Afghanistan, scores of Afghan militia and U.S.-led coalition special forces hunted down suspected Taliban fighters, who in recent weeks have been waging attacks on police officials and government convoys. [...]

The Afghan administration has complained to Pakistan -- a U.S. ally in the war on terror -- that Taliban leaders appear to have found refuge in its lawless tribal regions. Pakistan has deployed its troops there but the border regions are long and porous and lined with rugged mountains in which to hide.

August 24, 2003

Posted by David Cohen at 10:51 PM

US TO SHIP ARMED IRAQIS TO EUROPE.

U.S. to Send Iraqis to Site in Hungary for Police Course (Dexter Filkins, New York Times, 8/24/03)
Eager to have more Iraqis take responsibility for their country's security, American officials here are planning to ferry as many as 28,000 Iraqis to Eastern Europe for an intensive police training course. . . .

The Iraqi police force has been given a largely warm reception by the Iraqi people, although it has been weakened by a lack of equipment, especially guns. In the southern Iraqi city of Diwaniya, for instance, only a fraction of the city's 2,500 police officers have guns. American marines overseeing the police have been forced to pair officers with guns with those who have none.

Mr. Kerik, acknowledging the equipment shortage, said that a shipment of 50,000 9-millimeter pistols would arrive shortly, and that 100,000 more would arrive next year.
28,000 thousand Iraqis armed with pistols v. Europe. Anyone willing to take Europe?
Posted by David Cohen at 7:58 PM

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK.

Some U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Seek Baptisms (Hrvoje Hranjski, AP, 8/24/03)
With war and death on his mind, Spc. Barry Page was baptized Sunday in the Tigris River by an Army chaplain at the sprawling U.S. military headquarters on the fabled river's banks.

A Southern Baptist working as a military policeman, Page said he decided to 'reannounce his life to Christ' in the birthplace of civilization.

'I realized death is walking in this place,' said the 22-year-old from Houston, his uniform and boots soaking wet. 'It can be any of us. Next time it could be me.'

The temperature was 120 as Page and three other soldiers waited outside one of Saddam Hussein's palatial complexes to take their turn in the water. The baptism took place behind the palace, where the river waters surround an artificial island overgrown with palm trees.

'This ground has a historical, biblical meaning,' Page said. 'I can say I was in the same waters. I'm glad I found peace with God.'

Each of the soldiers took careful steps into the arms of Army chaplain Capt. Xuan Tran, of the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 22nd Regiment. Waist deep in the river, Tran briefly submerged the soldiers, recited a verse from the Bible, and proclaimed 'Amen' three times.
The quintessential American story.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 PM

ALWAYS BET ON RED

How judge's stand resonates in Bible Belt (Noel C. Paul, 8/25/03, The Christian Science Monitor)
Come sundown, an endless forest of pine trees casts long, spindly shadows on the highways in this town that, locals like to say, has more churches per capita than any other on the face of the earth.

The scent of pine pervades every block here in DeRidder, where 76 churches minister to a population of 9,000. Mixed with the smell of smoke from trash burnings, there is a brooding, mystical air to the town, as if hermits and knights might pop out of the woods any moment and walk casually into J.C. Penney's.

On this stage where the Christian faith pervades daily life as thoroughly as sunshine and human speech, and pride in old Southern heroes is undimmed, the attention of pastors, churchgoers, children, and even the unbaptized was fixed last week on one man, Roy Moore.

The Alabama judge's highly visible crusade to keep a Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of the state judicial building appears to have won the admiration of almost everyone in town. "I think the judge is doing a good thing," says Gregory Jones, pastor of the Church of God In Christ, a Pentecostal denomination. "The Ten Commandments are the basis of our good judgment and belong in the courts."

Although the monument's removal as ordered by a federal judge now appears likely, and Judge Moore has been suspended, his determination has energized many Christians far and near, especially in the so-called Bible Belt of the South.

The variety of responses here to Moore's crusade, say experts, indicates a growing complexity in passion and point of view among conservative Christians across the country, even at a moment when many believe their values are being challenged more than ever before. What remains to be seen is whether the "last stand" of Judge Moore's monument will galvanize renewed efforts by conservative Christians to affirm the Ten Commandments' role in national life.

You'd have to think that we could be headed to the point where the divide between Red and Blue America isn't much narrower than that between America and Europe.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:12 PM

BROKEN WINDOWS

A drop in violent crime that's hard to explain: A new study shows major types of crime at a 30-year low - leaving criminologists hopeful, but wary of complacency. (Alexandra Marks, 8/25/03, The Christian Science Monitor)
All the indicators, from the sagging economy to the increase in newly released ex-cons on the street, had led many criminologists to predict the crime rate would go up. But it's not - at least according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), released Sunday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. It found that violent crime and property crime are at a low not seen since 1973.

In 2002, there were 23 violent crimes per 1,000 people, compared with 25 victimizations per 1,000 people in 2001. A decade ago, the victimization rate was twice as high, meaning there's been a 54 percent drop in violent crime since 1993.

While everyone applauds the new figures, they're also wary. They worry that hidden in the good news are harbingers of problems ahead. Top on the list of concerns is complacency, followed by budget cuts. The deficit crunch has prompted local towns and big cities alike to scale back on crime prevention and reduction programs - key factors in the decade-long decline of everything from attempted robbery to rape.

But beyond the concern, some criminologists are willing to venture a theory - not proven, or provable - that might explain this surprising drop. Call it the Sept. 11 effect.

"The only thing that I can think of that can be seen as contributing to a downward trend is some sense of cohesion that's emerging as a result of the terrorist threat or the terrorist reality," says Alfred Blumstein, a noted criminologist from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "Other than that, I don't see much that should be contributing to this decline."

You'd like to think it's just greater social cohesion, but at some point don't welfare reform, higher incarceration rates and beefed-up policing--both pre and post 9/11--have to have some effect on numbers?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 PM

ULTIMA THUNE

Right's sights on Daschle: Writer calls S.D. senator 'target No. 1' (Jeff Zeleny, Aug. 24, 2003, Knight Ridder Tribune News)
In South Dakota, recent political races have indeed become bare-knuckle affairs.

Few elections were nastier than one that ended here last fall when Daschle's protege, Sen. Tim Johnson, beat Republican rival John Thune by 524 votes in a contest in which more than $6 million was spent. Nationally, it was a rare bright spot for Democrats. Locally, the race still is heavily disputed and allegations of vote-buying remain prevalent.

All of that, not to mention Daschle's lightning-rod post as the leader of his party in the Senate, sets the stage for an even more contentious race. His is one of at least four seats Republicans believe they stand a chance of winning in the 2004 congressional election season, a period that even some Democrats fear may be bleak.

Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth, a conservative Washington group that is weighing in on the South Dakota race, puts it this way:

''There are two Tom Daschles: the Tom Daschle with a very liberal voting record who has become part of the Washington establishment and the Tom Daschle that masquerades as a prairie state populist, pumping gas for people during his August recess.''

For the next 15 months, Moore added, ''Daschle is target No. 1.''

Who will run against Daschle is unknown. But the South Dakota political landscape became unexpectedly more complicated during this month's congressional break, when legislators traditionally leave Washington to spend time in their home districts.

The state's only House member, Republican Bill Janklow, had not ruled out challenging Daschle. But now he may face criminal charges for his role in a fatal traffic accident Aug. 16. And Thune, a former congressman who narrowly lost the Senate seat last year, has not said whether he will challenge Daschle, fill Janklow's seat if it becomes open or sit out the 2004 election season entirely.

Four? There are six potential GOP pick-ups just in the South: SC, GA, FL, NC, AR, & LA.


N.B.--Bill Janklow, contrary to my bizarre assertion last week, is obviously a Republican. I, meanwhile, am obviously a nitwit.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 AM

THE MODERNITY OF BARBARISM

BOOKNOTES: Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman (C-SPAN, June 22, 2003, 8 & 11pm)
LAMB: OK, then go to the politicized version. What are the things that would be required in a society for them to say, OK, we`ll stop the terrorism?

BERMAN: Well, I mean, the goal of the terrorism, as conceived of by the followers of this kind of thinking -- the goal of the terrorism is to advance the notion of jihad, which is the struggle for Islam, as conceived in this version, and the goal plainly -- I mean, the goal is at different levels. At one level, it`s -- it`s really to destroy the kinds of societies that are not upholding the principles of this version of Islamism.

LAMB: Those principles are?

BERMAN: Those principles -- well, the principles of this kind of Islam -- let me explain further that I`m saying -- other people would answer this question by saying that the goals of this kind of terrorism are specific political goals, that the goals are to force Israel to withdraw its settlements or to force the United States to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia or to force certain other specific kinds of political issues. But that`s not actually how I understand the movement. My understanding of the movement is really that the goals are much larger, much more revolutionary than that, that if those relatively small things were the goals, they could be approached in a rather different way.

The goal really is to -- is to make a revolution all over the world. And the reason I speak about totalitarianism and why I`m interested in Camus and the philosophers of totalitarianism, theorists about totalitarianism from 50 years ago or so, is this, that I think that the radical Islamist movement is a totalitarian movement in a 20-century style, that -- my theory is this, that after World War I, a whole series of extremely revolutionary movements arose, and they arose for the purpose of overthrowing what I think of as the essentially liberal doctrines -- not liberal in the right-wing, left-wing version, but liberal in the sense of -- the liberal doctrines of -- of Western culture.

And by the liberal doctrines, I mean the notion of the separation of church and state, the notion that there should be a difference between the private and the public, the difference between the government and the society, the difference between the government and -- and economics, the notion that in one`s own mind, we can think in different -- in different categories at the same time, that in part of your mind you could be religious, and in another part of your mind, you can be scientific or rationalist. It`s the notion that -- that a society -- the liberal idea is the notion that a society based on those ideas will -- will progress. You can offer progress for -- for all mankind everywhere. This had been a large governing idea throughout the 19th century. And it wasn`t in practice everywhere, but people subscribed to this idea and had a great faith in it. There was some reason to have a faith in it.

World War I came along, and the idea came to seem preposterous because World War I was so horrible, so industrialist -- industrially murderous that -- that people who were thinking in those old terms of the liberal optimism in the 19th century were unable to conceive it -- conceive of it, unable to explain it. And as a result, in the years after the war, a series of movements arose which were rebellions against the old liberal idea. Each of those movements had the same idea, which was to overthrow liberal civilization and replace it with a civilization of a different sort, rock-like, granite, without any separation of spheres, a single sphere, permanent, unchanging, eternal, governed by a leader with a single organization or a single party and -- and like that.

LAMB: Name the -- just for examples, the leaders and the countries you`re talking about.

BERMAN: Right. The first of these movements was Lenin`s, and the movement was Bolshevism or the Communist Party, and then Lenin to Stalin. The next of them was Mussolini, who founded the fascist movement in Italy a very few years later. Franco, with the fascist movement of Spain, Hitler with the Nazi movement in Germany, the Iron Guard in Romania, the extreme right in France, and so forth, through almost every country in -- through every country in Europe and many countries around the world. And each of these movements was different from each of the others.

At the time, if anybody had said to you there`s something in common between the Bolshevism of Lenin and the Fascism of Mussolini, they would have said that`s -- that`s preposterous. Those movements are opposite. But from our perspective now, looking back on them, we should be able to see that all of those movements had a lot in common. And what they had in common was this urge to rebel against liberal civilization, the principles of liberal separation of spheres, replace that with a rock-like, granite society, the permanent, unchanging society with the single party, the single leader, and so forth.

So each of those movements had, in this respect, the same idea. They all arose in the years -- in the immediate years after World War I. They -- those movements all arose in Europe. But at the same time, the same inspiration spread to the Muslim world, and it spread into the Muslim world in -- a kind of Muslim totalitarianism arose which had all of the main principles of totalitarianism in Europe. It arose in the 1920s and `30s. It had different strands. One of those strands is the one that was finally given a theoretical shape by Said Qutb in his commentary on the Quran. Another of those strands is the one that finally evolved into the Ba`ath Party of Saddam Hussein. But these different strands really had a lot in common.

But in any case, they had the same idea as each of the European totalitarian movements, which was to effect a revolution in the world everywhere, not just to effect a few more -- a few local reforms, not just to -- not just to make a few political demands on someone, maybe be a little rough about it, but to advance one`s cause in a reformist or small fashion, not just to get a slightly bigger slice of the pie, but instead to make a complete revolution that was going to change thoroughly the whole of mankind.

LAMB: So Lenin and Mussolini and Hitler and others all had the same goal as the Islamists do?

BERMAN: In this deepest of ways...

LAMB: In the big -- in the overall...

BERMAN: In the -- in the overall, deepest of ways, they have the same goal. In all other ways, once we leave the very deepest level, they each had different goals and -- and one opposite from the other, and they -- one fought wars with the other, and each one was different. But at the very deepest way, it was all the same.

And this deepest way was to overthrow liberal civilization, replace it with a different kind of modernity, which was -- that is to say, a different kind of modern society, benefiting from science and technological advance but which, unlike liberal society, was going to be solid, without any internal divisions, without any feelings of skepticism or doubt, a society that would be absolutely perfect, without cracks or contradictions, a society therefore that would last forever, or as the Nazis would say, a thousand years.

There's been some discussion of this issue in the comments, whether it is fair to call Islamicism a modernist movement. This is the definition by which all of the various statisms--modern liberalism, Nazism, communism, Islamicism--can be seen to be quite similar, in the denial that there should be a significant separation between the State and Society. Confusion about the matter arises because here in the already quite secularized West, we're more familiar with the State taking over what had in the past been fundamentally societal, often religious, functions. While, in the East, we see religious Islam asserting the claim that it should control the State. In reality, from the perspective of human freedom, there's little eventual difference among them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:03 AM

MONOCULTURE V. MULTICULTURE

People Like Us: We all pay lip service to the melting pot, but we really prefer the congealing pot (David Brooks, September 2003, The Atlantic Monthly)
Maybe it's time to admit the obvious. We don't really care about diversity all that much in America, even though we talk about it a great deal. Maybe somewhere in this country there is a truly diverse neighborhood in which a black Pentecostal minister lives next to a white anti-globalization activist, who lives next to an Asian short-order cook, who lives next to a professional golfer, who lives next to a postmodern-literature professor and a cardiovascular surgeon. But I have never been to or heard of that neighborhood. Instead, what I have seen all around the country is people making strenuous efforts to group themselves with people who are basically like themselves.

Human beings are capable of drawing amazingly subtle social distinctions and then shaping their lives around them. In the Washington, D.C., area Democratic lawyers tend to live in suburban Maryland, and Republican lawyers tend to live in suburban Virginia. If you asked a Democratic lawyer to move from her $750,000 house in Bethesda, Maryland, to a $750,000 house in Great Falls, Virginia, she'd look at you as if you had just asked her to buy a pickup truck with a gun rack and to shove chewing tobacco in her kid's mouth. In Manhattan the owner of a $3 million SoHo loft would feel out of place moving into a $3 million Fifth Avenue apartment. A West Hollywood interior decorator would feel dislocated if you asked him to move to Orange County. In Georgia a barista from Athens would probably not fit in serving coffee in Americus.

It is a common complaint that every place is starting to look the same. But in the information age, the late writer James Chapin once told me, every place becomes more like itself. People are less often tied down to factories and mills, and they can search for places to live on the basis of cultural affinity. Once they find a town in which people share their values, they flock there, and reinforce whatever was distinctive about the town in the first place. Once Boulder, Colorado, became known as congenial to politically progressive mountain bikers, half the politically progressive mountain bikers in the country (it seems) moved there; they made the place so culturally pure that it has become practically a parody of itself.

But people love it. Make no mistake-we are increasing our happiness by segmenting off so rigorously. We are finding places where we are comfortable and where we feel we can flourish. But the choices we make toward that end lead to the very opposite of diversity. The United States might be a diverse nation when considered as a whole, but block by block and institution by institution it is a relatively homogeneous nation.

I don't get it. Isn't that the point of the melting pot, that you mix all the ingredients together and you get one undifferentiated thing? You get white bread, not fruitcake. Our motto is after all E Pluribus Unum or "Out of Many, One". The genius of America is that it doesn't much matter who you are or where you're from; you can come here, accept a few universal values, and maybe you won't be the same as your neighbor, but your kid will be the same as his. The key here--sorry to all you secularists--is than one of those universal beliefs we impose is that Man is a Created being, that he is Created in God's own image, and that he therefore has inherent dignity and a set of rights. America proceeds from an assumption of our similarity to one another.

Compare this to Europe, which has just adopted the opposite for its motto: "One in diversity". What could be more foolish than the belief that you can create a unified society if you try to maintain the things that make you different from one another? The problem for Europeans is that they don't have any universal beliefs any more, certainly not the belief that we're all Created by God in His image. This bodes ill for the attempt at Union, because in the absence of an organic extra-governmental unity they'll be reduced to imposing artificial unity via the mechanisms of the State. This statism, which requires a central authority to define the parameters of each and every interaction between peoples who can not be assumed to share any commonalities, must render a system that is so deliberate and sclerotic as to stifle the human soul, a problem that's easy to underestimate when you don't even believe in the soul.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:42 AM

WELL, IT'S A START

Ethnic fighting spreads in Iraq (STEVEN R. HURST, August 24, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
Rocket-propelled grenades were fired at statues of two Turkomen heroes as ethnic fighting spread to the northern city of Kirkuk and police tried to maintain order in a nearby town.

Gunfire echoed through Kirkuk Saturday night, and squads of police were stationed at each of the statues after the attacks. There was no indication of who was shooting or any sign of U.S. forces.

"We're worried about the situation, but we are working with city leaders and officials to resolve it," said Lt. Jonathan Hopkins of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

Earlier, Kirkuk Mayor Abdul Rahman Mustafa, a Kurd, told the AP two people were killed and several were wounded. He did not identify the victims' by ethnicity.

According to both CNN-Turk television and private NTV television in Ankara, Turkey, hundreds of Turkomen, carrying blue Turkomen flags, marched on the governor's office. Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported two Turkomen were shot and killed and 11 wounded by Patriotic Union of Kurdistan forces.

The violence in Kirkuk, 150 miles north of Baghdad, followed fighting between Turkomen and Kurds on Friday in nearby Tuz Kharmato. Iraqi police killed two Turkomen tribesmen and wounded two others in Tuz Kharmato after they arrived to quell ethnic fighting, said Maj. Josslyn Aberle, 4th Infantry Division spokeswoman.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM

BOOKNOTES

In Praise of Nepotism: A Natural History by Adam Bellow (C-SPAN, August 24, 2003, 8 & 11 pm)
Certain to be one of the most controversial books of the year, In Praise of Nepotism is a learned, lively, and provocative look at a practice we all deplore - except when we're involved in it ourselves.

Nepotism, the favored treatment of one's relatives, is a custom with infinitely more practitioners than defenders - especially in this country, where it is considered antidemocratic and almost un-American. Nepotism offends our sense of fair play and our meritocratic creed that we are supposed to earn what we get - not have it handed to us on a proverbial silver platter. For more than two centuries, a campaign has been waged against it in the name of fairness and equality in the courts, the legislatures, and in the public and private arenas - a campaign that has been only partly successful. For, far from disappearing, the practice has become so resurgent in recent years that we can now speak of a "new nepotism." In settings ranging from politics, business, and professional life to sports, the arts, and Hollywood, the children of famous and highly successful people have chosen to follow in their parents' career footsteps in a fashion and in numbers impossible to ignore. George W. Bush, Al Gore, Jr., and Hillary and Chelsea Clinton are only the tip of the iceberg that is an accelerating trend toward dynasticism and family "branding" in the heart of the American elite. Many see this as a deplorable development, to which Adam Bellow replies, Not so fast.

In this timely work (surprisingly, the first book ever devoted to nepotism), Adam Bellow brings fresh perspectives and vast learning and research to bear on this misunderstood and stigmatized practice. Drawing on the insights of modern evolutionary theory, he shows how nepotism is rooted in our very biological nature, as the glue that binds together not only insect and animal societies but, for most of the world and for most of history, human societies as well. Drawing on the disciplines of biology, anthropology, history, and social and political theory, Bellow surveys the natural history of nepotism from its evolutionary origins to its practice in primitive tribes, clans, and kingdoms to its role in the great societies of the world. These include the ancient Chinese, the Greeks, the Romans, Europe in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and the democratic and capitalistic societies of the past two centuries, with extended consideration of the American experience. Along the way, he provides fascinating (and freshly considered) portraits of such famous and/or infamous figures as Abraham, Pericles, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Benjamin Franklin, and such families as the Borgias, the Rothschilds, the Adamses, the Roosevelts, the Kennedys, and the Bushes.

In his final chapter, Bellow argues that nepotism comes down to the bonds between children and parents, the transmission of family legacies, the cycle of generosity and gratitude that knits our whole society together. And since it is not going away anytime soon, he makes the case for dealing with nepotism openly and treating it as an art that can be practiced well or badly. In Praise of Nepotism is a book that will ruffle feathers, create controversy, and open and change minds.

We five consecutive Orrin Judds who all went to the same alma mater have a little saying: the only people who oppose nepotism are the ones with crappy gene pools.

MORE:
-BOOK SITE: In Praise of Nepotism: A Natural History (Doubleday)
-ESSAY: In Praise of Nepotism: Americans censure nepotism on the one hand and practice it as much as they can on the other. There's much to be said for "good" nepotism, the author argues—which is fortunate, because we're living in a nepotistic Golden Age (Adam Bellow, July/August 2003, The Atlantic Monthly)
-ESSAY: The Jewish Path to Success (ADAM BELLOW, 8/01/03, The Forward)
-REVIEW: of Another Life: A Memoir of Other People, by Michael Korda (Adam Bellow, National Review)
-EXCHANGE: 'Blinded by the Right': An Exchange (Adam Bellow, David Horowitz, R. Emmett Tyrrell, William Burke, Reply by Jane Mayer, NY Review of Books)

-INTERVIEW: Silver spoon (Aparajita Saha, Adam Bellow, September 2003, Money)

-ESSAY: Children of Paradise (John Powers, 7/17/03, LA Weekly)
-ESSAY: Dynastic succession in the land of the free (Emily Eakin, June 24, 2003, NY Times)
-ESSAY: Don't let jobs grow on family trees (Jonathan Turley, 7/29/03, USA Today)

-ARCHIVES: "adam bellow" (Mag Portal)
-ARCHIVES: "adam bellow" (Find Articles)

-REVIEW: of In Praise of Nepotism (Adam Begley, NY Observer)
-REVIEW: of In Praise of Nepotism (John Homans, New York)
-REVIEW: of In Praise of Nepotism (Merle Rubin, CS Monitor)
-REVIEW: of In Praise of Nepotism (Sam Weller, Chicago Sun-Times)
-REVIEW: of In Praise of Nepotism (Frederic Raphael, LA Times)
-REVIEW: of In Praise of Nepotism (Philip Gold, Washington Times)
-REVIEW: of In Praise of Nepotism (Scott McLemee, Newsday)
-REVIEW: of In Praise of Nepotism (David Updike, Esquire)
-REVIEW: of In Praise of Nepotism (Chris Lehmann, Washington Post)
-REVIEW: of In Praise of Nepotism (Margo Hammond, PoynterOnline)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 AM

CULT OF PERSONALITY

Farewell America: After six years, The Observer's award-winning US correspondent Ed Vulliamy takes his leave from a wounded and belligerent nation with which, reluctantly, he has now fallen out of love (Ed Vulliamy, August 24, 2003, The Observer)
Once smitten, it should be impossible to fall out of love with America. Who could fall out of love with that New York adrenaline rush, or the clutter of the 7 Train as it grinds on stilts of iron from Manhattan out to Queens through the scents and sounds of 160 first languages? Who could fall out of love with the mighty desert when a lilac dawn fades out the constellations in its vast sky? Who could fall out of love with the muscular industry of America's real capital, Chicago, 'city of big shoulders', as the poet Carl Sandburg described it? It was insurgent Chicago that first captured my heart for America as a visiting teenager in 1970.

Now it's time to leave the United States as a supposed adult, having been a resident and correspondent for exactly as long as Tony Blair has been Prime Minister - I was appointed that May morning in 1997 that brought Britain's Conservative night to an end. Blair's love for America seems to have deepened since; but love is both the strongest and most brittle of sentiments, and mine has depreciated. I still love that adrenaline rush, the desert light, those big shoulders; but something else has happened to America during my six years to invoke that bitter love song by a great American, BB King, 'The Thrill is Gone': 'And now that it's all over / All I can do is wish you well...'

I arrived in an America regarded by the world as 'cool'. One can never be sure whether a President defines the country or vice versa, but this was Bill Clinton's America. [...]

Meanwhile out in the world, intervention by the US was either welcomed by the persecuted of Haiti and Kosovo or else craved by (but culpably denied) those in Bosnia and Rwanda - as a force of deliverance, not of empire.

The whole thing is pretty vapid, but we particularly like the bit about how welcome Bill Clinton's America was in the world. Mr. Vulliamy has apparently forgotten such things as the retreat of the USS Harlan County from Port-au-Prince, the way we cut and ran after the Battle of the Black Sea, and that the "intervention" in Kosovo was a bombing campaign which ended in Kosovo being "occupied" by an international coalition. It may be that our policies in Afghanistan and Iraq will "fail", if our intent is to create stable new governments, rather than just to depose enemies. But we already know that our policies in Haiti and Somalia failed. And if everyone withdrew from Kosovo right now it seems unlikely that it would remain stable. But even setting aside these failures, why is it that these actions, ranging from the Caribbean to Central Europe to Africa don't show Bill Clinton's America to be a force of empire? Is it just because he was "cool"? Is Mr. Vulliamy a serious journalist or a correspondent for Tiger Beat?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 AM

OMEGA MEN

We're All Gonna Die!: But it won't be from germ warfare, runaway nanobots, or shifting magnetic poles. A skeptical guide to Doomsday. (Gregg Easterbrook, July 2003, Wired)
Everywhere you turn, pundits are predicting biblical-scale disaster. In many scenarios, mankind is the culprit, unleashing atmospheric carbon dioxide, genetically engineered organisms, or runaway nanobots to exact a bitter revenge for scientific meddling. But even if human deployment of technology proves benign, Mother Nature will assert her primacy through virulent pathogens, killer asteroids, marauding comets, exploding supernovas, and other such happenstances of mass destruction.

Fringe thinking? Hardly. Sober PhDs are behind these thoughts. Citing the hazard of genetically engineered viruses, eminent astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has said, "I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years." Martin Rees, the knighted British astronomer, agrees; he gives us a 50-50 chance. Serious thinkers such as Pulitzer Prize winner Laurie Garrett, author of The Coming Plague, and Bill Joy, who wrote Wired's own 2000 article "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us," warn of techno-calamity. Stephen Petranek, editor in chief of the science monthly Discover, crisscrosses the world lecturing on "15 Major Risks to the World and Life as We Know It." University of Maryland arms-control scholar John Steinbruner is lobbying organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the World Medical Association to establish an international review board with the power to ban research into the Pandora's box of biomedicine. [...]

At a time of global unease, worst-case scenarios have a certain appeal, not unlike reality TV. And it's only natural to focus on danger; if nature hadn't programmed human beings to be wary, the species might not have gotten this far. But a little perspective is in order. Let's review the various doomsday theories, from least threatening to most. If the end is inevitable, at least there won't be any surprises.

One helpful thing about all this rationalist hysteria is that it makes obvious some of the ways in which science resembles religion. If the claim of science and reason is that they afford a means of dispassionately analyzing reality and that this analysis leads inevitably to the conclusion that Man is relatively insignificant, these nearly universal apocalypticisms--ranging from fretting over things like Global Warming, nanotechnology and genetically-modified foods to Mr. Rees's fear that we'll open a black hole or something--are all basically attempts to restore Man to the center of existence and to place the believer at a pivotal moment in history. If we can destroy everything then we must matter as a species and if you and I are going to get to be here for the end of it all then we must matter individually. It's really nothing more than boasting: We may not get to be Alpha (God), but dammit, we're going to usurp the role of Omega!
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 AM

SOCIAL CAPITALISM

Public housing residents face ultimatum: Do volunteer work or get out (ERIK LORDS, August 23, 2003, Detroit Free Press)
Complete eight hours of volunteer community work a month or be evicted.

That's the ultimatum being given to hundreds of thousands of able-bodied, unemployed residents of public housing complexes across the nation and in metro Detroit as part of a new federal law that takes effect Oct. 1.

Aimed at improving impoverished neighborhoods and introducing nonworkers to career possibilities, the law exempts students, people with a disability, seniors, those working full-time and mothers participating in welfare-to-work programs.

Those affected will be required to work in churches, schools or with other nonprofit groups as part of the 1998 Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act. [...]

Betty Ward, deputy director of the Port Huron Housing commission in St. Clair County, said: "I think it's going to be a nightmare to track and enforce."

Like Stennis in Detroit, Ward said she is hopeful that her office will not have to evict residents. But the potential is there.

"One way to get out of it, for residents, is to get a job." Ward said.

Now, if only the middle class were as willing to impose responsibilities on itself for the government benefits it receives.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:50 AM

ENLIGHTENMENT OR REFORMATION?

Losing his religion: Apostate Ibn Warraq campaigns for the right not to be a Muslim (Lee Smith, 8/17/2003, Boston Globe)
The Indian-born and English-educated Ibn Warraq, 57, is among the most prominent and outspoken Muslim apostates alive today. His 1995 book "Why I Am Not a Muslim'' was an impassioned polemic against almost 1,400 years of Muslim dogma and its effect on the Islamic world. The more recent collections he has edited–"What the Koran Really Says'' (2002) and this year's "Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out''–present less confrontational, more scholarly lines of attack.

Still, Warraq (the name is a pseudonym) aims to skewer the hypocrisies and inconsistencies of a faith that commands the allegiance of a billion people–as well as the hypocrisies of those Western defenders of Islam who would not tolerate its strictures in their own cultures.

To his admirers in the West and in the Muslim world, Warraq is a latter-day Voltaire who may herald an Islamic enlightenment. "He wants to open it up for people who are born into a religion they can't leave,'' says Patricia Crone, a scholar of Islam at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University.

To his critics, Warraq is an intolerant pseudo-scholar whose bitter polemics set back the very possibility of modernizing the faith. "If you already know what Islamophobes and Orientalists believe, this author has nothing original to add,'' says Khaled Abou El Fadl, a professor of Islamic law at UCLA and the author most recently of "The Place of Tolerance in Islam'' (2002). "It's good propaganda, but not good scholarship.'' [...]

Warraq is particularly critical of Noah Feldman, the NYU law professor whom the US government has enlisted to assist in the drafting of Iraq's new constitution. If Feldman's new book "After Jihad'' is any indication of what that document will look like, Warraq is concerned.

"How can Feldman believe there is any compatibility at all between Islamist movements and democratic principles?'' he asks. "They are democrats only in that they will use elections to take power. One man, one vote, one time. The first people who suffer are women, and after that non-Muslims. The level of denial from Western liberals renders me speechless.''

Khaled Abou El Fadl, who attempts to use traditional canons of interpretation to bring out the tolerant and democratic aspects of the Koran, contends that democracy and Islam are both "defined in the first instance by their underlying moral values.''

One can only hope that El Fadl is right. But Warraq emphasizes that essential aspects of democracy, such as freedom of speech and freedom of belief, are best exemplified in Islam by those thinkers and writers it calls apostates.

Though he has little regard for Warraq's work, El Fadl himself recognizes the crucial importance of apostates and other religious dissidents. "The freethinkers pushed the limits of orthodoxy, and they were a point of attachment for many Muslims later on,'' he says. ``If all you had was orthodoxy all the time, Islamic civilization wouldn't have existed over 1,000 years. They dragged people along kicking and screaming.''

That Islam has a few structural problems is cause for a Reformation, not wholesale abandonment of the religion. It is not necessary to rid the Islamic world of God, but to create a space there for Man to govern himself. Khaled Abou El Fadl seems to have the better case, as see here: Islam and the Challenge of Democracy: Can individual rights and popular sovereignty take root in faith? (Khaled Abou El Fadl, Boston Review)


MORE:
-ESSAY: Islam and Intellectual Terrorism: Turbans of the mind are disallowing and disavowing proper intellectual engagement with Islam. (Ibn Warraq, New Humanist)
-INTERVIEW: Ibn Warraq: Why I Am Not A Muslim (The Religion Report, 10/10/2001)
-INTERVIEW: Islam and apostasy (The Religion Report, 02/07/2003)
-REVIEW: of Why I am Not a Muslim (MAXIME RODINSON, February 2000, Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society)
-ESSAY: Holy War (Chris Mooney, 12.17.01, American Prospect)
-ESSAY: When Ibn Warraq met Edward Said (Adil Farooq, January 16, 2003, Winds of Change)

-ESSAY: Islam and the Challenge of Democracy: Can individual rights and popular sovereignty take root in faith? (Khaled Abou El Fadl, Boston Review)
-ESSAY: Islam and the Theology of Power: "Supremacist puritanism in contemporary Islam is dismissive of all moral norms or ethical values." (Khaled Abou El Fadl, Islam for Today)
-ESSAY: Khaled Abou El Fadl: Reformer or Revisionist ? (Andrew G. Bostom, April 9, 2003, Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society)
-AUDIO INTERVIEW: Khaled Abou El Fadl: Bernard Lewis's What Went Wrong ( "Ideas and Issues", Hugh LaFollette)
-ESSAY: Is Khaled Abou El Fadl a Moderate? (Little Green Footballs, 8/15/2003)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:49 AM

ANTI-TAX IN NAME ONLY

National Conservative Groups Warm Up to Schwarzenegger: Republican Leadership Council has endorsed him, and anti-tax groups are courting, hoping he'll take a definitive stance on their issue. (Ronald Brownstein, August 24, 2003, LA Times)
Although national conservative groups at first remained aloof from the bid to oust California Gov. Gray Davis, their leaders increasingly view the recall as an opportunity to generate momentum heading into next year's congressional and presidential voting.

"It will set a tone for next year," said Grover G. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a leading conservative strategist. [...]

But anti-tax and anti-spending conservative organizations are considering a role in the recall campaign. Schwarzenegger's camp has been negotiating for support from the Club for Growth, a leading conservative political action committee, as well as the large network of groups that revolve around Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform organization.

Norquist said that for Schwarzenegger, the key to gaining broader conservative support will be hardening his stand against new taxes. At a news conference Wednesday, Schwarzenegger came out strongly against taxes as a means to solve the state's budget shortfall but said he could not rule out tax increases to meet emergencies such as earthquakes.

Norquist is pressing Schwarzenegger to sign a pledge the group promotes that commits politicians not to support any net increase in taxes. "I think over the next week or so we'll see whether Arnold succeeds or fails in nailing down that he is not going to raise taxes," Norquist said. "Should he do that, then I think you will see a coming together around his campaign, and then you will see both Republicans and conservatives getting excited in California and nationally."

McClintock and Simon, until he withdrew from the race, had been criticizing Schwarzenegger for not signing the pledge. Schwarzenegger spokesman Sean Walsh seemed to denigrate the anti-tax pledge in an interview with Fox News last week, saying, "We're not going to play into any particular interest group who wants to just whipsaw us." [...]

Yet Steve Moore, president of the Club for Growth, said many conservatives were still in a "wait-and-see mode" about Schwarzenegger.

"We want to believe in this guy ... [but] he does have this one kind of annoying habit of trying to appease everybody, and I don't know if he can get away with that," Moore said.

Suppose, for the moment, that you grant Mr. Moore's position, that taxes should be the single issue upon which one bases his vote. Why then is it not necessary to do everythiong one can to defeat Cruz Bustamante, who is running on a pledge to hike taxes?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:33 AM

PRO-PURGE

Kirkuk purges members of former ruling Baath party (Iraq Press, August 24, 2003)
The new administration of this oil-rich city says it is determined to obliterate the legacy of the former ruling Baath party.

Perhaps it has more reason to do so than any local administration in the country.

For three decades, Kirkuk was subjected to oppressive and occasionally bloody policy of ethnic cleansing.

Tens of thousands of families were uprooted and their land and belongings confiscated.

Diehard supporters of the deposed leader Saddam Hussein filled senior positions and they made sure that only the Baathists were allowed to stay in the city and work in its sprawling oil installations.

Kirkuk is a mosaic of ethnic and religious minorities and many thought it would pose a real problem for the US-led occupation troops to administer.

But Kirkuk is now one of the most peaceful cities in Iraq. It has an elected council and a functioning police force and judicial system.

The Iraqis need to purge like Karen Carpenter.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:27 AM

MY WORK HERE IS DONE

Can It Be? The End of Evolution? (NICHOLAS WADE, August 24, 2003, NY Times)
The most improbable item in science fiction movies is not the hardware — the faster-than-light travel, the tractor beams, the levitation — but the people. Strangely, they always look and behave just like us. Yet the one safe prediction about the far future is that humans will be a lot further along in their evolution.

Last week population geneticists, rummaging in DNA's ever-fascinating attic, set dates on two important changes in the human form.

Dr. Alan R. Rogers of the University of Utah figured out that the ancestral human population had acquired black skin, as a protection against the sun, at least 1.2 million years ago, and therefore that it must have shed its fur some time before this date.

Clothing came long after we were naked. Dr. Mark Stoneking, of the Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, managed to address this question by calculating when the human body louse (which lives only in clothing, not hair) evolved from the human head louse. That proud event in human history dates to between 72,000 and 42,000 years ago, Dr. Stoneking reported

So where do we go from here? Have we attained perfection and ceased to evolve?

Where would anyone ever get the idea that Darwinism is deterministic?


MORE:
-ESSAY: Is human evolution finally over?: Scientists are split over the theory that natural selection has come to a standstill in the West. (Robin McKie, February 3, 2002, The Observer)
-ESSAY: As Good as It Gets (Robert E. Horseman, April 2002, CDA Journal)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:06 AM

"ABOUT SCIENCE"

The Demiurge’s Laugh (Robert Frost, 1915, A Boy's Will)
IT was far in the sameness of the wood;
I was running with joy on the Demon’s trail,
Though I knew what I hunted was no true god.
It was just as the light was beginning to fail
That I suddenly heard—all I needed to hear:
It has lasted me many and many a year.

The sound was behind me instead of before,
A sleepy sound, but mocking half,
As of one who utterly couldn’t care.
The Demon arose from his wallow to laugh,
Brushing the dirt from his eye as he went;
And well I knew what the Demon meant.

I shall not forget how his laugh rang out.
I felt as a fool to have been so caught,
And checked my steps to make pretence
It was something among the leaves I sought
(Though doubtful whether he stayed to see).
Thereafter I sat me against a tree.



MORE:
-BOOK SITE: Going by Contraries: Robert Frost's Conflict with Science by Robert Bernard Hass (University of Virginia Press)
-ESSAY: The Demiurge's Laugh (Ann Elz, 4253 Project)
-ESSAY: Robert Frost & The New England Renaissance (George Monteiro)
-ESSAY: A Poet Reads Darwin (Mark Walhout, Jan/Feb 1999, Books & Culture)
-ESSAY: Mandelstam's Gardener (Michael Caines, Poetry Review)
-The Robert Frost Society
-ARCHIVES: "robert frost" (Find Articles)

August 23, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:59 PM

THE FLAVOR OF SIN

Pedophile Priest Killed in Prison Attack (Svea Herbst-Bayliss, 8/23/03, Reuters)
Defrocked priest John Geoghan, a central figure in the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal, was killed on Saturday by a fellow-inmate in the prison where he was serving a sentence for child rape, a state prisons official said.

"There was an incident involving John Geoghan and another inmate around noon on Saturday. Geoghan sustained serious injury and was brought to Leominster Hospital where we was pronounced dead shortly before 2 p.m.," said Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. [...]

The Archdiocese of Boston, where Geoghan had served as a priest in many parishes, described his death as "tragic."

"The Archdiocese of Boston offers its prayers for the repose of John's soul and extends its prayers and consolation to his beloved sister Catherine at this time of personal loss," said Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the Archdiocese.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents many young men who say they were molested by Geoghan, said he was shocked and surprised to hear of Geoghan's death.

"My clients would rather have seen John Geoghan be punished in a way seen fit by society," he said. "They would have rather seen him endure the rigors of two more trials and endure the pain of more prison sentences."

Having failed to treat others with dignity John Geoghan died without dignity and that cycle surely is tragic. What he did was evil and he deserved to be punished for it, but by a reasoned action of our society, not on the impulse of another low-life. Personally, I tend to believe his crimes were so horrible, so transgressive, that even the death penalty should have been imposed. We should value human dignity so highly that the cost of violating it in the way John Geoghan did should be to lose your own life. That process too though should be dignified.

Meanwhile, there's an important element here that may be worth our while to consider. It's always tempting to think of people like John Geoghan as monsters, as so fundamentally different from us that they're barely human and their lives just don't matter. Here's a passage from a recent book review that frames the ideas involved nicely, REVIEW: of Hellfire Nation by James A. Morone (Jackson Lears, New Republic) :
Occasionally adolescent high jinks affect the history of thought. Consider the episode recounted by Augustine in his Confessions. "There was a pear tree near our vineyard, loaded with a fruit that was attractive neither to look at nor to taste. Late one night a band of ruffians, myself included, went off to shake down the fruit and carry it away.... We took away an enormous quantity of pears, not to eat them ourselves, but simply to throw them to the pigs." Augustine agonized at length about the sheer perversity of his motives. "Could I enjoy doing wrong for no other reason than that it was wrong?" Certainly, "it was not the pears that my unhappy soul desired. I had plenty of my own, better than those, and I only picked them so that I might steal. For no sooner had I picked them than I threw them away, and tasted nothing in them but my own sin, which I relished and enjoyed. If any part of one of those pears passed my lips, it was the sin that gave it flavor." And so a boyish escapade became a primary text of Christian thinking about sin.

For what became known as the Augustinian view, sin was a subjective experience, a self-satisfied pride that allowed the sinner to take pleasure in acts that actually alienated him from God, the source of all being. To be sure, sin had a social dimension, too. Stealing the pears by himself, Augustine wrote, "would have been no fun and I should not have done it." The desire to have "partners in sin" made it harder to exercise moral responsibility, "because we are ashamed to hold back when others say `Come on! Let's do it!'" But at bottom the Augustinian conception of sin was more psychological than social: it was an elusive but innate perversity -- a tendency toward estrangement from all creation -- rooted in every human soul, which could only be transcended with the aid of divine grace.

Of course there have always been other ways of thinking about sin. The chief alternative to Augustine's inward emphasis was the notion that evil is a palpable entity outside the self, one that could (and often did) take material and even fleshly form. The purest form of this belief in Augustine's time was the Manichaean heresy. Augustine had been a Manichee himself for ten years, and much of the intellectual drive of his autobiography arises from his struggle to free himself from the Manichees' materialist conception of evil by developing a subtler one. But subtlety never translated easily into the idioms of popular Christianity, which imagined sin embodied in either an actual devil or a demonized other -- the witch, the infidel, above all the Jew. Though theologians condemned the Manichaean heresy, the Manichaean tendency to divide the world into a virtuous "us" and a sinful "them" flourished in Christian tradition, animating absolutisms, inspiring crusades, and consigning the other to flames in the next world and sometimes in this one.

Still, Augustinian ideas survived, too. They sustained the doctrine of original sin, which despite its sometimes devastating impact on the human psyche at least preserved an emphasis on the universality of human corruption, refusing to isolate sin in particular groups of offenders. For centuries, when Christians thought seriously about sin, they turned to Augustinian tradition. The English Puritans who settled North America, for example, were nothing if not serious about sin. They insisted on a covenant of grace, not of works. This meant that the performance of apparently moral acts was mere mummery without a regenerate heart. The key to salvation was not morality, it was piety -- the spiritual state that resulted from an intense inner search for union with the deity.

This was precisely the sort of struggle that Augustine described, and it was at the core of American Puritanism. Oscillating between an exalted experience of divine grace and a deep sense of human depravity (including one's own), the Augustinian strain of piety dissolved the comforting delusion that evil could be situated outside the self. The attempt to live virtuously required constant questioning of one's own motives, constant awareness of one's own capacity to confuse self-interest with self-sacrifice. Sin was fleeting, insubstantial, evanescent -- but ever-present, in the hearts of the pious as well as the prodigal.

If John Geoghan deserved to die it was because he had so estranged himself from all Creation, from God and from all of us. It was because he was really quite like us, but plunged himself deep into the depravity that resides within us all and that we are commanded to resist, not because he was some kind of demon, affected by a sinfulness that the rest of us are untainted by. Whether for good or ill--and those of us who believe in freedom must think it good--we have free will, and John Geoghan freely chose to behave in an evil manner.

Whether God is so forgiving of Man that he forgives even such men and extends divine grace to even those of us who so completely embrace our innate depravity we've no idea. I only know that I don't have that great a capacity for forgiveness within me. It is surely not a good thing that John Geoghan was murdered--for that's all this was is a murder--but it's beyond me to see how it's a bad thing that he's gone.


MORE:
Geoghan's Death Is Described: Fellow Inmate Jammed Cell Door During Attack (Jonathan Finer, August 25, 2003, Washington Post)
John J. Geoghan, the former priest and convicted child molester killed in a Massachusetts prison Saturday, was followed into his cell just after lunch by a fellow inmate who bound and gagged him before strangling him with a bed sheet, according to a union representative for prison guards.

The attacker, whom authorities identified as Joseph L. Druce, jammed the electronically operated cell door to prevent guards from opening it. He tied Geoghan's hands behind his back with a sheet and gagged him. He then repeatedly jumped from the bed in the cell onto Geoghan's motionless body and beat the defrocked priest with his fists. [...]

Druce, 37, was immediately isolated and will be charged with murder, investigators said. Massachusetts does not have a death penalty, so it is unclear what additional punishment he could receive since he is serving a life sentence for strangling a man in 1988. He also was convicted while in prison of attempting an anthrax scare by sending envelopes filled with white powder and covered in Swastikas to about 30 Jewish lawyers nationwide in 2001.

The Worcester County district attorney's office said that Druce was born Darrin Smiledge but changed his name while in prison. Druce's father, Dana Smiledge, told the Boston Globe that his son hated Jews and blacks and had a grudge against gays.

So much for justice being served on behalf of the abused children, eh?

MORE:
GRACE GREATER THAN OUR SIN [Words: Julia H. Johnston, in Hymns Tried and True (Chi-ca-go, Il-li-nois: The Bi-ble In-sti-tute Col-port-age As-so-ci-a-tion, 1911); Music: Daniel B. Towner, 1910]
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can we do to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:11 PM

)

Interview with Howard Dean (Oregon Public Broadcasting, 8/20/2003)
Interviewer: When you're here on Sunday do you plan to talk about some Oregon specific issues?

Howard Dean: Well I'm certainly going to talk about the Healthy Forests Initiative, which the president is plugging.... Because the president tried to use the forest fires to justify cutting a lot of old growth timber and he went too far....

Interviewer: Let me ask you about one other issue that is unique to Oregon and that is physician-assisted suicide.... In general where do you stand on physician-assisted suicide and Oregon's vote on that issue?

Howard Dean: ... I think this a very private, personal decision and I think individual physicians and patients have the right to make that private decision. I am very amused by the Right Wing--including the president and administration--who talk about liberty but then decide they're going to scrutinize everyone's behavior and tell them what they can and cannot do. There can't be a much more personal decision an individual makes than how to die and I think that is a personal decision left to individuals, their physicians and families.

Have you heard the new motto of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party: Nature, liberty, and the pursuit of oblivion.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:32 PM

IS "HAMAS" ARABIC FOR "MORONS"?

Hamas says Bush is "Islam's biggest enemy'' for freezing assets in bombing response (Associated Press, August 23, 2003)
Speaking to Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV, Abdel Aziz Rantisi called the action "a theft of Muslim money by the Americans" and said the frozen money doesn't belong to Hamas.

"Hamas does not have any money in the U.S., Europe or even in the Arab states. President Bush has become Islam's biggest enemy," Rantisi said in the interview.

On Friday, the United States froze the assets of six Hamas leaders, including Rantisi, an aide to Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the group's spiritual leader. The United States also froze the assets of five European-based organizations that it said raise money for the radical Palestinian group.

Bush said he ordered the assets frozen because Hamas claimed responsibility for Tuesday's suicide attack on a packed bus in Jerusalem that killed 20 people, including six children.

Hamas has vowed revenge for an Israeli helicopter attack on Thursday that killed Ismail Abu Shanab, one of its most senior figures. Rantisi survived an Israeli rocket attack on his car in June.

Now there's a bright idea; declare war on the U.S.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:21 PM

IT TAKES A NATION OF HOSERS TO HOLD US DOWN

Computer worm virus traced to source in B.C. (Peter Morton, , August 23, 2003, National Post)
The FBI and U.S. Homeland Security investigators appeared last night to have largely shut down a computer virus attack that may have originated with a computer in British Columbia.

Worried the so-called "Sobig" worm may have been programmed to attack key computer networks yesterday afternoon, U.S. and Canadian officials managed to shut down 19 of the 20 computers thought to have been targeted.

Maybe everything really is Canada's fault.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:39 PM

SIMON SAYS, "SEE YA!"

California Republican Bill Simon drops out of Davis recall race (ASSOCIATED PRESS, August 23, 2003
Republican Bill Simon dropped out of the gubernatorial recall race Saturday amid calls from party leaders to consolidate support behind fewer candidates, a campaign official said. [...]

Simon's move leaves three leading Republicans among the 135 candidates on the ballot to replace Davis Oct. 7: front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger, former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth and state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks. Simon's name will still appear on the ballot.

Good for Mr. Simon; he's put party ahead of self. The other two will be under even greater pressure now.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:01 PM

BE PREPARED?

Middle East prepares for mayhem (Abraham Rabinovich, 23aug03, The Australian)
ISRAEL and Palestinian militants busied themselves yesterday preparing mutual mayhem following the termination of a ceasefire that had held for six weeks.

Hamas spokesmen vowed that "rivers of blood" would flow in Israeli cities following a helicopter attack in Gaza that killed the organisation's third-ranking leader, Ismail Abu Shanab. All Palestinian militant organisations said they would renew attacks on Israel.

Israeli officials said Abu Shanab's targeted assassination was only the first of a series approved by the security cabinet following a bus bombing in Jerusalem on Tuesday that killed 20 people, including six children.

The officials also said Israel was contemplating a massive incursion into the Gaza Strip, similar to the takeover of Palestinian cities in the West Bank last year. [...]

Israel was not an official party to the unilateral ceasefire, but it suspended its more aggressive actions, such as targeted assassinations and large-scale incursions. It did, however, continue to arrest "ticking bombs", militants whom it said were planning attacks against Israel. In two such arrests earlier this month, four militants were killed when they opened fire, killing one soldier. In retaliation, Islamic militants staged two suicide bombings, killing three Israelis.

Because of the relatively low number of fatalities and the desire not to undermine the ceasefire, Israel did not respond to the suicide attacks as it once would have.

The "rules of the game" changed sharply in a third tit-for-tat flare up, when the Israeli killing of a single Islamic Jihad military leader in Hebron last week was followed by the Jerusalem bus bombing. Within hours, the Israeli Government decided to make its own changes to the rules with a massive crackdown on Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including political leaders, regardless of what happens to the Abbas administration.

It's a damned depressing headline, but this too shall pass and the ceasefire was always meaningless, because Mr. Abbas doesn't control the militants. One would wish though that the Israelis would take advantage of this opportunity to execute Yasir Arafat.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:54 PM

NO FUN BUNCH

BANANA republic: If you build it, they will complain. (J. Matthew Phipps, The Seattle Times)
Gone is NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), to be replaced by the BANANA — Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:02 AM

CAN JUMPIN' JIM JEFFORDS BE FAR BEHIND?

Decker eyes switch back to GOP: Decker's party change in January made history. (DAN KANE, 8/23/03, News & Observer)
The man whose shifting loyalties redefined the state House of Representatives this year may be at it again.

Rep. Mike Decker's switch to the Democratic Party in January deadlocked the House and resulted in a historic co-speaker-led coalition. But in recent days, he has been talking to people about rejoining the GOP.

Decker would only confirm that he's thinking about switching back. [...]

Legislators say that under the House rules a shift to a 61-59 Republican majority would not lead to another speaker vote or a change in committee assignments for the rest of the session.

But it could make the difference for Decker's political career. Until this year, Decker had served nine terms as a Republican in a heavily Republican district.

The question for Decker is, will Republicans accept him back?

Hard to look principled when you do stuff like this, isn't it?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 AM

NATURE OR NURTURE?

Men-It's in Their Nature (Christina Hoff Sommers, September 2003, The American Enterprise)
Try as they may, parents, teachers, and gender facilitators have not been successful in rooting out male behavior they regard as harmful. An "equity facilitator" tried to persuade a group of nine-year-old boys in a Baltimore public school to accept the idea of playing with baby dolls. According to one observer, "Their reaction was so hostile, the teacher had trouble keeping order." And then there was Jimmy. At age 11, this San Francisco sixth grader was made to contribute a square to a class quilt "celebrating women we admire." He chose to honor tennis player Monica Seles who, in 1993, was stabbed on the court by a deranged fan of Steffi Graf. Jimmy handed in a muslin square festooned with a tennis racket and a bloody dagger. His square may be unique in the history of quilting, but his teacher did not appreciate its originality and rejected it.

American classrooms are full of Jimmys. Efforts to change boys like Jimmy or my son and his bonfire companions will be difficult if not impossible. Nature is obdurate on some matters. While environment and socialization do play a significant role, scientists are beginning to pinpoint the precise biological correlates to many typical gender differences. A 2001 special issue of Scientific American reviewed the growing evidence that children's play preferences are, in large part, hormonally determined. Researchers confirmed what parents experience all the time: Even with counter-conditioning, boys and girls gravitate toward very different toys. The entire anthropological record offers not a single example of a society where females have better spatial reasoning skills and males better verbal skills, where females are fixated on objects and men on feelings, or where males are physically docile and females aggressive.

In the face of what we know, it is altogether unreasonable to deny the biological basis for distinctive male and female preferences and abilities. Does this mean biology is destiny? As anthropologist Lionel Tiger says, "biology is not destiny, but it is good statistical probability." There is still room for equity. A fair and just society offers equality of opportunity to all. But it cannot promise, and should not try to enforce, sameness. The natural differences between men and women suggest there will never be mathematical parity in all fields; far more men than women will choose to be mechanics, engineers, or soldiers. Early childhood education, family medicine, and social work will continue to be dominated by women. Boys will prefer bonfires to diaries and any teacher who requires them to contribute squares to a quilt should brace herself for insensitive images of monsters, dangerous animals, and weaponry. The male tendency to be competitive, risk-loving, more narrowly focused, and less concerned with feelings has consequences in the real world. It could explain why there are more males at the extremes of success and failure: more male CEOs, more males in maximum security prisons.

Of course, boys' natural masculinity must be tempered. Social theorist Hannah Arendt is believed to have said that every year civilization is invaded by millions of tiny barbarians-they are called children. All societies confront the problem of civilizing their children, particularly the male ones. History teaches that masculinity constrained by morality is powerful and constructive; it also teaches that masculinity without ethics is dangerous and destructive.

Nature.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 AM

FREAKY FRIDAY

Dean Losing Support on Left For His Stances on Its Issues (E.J. KESSLER, AUGUST 22, 2003, FORWARD)
Howard Dean has rocketed to the front of the Democratic presidential pack with his angry, outsider style and his overt appeals to the anti-war left. But even as the former Vermont governor galvanizes the party's left flank, many liberals are voicing concern over his stances on some of their most cherished issues.

Many single-issue activists who work on Middle East peace, gun control and drug policy reform - including some who say they were initially attracted to Dean - are becoming increasingly vocal in opposing him. Some are speaking about a "reassessment" on the left and warn darkly that Dean's stands are already costing him support among core Democrats.

"Howard Dean could be the worst of both worlds for progressives," said Norman Solomon, a columnist and figure on the left on the West Coast. "He's not a true progressive, but he's been tarred as being this kind of Birkenstock leftist. What's the payoff here?"

So, if the Right thinks George W. Bush is a socialist and the Left thinks Howard Dean is a closet reactionary, why not just swap candidates?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 AM

SAYONARA

Falling savings rate is a warning (The Japan Times, Aug. 23, 2003)
Until not long ago Japan was criticized -- or praised -- for its extraordinarily high savings rate, depending on how one looked at it. The United States, for one, pointed out that Japan was saving too much and investing too little, and called for steps to stimulate domestic demand and boost consumer spending. How times change. Japan is no longer a nation of overeager savers.

Statistics show that more and more Japanese households are dipping into their savings to cover living expenses. Reduced income and extended unemployment are some of the immediate reasons. A private study predicts that the savings rate will amount to almost nothing by the late 2010s if it continues to fall at the current pace. [...]

The falling savings rate is also an ominous sign for the debt-ridden central and local governments. Currently the money to buy public bonds originates mostly from people's savings. If savings continue to dwindle, more money will have to be borrowed from abroad. Japan is still the world's largest creditor, but it is also the most heavily indebted of industrialized nations. If the debt keeps on expanding as fast as it does now, the nation's international credit standing will eventually suffer a serious blow.

There is already a real possibility that should investors lose confidence in government bonds, interest rates would begin to soar, putting a heavy drag on the economy. Indeed, the day of reckoning may well come in the not so distant future if government debt continues to rise rapidly in parallel with a chronic decline in the savings rate.

Halting the rising suicide trend (The Japan Times, Aug. 18, 2003)
The number of suicides in Japan last year exceeded 30,000 for the fifth consecutive year. That's more than three times the number of deaths from traffic accidents. The high incidence of suicide is attributed mainly to the prolonged economic slump. This situation demands efforts in various fields to implement specific preventive measures, including improvements in mental health care.

The annual number of suicides in Japan used to average about 20,000. In 1998, though, the figure began soaring past 30,000. It remained nearly level for a while and then rose further last year for the first time in three years. Now suicide ranks as the sixth leading cause of death among Japanese people. For people in their 20s and 30s, it is the leading cause of death.

Another characteristic of the current trend is that suicide is increasing among middle-aged men. According to statistics compiled by the National Police Agency, the number of suicides motivated by economic difficulty rose to a record high 8,000 people last year. Background factors included unemployment, restructuring and debts.

In addition to those who commit suicide, there are about 10 times more people who attempt suicide.

Add in a fertility rate of 1.3 births per woman and you've got a canary warning that the coal mine is unsafe. Remarkably, it wasn't long ago that folks were either terrified of a resurgent Japan or wanted us to be more like them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:42 AM

BIN THERE, DONE THAT

Inside story of the hunt for Bin Laden: The al-Qaida leader is said to be hiding in northern Pakistan guarded by a 120-mile ring of tribesmen whose job it is to warn of the approach of any troops. (Rory McCarthy, August 23, 2003, The Guardian)
Early in March, intelligence agents searching the western deserts of Pakistan thought they had finally tracked down the world's most wanted man. A convoy was spotted racing along one of the remote smugglers' routes which winds down from southern Afghanistan, through the sand dunes of Pakistani Baluchistan and into Iran. American intelligence agents had a tip that Osama bin Laden was in the group.

They seemed to have reason to be optimistic. Five days earlier Pakistani officers had scored the biggest success so far in the hunt for Bin Laden and his al-Qaida deputies. In a midnight raid they had arrested a ragged-looking Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the Pakistani Kuwaiti who was regarded as the third most senior figure in Bin Laden's network, a man described by the jubilant authorities in Islamabad as a "kingpin of al-Qaida."

Mohammad had been pinpointed when he made a satellite telephone call, which US military electronic eavesdropping tracked to Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan. A computer and lists of phone numbers were recovered after his arrest, amounting to what the Pakistani interior minister, Faisal Saleh Hayat, called an "arsenal" of information.

That new information encouraged investigators to focus their attention on the sparsely populated deserts of Baluchistan. Within a few days they had spotted the convoy.

A major operation was mounted by Pakistani soldiers and US troops. There were reports of heavy gun battles around the Afghan border town of Spin Majid, with up to nine of the men in the convoy killed.

Baluchistan's interior minister appeared on television to announce that two of Bin Laden's sons had been captured. Then one Pakistani journalist broke the sensational news that Bin Laden himself had been caught.

Within hours, it became clear that he had not. In fact, several sources now say the intelligence tip was faulty: Bin Laden was never even in the convoy.

Those with knowledge of the operation have told the Guardian that two of the Saudi-born millionaire's sons had been led by Afghan warlords in the previous days down the same route, a well-trodden drug smugglers' path, and across into Iran. By the time the operation took place, there were still convoys of drug smugglers on the trail but the sons were gone.

"In the end it was just another flop," said Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist who has met Bin Laden three times and studied al-Qaida in detail.

Hard to believe that the war on terror doesn't sooner or later, either with or without Pakistani permission, lead to these Afghan/Pakistan border regions.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 AM

)

Meet Warren Buffett’s Daddy (Bill Kauffman, July/August 2003, The American Enterprise)
Warren Buffett, the legendary investor whose taste for hamburgers and life in Omaha, Nebraska gives him a reputation for Middle American eccentricity in the world of high finance, is just another colorless gray-pinstriper when compared with his father: Rep. Howard Buffett (R-NE), who half a century ago was perhaps the most radical and principled Republican member of Congress.

The Buffetts were pillars of Omaha. Howard Buffett was a stockbroker, "gentle and sweet-natured," in the words of Warren's biographer Roger Lowenstein. His politics, though, were to "the right of God," cracked one local banker.

Buffett was elected to Congress in 1942 with a pledge to keep FDR from "fasten [ing] the chains of political servitude around America's neck." He marked himself an oddball by returning a pay raise to the Treasury and by subjecting each piece of legislation to a simple test: "Will this add to, or subtract from, human liberty?"

Very few House bills passed Howard Buffett's test.

In four non-consecutive terms representing Omaha in the U.S. House of Representatives, the radical backbench Republican compiled an almost purely libertarian record. He opposed whatever New Deal alphabet-soup agencies and Fair Deal bureaucracies emerged from the black lagoon of the Potomac. As the historian Joseph Stromberg has written, "the only [current] member of Congress who bears comparison with Buffett is Ron Paul," the Texas Republican and courageous naysayer.

Buffett was also a strict isolationist, denouncing NATO, conscription, the Marshall Plan ("Operation Rathole"), and the incipient Cold War, which he believed would enchain Americans in "the shackles of regimentation and coercion...in the name of stopping communism."

It is men like Howard Buffett who make nonsense of the charge that conservatism is reactionary. The conservatives are always there trying to stop this stuff before it happens, but aren't listened to until the mess is made. It's only because their superior vision is ignored at the time that they later end up having to roll back liberalism and seem to be merely reacting.

Too bad the senior Mr. Buffett isn't around to spank his son.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 AM

SOLON SUGGESTS

The Real Ten Commandments (Richard Carrier, 12-Sep-2002, Infidels.org)
I keep hearing this chant, variously phrased: "The Ten Commandments are the foundation of Western morality and the American Constitution and government." In saying this, people are essentially crediting Moses with the invention of ethics, democracy and civil rights, a claim that is of course absurd. But its absurdity is eclipsed by its injustice, for there is another lawmaker who is far more important to us, whose ideas and actions lie far more at the foundation of American government, and whose own Ten Commandments were distributed at large and influencing the greatest civilizations of the West--Greece and Rome--for well over half a millennia before the laws of Moses were anything near a universal social influence. In fact, by the time the Ten Commandments of Moses had any real chance of being the foundation of anything in Western society, democracy and civil rights had all but died out, never to rise again until the ideals of our true hero, the real man to whom we owe all reverence, were rediscovered and implemented in what we now call "modern democratic principles."

The man I am talking about is Solon the Athenian. Solon was born, we believe, around 638 B.C.E., and lived until approximately 558, but the date in his life of greatest importance to us is the year he was elected to create a constitution for Athens, 594 B.C.E. How important is this man? Let's examine what we owe to him, in comparison with the legendary author (or at last, in legend, the transmitter) of the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments. Solon is the founder of Western democracy and the first man in history to articulate ideas of equal rights for all citizens, and though he did not go nearly as far in the latter as we have come today, Moses can claim no connection to either. Solon was the first man in Western history to publicly record a civil constitution in writing. No one in Hebrew history did anything of the kind, least of all Moses. Solon advocated not only the right but even the duty of every citizen to bear arms in the defense of the state--to him we owe the 2nd Amendment. Nothing about that is to be found in the Ten Commandments of Moses. Solon set up laws defending the principles and importance of private property, state encouragement of economic trades and crafts, and a strong middle class--the ideals which lie at the heart of American prosperity, yet which cannot be credited at all to Moses.

Solon is the first man in history to eliminate birth as a basis for government office, and to create democratic assemblies open to all male citizens, such that no law could be passed without the majority vote of all. The notion of letting women into full political rights would not arise in any culture until that of modern Europe, but democracy never gets a single word in the Bible. Solon invented the right of appeal and trial by jury, whereby an assembly of citizens chosen at random, without regard for office or wealth or birth, gave all legal verdicts. Moses can claim nothing as fundamental as these developments, which are absolutely essential to modern society. The concept of taking a government official to court for malfeasance we owe to Solon. We read nothing of the kind about Moses. The idea of allowing foreigners who have mastered a useful trade to immigrate and become citizens is also an original invention of Solon--indeed, the modern concept of citizenship itself is largely indebted to him. There is nothing like this in the Bible. And like our own George Washington, Solon declined the offer to become ruler in his country, giving it a Constitution instead--unlike Moses who gave laws yet continued to reign. And Solon's selfless creation of the Athenian constitution set the course which led to the rise of the first universal democracy in the United States, and it was to Solon's Athens, not the Bible, that our Founding Fathers looked for guidance in constructing a new State. Moses can claim no responsibility for this. If we had Solon and no Moses, we would very likely still be where we are today. But if we had Moses and no Solon, democracy might never have existed at all.

So much for being the impetus behind our Constitution. The Ten Commandments of Moses have no connection with that, while the Constitution of Solon has everything to do with it. [...]

Let us now turn to the Ten Commandments of Solon (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 1.60), which run as follows:

1. Trust good character more than promises.
2. Do not speak falsely.
3. Do good things.
4. Do not be hasty in making friends, but do not abandon them once made.
5. Learn to obey before you command.
6. When giving advice, do not recommend what is most pleasing, but what is most useful.
7. Make reason your supreme commander.
8. Do not associate with people who do bad things.
9. Honor the gods.
10. Have regard for your parents.

Unlike the Commandments of Moses, none of these is outdated or antithetical to modern moral or political thought. Every one could be taken up by anyone today, of any creed--except perhaps only one.

Solon, in fact, is honored, along with Moses, at the US Supreme Court. And the Founders were obviously aware of him, Federalist No. 37: The Same Subject Continued, and the Incoherence of the Objections to the New Plan Exposed (James Madison, January 15, 1788, New York Packet)
IT IS not a little remarkable that in every case reported by ancient history, in which government has been established with deliberation and consent, the task of framing it has not been committed to an assembly of men, but has been performed by some individual citizen of preeminent wisdom and approved integrity.

Minos, we learn, was the primitive founder of the government of Crete, as Zaleucus was of that of the Locrians. Theseus first, and after him Draco and Solon, instituted the government of Athens. Lycurgus was the lawgiver of Sparta. The foundation of the original government of Rome was laid by Romulus, and the work completed by two of his elective successors, Numa and Tullius Hostilius. On the abolition of royalty the consular administration was substituted by Brutus, who stepped forward with a project for such a reform, which, he alleged, had been prepared by Tullius Hostilius, and to which his address obtained the assent and ratification of the senate and people. This remark is applicable to confederate governments also. Amphictyon, we are told, was the author of that which bore his name. The Achaean league received its first birth from Achaeus, and its second from Aratus.

What degree of agency these reputed lawgivers might have in their respective establishments, or how far they might be clothed with the legitimate authority of the people, cannot in every instance be ascertained. In some, however, the proceeding was strictly regular. Draco appears to have been intrusted by the people of Athens with indefinite powers to reform its government and laws. And Solon, according to Plutarch, was in a manner compelled, by the universal suffrage of his fellow-citizens, to take upon him the sole and absolute power of new-modeling the constitution. The proceedings under Lycurgus were less regular; but as far as the advocates for a regular reform could prevail, they all turned their eyes towards the single efforts of that celebrated patriot and sage, instead of seeking to bring about a revolution by the intervention of a deliberative body of citizens.

Whence could it have proceeded, that a people, jealous as the Greeks were of their liberty, should so far abandon the rules of caution as to place their destiny in the hands of a single citizen? Whence could it have proceeded, that the Athenians, a people who would not suffer an army to be commanded by fewer than ten generals, and who required no other proof of danger to their liberties than the illustrious merit of a fellow-citizen, should consider one illustrious citizen as a more eligible depositary of the fortunes of themselves and their posterity, than a select body of citizens, from whose common deliberations more wisdom, as well as more safety, might have been expected? These questions cannot be fully answered, without supposing that the fears of discord and disunion among a number of counsellors exceeded the apprehension of treachery or incapacity in a single individual. History informs us, likewise, of the difficulties with which these celebrated reformers had to contend, as well as the expedients which they were obliged to employ in order to carry their reforms into effect. Solon, who seems to have indulged a more temporizing policy, confessed that he had not given to his countrymen the government best suited to their happiness, but most tolerable to their prejudices. And Lycurgus, more true to his object, was under the necessity of mixing a portion of violence with the authority of superstition, and of securing his final success by a voluntary renunciation, first of his country, and then of his life. If these lessons teach us, on one hand, to admire the improvement made by America on the ancient mode of preparing and establishing regular plans of government, they serve not less, on the other, to admonish us of the hazards and difficulties incident to such experiments, and of the great imprudence of unnecessarily multiplying them.

But there's a fundamental point that eludes Mr. Carrier here, Religion and the Founding of the United States (Michael Novak, April 8, 2003, AEI)
Massachusetts and others among the founding thirteen states, while protecting the full religious liberty of citizens under their new constitutions after Independence, maintained an established church and entrusted important moral and educational tasks to church communities with state support, direct or indirect. Virginia, too, agreed that the protection of morals and education in republican habits was indispensable to the survival and well-being of republican government. However, abuses of religious freedom led three leading Virginians to draw an exceedingly bright line between the state and not only the church but even religion more generally. This line was defined by four major documents: George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), Thomas Jefferson's Virginia Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779), James Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785), and again his Act for Establishing Religious Freedom (1785).

Three features of this decade-long struggle deserve note. First, Virginia trod this path almost alone among the founding states. Second, the extraordinary passion of Jefferson and Madison on this point was bitterly resisted by many in Virginia, as well as in other states, and in practice it proved nearly impossible to observe completely. The dependence of the republic upon the concepts and habits inculcated by Jewish and Christian religions proved to be too conspicuous to ignore. As Presidents, for example, both Jefferson and Madison expended considerable effort to show their personal support for religious worship and to nurture religious activities. The actual practice of the early republic exhibited many accommodations between the state and religious citizens in multiple warm and friendly ways that sharply distinguished the American way from the rigorous hostility Maritain had known in France. While the American Republic had no established church, the American state took a positive and benign attitude toward the full, free, and quite visibly public exercise of religion, not least at major state functions and national celebrations. Moreover, the religion shown in such public exercises was not just "religion in general," but quite distinctively Protestant Christianity, albeit, typically, in a fairly nondenominational form. And this public choice was not a matter of mere reflex, without argument on its behalf. Public figures and public documents widely asserted that this particular stream of religion was of decisive importance in the history of liberty, and indispensable to its survival.

But the third feature of these founding documents is even more striking and profound. For it is quite stunning that the four documents in question depend for their intelligibility and their credibility upon a distinctively Jewish and Christian view of man's relation to God. The hinge of the argument in each document is a fact of Jewish and Christian faith: that each individual conscience stands in the presence of its Creator. Further, by virtue of having been created from nothing, each individual owes a primordial duty to her or his Creator. This duty is of so intimate a nature that no other person can perform it in that individual's place. It is an inalienable duty, which can be taken up by no other.

This particular religious view is held by only two religions. It is not found in Buddhism nor in Hinduism; not in animism nor in pantheism; not in the religions of the ancient Greeks or Romans; nor in the religions of the Incas or the Mayans; and not even in that one other religion which also recognized a Creator separate from the created world, Islam.

These other world religions are satisfied by outward obeisance. Do your duty, and no one inquires into what your secret thoughts may be. Since only outward ritual acts were demanded, not even the great Greek or Roman philosophers worried over the assent of conscience to the worship of the gods. By contrast, Jews and Christians trembled if asked to make outward obeisance to idols, for they recognized in that act a terrible sin of idolatry.

Only Judaism and Christianity among all world religions developed, and still nourish and celebrate, the three central concepts necessary to the American conception of rights. Only they hold to the doctrine that there is a Creator (and Governor of the universe); that each individual owes a personal accounting at the time of Judgment to this Creator, a Judgment that is prior to all claims of civil society or state; and that this inalienable relation between each individual and his Creator occurs in the depths of conscience and reason, and is not reached merely by external bows, bended knees, pilgrimages, or other ritual observances.

Looked at in this light the fatal weaknesses of Solon's "Commandments" are obvious. First, in the absence of a Creator they aren't actually Commands, but suggestions from a wise fellow. They can not bind anyone except by the force of their own reason, which means that it's ultimately up to each person to determine their own commandments. In the same vein, they don't for the most part command anything: "do good" and "don't do bad" are so abstract as to leave the determination of what is good and what is bad entirely up to the individual. Indeed, by invoking a multiplicity of gods, Solon offers the individual the opportunity to claim that virtually any behavior is divinely ordained.

It is precisely that which Mr. Carrier likes best about Solon's ethical scheme--its relativism--that makes it so unfit as the basis for freedom. For if morality is so relative that it is to be left to each individual to determine the good and the bad himself, then the State will have to set up myriad controls upon the individual, just to guarantee that peoples' behavior will be sufficiently predictable that they can live together. Mr. Carrier is correct that Solon deserves credit--or blame--for his contribution to the constructing of the modern State, but America was never intended to be statist. Because the Founders and those who came before--especially the Puritans--believed in absolute morality and virtue, they believed society to be more important than the State. Our history since the Founding would seem to suggest that the drift from Moses to Solon, from absolute morality to relativity, must be accompanied by the decline of Society and the rise of the State. Some confusion arises here because we have made a fetish of democracy, so believe that because America has become more democratic it has succeeded in its original purposes. But the bitter truth of the matter is that democracy is not only no guarantee of freedom but is to some degree its enemy. It is perhaps not too much to say that the ideal of American freedom has been lost to exactly the degree that Solon and statism are more important to modern America than Moses and morality.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:37 AM

WHO'S ON THIRD

Sanctions Harden Iraqis Attitude to U.N. (JAMIE TARABAY, 8/23/03, AP)
When a truck packed with explosives blew up outside the United Nations compound in Baghdad and killed at least 23 people, much of the world recoiled in shock, horrified anyone would attack an organization known everywhere for its good works.

Everywhere, that is, except in Iraq, where there is deep ambivalence toward the world body.

For many Iraqis, the United Nations was synonymous with economic hardship - responsible for much of the everyday misery here.

The crippling international sanctions imposed by the world body after Iraq invaded Kuwait 12 years ago have been blamed for everything from high infant mortality rates to a ban on ice cream.

Geoff Keele, a spokesman for UNICEF who has worked in Iraq since June 2002, said under the previous government, the state press - the only source of information for people - would condemn the United Nations regularly, blaming it for the lack of quality health care.

"So there are people who are out there who do feel that the United Nations is to blame for a lot of the situations they find themselves in right now in this country,'' Keele said.

Many Iraqis couldn't separate U.N. humanitarian programs from the political measures meted out by its member states. For them, the same organization that tried to fund schools and bring in rice and flour under the Oil for Food Program was also the instrument that laid the groundwork for the 1991 Gulf War.

The 12 years of sanctions that followed did nothing to diminish the United Nations' image as a lackey for the United States.

"When you talk to me about the United Nations, what comes to mind is a political organization,'' said Moaid Al Rawi, 27, in his electrical appliance store in downtown Baghdad. "I don't consider their humanitarian contribution to be so great for us here. But don't get me wrong,'' he quickly added, "no one agrees with what happened.''

We'll know better what's really involved here after the third truck-bombing. The first two, which hit the Jordanian embassy and UN headquarters, don't seem to make much sense in the context of the Ba'athists vs. the Anglo-Americans, but make perfect sense in the context of ordinary Iraqis vs those who collaborated with Saddam against them. If the next target is some kind of French or Russian facility, then these truck-bombings probably aren't generically anti-Western attacks.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:24 AM

JUST VISITING

Saddam's al Qaeda Connection: The evidence mounts, but the administration says surprisingly little. (Stephen F. Hayes, 09/01/2003, Weekly Standard)
If critics can show that the administration overplayed the al Qaeda-Saddam connection, they will undermine not only an important rationale for removing the Iraqi dictator, but the broader, arguably more important case for the war--that the conflict in Iraq was one battle in the worldwide war on terror.

What, then, did the Bush administration say about this relationship before the war? Which parts of that case, if any, have been invalidated by the intelligence gathered in the months following the conflict? What is this new "evidence," cited by Gore and others, that reveals the administration's arguments to have been embellished? Finally, what if any new evidence has emerged that bolsters the Bush administration's prewar case?

The answer to that last question is simple: lots. The CIA has confirmed, in interviews with detainees and informants it finds highly credible, that al Qaeda's Number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, met with Iraqi intelligence in Baghdad in 1992 and 1998. More disturbing, according to an administration official familiar with briefings the CIA has given President Bush, the Agency has "irrefutable evidence" that the Iraqi regime paid Zawahiri $300,000 in 1998, around the time his Islamic Jihad was merging with al Qaeda. "It's a lock," says this source. Other administration officials are a bit more circumspect, noting that the intelligence may have come from a single source. Still, four sources spread across the national security hierarchy have confirmed the payment.

In interviews conducted over the past six weeks with uniformed officers on the ground in Iraq, intelligence officials, and senior security strategists, several things became clear. Contrary to the claims of its critics, the Bush administration has consistently underplayed the connections between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Evidence of these links existed before the war. In making its public case against the Iraq regime, the Bush administration used only a fraction of the intelligence it had accumulated documenting such collaboration. The intelligence has, in most cases, gotten stronger since the end of the war. And through interrogations of high-ranking Iraqi officials, documents from the regime, and further interrogation of al Qaeda detainees, a clearer picture of the links between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein is emerging.

Such a relationship would explain why al-Zawahiri, who according to the orthodox view is supposed to hate the secular Saddam, was urging attacks against American targets in the run-up to the war.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:14 AM

RATS BOARDING A SINKING SHIP

Worried Muslim friends (Uwe Siemon-Netto, 8/22/2003, UPI)
A disquieting new tone has sneaked into my routine telephone conversations with moderate Muslim leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. "Washington's bungling in Iraq worries me so much that I can't sleep anymore; it's damaging my health; it's a scary time," an internationally well-connected Arab-American Bush supporter told me Friday morning.

He begged me not to use his name because, he said, "expressing pro-administration sentiments has become dangerous. Even Arab-American Republicans will call you a traitor if you back Bush." So I'll call this contact Mahmoud. Like Bassam Tibi, a reform-minded Muslim scholar teaching at Goettingen University in Germany, Mahmoud stated, "Iraq is on its way to become another (Taliban-run) Afghanistan, only with lower mountains."

Syrian-born Tibi, a social scientist and ardent proponent of a modernized Islam compatible with Western values, said, his voice shaking with worry, "America's sworn enemies are pouring into Iraq from all sides because the borders are not properly controlled. Iraq has become the new domain for Muslim fanatics."

Added Mahmoud, "When I telephone contacts in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, Yemen and Jordan, I keep hearing the same story over and over again: the story of hundreds and hundreds of men seemingly disappearing without a trace. You don't have to be a genius to figure our where they have gone - to Iraq."

How's an American soldier going to tell a Yemeni terrorist from an Iraqi citizen?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:12 AM

BUT CAN YOU CONTROL THE MOB?

Schwarzenegger Mobbed In First Campaign Foray: 3 Republicans Are Urged to Quit To Benefit Actor (Rene Sanchez, August 23, 2003, Washington Post)
Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped at a sidewalk cafe here in Surf City to chat today with a few local business owners, then strolled along Main Street. More than 1,000 people rushed to the scene to watch.

They climbed trees. They stood atop cars, lined balconies, stopped downtown traffic and nearly overwhelmed his security detail.

It was the first time Schwarzenegger took his celebrity gubernatorial campaign to the streets, and bedlam erupted.

Even before his appearance today, Republican leaders had begun pressuring other GOP candidates running in the state's Oct. 7 recall election to drop out and clear the field for the actor. That campaign intensified after the response Schwarzenegger received here.

The Lincoln Club of Orange County, one of California's most influential Republican groups, today endorsed Schwarzenegger and urged his three prominent GOP rivals -- Bill Simon, Tom McClintock and Peter Ueberroth -- to give up their campaigns.

Now, how do you turn that star power into electability?

August 22, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 PM

TERMINATION?

As Bustamante Gains, Davis Inches Toward Backing Him (Mark Z. Barabak, Matea Gold and Dan Morain, August 22, 2003, LA Times)
Gov. Gray Davis edged closer to abandoning his me-or-nothing strategy against the recall, as key Democrats rallied behind the backup candidacy of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to hedge against losing power in Sacramento.

Bustamante picked up several major endorsements, including the backing of the state's Democratic congressional delegation and a vote of support from the powerful California Teachers Assn. Both groups also urged a "no" vote on efforts to oust Davis. A similar move by state Democratic legislators is expected next week.

In brief comments to The Times after a fund-raising event in San Francisco, Davis said: "Cruz Bustamante is a good and decent person, and I believe his involvement in the race will bring out more voters who will vote against the recall."

"I know some of my aides were of a different view initially," Davis added. "But I believe the excitement of his candidacy will actually attract more people to polls who will vote 'no.' "

Those words stopped short of endorsing Bustamante, but moved Davis closer to aligning himself with the emerging position of the state Democratic Party establishment

It would be a classy end to a career not distinguished by said if Mr. Davis were to endore Mr. Bustamante for the good of his party.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 PM

I'M COMING UP (via Mike Daley)

NOW to Back Moseley Braun for President (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, August 22, 2003)
In a boost to her flagging campaign, Democratic presidential candidate Carol Moseley Braun is expected to pick up her first major endorsements next week from the National Organization for Women and the National Women's Political Caucus.

The endorsements, first reported in Friday's editions of the Chicago Sun-Times, will be announced Tuesday in Washington by leaders of the groups, according to a source with Braun's campaign.

With the possible exception of the American Temperance Union, is any organization in America less now than NOW?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 PM

NOT ONE OF THE DWARFS

Schwarzenegger won't commit to participating in Times/KTVU debate (Daniel Borenstein, Aug. 22, 2003, Contra Costa Times)
With 12 days left before the first gubernatorial recall forum, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger remains the only holdout among the top replacement candidates.

The six others have agreed to participate in the Sept. 3 event, sponsored by the Times, KTVU and KQED-FM. The program will be broadcast live from the Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

Sean Walsh, the actor's spokesman, said the campaign was reviewing several debate offers.

It would be foolish for the one guy with star power to lower himself to the level of the rest. What he should do though is challenge Cruz Bustamantre to a series of one on one debates, a challenge which Mr. Bustamante can't afford to accept, and schedule a press conference to run simultaneously with the debate. No one would rather watch the other six than watch Arnold vs. the press.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 PM

QUEER EYE FOR THE SPECIATION GUY

The truth about sexual attraction: Joan Roughgarden, who was once a man, thinks Darwin got it wrong about sex. (Laura Spinney, August 14, 2003, The Guardian)
On a sweltering day in June 1997, a gay pride parade passed down Market Street, San Francisco. Among the thousands marching was Joan - then Jonathan - Roughgarden, a theoretical ecologist and marine biologist of some repute. A few months later, at 52, she underwent a sex change to become a transgendered woman. But that day was a turning point of a different sort. "I was looking at all these people and realising that my discipline said they weren't possible," she recalls. "Homosexuality is not supposed to exist, according to biology."

She did not know what the future held for her, but she resolved that if she managed to keep her job as a biology professor at Stanford University she would explore how widespread variation in gender and sexuality was in the animal kingdom. In the event she was forced to give up some administrative responsibilities and started to catalogue homosexuality in other species.

What she found astounded her. Studies document same-sex courtship rituals and mating in more than 300 species. Still more species have multiple genders, or exhibit gender reversal and hermaphroditism. Yet no one had collated them, no one had sought to explain this phenomenon. "Biologists know there is a problem there, they know there is a lot of same-sex sexuality, and it is in the back of everyone's mind that we are going to have to deal with it at some point," she says.

The problem is that dealing with it means challenging the master text in biology: Darwin's theory of evolution. Or more precisely, the part on the selection of sexual characteristics. In her book Evolution's Rainbow, due out next March, Roughgarden asserts that Darwin's theory is "false and inadequate" and that there is no patching it up.

Her main point of contention is over Darwin's notion that females select males for show, because their showy secondary sexual characteristics - the peacock's tail, for instance - reflect good genes. Because eggs are supposed to be costly to produce and sperm cheap, this in turn has led to the stereotypical - and, she believes, erroneous - depiction of males as promiscuous and females as coy and discerning. That false message has been picked up by evolutionary biologists, says Roughgarden, but you only have to look at animal societies to see that it is not true. [...]

The second part of her theory is that females do not choose males for their genes, as Darwin taught, but to avoid "deadbeat dads". She says females manage male power by selecting for good fathers rather than good sperm. This, she believes, creates a marketplace for reproductive opportunity.

You go, girl.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:48 PM

NATURE OR NURTURE?

Humans trained to hunger like Pavlov's dogs (Shaoni Bhattacharya, 21 August 03, New Scientist)
Humans can be trained to crave food in response to abstract prompts just like Pavlov's dogs, reveals new research.

But whereas Pavlov's dogs were conditioned to drool at the sound of a bell, Jay Gottfried and colleagues at University College London, UK, trained humans to yearn for vanilla ice cream and peanut butter at the sight of fractal-based computer images.

Importantly, the team also showed that the human brain can put a "brake" on the powerful desire for certain foods once the appetite has been sated. This system to turn the "delectable into the distasteful" may be crucial in regulating behaviour, they say. Detecting faults in this system might in future help shed light on compulsive eating disorders and substance addictions, speculates Gottfried, a neurologist.

"If food cravings in general are being triggered by environmental cues associated with food, [compulsive eaters] could have a disturbance in the way the brain puts a brake on the system," he told New Scientist.

Nurture.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:38 PM

RESHAPING THE RIVER

Harvard Radical (JAMES TRAUB, August 24, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
Summers wants Harvard to regard itself as a single sovereign entity rather than as an archipelago of loosely affiliated institutions. He wants to change the undergraduate curriculum so that students focus less on ''ways of knowing'' and more on actual knowledge. He wants to raise quantitative kinds of knowledge to something like parity with traditionally humanistic kinds of knowledge. He wants to make the university more directly engaged with problems in education and public health, and he wants the professions that deal with those problems to achieve the same status as the more lordly ones of law, business and medicine. And he wants to assert certain traditional verities, or rather open an intellectual space in which such verities can at least be posited. ''The idea that we should be open to all ideas,'' he said when I saw him in mid-July, ''is very different from the supposition that all ideas are equally valid.''

Summers insists that he does not aspire to the role of public sage that presidents of Ivy League universities occupied until about 50 years ago. But it is simply a fact that by virtue of occupying the most commanding heights of the culture, Harvard has traditionally exercised enormous influence. If undergrad inorganic chemistry is now going to be taken to be as much a staple as political philosophy at Harvard, then your children may be more scientifically literate (and less philosophically literate) than you are.

Even if Summers were a guileful and calculating figure with a hidden agenda of drastic change, he would have a tough row to hoe. But he's not: he's a blunt and overbearing figure with an overt agenda of drastic change. It should come as no surprise that Larry Summers is not quite as popular a figure as his gracious predecessor was. One of Summers's oldest friends on the faculty said to me: ''There are a lot of people on other parts of the campus I've met who just despise him. The level of the intensity of their dislike for him is just shocking.'' [...]

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks took place soon after Summers took office and inflected his presidency in ways that could scarcely have been anticipated. While much of the university world took the view that the United States must in some important way have been responsible for the attacks, Summers says that he felt called to speak up for patriotic values. At a speech at the Kennedy School in late October, he chided the school's dean for failing to include a uniformed officer among those the school was honoring for public service. ''There are still many people who, when they think of police, think too quickly of Chicago in 1968 and too slowly of the people who risk their lives every day to keep streets safe in America's major cities,'' Summers told his audience. He seemed to be lecturing his own university and kindred institutions in public. In the ensuing months, Summers tried to raise the status of the R.O.T.C. on campus: he demanded the reversal of a policy that had prevented students from listing R.O.T.C. service in the yearbook and made a point of addressing the R.O.T.C. graduation ceremony at the end of the year. And then last September, he threw down another ideological gauntlet when he claimed, in a speech that was front-page news all over the country, that ''serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.'' And he did not shy from observing that this group included scholars at Harvard and elsewhere who had called on Harvard to divest its portfolio of companies that did business in Israel.

Between patriotism, R.O.T.C., anti-anti-Semitism and much hard talk about grade inflation, Summers quickly gained a reputation as the spokesman for mainstream values as against the consensual leftism of the elite campus. The conservative Weekly Standard called him its ''favorite university president,'' while The Wall Street Journal editorial page spoke in similarly glowing terms -- not a form of adulation normally considered desirable for Ivy League presidents. It was really an astounding situation: the equivalent of Alan Greenspan taking on corporate malfeasance. Summers seemed to have embarked on a crusade for which many people -- and not only conservatives -- had long been waiting. Indeed, one of Summers's oldest friends at Harvard, the economist Dale Jorgenson, said that Summers ''feels that universities in general have forgotten that they're part of the nation'' and wants to restore a sense of ''moral clarity'' to campus discourse.

Summers himself bridles at the suggestion that he is trying to speak against the grain of the institution he leads or to somehow bring it to heel. He declines the title of ''cultural conservative,'' not only because it would get him into a lot of trouble but also because, he said, those who march under that banner tend to ''have views about the one right way, which tends to be a white European male way.'' Summers really is not that kind of ideologue; it is rather that he is an unabashedly mainstream figure in a highly progressive culture. And the discomfort he causes has not persuaded him to stop. In the spring of 2002, he attended a discussion about globalization with the faculty of the Graduate School of Education. ''They were going in the direction that globalization pointed to the need for more education directed at multicultural understanding,'' he said. ''And I said that I thought globalization meant global competition, and that it made the basic capacity to read and do arithmetic more important.'' I asked Summers what the response had been. ''It was,'' he said dryly, ''seen as a distinctive perspective.''

People inside Harvard are less preoccupied with Summers's musings on the Kulturkampf than they are with his plans to reshape the undergraduate curriculum.

It speaks volumes about what was once our best university that to be in the mainstream of the nation is to be a radical on the campus.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 PM

SEVEN BRIDES FOR ONE BROTHER?

Polygamy drawing scrutiny: Ariz., Utah officials to discuss issues (Mark Shaffer, Aug. 22, 2003, Arizona Republic)
As law enforcement officials and legislators from Arizona, Utah and Canada gather in St. George, Utah, today for a summit on polygamy, proponents of multiple marriage are facing their worst crisis since the state of Arizona raided the enclave of Short Creek, now Colorado City, 50 years ago. [...]

The issue of polygamy has been in the spotlight in recent years because of the nationally publicized trial and conviction for child rape of polygamist Tom Green, the attention that anti-polygamist groups drew during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and a recent best- selling book, Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer.

But Rodney Parker, a Salt Lake City attorney who represents the polygamist groups in Colorado City, Hildale and Bountiful, British Columbia, said that members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are getting a bum rap.

In a letter sent Thursday to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, Parker wrote that the young women are not forced into marriage.

"They enter those relationships voluntarily with the consent of their parents and extended family. . . . Although their model of marriage by revelation runs counter to traditional notions of romantic love and marriage, the model works for them because they have confidence in it," Parker wrote.

Polygamy isn't immoral but it is illegal and it is universally banned, so unless the original statutes were intentionally targeted against Mormon religious beliefs and practices they need to either conform to the law or accept their punishment. You don't get to keep a "model" just because you "have confidence in it." Why not just lobby the state legislature to relegalize it?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:48 PM

)

1633 Letter Resolves the Legend About the Galileo Case, Says Vatican Aide: Urban VIII Was Sensitive Toward Astronomer's Health, Document Indicates (Zenit.org, , AUG. 21, 2003)
A recently discovered letter confirms that Pope Urban VIII was concerned that the case brought against Galileo Galilei be speedily resolved given the astronomer's frail health.

The letter was discovered days ago by historian Francesco Beretta, professor of the history of Christianity of the German University of Freiburg. He found it in the archives of the former Holy Office, now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. [...]

In a past interview with ZENIT, Cardinal Poupard said that "of course, Galileo suffered much; but the historical truth is that he was condemned only to 'formalem carcerem' -- a kind of house arrest. Several judges refused to endorse the sentence, and the Pope at the time did not sign it."

"Galileo was able to continue to work in his science and died on Jan. 8, 1642, in his home in Arcetri, near Florence," the cardinal added. "Viviani, who stayed with him during his illness, testified that he died with philosophical and Christian firmness, at 77 years of age."

The Vatican commission that served to rehabilitate Galileo stated that "the abjuration of the Copernican system by the scientist was due essentially to his religious personality, which tried to obey the Church even if the latter was in error. Galileo did not want to be a heretic; he did not want to be exposed to eternal damnation and therefore accepted the abjuration so as not to sin," Archbishop Amato said.

Following the commission's investigation and the Holy Father's rehabilitation of the famous astronomer, Galileo's case can be considered closed, the archbishop said.

This episode, he concluded, has taught us not to highlight "the opposition but rather the harmony that must reign" between reason and faith, "the two wings with which the Christian can fly to God," as "John Paul II has synthesized it in the encyclical 'Fides et Ratio.'"

In the end, of course, there is and must be harmony.

MORE:
Contrarian's Contrarian: Galileo's Science Polemics (GEORGE JOHNSON, August 12, 2003, NY Times)
Arthur Koestler, an iconoclastic thinker who could always be counted on for a catchy title, called his history of cosmology "The Sleepwalkers." The way mankind lurched and stumbled toward the truth reminded him "more of a sleepwalker's performance than an electronic brain's."

Obsessions and fixations were as common as brilliant chains of reasoning, and every step forward seemed to be countered by two steps sideways and a half step back.

The most erratic of the somnambulists on this zigzag trail was the man often called the father of modern science, Galileo. Far from being the selfless hero of popular legend who championed scientific truth over blind religious faith, he comes off in Koestler's book, published in 1959, as a vainglorious self-promoter spoiling for a fight.

The primary reason he was hauled before the Inquisition, Koestler argued, was not for teaching Copernicus's view that Earth and the planets revolved around the Sun, but for offending so many of his sympathizers -- and, most important, for insisting that Copernicanism was not just a theory, but an indisputable truth.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:01 PM

MADAME VICE-PRESIDENT

The Unflappable Condi Rice: Why the world's most powerful woman asks God for help. (Sheryl Henderson Blunt, 08/22/2003, Christianity Today)
Admirers have called her one of the country's best and brightest and the President's secret weapon. At a June 4 meeting with Jordanian, Palestinian Authority, and Israeli leaders, President Bush called her "my personal representative" and said she would work closely with the parties to help bring about peace. Her significance in shaping American foreign policy is hard to overstate.

Known affectionately inside the White House as the Warrior Princess, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice often speaks for the President on foreign policy and is one of his closest confidants. From her northwest corner office of the West Wing, she is responsible for sharpening and presenting the arguments of the administration's often rambunctious National Security Council.

Before her current stint, she had overseen decisions in corporate boardrooms, managed a multimillion-dollar budget at Stanford University, and negotiated key deals for the first President Bush.

Rice's keen intellect, steely unflappability, and Southern charm have served her well. Those qualities, her family and friends told Christianity Today, arise from something deep within her. "Her faith is absolutely fundamental to who she is," says Randy Bean, executive producer of special television projects at Stanford and a longtime friend. "It's part of her fiber." [...]

Rice enrolled in a course on international politics. The instructor was Josef Korbel. The former Czech diplomat and political refugee fascinated Rice. She would later describe Korbel as "one of the most central figures in my life, next to my parents." Korbel and his family, whose Jewish background came to light much later, escaped both Nazis and communists. The U.S. government granted Korbel political asylum, and the University of Denver hired him to start an international politics program.

Rice and Korbel's daughter, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, are probably that program's most famous alumni. Both Rice and Albright, despite their differences, acquired Korbel's unshakable commitment to the American ideals of freedom and democracy. Rice, like many foreign policy experts of the Cold War era, was attracted to the views of scholar Hans Morgenthau, a leading advocate of balance-of-power realism in relations between nations.

But in time, Rice's own view would shift toward the values-driven model that the Bush White House embraces. "Power matters," Rice told National Review in 1999. "But there can be no absence of moral content in American foreign policy, and, furthermore, the American people wouldn't accept such an absence. Europeans giggle at this and say we're naïve and so on, but we're not Europeans, we're Americans-and we have different principles."

This may be the first administration since the '20s to realize that we are not like they.

MORE:
Hard Line on the Road Map: Can Rice put pressure on the nation she admires? (Sheryl Henderson Blunt, 08/22/2003, Christianity Today)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:58 PM

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The High Stakes of 2004: Why the next election will be the biggest in at least a generation. (William Kristol, 09/01/2003, Weekly Standard)
Let's start with foreign policy. The Bush administration's response to September 11 was ambitious and unambiguous. It seemed to have bipartisan support for a while. No longer. Bush's Democratic opponent in 2004 looks likely to oppose fundamentally the Bush Doctrine and its most prominent instantiation so far, the war in Iraq. So we will have a Reagan-Mondale degree of difference on foreign policy, made more consequential by the fact that we are at the genesis of a new foreign policy era. The implications of September 11 for American foreign policy, the basic choices as to America's role in the world, will be on the table. They will not be resolved in November 2004 once and for all--things never are. But they may well be resolved for a generation.

At home, the entire federal judiciary is at stake. Again, it's not that every Bush appointee will be a Scalia, or every Democrat a Souter (oops)--but no one doubts that the (unfortunately) ever more powerful courts will look radically different by 2008 if Bush or a Democrat is president. Indeed, in thinking of the judiciary, one is reminded of the court-packing effort following the election of 1936. Issues of the size and role of government will of course be nowhere near so dramatically posed in 2004 as they were then--though the contrast between a Bush administration proud of its tax cuts and a Democratic opponent pledged to roll many of them back is not trivial.

But even more striking is the divide over social and cultural issues. Bush is no aggressive culture warrior. But he is pretty unambiguously on the pro-life, anti-gay-marriage, worried-about-Brave-New-World, pro-religion-in-the-public-sphere side of the culture divide. The Democratic candidate is likely to pretty unambiguously embody a secular, progressivist, liberationist worldview. The partisan divide between religious and secular voters has been growing, and in 2004 it might well be the widest in modern American history. The losing side won't surrender, and the winner won't have an entirely free hand to make policy. But who wins will matter a lot.

Mr. Kristol actually seems to have missed what may be the most important issue at stake, whether the social welfare net can be effectively privatized and citizens made to take responsibility for themselves. This has the potential to transform what kind of country we are, whether we remain essentially statist in orientation or whether we devolve social services back to ourselves.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:58 PM

CAN YOU WIN AND STILL VIOLATE RULE 11?

Alabama's defiant chief justice, building manager confer in showdown over religious monument (Bob Johnson, 8/22/2003, Associated Press)
Lawyers seeking removal of a Ten Commandments monument from a judicial building's rotunda told a federal judge Friday they would not press to have the state's chief justice held in contempt for refusing to move it.

The lawyers also said they would not seek to have the state fined, telling U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson on a conference call that they were convinced the monument would be out of the state building by next week despite the resistance of Chief Justice Roy Moore.

"Our concern all along has been compliance with the constitution. Once the monument has been removed, our concerns will have been addressed," said attorney Ayesha Khan, who participated in the call.

After Thompson's deadline had passed, Moore's eight associate justices on the state's high court on Thursday ordered the granite marker taken out of the rotunda. But court officials were still trying to determine where it might go in the building -- it weighs 5,300 pounds -- and if the area would allow proper security.

That's it? That's all that they're doing, is moving it out of the rotunda? Does the Constitution really require moving this monument a few feet?

The US Supreme Court has an edifice depicting Moses carrying those same 10 Commandments, are we arrived at the absurd point where the location in the building of such a display determines whether the Establishment Clause has been violated? No, it can't be that because the Justices sit directly beneath a display of the Commandments. And when it's in session, the Court opens each day with a marshall pronouncing the phrase: "God save this honorable Court." What then can this case have proven except the capacity of anti-religious activists and misguided judges to harrass Justice Moore?

MORE:
The Ten Commandments, How Deep Our Debt: The words of the Decalogue run like a river through not only the church but also English and American history. (Chris Armstrong, 08/22/2003, Christianity Today)
We've all heard these ten commands many times. As familiarity may breed contempt, it's worth hearing them once more, a little differently. The following is a summary of the version that appears in Deuteronomy 5 (the other, slightly different version is found in Exodus 20):

God identifies himself by what he has done. He brought his people out of Egypt. They are to have no other gods. He is invisible. They must not try to make an image of God or express him in terms of heavenly bodies or earthly creatures. Any idol of God would be pitifully inadequate and dangerously misleading. Instead, God wishes to be known by his passion for his people: his jealousy for their love, his hatred of their wickedness and his lasting commitment to their well being.

God's name is utterly holy. It sums up his personality and purpose. It is a serious thing to abuse God's name, by taking it lightly or using it to endorse empty promises.
The Sabbath day is to be kept holy. It is a day when the whole community-including servants, animals, visitors and strangers-has time and space to rest and reflect.
Children are to honor their parents. Families are to be bonded by obedience as well as affection. Elderly parents are to be provided for by their children. Soundly built families make a strong and stable society.

Human life, marriage, possessions and reputations are all to be respected. In particular, jealousy is to be tackled at source-in the heart. A neighbor is any fellow human being-not just a person who lives nearby. Another person's partner and possessions are not negotiable. Don't even think it!
(Andrew Knowles, The Bible Guide: An All-in-one Introduction to the Book of Books [Augsburg: 2001], 95-96.)

These are, above all, the commandments of a God who loves his people. He makes a covenant with them, freely, on his own initiative. To live by these commandments is to respond rightly to God's prior grace. It is to live as part of a covenant community with that loving God.

Long before it became, through the mediation of Christianity, the moral property of Gentiles, the Decalogue was the law code and constitutional center of a theocratic state-the Hebrew nation formed at Sinai. Long before Christian theologians grappled with its relationship, as the "old covenant," with the "new covenant" in Christ, the rabbis treasured, interpreted, and applied it in a kaleidoscope of ways.

Because it represents the responsibilities of a covenant, the Decalogue was probably not divided (as some imagine) into two tablets, each containing five commandments. Rather, there would have been one complete record for each partner in the covenant-symbolizing that this is a mutual relationship. Not only did the commandments come from a loving God, they enjoined love in return. Jesus made this clear when, faced by the Pharisees' question, he summarized all the commandments in two: Love to God and love to neighbor (Matt 22:34-40).

Posted by John Resnick at 4:24 PM

STOP THE PRESS!

New York Times Shuts Down HQ Computers, Possible SoBig Victim (Matthew Rose, WSJ, 8/22/03)

Toby Usnik, a Times spokesman, said he didn't know the cause of the problem, which hit the company at around noon EDT Friday. Employees, including the paper's reporters and editors, were instructed within an hour to turn off their PCs.


Quite possibly the best news piece of the week.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:34 AM

IF DAN WALTERS CAN'T FIGURE IT OUT THEN NO ONE CAN

Recall dynamics changing daily in an unprecedented drama (Dan Walters, August 22, 2003, Sacramento Bee)
[N]othing about this historic recall drive is engraved into stone, not even the election date. What's true one day may be untrue the next, simply because another 24 hours have passed. And the evolutionary changes are nearly impossible to predict because no one has wandered down this particular political path before and all electoral models are inapplicable.

The following observations, are, therefore, merely snapshots that could be completely invalidated by the intervention of still another unforeseen factor. With that caveat, here's where we stand after a week of major moves by principal figures:

--Schwarzenegger's critical need is for Bill Simon, last year's GOP challenger to Davis, to decide that with only a few points of voter support (4 percent in the latest poll), he'd be foolish to continue wasting his money and that he should throw his support to the leading Republican. If Simon continues to the end, he and state Sen. Tom McClintock could siphon off enough conservative votes to thwart Schwarzenegger. [...]

--If it does become a two-person contest, the critical number to win is probably about 40 percent, given that the other 133 candidates will naturally soak up a substantial number of votes, albeit a few at a time. Bustamante, with little ability to garner Republican support, may need 90 percent of the Democratic votes to hit 40 percent. Schwarzenegger might need just 70 percent of Republicans if he can continue to make inroads with independents and Democrats. The two are roughly tied now at around 25 percent each, so the ability to claim moderate voters will be crucial to both.

Here's the mystifying thing: if Bill Simon does cost Arnold the election, it will mean he squandered two decent GOP shots at the CA governorship, yet the knuckleheads who refer to certain people as RINO's (Republican in Name Only) would rather that happen than accept a candidate who's at all less conservative than they are.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:21 AM

WHERE'S THAT AFGHANI MOB WHEN WE NEED THEM?

Who Wants to Go to Iraq Now? (Robert Fisk, 8/20/03, Common Dreams)
The reaction to yesterday's tragedy could have been written in advance.

Americans will tell us that this proves how "desperate" Saddam's "dead-enders" have become -- as if the attackers are more likely to give up as they become more successful in destroying U.S. rule in Iraq. The truth -- however many of Saddam's old regime hands are involved -- is that the Iraqi resistance organization now involves hundreds, if not thousands, of Sunni Muslims, many of them with no loyalty to the old regime. Increasingly, the Shiites are becoming involved in anti-American actions.

Future reaction is equally predictable. Unable to blame their daily cup of bitterness upon Saddam's former retinue, the Americans will have to conjure up foreign intervention. Saudi "terrorists," al-Qaida "terrorists," pro-Syrian "terrorists," pro-Iranian "terrorists" -- any mysterious "terrorists" will do if their supposed existence covers up the painful reality: that our occupation has spawned a real home-grown Iraqi guerrilla army capable of humbling the greatest power on Earth.

The idea that the Shi'ites will co-operate witrh thousands of Sunni Muslims trying to restore Ba'athist rule is either deranged or proof positive that the whole place will just have to be levelled. If the Shi'ites would rather be oppressed by the Sunni than handed their freedom by the Anglo-Americans, then they're irredeemable. That may be a possibility, but hardly seems a good reason to be crowing. It will just mean more Muslims have to die before this is all over, because the humbling bit isn't gonna happen. If all of Baghdad turns against us it makes our job a whole lot easier--there's no collateral damage, just enemies.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 AM

PEACE IN OUR TIME?

Why Kim Jong-il must go (Paul Nash, 8/23/03, Asia Times)
In order to understand better the gravity of this problem, I recently spoke to retired US Marine Lieutenant-Colonel James G Zumwalt.

Since 1994, Zumwalt has made 10 visits to the DPRK in an effort to help bridge the differences between the US and the DPRK. A veteran of the US-Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, Zumwalt now acts as a private consultant to foreign and domestic clients in exploring and accessing investment opportunities in global markets, especially those in emerging economies such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China, where he has successfully brokered infrastructure agreements. In 1991, then US president George H W Bush appointed Zumwalt senior adviser to the assistant secretary of state on human rights and humanitarian affairs. In that role, he conducted investigations into human rights violations in various countries. He received a Juris Doctorate degree from Villanova University in 1979 and the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa from Mercy College in New York in 1991. [...]

Nash: Do you believe that there is any hope for a peaceful resolution to the current hostilities, or has the dispute already carried too far?

Zumwalt: Sadly, I do not believe a peaceful - and, more importantly, successful - resolution of differences between the US and North Korea is possible, absent a triggering event within North Korea that brings forward an enlightened regime willing to act more responsibly domestically as well as internationally. And, due to the tight and brutal control the current regime exercises over its people, I put a very low likelihood on such a change occurring internally. [...]

I think that any sort of "permanent solution" to the North Korean nuclear problem is simply not possible with a Kim Jong-il-led government or, for that matter, with any other similarly configured government without Kim Jong-il at its head. [...]

It is important too for us to decide the exact parameters upon which such a "permanent solution" is to rest. What I have outlined so far is strictly a permanent solution based on the inner parameters, ie, the WMD issue. But a decision must be made as to whether a permanent solution is to include the outer parameters, ie, should it address as well the brutal treatment of the North Korean people by its leadership? This is strictly a moral determination we must make. We know Pyongyang has already allowed 2 million of its citizens to die of famine, choosing to dedicate its limited financial assets to the development of its WMD program rather than agricultural reform. We know in North Korea, where rugged mountains leave only 20 percent of the land available for agriculture, some farmers are ordered to replace food crops, so critical in a country where nine percent of its population has died of famine, with poppies, so critical in a country where drug trafficking is a growing business to generate cash for military purposes. In Pyongyang we have a government with a long-established track record of total irresponsibility in caring for its citizenry. Do we have any moral obligation to help an enslaved people cast off their yoke of suppression or do we turn a blind eye, allowing millions more North Koreans to die quietly from their government's acts of omission and commission - all at the price of hoping to resolve the WMD threat posed at the outside world? More than six decades ago, England's prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, decided to negotiate with [Adolf] Hitler - a dictator of the same ilk as Kim Jong-il. Chamberlain returned to England, heralding he had achieved "peace in our time". History proved him wrong and the peace short-lived. Do we now buy peace in our time by accepting similar false promises from Kim Jong-il, knowing we are dooming the North Korean people to a life of continued hardship and suffering?

For this reason, before we embark upon any effort to achieve a permanent solution on the peninsula, we must first decide upon the parameters to be met. [...]

Nash: What can the US expect if it does become engaged in military conflict with North Korea?

Zumwalt: [...] A first strike by the US military would take the form of simultaneous hits against a series of tactical targets, along the DMZ and scattered elsewhere around the country. These targets will include military headquarters that have been dug deep underground in Pyongyang and elsewhere. Their destruction will disrupt all North Korean command, control and communications. As was Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il too will become a target of opportunity. The back of the North Korean military will be broken in a matter of weeks, if not days, as the army becomes totally disorganized and nonfunctional. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for it to launch an effective counterattack. Many North Korean soldiers will seek escape routes into the mountains and China. The country will totally collapse in less time than did Iraq.

It's long past time for Korea's post-Kim era to begin.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 AM

SIMPLIFY

The Shi'ite-Sunni divide: How real and how deep? (Sultan Shahin, 8/23/03, Asia Times)
The majority Shi'ite backlash against the traditional dominance of the Sunni minority in Iraq that the United States hoped would bail it out of the Iraqi quagmire has not materialized. Instead, two of the main Shi'ite and Sunni leaders, known to have mass support in the post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr and Ahmed Kubeisi respectively, have come together to oppose the US occupation.

Expectations of a Sunni-Shi'ite showdown in Iraq take on some credibility when one looks at the situation in Pakistan, where the two groups have been involved in sectarian violence for many years, although in this case the Shi'ites constitute the minority. Only last month, the Muslim sectarian divide claimed scores of lives in several incidents in Pakistan. Afghanistan, too, has a history of sectarian troubles, with the Taliban in particular coming down hard on Shi'ites.

On the other hand, in India, Muslims, the second largest Islamic community in the world after Indonesia, seldom quarrel on sectarian lines. Similarly, in other countries with Muslim communities, there is little evidence of Shi'ite-Sunni violence. Indeed, in recent years there has been significant cooperation between the two groups in Lebanon.

With the US, or at lest a section of its administration, seriously considering the creation of separate Shi'ite states around southern Saudi Arabian and Iraqi oil fields - that would be small enough to be run as protectorates - the Islamic world would face a major challenge in reconciling Shi'ite-Sunni ideological differences in a hurry.

And even if such a hare-brained idea was not implemented, the very real possibility of a Shi'ite fundamentalist regime a la Iran eventually rising in Iraq on the ashes of the secular Sunni-led administration of Saddam has the potential to overturn the delicate sectarian balance of power in the Arab, if not the Muslim world. Which raises the question, will the world Muslim ummah (community) be able to rise to the challenge?

So long as we're there they can unite around opposition to us. Withdraw and tell them that whoever can hold power can have it and they'll soon be at each others' throats. If not, and they can work together to build a decent society, more power to them. If, instead, they unite and start causing trouble for us or Israel or our other Middle East allies, it's better to have a free-fire zone, where we know it's okay to target both groups.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:23 AM

THE ROAD GOES ON AND ON

The Crumbling Mideast Cease-Fire (NY Times, 8/22/03)
Mr. Sharon must realize that there is no alternative to Mr. Abbas, who is committed to a peaceful two-state solution. If Mr. Abbas is forced from power, it will probably be awhile before anyone else will step forward. That could be the end of the road map -- and the road -- for quite some time.

That's the kind of nonsense you're forced to say if you think that negotiations matter. In fact, Mr. Abbas is certainly just a temporary figure, who will almost inevitably be assassinated by Palestinian hard-liners at some point. Nothing about internal Palestinian politics will have any effect on the final destination of the Road Map. The only thing that can prevent Palestinian statehood from coming fairly quickly is Ariel Sharon's replacement by a leader of lesser vision, one who thinks Israel can oppress a majority Palestinian population without suffering catastrophic consequences.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 AM

WHO'S GOING TO STOP HIM?

Ashcroft Criticized for Talks on Terror (ERIC LICHTBLAU, 8/22/03, NY Times)
Attorney General John Ashcroft faced sharp criticism today from Democrats and others over his decision to give more than a dozen speeches around the country in defense of anti-terrorism legislation passed after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, told Mr. Ashcroft in a letter that he should either "desist from further speaking engagements" or explain why they do not violate restrictions on political activities by government officials.

Mr. Conyers said that the speeches in defense of the USA Patriot Act, as the antiterrorism law is known, appeared to conflict with Congressional restrictions preventing the use of Justice Department money for "publicity or propaganda purposes not authorized by Congress." He said they might also violate the Anti-Lobbying Act and its restrictions on grass-roots lobbying on legislative matters.

Explaining federal law is forbidden the Attorney General?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:10 AM

PUNISHMENT NEEDED

Phase Three?: The enemy is growing desperate. (Victor Davis Hanson, 8/21/03, National Review)
From the detritus of Wednesday's terror will arise a new grim acceptance that despite all our brilliantly rapid military victories we are not yet finished in this war for civilization, and that there are a group of killers -- whether Baathists, al Qaedists, West Bank murderers, or Iranian and Saudi terrorists-who shall give no quarter. We should never forget that. In the euphoria of the three-week victory many of us rightly still worried that under the new restrictive protocols of postmodern warfare the age-old laws of conflict were for a time being forgotten: The ease of postbellum occupation is in proportion to the level of punishment inflicted on the enemy.

This seems precisely right and suggests both that the failure to open the war with Shock and Awe, even if we thought we were getting Saddam with that decapitation shot, must be seen as a terrible mistake and that what is now needed is a series of brutal reprisals against the remnants of the Ba'athist regime, which means giving more control to the indigenous forces--Chalabi's and the Shi'a--so that they can do the dirty, but necessary, work.

MORE:
Inquiry of U.N. Bombing Focuses on Possible Ties to Iraqi Guards (DEXTER FILKINS, 8/22/03, NY Times)
American investigators looking into the suicide bombing of the United Nations compound on Tuesday are focusing on the possibility that the attackers were assisted by Iraqi security guards who worked there, a senior American official here said today.

The official said all of the guards at the compound were agents of the Iraqi secret services, to whom they reported on United Nations activities before the war. The United Nations continued to employ them after the war was over, the official said. [...]

"We believe the U.N.'s security was seriously compromised," the official said, adding that "we have serious concerns about the placement of the vehicle" and the timing of the attack. The bomb exploded directly under the third-floor office of the United Nations coordinator for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, while he was meeting with a prominent American human rights advocate, Arthur C. Helton. Both men were killed, along with several top aides to Mr. Vieira de Mello. [...]

The American official said investigators were trying to determine which, if any, of the guards failed to report to work the day of the attack. Even before the war, the government of Saddam Hussein was widely known to assign intelligence agents to guard and guide foreigners visiting or living in the country.

Suspicions have focused on the guards rather than other local United Nations personnel because their links to Mr. Hussein's security service were close. Under the former government, they had to report to the security service once a week on the activities of United Nations personnel, western officials said.

Even so, United Nations administrators retained the guards after Mr. Hussein's government was removed. American officials said earlier this week that the administrators had also turned down an American offer to provide greater security around the building.

In post-Vichy France, for example, such guards would have been summarily executed by the partisans. The problem in Iraq is that we are standing in the way of such reprisals.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:57 AM

THERE ARE THREATS AND THERE ARE THREATS

No 10 knew: Iraq no threat (Richard Norton-Taylor and Nicholas Watt, August 19, 2003, The Guardian)
One of the prime minister's closest advisers issued a private warning that it would be wrong for Tony Blair to claim Iraq's banned weapons programme showed Saddam Hussein presented an "imminent threat" to the west or even his Arab neighbours.

In a message that goes to the heart of the government's case for war, the Downing Street chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, raised serious doubts about the nature of September's Downing Street dossier on Iraq's banned weapons.

"We will need to make it clear in launching the document that we do not claim that we have evidence that he is an imminent threat," Mr Powell wrote on September 17, a week before the document was finally published.

His remarks urging caution contrasted with the chilling language used by Mr Blair in a passionate speech in the Commons as he launched the dossier a week later.

He described Iraq's prog-ramme for weapons of mass destruction as "active, detailed, and growing ... It is up and running now".

The Guardian seems to be mixing an awful lot of separable issues here. Of course Saddam was not a realistic threat to use his own weapons on Britain or the US. But obviously he had both poison gas and SCUDs at some point and they, at least, would threaten his neighbors. He also could have given his own weapons to terrorist groups, like those in the Palestine-Israel conflict with whom he had close ties, or to al Qaeda which operated in the north of the country, had representatives in Baghdad, and to whom he'd previously offered his nation as a base of operations. And North Korea has said that it plans to make and sell nuclear weapons, which he certainly had enough money to buy and seemingly the willingness to use. Finally, he continued to murderously oppress his own people, with 500,000 children dying as a result of his refusal to cede power and end UN sanctions. Given the totailty of those circumstances, to say that he was "no threat", as the headline does, is absurd. Even to say that he was not an "imminent threat" would need so many qualifiers as to eventually render itself unintelligible. Saddam was a threat to the people of Iraq, to the Israelis, to his Arab neighbors, and to the West in exactly that order. That the last group is the one he threatened least can hardly be an argument that he should therefore have been allowed to continue, can it?

August 21, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:24 PM

ALL HARMONIZES

Prime Obsession: Will the greatest problem in mathematics ever be resolved? (Margaret Wertheim, 8/22/03, LA Weekly)
With a pedigree linking many of the greatest names in the field, the Riemann Hypothesis runs like a river through vast swaths of seemingly distinct mathematical territory. Andrew Wiles himself has compared a proof of this proposition to what it meant for the 18th century when a solution to the longitude problem was found. With longitude licked, explorers could navigate freely around the physical world; so too, if Riemann is resolved, mathematicians will be able to navigate more fluidly across their domain. Its import extends into areas as diverse as number theory, geometry, logic, probability theory and even quantum physics.

The Riemann Hypothesis is a proposal about prime numbers, the atomic elements of the number system. Primeness is one of the most essential concepts in mathematics, for primes - 2, 3, 5, 7, 11 and so on - are numbers that cannot be broken into any smaller elements. All other integers can be built up by multiplication of these basic units. So, for example, 6 is built up from 2 x 3, 15 from 3 x 5, 49 from 7 x 7. In his book The Riemann Hypothesis, science writer Karl Sabbagh makes an analogy between numbers and molecules. All of the vast plethora of molecules that inhabit our world, everything from salt and ammonia to hemoglobin, are made up of the basic elements of the periodic table - carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and so on. As Sabbagh notes, the primes may be seen as the periodic table of the number system. Yet where the elements follow a clear pattern, the primes seem to be distributed randomly.

To mathematicians, randomness is anathema. As du Sautoy writes, they "can't bear to admit that there might not be an explanation for the way nature has picked the primes." That would be like "listening to white noise"; what mathematicians crave above all else is harmony. They want, they need, they demand a pattern behind the apparent chaos. Du Sautoy quotes the great French mathematician and physicist Henri Poincare: "The scientist does not study nature because it is useful, he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living."

For many mathematicians life would not be worth living if the organization of the primes did not ultimately conform to some beautiful underlying order. The Riemann Hypothesis proposes what that order might be.

We're down with the French dude on this one.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:48 PM

DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER'S HORSE

PowerPoint Is Evil: Power Corrupts. PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely. (Edward Tufte, September 2003, Wired)
Imagine a widely used and expensive prescription drug that promised to make us beautiful but didn't. Instead the drug had frequent, serious side effects: It induced stupidity, turned everyone into bores, wasted time, and degraded the quality and credibility of communication. These side effects would rightly lead to a worldwide product recall.

Yet slideware -computer programs for presentations -is everywhere: in corporate America, in government bureaucracies, even in our schools. Several hundred million copies of Microsoft PowerPoint are churning out trillions of slides each year. Slideware may help speakers outline their talks, but convenience for the speaker can be punishing to both content and audience. The standard PowerPoint presentation elevates format over content, betraying an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch.

Of course, data-driven meetings are nothing new. Years before today's slideware, presentations at companies such as IBM and in the military used bullet lists shown by overhead projectors. But the format has become ubiquitous under PowerPoint, which was created in 1984 and later acquired by Microsoft. PowerPoint's pushy style seeks to set up a speaker's dominance over the audience. The speaker, after all, is making power points with bullets to followers. Could any metaphor be worse? Voicemail menu systems? Billboards? Television? Stalin?

The real problem is not the tool used at the meetings but the fact of the meetings themselves, which are seldom more than a way for bureaucrats to justify their own existence and fill the empty hours.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:04 PM

ANYTHING BUT DESIGN!

My So-Called Universe: Our cozy world is probably much bigger-and stranger-than we know (Jim Holt, August 20, 2003, Slate)
Why believe in the multiverse? The "pro" camp has essentially two kinds of arguments.

One-the good kind-is that the existence of other universes is logically implied by the theories that best explain features of our own universe. For instance, measurements of the cosmic background radiation (the echo left over from the big bang) indicate that the space we live in is infinite and that matter is spread randomly throughout it. Therefore, all possible arrangements of matter must exist out there somewhere-including exact and inexact replicas of our own world and the beings in it. The idea is a bit like that of monkeys in front of typewriters eventually typing out all of Shakespeare: Quantum theory says that nature is discrete, so the visible universe we inhabit is characterized by a finite amount of information; if space is infinite, this informational pattern is bound to repeat at vast enough distances. A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that there should be an exact copy of you around 10 to the 10 to the 28th light-years away.

A more extravagant kind of multiverse is entailed by the theory of "chaotic inflation." Proposed by Andrei Linde to explain why our universe looks the way it does-big, uniform, and flat-inflation theory also predicts that big bangs should be a fairly routine occurrence, giving rise to an eternal network of universes tied together by impassable "wormholes." These universes, according to the theory, would have different physical characteristics. This kind of multiverse has become the bane of natural theologians.

Here's why. One reason for believing in God is that our own universe seems improbably fine-tuned for life. It's as though a cosmic designer had carefully adjusted the physical laws to ensure that beings like us would eventually shimmer onto the scene. But if our universe is one among a vast ensemble of universes with randomly varying physical constants, then it is only to be expected that a few of these universes should be life-fostering. Add to this the fact that if we exist at all, we are bound to find ourselves in a universe that is congenial to us-the so-called "anthropic principle"-and the presumed fine-tuning of our universe seems wholly unremarkable. No need to invoke the God hypothesis to answer the question, why are we here?

But some thinkers want to turn this reasoning around. They insist that other universes must exist precisely to make certain conceptual mysteries go away. This is the second kind of argument for the multiverse-the bad kind, since it has nothing to do with empirical observation.

Multiverse theory can't withstand the Fermi Paradox, and the driving force behind it is more likely the one accidentally inserted here--that it's an attack on natural theology--than any of the purely theoretical ones offered.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 PM

THE TREND-SUCKING DILETTANTES IN TOWN ARE ON OUR SIDE?

Hip to Be Square: It’s geting cooler to be conservative (Gavin McInnes, August 11, 2003, The American Conservative)
If you ask the average American Conservative subscriber about the kids today, he will probably put down his cigar and complain, “They’re a bunch of knee-jerk liberals still brainwashed by the communist propaganda that worked so well on their parents. They’re against invading Iraq because ‘all war is bad.’ They’re against Israel because when it comes to light skin versus dark skin, the latter is always right, and they’re pro-immigration for exactly the same reasons.” I’d like to argue, but he’s right.

I should know. I run a $10 million corporation called VICE that has been deep inside the heads of 18-30s for the past 10 years. According to the Cassandra Report (a trend-spotting “cool hunter” that charges corporations tens of thousands of dollars to tell them what’s hip), our magazine is the number one read for women aged 19-24 and for men aged 25-30. That’s better than Maxim, Jane, or even the New Yorker. Since the Cassandra Report was made public, our magazine has branched out into retail (stores in Toronto, Los Angeles, and New York), film (four in production including director Spike Jonze’s next picture), and TV (on Showtime). We are a successful company that has made its money recognizing cool, and the one thing that has been painfully clear to us over the years is that it is not cool to be conservative. In fact, the majority of our readership (white, straight, middle-class, American) is only totally positive about one thing: being white, straight, middle-class, and American is wack—or, at least, it was wack.

Call me a blind optimist, but I see a light at the end of the anti-American tunnel, a new trend of young people tired of being lied to for the sake of the “greater good.” The New York Times dubbed them “Hipublicans.” Demographics expert Michael Adams labels them “Social Hedonists,” and when our magazine did a feature on them we called them “The New Conservatives.” We did the piece because it became impossible to ignore a difference in the reactions to some of our more right-wing reporting. A new group was emerging, and the vitriolic “You dudes are all Nazis” letters were being replaced by ones saying “You dudes are finally telling the truth.”

Just great...this'll treble the price of Margaret Thatcher cheesecake photos at E-Bay.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:18 PM

SARTRE WAS RIGHT

New strain, old refrain: The SoBig virus is not new, and the current version may be the precursor to something far more destructive. Jack Schofield explains how to protect yourself (The Guardian, August 21, 2003)
The problem with SoBig is that it does not exploit a flaw in Microsoft Windows. If it did, we could patch the flaw and stop it. Instead it exploits flaws in human nature and the internet's email system. SoBig only works in Windows, but there's no reason why it couldn't be adapted to any other system.

SoBig is a mass-mailing worm program. It arrives as an email attachment called thank_you.pif, wicked_scr.scr, or something similar. If you run the attachment by double-clicking it, the virus installs itself, searches a range of files for email addresses, starts its own email server, and then sends out lots of copies of itself.

It looks as though the virus writer started the current attack by spamming a large number of addresses. From there, the spread of SoBig depends on people being gullible enough to open an unsolicited attachment. There is apparently no shortage of gullible people. [...]

You can find out if your PC is infected with SoBig.F by searching for afile called winppr32.exe. While you are at it, search for the
previous version, winssk32.exe, too. You can remove it by running a free program such as McAfee's Stinger or Norman's SoBigFix or by updating and running your usual anti-virus software.

Better still, delete SoBig email on the server, without even downloading it to your inbox. Mailwasher is a free Windows program that makes this simple. It is particularly suitable for people who collect their email in batches.

Hell is other people...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:22 PM

KEEP 'EM FOR SPITE

Don't buckle on steel safeguard (THE WASHINGTON TIMES, August 21, 2003)
The White House imposed steel tariffs, which are capped at 30 percent and exempt developing countries, in March 2002. On Sept. 18, the International Trade Commission will give its 18-month review of the three-year tariff safeguard. By law, President Bush can only revoke the safeguard under two criteria: The industry is not adjusting to global competition; the industry no longer needs the safeguard. Neither of these two criteria are applicable. The fact that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled against the tariffs is not one of those criteria. (At any rate, the WTO usually allows countries about 15 months to become compliant with its rulings, which is roughly equivalent to the period left for the tariffs.) Therefore, the president should allow the industry to benefit from the full term of the safeguard.

Most major steel producers outside of the United States benefit from a range of measures to protect against free-market pressure, such as subsidies, "special access" to loans, special purchasing agreements, quotas, tariffs. Before the United States implemented the tariffs, it had one of the most open markets for steel imports, with foreign products claiming, according to 1999 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, about 30 percent of the U.S. market, compared to 16 percent and 9 percent for the European Union and Japan, respectively.

These protections have caused a worldwide steel glut and made U.S. steel investments in labor and equipment redundant. Since steel production is so capital intensive, the cost has been considerable. About 45,000 steelworkers have lost their jobs since 1997. The administration has correctly stated that U.S. steel producers must face foreign competition -- fair or not -- but should be given a chance through the safeguard to consolidate. [...]

The steel industry has invested about $3.6 billion since March of last year to consolidate and restructure, demonstrating the industry is adjusting to global competition. But workers and steel companies need the next 18 months to further adjust. Mr. Bush should carefully consider the facts, and maintain the safeguard for its allotted time.

They should keep them just so the economic Right has something to whine about.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:08 PM

HEY, THERE'S AN AZERBAIJANI LEADER GENE

Nepotism, Azerbaijani Style: In a strategically important state, power is handed from the father to the son. (Gerald Robbins, 08/20/2003, Weekly Standard)
A MAJOR DEVELOPMENT in post-Soviet affairs recently occurred when Heidar Aliyev, the ailing octogenarian leader of oil-rich Azerbaijan, ceded authority to his son Ilham. Although the dynastic aspect of this transition is less notorious than Saddam Hussein's clan or Syria's Assad family, it is nonetheless a regionally significant event. Surrounded by Russia, Turkey, and Iran, a bumpy transition period in Azerbaijan poses a grave challenge to Western policy planning.

Azerbaijan is a less repressive society than many of the other ex-Soviet republics. It has a vocal political opposition and an independent media--both of which are virtually nonexistent in the other "Stans." But these bright spots belie the nation's authoritarian infrastructure. Corruption permeates the system, and many core democratic concepts, such as the rule of law, are little more than fanciful phrases. While the handover signals a transitional phase in Azerbaijan's administrative development, will progress and stability inevitably proceed under family rule? [...]

The most prominent anti-Aliyev politicians have united to form an organization called the Opposition Coordinating Center (MKM), in preparation for Azerbaijan's October 15 presidential election. Pooling resources in the hope that there will be a free and fair campaign seems an intelligent move, yet no single candidate has been chosen. All of the MKM's luminaries have registered to run, each believing themselves to be best-qualified for representing "democratic forces."

It's also worth noting that Ilham's appointment produced only one mass protest. Although MKM officials made the excuse that coordinating a public demonstration takes time, in the past, anti-Aliyev rallies were quickly organized. The muted response suggests there is tension and even possible discord within MKM ranks.

The anti-Aliyev movement is hampered by history, too. Several of its figures were involved with running Azerbaijan during the early, chaotic independence period. Deprivations that were caused by the Soviet Union's downfall, along with the previously mentioned Nagorno-Karabakh crisis and maladministration, tarnished many reputations. As the Azerbaijani version of John Q. Public sees it, Heidar Baba came in and stabilized matters after his opponents nearly ran things into the ground.

The son may be less talented and charismatic a politician than his father, but is reputedly pro-Western. We should encourage him to reform and move in a more Westerly direction and to be very careful about not letting oil revenues ruin the country, but it's hard to see what the better alternative is.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:53 PM

HONECKER WINS?

Germany still divided - by faith (Uwe Siemon-Netto, 8/18/2003, UPI)
As the German saying goes, there was only one thing the Communists accomplished in their part of the country - driving out God. More than a dozen years after reunification, the Easterners are as godless as before, according to new survey commissioned by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which is close to the opposition Christian Democratic Union.

Only 20 percent of the Easterners believe in a personal God and 24 percent in some sort of higher power; in the West, the corresponding figures are 30 and 40 percent, giving the Transcendent a substantial majority. Almost 60 percent of the Easterners - but only 23 percent of the Westerners -- told pollsters they never prayed. [...]

These results show the enduring success of the systematic persecution of Christianity in more than four decades of Communist rule in what until 1990 was called the German Democratic Republic. Christians were rarely allowed to attend university; they were forbidden to attain senior ranks in the civil serve, become military officers or executives in the usually state-owned enterprises.

Many fled, and of those who stayed behind, a majority dropped the faith of their fathers and mothers. As irony will have it, though, churches provided a safe haven for the predominantly secular opposition groups that toppled Communism peacefully in the fall of 1989.

Still, although 39 percent of the Easterners claim that they are "not at all religious" - compared with a mere 13 percent of the Westerners - church officials report that those who remained faithful tend to be more active in their congregations and attend services more diligently than their Western cousins.

In some parts of Eastern Germany, especially Saxony, ministers are observing an increase in the number of regular worshipers, though not members. But for the time being, this seems to have little impact on the attitudes of the general public. Of the Easterners, a whopping 70 percent reject the Christian worldview that man is God's creation. On the other hand, 57 percent of the Westerners believe this. [...]

While a majority of today's Germans still approves of Christian symbols, such as crucifixes, in public places, and the reference to the name of God in the preamble of their country's constitution, the young are drifting away from their ancestral faith.

Sadly, the report remarks, Western and Eastern Germans, aged 16-24, are drawing closer in unbelief. Only 61 percent of young Western and Eastern Germans can recite the Lord's Prayer; only 30 percent consider themselves religious. The standard-bearers of the specifically Christian faith, the report notes, are the middle and older generation in the former West Germany.

Being Godless worked so well in the East...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:42 PM

THEY AREN'T EVEN AMERICANS; WHO CARES WHAT THEY THINK?

What the World Thinks of America (BBC, 8/21/03)
The BBC hosted a unique global television debate about America's place in the world with 10 other national broadcasters.
As part of the What The World Thinks of America programme, 11,000 people in the UK, France, Russia, Indonesia, South Korea, Jordan, Australia, Canada, Israel, Brazil and the US responded to a poll asking their views and opinions on America.

The respondents were asked about their general attitudes towards America and US President George Bush.

The poll also posed a range of other questions on America's foreign policy, military power, cultural influences and economic might.

It's all interesting but the most amusing one is: "Do you think America is the only superpower in the world and they can do what they like?"
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:33 PM

THE SCORPION

What's Chretien up to? (PETER WORTHINGTON, August 20, 2003, Toronto Sun)
It's not only valid to wonder what Jean Chretien is up to in these crumbling days of his prime ministership, it's the duty of Liberals to do so.

Here's a guy whose political career is in its death throes.

How he will be remembered is already decided by his 40-plus extraordinary years as a politician.

So why is he behaving as he is - with petulance, vanity, even irrationality?

A case in point is this week's ongoing gathering in North Bay of Liberal caucus members who are in varying degrees of emotional turmoil over Chretien's insistence on supporting gay marriages.

Instead of letting the question be debated (and dodged) in Parliament, he has slithered out on a limb and endorses homosexual marriages on the basis of human rights - not "unions" or partnerships which already exist, but formal marriage.

He insists he believes it is the right thing to do, and has raised the hackles of the Catholic church, with the Pope taking oblique swipes at him, not to mention elements of his caucus and the public.

Is it dementia, vindictiveness, mischief that motivates him?

Because it's his nature?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:25 PM

LAND OF MAKE BELIEVE

Dollar Stronger Than Euro (Associated Press, Aug. 21, 2003)
The struggling euro fell to fresh four-month lows against both the dollar and yen Thursday, as an onslaught of positive data out of the U.S. forced the single currency below the key psychological level of $1.10 for the first time since April 29.

Surprising strength in jobs data and a much better than expected reading of manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia Federal Reserve district turned overnight weakness in the euro into a full-blown selloff during the New York session. The currency lost nearly two cents and over three yen since late New York trade on Wednesday, forcing market participants to revisit their currency targets, at least in the near term and surprising many seasoned foreign exchange observers.

Indeed, just a few days ago, some strategists were confidently predicting strong euro support around $1.1050 would hold firm and that the single currency was in little danger of sliding below the $1.10 line. Now, it seems, the persistent strength in U.S. data - and such weakness in the euro zone - has unnerved investors who had been holding long euro positions to such an extent that they've simply started to liquidate them.

The EuroDisney Dollar has better long term prospects than the Euro.
Posted by David Cohen at 4:18 PM

MORE CATHOLIC THAN THE POPE.

Researcher: Wartime pope's anti-Nazi stand was strong in 'private' contacts (Frances D'Emilio, AP, 8/21/03).
Pope Pius XII, accused by some historians and Jewish leaders of not speaking out against the Holocaust, expressed strong anti-Nazi views in private talks with diplomats, a Catholic magazine said Thursday, citing a newly released document. . . .

Pacelli, then Vatican secretary of state, gave Kennedy a report denouncing Nazism because it attacked 'the fundamental principle of the freedom of the practice of religion,' Gallagher wrote, quoting from the report.

Pacelli also reportedly told Kennedy that the church felt 'at times powerless and isolated in its daily struggle against all sorts of political excesses from the Bolsheviks to the new pagans arising from the 'Aryan' generations.'

He assured the ambassador that any political compromise with the Nazis was 'out of the question.' . . .

Gallagher also found a report filed the year Pacelli became pope. In it, the U.S. consul general in Berlin, Alfred W. Klieforth, described a three-hour meeting in 1937 with the future pope. Pacelli, the diplomat wrote, "regarded Hitler not only as an untrustworthy scoundrel but as a fundamentally wicked person."

Klieforth further noted that the cardinal "did not believe Hitler capable of moderation, in spite of appearances, and he fully supported the German bishops in their anti-Nazi stand."
Picture Cardinal Pacelli lecturing Ambassador Kennedy unsuccessfully about the evils of Nazism. Then smile.
Posted by John Resnick at 1:26 PM

THE SLAVERY OF LICENSE

Freedom and Its Counterfeit (Robert P. George, via Imprimis, August 2003)

The counterfeit of freedom consists in the idea of personal and communal liberation from morality, responsibility and truth. It is what our nation’s founders expressly distinguished from liberty and condemned as “license.” The so-called freedom celebrated today by so many of our opinion-shaping elites in education, entertainment and the media is simply the license to do whatever one pleases. This false conception of freedom – false because disordered, disordered because detached from moral truth and civic responsibility – shackles those in its grip no less powerfully than did the chattel slavery of old. Enslavement to one’s own appetites and passions is no less brutal a form of bondage for being a slavery of the soul. It is no less tragic, indeed, it is in certain respects immeasurably more tragic, for being self-imposed. It is ironic, is it not, that people who celebrate slavery to appetite and passion call this bondage “freedom”?

Counterfeit freedom is worse than fraudulent. It is the mortal enemy of the real thing. Counterfeit freedom can provide no rational account or defense of its own normative claims. It speaks the language of rights, but in abandoning the ground of moral duty it provides no rational basis for anyone to respect the rights of others or to demand of others respect for one’s own rights. Rights without duties are meaningless. Where moral truth as the ground of duties is thrown overboard, the language of rights is so much idle chatter fit only for Hollywood cocktail parties and faculty lounges. Hadley Arkes, the great contemporary theorist of natural rights, has observed in relation to the movement for unfettered abortion that those who demand liberation from the moral law have talked themselves out of the moral premises of their own rights and liberties. If freedom is to be honored and respected, it must be because human freedom is what is required by the laws of nature and nature’s God; it cannot be because there are no laws of nature and there is no God.


Imagine giving a commencement speech like this at Berkley.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:20 PM

HONOR SYSTEM

Why hit the U.N.? (Martin Walker, 8/21/2003, UPI)
[T]he United Nations now faces a major test. The Anglo-Americans have no choice; they own the war, and they own the aftermath. They have an obligation to their original decision to take military action, to their dead troops, and to their wider strategic goal of implanting a stable and prosperous democracy in the heart of the Arab world. They must stay the course -- whatever the exigencies of the U.S. election timetable.

The United Nations is different. Not only does the United Nations as an institution have a choice -- whether to scuttle or to remain half in bed with the Anglo-Americans and increasingly responsible for the stabilization of Iraq - it also has a decision-making process that puts an onus of choice on France, Russia and China as veto-wielding powers. They agreed that the U.N. staff should return to Baghdad, and to that extent they share in the responsibility to respond to their slaughter.

The issue is plain enough. Do these three great powers, and through them the United Nations as a whole, recognize that the suicide bombers of Baghdad who killed the U.N. staff are now the common enemy of humanity, and join to hunt them down? Or do they take refuge in their earlier pedantries, backing Resolution 1441 to require Saddam to carry out his various obligations, but ducking the military resolve to enforce it?

In the dulcet tones of French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, or the brisk self-contradictions of his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, one can already hear the footsteps of appeasement, of blaming the Americans, of identifying some supposedly righteous force of Iraqi resistance to the occupier.

None of this can change the raw fact. The United Nations has been attacked. The international community is honor bound to rally to its defense and to haul the men behind the attackers to justice.

The Anglo-Americans have actually achieved their main aim, rendering Iraq impotent as an enemy. The failure to find WMD suggests that there need not be much fear of whatever regime succeeds Saddam's, which was always the reason for not just assassinating him. We could just leave, but probably won't because we are honorable.

It is the UN instead that has a main interest in the rebuilding process and in the type of the successor regime, but how can an international community and an institution without honor be bound by same?
Posted by John Resnick at 12:56 PM

KING OF PAIN

Pentagon: US Captures 'Chemical Ali' (CNN, 8/21/03)


Al-Majid is the king of spades and No. 5 in the deck of cards issued by the military of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis.

He served as a general, presidential adviser, a member of Saddam's inner circle, commander of the Baath Party Regional Command, member of the Revolutionary Command Council, and head of the Central Workers Bureau.

He had been coordinating the resistance in southern Iraq during the war, according to the coalition, and had been the de facto governor of Kuwait after Iraq invaded that country in 1990. (Profile)


That this monster continues to draw breath is further testimony to the enormous restraint of the US.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:53 PM

TOO MANY PRINCES

Surprising Saudi message to Israel: Give us proof that we are funding Hamas (Ellis Shuman, August 19, 2003, Israeli Insider)
In a surprising message received by Israeli diplomats in Washington, Saudi Arabia asked for evidence of its financial support of the Hamas terrorist organization. Saudi officials have stated repeatedly that they do not fund Hamas, but Israeli documents provide evidence to refute this claim. Israeli officials said the direct Saudi request was made in order to improve the kingdom's standing in the United States.

According to a report today in Maariv, the Saudi request was relayed to the Israeli Embassy in Washington in the past few days. The Saudis asked for evidence tying government officials and/or Saudi businessmen to financial support for Hamas in order that they could act against the funding, the report said.

Israeli officials said the message they received was only an "initial signal" and tied it to the growing wave of investigations and reports in the United States suggesting a Saudi connection to global terrorism.

What's most surprising is the implicit admission of the Sauds that they need the help of Israeli intelligence to rein in their own family.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:43 PM

VIRTUAL KICK OFF

Bush-Cheney '04 Launches Grassroots Action Site at GeorgeWBush.com
Bush-Cheney '04 today unveiled its complete campaign Web site at www.GeorgeWBush.com. Issue-specific action centers enable supporters to easily write news editors, call talk radio shows, and email friends and family about the issues that are important to them. They can also register to vote, order an absentee ballot, and contribute to the President's campaign quickly and easily online.

The new features include:

* Bush Team Leader Action Center: Volunteer to help the President's campaign in your local area, write news editors, call your local radio shows and more at http://www.GeorgeWBush.com/GetActive.

* Photo Album: Photo galleries of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, First Lady Laura Bush, and Mrs. Lynne Cheney feature photos that are easily forwarded to friends and family at http://www.GeorgeWBush.com/News/PhotoAlbum.aspx.

* Free screen savers, and computer wallpapers: At home or work get your computer and Web site decked out in the latest from Bush-Cheney '04 with screensavers, wallpapers and banners at http://www.GeorgeWBush.com/WStuff/Downloads.aspx.

Check out these great new features and more at http://www.GeorgeWBush.com!

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:41 AM

)

Jail for pizza man who barred Germans (Telegraph, 8/21/2003)
A Danish pizzeria owner who refused to sell pizzas to Germans or Frenchmen because of their governments' stance on the war in Iraq is to go to prison.

An appeal court upheld the conviction yesterday of Niels-Aage Bjerre for discrimination and his fine of £500. He said he would refuse to pay and will instead spend eight days in jail.

"I will not pay the fine but I'll do the time instead," said Bjerre. "It is a matter of principle."

He has closed his pizzeria, on the Danish holiday island of Fanoe rather than be forced to serve German and French nationals....

His boycott would end only "if the governments of France and Germany change their attitude toward the United States and support Washington wholeheartedly," he added.

George W. Bush: Give this man U.S. citizenship immediately for his honorable defense of the United States of America!
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 AM

SOME THINGS ARE TOO IMPORTANT TO BE LEFT TO THE PEOPLE (via ef brown)

'The Modern Prince': Machiavelli offers a few lessons we could use to fight terrorism. (BRIAN M. CARNEY, August 21, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
Borrowing from Plato and Aristotle, [Carnes Lord's book The Modern Prince] warns that "the people" can be a fickle lot and that often their will and the rule of law are at odds with each other. It is precisely to temper the passions of the people that we resort to representative rather than direct democracy. Such a form of government, in turn, imposes an obligation on our elected leaders--not merely to follow public opinion but to shape it.

This argument is at the heart of "The Modern Prince." The book is in many ways a call to action, much as Machiavelli's original was an exhortation to the Medici princes to drive out the "barbarians" and unify Italy. It is also an attempt to re-create Machiavelli's handbook in modern form and to place its lessons, together with some new ones, in our age. [...]

It might seem odd, or even worrying, to exhort democratic leaders to hew to the lessons of a man whose name has become synonymous with a cynically amoral approach to governing. And indeed, Mr. Lord does not shy from prescriptions that could well alarm ardent democrats. The preface begins with a kind of declaration of first principles: "The theory of democracy tells us that the people rule. In practice, we have leaders who rule the people in a manner not altogether different from the princes and potentates of times past."

The statement is descriptive, but it has a normative force: Leaders rule that way--and they should. The alternative is drift, directionlessness and decline. At times, Mr. Lord's affection for forceful leadership is taken a step too far, as with his full-throated praise of Lee Kwan Yew's Singapore, but on the whole his emphasis is sound. [...]

Mr. Lord's understanding of the workings of government, both ancient and modern, is profound, and his ability to assimilate the two makes "The Modern Prince" indispensable. The book may never acquire the notoriety of its predecessor, but as a handbook for leaders it deserves to become an instant classic.

Fareed Zakaria's book, The Future of Freedom, makes the important distinction between democracy and freedom and spells out the danger to the latter of too much of the former, a problem we have even here in the U.S., the world's most successful democracy. He originally showed how the divergence is affecting the rest of the world in his influential essay, The Rise of Illiberal Democracy (Fareed Zakaria, November/ December 1997, Foreign Affairs):
FROM THE TIME of Herodotus democracy has meant, first and foremost, the rule of the people. This view of democracy as a process of selecting governments, articulated by scholars ranging from Alexis de Tocqueville to Joseph Schumpeter to Robert Dahl, is now widely used by social scientists. In The Third Wave, Samuel P. Huntington explains why:

Elections, open, free and fair, are the essence of democracy, the inescapable sine qua non. Governments produced by elections may be inefficient, corrupt, shortsighted, irresponsible, dominated by special interests, and incapable of adopting policies demanded by the public good. These qualities make such governments undesirable but they do not make them undemocratic. Democracy is one public virtue, not the only one, and the relation of democracy to other public virtues and vices can only be understood if democracy is clearly distinguished from the other characteristics of political systems.
This definition also accords with the commonsense view of the term. If a country holds competitive, multiparty elections, we call it democratic. When public participation in politics is increased, for example through the enfranchisement of women, it is seen as more democratic. Of course elections must be open and fair, and this requires some protections for freedom of speech and assembly. But to go beyond this minimalist definition and label a country democratic only if it guarantees a comprehensive catalog of social, political, economic, and religious rights turns the word democracy into a badge of honor rather than a descriptive category. After all, Sweden has an economic system that many argue curtails individual property rights, France until recently had a state monopoly on television, and England has an established religion. But they are all clearly and identifiably democracies. To have democracy mean, subjectively, "a good government" renders it analytically useless.

Constitutional liberalism, on the other hand, is not about the procedures for selecting government, but rather government's goals. It refers to the tradition, deep in Western history, that seeks to protect an individual's autonomy and dignity against coercion, whatever the source -- state, church, or society. The term marries two closely connected ideas. It is liberal because it draws on the philosophical strain, beginning with the Greeks, that emphasizes individual liberty. It is constitutional because it rests on the tradition, beginning with the Romans, of the rule of law. Constitutional liberalism developed in Western Europe and the United States as a defense of the individual's right to life and property, and freedom of religion and speech. To secure these rights, it emphasized checks on the power of each branch of government, equality under the law, impartial courts and tribunals, and separation of church and state. Its canonical figures include the poet John Milton, the jurist William Blackstone, statesmen such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Adam Smith, Baron de Montesquieu, John Stuart Mill, and Isaiah Berlin. In almost all of its variants, constitutional liberalism argues that human beings have certain natural (or "inalienable") rights and that governments must accept a basic law, limiting its own powers, that secures them. Thus in 1215 at Runnymede, England's barons forced the king to abide by the settled and customary law of the land. In the American colonies these laws were made explicit, and in 1638 the town of Hartford adopted the first written constitution in modern history. In the 1970s, Western nations codified standards of behavior for regimes across the globe. The Magna Carta, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the American Constitution, and the Helsinki Final Act are all expressions of constitutional liberalism.

SINCE 1945 Western governments have, for the most part, embodied both democracy and constitutional liberalism. Thus it is difficult to imagine the two apart, in the form of either illiberal democracy or liberal autocracy. In fact both have existed in the past and persist in the present. Until the twentieth century, most countries in Western Europe were liberal autocracies or, at best, semi-democracies. The franchise was tightly restricted, and elected legislatures had little power. In 1830 Great Britain, in some ways the most democratic European nation, allowed barely 2 percent of its population to vote for one house of Parliament; that figure rose to 7 percent after 1867 and reached around 40 percent in the 1880s. Only in the late 1940s did most Western countries become full-fledged democracies, with universal adult suffrage. But one hundred years earlier, by the late 1840s, most of them had adopted important aspects of constitutional liberalism -- the rule of law, private property rights, and increasingly, separated powers and free speech and assembly. For much of modern history, what characterized governments in Europe and North America, and differentiated them from those around the world, was not democracy but constitutional liberalism. The "Western model" is best symbolized not by the mass plebiscite but the impartial judge.

In the book, Mr. Zakaria is a tad timid about proposing reforms to reduce the deleterious influence of democracy--mostly he seems to think we should have more governmental institutions like the Federal Reserve--but if our goal remains freedom, rather than just democracy, there would seem some really basic things we could do. Here are a few:

(1) Rerestrict the franchise, to those who generally have a vested interest in freedom (rather than security and the resulting dependence on the State): adults (age 25 and up), net taxpayers (those who give the government more money than they get back every year--with an exception for the military), people of property, married women only, etc.

(2) Repeal the 17th Amendment: let state legislatures select their senators.

(3) Do away with all campaign reform laws: in particular there should be no limits placed on how the parties choose their nominees.

(4) Close congressional hearings and stop recording committee votes.

Folks must have some other ideas, both positive and negative--I'm working on my review of the book and have a book group next week on the topic, so we'd enjoy hearing what y'all have to say.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:55 AM

PITCH COUNTS AND FASTBALLS

Tough pitch, tender arms: Specialists caution on Little Leaguers throwing curveballs (Stan Grossfeld, 8/21/2003, Boston Globe)
The throwing motion required to make a ball curve puts added stress on the elbow as pitchers try to snap the arm down to give the ball the added necessary spin. That motion can cause cartilage damage and the condition known as Little League elbow.

"The kids do have softer tissue in their elbows that damages more easily," Micheli said.

Many major league pitchers now wish they had waited to start throwing fancy pitches.

"I was probably 13 or 14 when I started throwing breaking balls," Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said as he sat in front of his locker at Fenway, occasionally glancing at the Little League World Series on the clubhouse TV. "You don't develop the velocity you have to develop if you start too early. [My arm] used to get more sore than normal. It's not good for young kids because you might hurt your elbow."

Martinez, who has won three Cy Young Awards for being the league's best pitcher, even stopped throwing curveballs for a while in his career. "I quit throwing breaking balls," he said. "Then I learned again after a certain time in the minor leagues."

Dr. James Andrews, who has treated many professional pitchers at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Ala., recommends that kids learn to throw a curveball "when they begin to shave. At that point, their maturity is such that it can best handle the stress."

A study last year by the American Sports Medicine Institute showed that another factor in arm injuries to younger players was the amount of pitches thrown -- regardless of the type. The study recommended that players 11 and 12 years old -- the ages for Little Leaguers -- throw only 75 pitches per game and no more than 100 per week, 1,000 per season, and 3,000 per year.

Little League rules regulate the number of times a pitcher may throw in a week, but not the number of pitches. Some other youth leagues such as the Bay State Baseball Tournament of Champions, which has competition in the 11-12 age group, "strongly discourage" the use of curveballs.

This all applies not just to little kids but to most pitchers until they're in their later 20s. Even minor and major leaguers should be limited to 100 pitches until they're older, which in itself forces them to throw more fastballs (in order to get outs more efficiently).
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM

HEALTH CARE?

Chirac Promises Health Care Changes (JOHN LEICESTER, 8/21/03, Associated Press)
Funeral home chain OGF, which holds about a quarter of the market, said it had counted 2,600 more deaths in the first three weeks of August than in same period of last year. It estimated that figure meant that more than 10,000 people died nationwide.

On Monday, Health Minister Jean-Francois Mattei said it was "plausible'' that as many as 5,000 people had died during the heat wave--the largest such government estimate until Thursday.

Health workers said one of the reasons why the death toll was so high was that families abandoned their elderly relatives alone at home while they went away for August vacations.

Chirac said the crisis had shed light "on the solitude of many of our aged or handicapped citizens'' and promised to propose measures this autumn to better care for them, although he did not say what the measures would be. [...]

Chirac called the heat wave "exceptional.'' The heat wave was the longest and hottest to ever hit France, with temperatures that topped 104. He noted that ``many fragile people died alone in their homes.''

Doctors say heat stroke and dehydration were often the cause of death.

Just what an atomized nation needs, more State.

August 20, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:34 PM

BUY LOW; SELL HIGH (via Rick Turley)

Quote of the Day (RefDesk, 8/19/03)
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
-Mark Twain

Posted by Glenn Dryfoos at 11:31 PM

BENNY CARTER IS DEAD; THROW STRIKES

Benny Carter, 1907-2003: A Gentleman You Didn't Mess With: The King and His Honors and His Many Revolutions (Gary Giddins, Village Voice)
Carter was notoriously reticent with journalists. Being a gentleman, he agreed to an interview for Ken Burns's Jazz, but being Benny he gave him almost nothing to use. Off mic, he was generous with his time and wisdom; on mic, he seemed to find too many complexities lurking behind every question, inclining him toward monosyllabic responses. I once tried to get him to concede his contribution as musician, arranger, composer, bandleader. "I don't know. And I'm not being modest," he said: "Contribution to what-to my livelihood?" Yet he enabled Morroe Berger, Edward Berger, and James Patrick to write the recently revised two volumes of Benny Carter: A Life in American Music, an essential work of jazz scholarship.

Here's a short version. Along with Johnny Hodges, he established the alto saxophone as a major instrument, forging a style as timeless in 1985 ("Lover Man") as in 1933 ("Krazy Kapers"). He was also an exceptional clarinetist ("Dee Blues," 1930) and trumpeter ("More Than You Know," 1939). By 1930, he was in the vanguard of big-band composers, helping to codify what would become swing's style and substance. He tore away the baroque ornamentation of dance bands, streamlined rhythm, and established a parity between composition and improvisation in such classics as "Blues in My Heart," "Symphony in Riffs," "When Lights Are Low," "Lonesome Nights," and his payoff hit, "Sleep." His three years in Europe before the war permanently changed the face of European jazz. Unlike many contemporaries he greeted Charlie Parker as an innovator and not a threat; his bands gave a big hand up to J.J. Johnson, Max Roach, Art Pepper, Dexter Gordon, and Miles Davis. He crashed Hollywood's racial barriers as the first African American to score top films and TV. Sixty years ago Carter said, "Every year more and more people turn from the European culture to the American. That's why swing and dance music in general continue to improve so consistently."

King of Jazz Benny Is Dead, Long Live King of Jazz Sonny (Gary Giddins, Village Voice)
If jazz must have a king, the present ruler is Sonny Rollins. In case anyone doubted his eminence, the rainy season abated for his August 9 concert in the Central Park SummerStage series. He appeared without a pianist, not that he needed one. He was on such a tear that he may not have needed the Afro-percussionist or the trombonist or the bassist or the drummer, though all augmented a rhythmic fury that allowed him to sustain his opening 90-minute set with three tunes.

With Carter's passing, Sonny Rollins is clearly our greatest living jazz musician. The interesting question is who is next in line to the throne? Wynton Marsalis is probably the best known, but as great as his contributions are, I can't bring myself to think of him as the heir apparent. I'll keep thinking about it, but at this point, all of my possible choices are great musicians who are completely unknown to the general public (Jackie McLean, Max Roach, Clark Terry). Any other suggestions?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:12 PM

WE'RE OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD

Schwarzenegger Tries to Add Some Substance to Celebrity (CHARLIE LeDUFF and JOHN M. BRODER, 8/20/03, NY Times)
Arnold Schwarzenegger came out from behind the curtain today to put some muscle in a campaign that until now was based on sheer celebrity, calling for a constitutional cap on state spending and making clear his distaste for new taxes.

Facing a horde of cameras and reporters from as far away as China, Mr. Schwarzenegger, 56, was flanked by his advisers, Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, and George P. Shultz, former secretary of state. Using humor and a few specifics, the former Mr. Olympia tried to dispel any perception that he is a movie star on a vanity project.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican candidate, said one of his priorities, should he be elected to replace Gov. Gray Davis, would be to rein in state spending. He said he would appoint an outside auditor, John Cogan, the economist and Mr. Shultz's colleague, to look at state finances.

"We must have a constitutional spending cap and must immediately attack operating deficits head on," Mr. Schwarzenegger told a ballroom packed with reporters at the Westin Hotel near Los Angeles International Airport.

"Does that mean we are going to make cuts?" he said. "Yes. Does this mean education is on the table? No. Does this mean I am willing to raise taxes? No. Additional taxes are the last burden we need to put on the backs of the citizens and businesses of California." [...]

"I feel the people of California have been punished enough," Mr. Schwarzenegger said. "From the time they get up in the morning and flush the toilet, they're taxed. When they go get a coffee, they're taxed. When they get in their car, they're taxed. When they go to the gas station, they're taxed. When they go to lunch, they're taxed. This goes on all day long. Tax. Tax. Tax. Tax. Tax."

One of the more laughable themes of the campaign coverage so far has been political reporters assuring us that, while Arnold was used to handling entertainment press sycophants, now he'd be up against the battle-hardened journalistic corps that covers real news. Yeah, right. It was almost embarrassing watching a neophyte dominate them utterly.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 PM

LESS OF US; MORE OF THEM

Iraq is not another Vietnam, but the coalition needs more men (John Keegan, 21/08/2003, Daily Telegraph)
The bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday raises two principal questions. The first, couched in media language, asks: "Is Iraq becoming another Vietnam?" The second, a policy-maker's question and the more important, asks: "Are there enough coalition troops to pacify the country and, if not, how many more are needed?"

The answer to the first question is comparatively easy to give. No, Iraq is not becoming another Vietnam, nor is it likely to turn into one. The situations are quite different, much as alarmists would like to draw similarities. Many factors differentiate the nature of the disorders, including terrain, politics and the strategic location of the trouble spot. [...]

[T]he opposition, so far as it can be identified, does not resemble the VC in organisation, leadership or experience. [...]

[T]he Ba'ath party, so far as it survived, is a minority, not a mass organisation. In recent times, it has been associated with defeat, not victory, and its leadership has either been destroyed or is in hiding. [...]

The Kurdish north is undisturbed. The Shia south is largely untroubled, despite sporadic attacks on the British. It is in the Sunni centre, around Baghdad, that the murders and bombings are taking place. They are directed against the Americans, but it remains unclear by whom.

Some of the insurgents are die-hard supporters of Saddam, some are local Islamists, and some are foreign fundamentalists connected more or less closely with al-Qa'eda.

One hesitates to quarrel about strategic military assertions from the great John Keegan, but it seems he's asking the wrong question on that second one, particularly in light of his answer to the first. Given who it is we're fighting, the question should really be one that Vietnam does teach: who is more competent to identify the enemy, us or the Iraqis, particularly the Shi'ites, themselves?

The answer seems obvious. It is extraordinarily unlikely that American troops can sort out an Iraqi Shi'ite from an Iraqi Sunni from a Saudi al Qaeda from a Syrian Ba'athist, but quite probable that the Iraqis can. Will adding more and new American troops improve our ability to differentiate one Arab from another? Not bloody likely is it?

What is required is a sustained period of ruthless rooting out of past oppressors and new trouble makers and the folks with the greatest interest in that process and the best background to do it are the Iraqis who will be running the place when we leave. Turn 'em loose and get out of their way.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 PM

LESS DEMOCRACY, MORE FREEDOM (via Mike Daley)

“Century” Yet to Come: U.S. Americas policy still in the works. (Stephen Johnson, 8/20/03, National Review)
In South America, Colombia is only now beginning to win its fight against narco-trafficking terror groups. Next door, Venezuelan President Hugo Ch?vez is resisting a recall vote against his autocratic presidency and allowing Colombian guerrillas to train in his country's territory. Meanwhile, Brazil and Argentina are seeking to undermine the U.S.-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas in favor of advancing their own customs union, Mercosur.

In Central America, chaotic Guatemala is on the verge of electing a former right-wing dictator. Nicaragua's fledgling democratic institutions are dissolving amid disputes between corrupt party leaders. And international drug gangs are overpowering the isthmus's pitifully inadequate police forces.

According to the polling firm Latinobar-metro, Latin Americans have become increasingly disillusioned with democracy and capitalism. Half-implemented reforms don't allow full citizen participation in politics or markets. Few countries, except Chile, enjoy checks and balances to keep their governments honest or a rule of law to protect the majority against minority privilege. On average, Latin American economies have been shrinking for almost three years.

Although Latin America's well being is not necessarily the responsibility of the United States, Washington wields tremendous influence, and the adoption of electoral democracy and free markets as political and economic models owe a great deal to U.S. leadership and persuasion in the 1980s.

But just as elections and limited market openings got a toehold in the region (except in Cuba), Washington diverted resources for those programs to support reconstruction in Eastern Europe and Russia after the fall of Communism.

Chile and Venezuela stand as significant rebukes, from opposite directions, of the idea that what Latin America needs is elections. What is required first is the establishment of the rule of law and of institutions and programs (like Chile's privatized social services) capable of counterbalancing the State, so that elections come to mean rather little, as they do here. We should replace Castro militarily, destabilize Chavez further, and continue to hold out bilateral trade deals to friends, bypassing at least for now the notion of a hemispheric pact. The absurdity of a Brazilian/Argentine rival to NAFTA will become apparent quickly.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 PM

BOMBING THEMSELVES INTO OBLIVION

Militant showdown looms for Abbas: Palestinian Authority cuts ties to militants after bombing kills 20 Israelis. (Nicole Gaouette, 8/21/03, The Christian Science Monitor)
The bombing has also created a crucial challenge for Abbas, seriously undermining his cease-fire strategy, particularly as he was meeting with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza when Tuesday's bomb exploded.

"They're spitting in his face," says Mr. Alpher. "If he still says it's raining, it's over for him. He's got to demonstrate he can do something - the question is what?"

Wednesday, Abbas responded by cutting all ties to militant groups and ordering the arrests of those responsible. Elias Zananiri, a spokesman for the Palestinian security minister Mohammed Dahlan, says Abbas "blames [the militants] for damaging interests of Palestinian people," and emphasizes that the prime minister is serious.

"When I say the security forces will take measures against the perpetrators of this attack, I certainly don't mean they'll be drinking a cup of coffee with them," says Mr. Zananiri.

FBI: Iraq Bomb Made From Old Munitions (D'ARCY DORAN, 8/20/03, Associated Press)
, a defiant U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) vowed that those behind the deadly blast would not succeed in driving the world body out of the country.

"We will persevere. We will continue. It is essential work," Annan told reporters in Stockholm, Sweden, where he stopped on route to U.N. headquarters in New York. "We will not be intimidated."

"We have been in Iraq for 12 years and we have never been attacked," Annan said. He said now the United Nations would reevaluate its security measures.

U.N. operations in Iraq were suspended, and Iraqi employees were told to stay home. Foreign workers were directed to stay in their lodgings that are scattered in many small hotels around the capital.

Unlike U.S. occupation forces, the United Nations had been welcomed by many Iraqis. Bremer said the blast had forced an overall security review, and that coalition officials would meet Friday with all diplomatic missions in Iraq to help them assess security.

From the Second Intifada to 9-11 to the Bali bombing to the Jerusalem bus bomb to the UN HQ bombing, what have the terrorists achieved in any of this except to steel the resolve of peoples, many of whom (other than the Israelis) had previous been rather indifferent to their Islamicist hallucination? When you somehow manage to make even Kofi Annan talk tough, you ought to be able to figure out that instead of sowing terror you're just pissing people off.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:38 PM

THUS THE <~text text="4TH COMMANDMENT">

Heat Death Toll Forces a Shocked France to Question Itself (JOHN TAGLIABUE, 8/20/03, NY Times)
The staggering number of deaths in France is finally drawing the nation's attention to who died and how. The details lead not through some place decimated by an awful plague but through the brick and concrete of the nation's biggest cities. The government estimates that the heat killed perhaps 5,000 people. The largest undertaker, General Funeral Services, said today that the number could be more than twice that.

The victims were generally found inside apartments or houses or hotels. In virtually every case, there was no air-conditioner. "Among the elderly, there's a lot of anonymity," said Bernard Mazeyrie, the managing director of OGF, the parent company of General Funeral Services. "Paris is a city with a lot of anonymity."

Mr. Mazeyrie's company, a subsidiary of the largest American funeral home chain, Service Corporation International of Houston, has been so overwhelmed that 165 bodies lie in an immense refrigerated hall at Rungis, Paris's big fruit and vegetable market, awaiting funerals.

Outside, weeping families clustered around parked cars this morning while waiting to enter an area, carpeted and with potted hemlocks, to make arrangements for the bodies of their loved ones.

With temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, Mr. Mazeyrie said that "particularly elderly people, people living in hotels and alone, were the victims, often of cardiac arrest." Four of every five elderly victims, he estimated, "died because of the heat."

Mr. Mazeyrie said many elderly people were left behind by vacationing families. Some, he said, informed of the death of relatives, postponed funerals, not to interrupt the Aug. 15 holiday weekend, and left the bodies in the refrigerated hall. Today 10 families came to Rungis to bury their dead; on Thursday and Friday about 50 more were expected to.

The city sent out crews to gather up bodies, but the bodies were often so bloated and disfigured by the heat that firemen had to be called to do the work. Mr. Mazeyrie's company employs roughly 6,000 people in France, half of them in Paris, and brought workers from outlying regions to the capital to deal with the crisis.

An entire nation that leaves its fathers and mothers to die while they treat themselves to vacations is barely civilized.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:29 PM

THE WAR ON DRUGS IS THE WAR ON TERROR

U.S. Backs Colombia on Attacking Drug Planes (JUAN FORERO, 8/20/03, NY Times)
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, on a one-day visit to Colombia, said today that the United States would support Colombia in resuming a policy that allows Colombian fighter pilots to shoot down planes suspected of ferrying drugs or force them to land. [...]

The announcement was timed as part of a visit to Colombia by Mr. Rumsfeld, who arrived in Bogota, the capital, this morning under tight security to underscore American support for President Alvaro Uribe.

The Uribe government has received $2.5 billion from Washington, largely in military aid, since 2000 as it battles leftist rebels and drug traffickers. Colombia is likely to get $700 million more this year.

The Colombian drug trade, which supplies most of the cocaine entering the United States, has been increasingly tied to both the leftist insurgency and right-wing paramilitary groups. To move the drug, traffickers have often relied on private aircraft. [...]

Under the new policy, coordinates from United States and Colombian radar stations will be passed on to Colombian crews flying Cessna Citation surveillance planes. The surveillance planes will then direct Colombian Air Force jets toward the suspect aircraft.

The surveillance planes will have at least one bilingual observer, most likely an American, to maintain contact with radar operators and Colombian Air Force commanders, American officials said. The pilots have also undergone extensive language training.

President Uribe has done an amazing job trying to save Colombia and deserves any support he seeks.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:20 PM

MAKING THE 'GO' SHOUTERS HAPPY (via Rob Swadosh)

Prat-Fall Classic: '62 Mets vs. '03 Tigers (Jayson Stark, 8/20/03, ESPN.com)
[W]ithout the '62 Mets, where would the 2003 Tigers be?

If it weren't for those '62 Mets and their legendary 40-120 record, think how many people out there would be calling the 2003 Tigers the worst team in modern history. And they wouldn't much want to hear about those 1935 Braves or 1932 Red Sox or '69 Padres.

But the great thing about this world we live in now is, we don't have to argue about this. We have computers. And they've got all the answers, right?

So we convinced the inventors of the best computer-simulation baseball game around, the geniuses at Diamond Mind Baseball, to simulate a seven-game "World Series" between Ol' Casey's '62 Mets and these 2003 Tigers.

We gave the Tigers home-field advantage -- based on the results of this year's All-Star Game, of course. We brought the Polo Grounds back to life (on a minimal budget, too), so the Mets could go home again. And because baseball in 1962 was a slightly different animal than baseball in 2003, Diamond Mind averaged out playing conditions over the last 48 years to make this fair. [...]

[N]ot surprisingly...a sensational and dramatic series...went right down to the final hitter in Game 7.

We won't spoil it for you, except to make this point: the player who puts away the last out was once given a boat for being the team's MVP, but asked, "Now what am I going to do with a cabin cruiser in the middle of Nebraska?" The point about baseball though is that a fan could watch and enjoy this series. Even their fans don't enjoy Bengals and Seahawks games unless they bet on them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:32 PM

IT'S JUST THE FREAK IN ME

Dale Brown reconsidering run for Senate (The Associated Press, 8/20/03)
Former basketball coach Dale Brown says he is reconsidering whether to run for office in North Dakota next year.

The Minot native and former longtime LSU men's basketball coach earlier this year decided against running for Congress against Democrat Byron Dorgan in 2004.

Brown said Monday that because former Gov. Ed Schafer, a Republican, is not interested in making a U.S Senate run, Republicans from across the country are urging him to run against Dorgan.

Brown said he expects to make a decision within a few weeks. "I owe them not to prolong this," he said of fellow Republicans.

This would immediately give the GOP a media savvy and celebrity-tinged candidate in a race that they should be able to make competitive.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:23 PM

PUT THEM IN CHARGE

Iraq Governing Council Warned Of Attack (Reuters, 8/20/03)
A member of Iraq's Governing Council says the Council had warned U.S. authorities that Saddam Hussein loyalists and Muslim militants had met to plan a major attack on a "soft target" in Baghdad.

Ahmad Chalabi, one of 25 members of the U.S.-appointed Council, told a news conference on Wednesday that on August 14 the Council received intelligence that a meeting had been held at which Saddam supporters and militants discussed an attack either against the headquarters of an Iraqi political party or the United Nations.

"It specifically said that this attack would take place using a truck to be detonated either through a suicide mechanism or through electronic detonation," Chalabi said, adding that the information had been passed on to the Americans in Iraq.

It's long past time to put Iraqis in charge of Iraq and let them do what must be done. Bring our guys home for some family time before they move on to the next battle.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:26 PM

SAVE DEMOCRACY; DITCH DEBATES

The Curious Nixon-Humphrey Debate (LA Times, August 20, 2003)
Fresh from Austria, a socialist country, Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to become a Republican after listening to "the debates of Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon when they were debating for the presidential race," or so he told television talk show host Bill O'Reilly in May 2001.

" Hubert Humphrey spoke about things I heard in Austria under socialism."

But there was no presidential debate in 1968. Although Humphrey challenged Nixon to a debate, Nixon, who won the election, demurred.

As Mr. Humphrey's campain manager, I distinctly recall a debate. However, that was a mock election in our 2nd grade class--Humphrey won by the way.

This does remind us though of one more invaluable service that George W. Bush can do the republic: refuse to debate. They are meaningless charades which are judged almost entirely on theatrics. To the extent that they significantly influence actual voting--a somewhat dubious proposition--their influence has been malefic:

1960--JFK defeats Richard Nixon after the VP's non-telegenic appearance.

1976--Gerald Ford loses one of the closest election in American history after accidentally freeing Poland.

1992--George H.W. Bush loses a winnable election after pretty openly demonstrating his impatience with the debate process and his justified contempt for his opponents

Stop the madness.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:06 AM

WE'RE HERE TO NEGOTIATE YOUR DEMISE

How Kim Lost the Russians: Is this the end of North Korea's diplomatic games? (Fred Kaplan, August 19, 2003, Slate)
In the latest sign that the North Korean nuclear crisis might be on the verge of settlement, Russia has embarked on a joint, 10-day naval exercise with South Korea and Japan. In addition, this Saturday, 30,000 Russian soldiers will carry out a drill simulating a response to a massive flow of North Korean refugees that might take place as a result of a war or a collapse of Kim Jong-il's regime.

The significance of these events, both reported in Tuesday's New York Times, is potentially staggering. Russia (which has long been one of North Korea's chief allies and suppliers) has never taken part in naval exercises with South Korea and Japan (which have long been North Korea's chief foes). Add to that the border drill--which suggests that Russia is figuring out how to deal with, but not necessarily to prevent, the possibility of Kim's downfall--and the "Dear Leader" of Pyongyang must be getting a tad nervous.

These developments come on the eve of six-power talks concerning North Korea's nuclear-weapons program, to take place Aug. 25-27 in Beijing, involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan, and Russia.

In previous multilateral negotiations—for that matter, throughout its half-century history—North Korea has played other, larger powers off one another, often quite shrewdly. A "shrimp among whales," a nation founded on guerrilla tactics at the height of the Cold War, North Korea sees this sort of manipulation as essential to survival.

The importance of Russia's unprecedented involvement in this week's military exercises--the signal that it appears quite pointedly to be sending--is that Kim Jong-il will no longer, or at least not so easily, be able to play this game. At this negotiation, on this issue, Russia stands aligned with all the other foreign powers.

Thus the wisdom of Condoleeza Rice's advice to "forgive Russia."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM

POOR, POOR, PITIFUL ME

Davis offers skewed version of history -- but won't apologize (Dan Walters, August 20, 2003, Sacramento Bee)
The governor described the 2001 energy crisis, which saw Californians experience power blackouts and soaring utility bills, as something foisted on the state by Enron and other greedy energy suppliers. However, Davis glossed over and distorted his refusal early in the crisis to allow utilities to sign long-term supply contracts that would have protected them and their customers from soaring spot market power prices. That refusal has been singled out by even the most objective critics as Davis' chief failure -- one magnified a half-year later when he sought long-term contracts at much-higher prices. [...]

He took much the same tack on the budget, saying only that "I could have been tougher in holding down spending when we had a big surplus" and quickly adding that the $8 billion in extra spending that he and lawmakers of both parties sanctioned in 2000 was to finance vitally needed health and education services. "I make no apology for that," Davis said, adding that it was "preposterous" that he had concealed the size of the state budget deficit when he was running for re-election last year.

The record differs markedly from Davis' self-serving version. When the state experienced a $12 billion windfall in 2000, Davis publicly declared that he would stoutly resist pressure from either party to spend it because it likely would be a one-time phenomenon, stemming from a flurry of stock market activity in the volatile high-tech industry. If the money were to be committed to ongoing spending or permanent tax cuts, Davis said then, the state could face massive deficits as future revenues returned to normal levels.

In fact, however, Davis and lawmakers quickly agreed to spend about $8 billion of the windfall on ongoing programs -- tax cuts, education and health care primarily -- and when revenues did return to normal, the state had an $8 billion "structural deficit" that was papered over with bookkeeping gimmicks and loans in the ensuing three years. It leaves the state with an immense ongoing deficit and equally massive debts.

No wonder he wants to shift the topic from his own performance to the VRWC.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 AM

MOMMAS, DON'T LET YOUR BABIES...

Gay Gene Or Gay Germ? (Steve Sailer, 8/17/03, V-Dare)
Homosexuals are somewhere between one percent and six percent of the male population in the U.S.--the demographic data isn't very reliable. Their existence is an embarrassing anomaly for Darwinism. From the standpoint of Darwinian fitness--i.e., the propagation of
descendents--male homosexuality represents a huge loss in reproductive capacity. Genetic mathematics suggests it should go extinct.

At various times and places--for example, ancient Greece, some New Guinea tribes, elite English public schools, and the more violent American prisons--widespread homosexual behavior has been an accepted part of the culture. In almost all these cases, older and/or more masculine males use younger and/or less masculine males as female substitutes. They turn to women almost as soon as they become available.

But that's not at all what's happening on Castro St. and Christopher St. Instead, we see males with lifelong homosexual orientations and, typically, with as strong an urge to give pleasure to as take it from another man--especially if he is highly masculine.

For at least a decade, many male homosexuals (but, interestingly, few lesbians) have been arguing that their sexual orientation has biological roots. However, they've been reluctant for both political and personal reasons to mention the best evidence: most of them were effeminate little boys.

My friend J. Michael Bailey, the chairman of the psychology department at Northwestern University, is probably the leading researcher into sexual orientation in America. He notes that many gay men are loath to admit they were effeminate boys partly because, as can be seen in the many "Men Seeking Men" personal ads that specify "no sissies," gays find effeminate men much less sexually attractive than masculine men.

Still, the evidence is clear. In his highly-readable new book The Man Who Would Be Queen, Professor Bailey summarizes 30 studies that asked gay and straight men to rate their agreement with statements like "As a child I often felt that I had more in common with girls than boys." He found that the average adult gay man was a more feminine boy than 90 percent of straight men.

Likewise, Richard Green of UCLA followed into adulthood a group of effeminate boys and a control group of masculine boys. He found massive differences in the likelihood they would become homosexuals.

This suggests that male homosexuality is not just a sexual preference, or even a sexual orientation, but part of a larger personality structure in place long before puberty.

Mr. Sailer seemingly overestimates both the Darwinist capacity for embarrassment and the necessity for biological causes of homosexuality. The effeminization of boys seems even more likely to be a product of nurture than nature, less likely a disease than a disorder.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:19 AM

THE MISTAKE BY THE LAKES (via Glenn Dryfoos)

Who caused the Blackout of 2003?: Tuesday Morning Quarterback doesn't know, but suggests this: Regardless, blame Canada. (Gregg Easterbrook, 8/19/03, ESPN.com)
It's about time Canada became America's universal scapegoat, as the United States is already and has been for decades the scapegoat foranything Canada doesn't like.

Canada is a threat to all we hold dear. Consider that millions of Americans cannot subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket -- the product TMQ desires more than anything in life -- because they cannot or do not get the satellite signal of the Rupert Murdoch-owned DirecTV, which holds a monopoly over Sunday Ticket. Yet in Canada, anyone may subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket over cable. That's right, Canadians have much better access to the viewing of NFL games than Americans do.

Plus in Canada, marijuana is close to legal. Same-gender marriage is recognized. So all these gay married Canadians are sitting around smoking pot and watching NFL Sunday Ticket -- enjoying total access to games made possible by the tax dollars of Americans! -- while in the United States, you can only drink beer, marry someone of the opposite sex and watch whatever awful woofer game your local network affiliate has chosen for you.

How long are Americans going to stand for this? If I were you, Canada, I'd drop the smug routine. The Army has to come home from Iraq someday,and it's going to be looking for something to do.

Plus, here is the news that absolutely made TMQ's week. During the blackout, there was looting in Toronto and Ottawa, while in New York City and Detroit, civic order was maintained. New Yorkers and Detroiters patiently abided by the law while Canadians engaged in pillaging! Time for our neighbor to the north to take a look in the mirror, it would seem.

Other than his inexplicable fascination with the NFL, which isn't even as good as the CFL, Mr. Easterbrook is quite correct. Evacuate the few
remaining Tories, level the rest and salt the earth.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:02 AM

ANGLOSPHERIC CONVERGENCE

Boost religion in schools, says GG (GERARD McMANUS, 19aug03, Herrald Sun au)
MORE religion should be taught in schools to lift the nation's ethics and values, according to Governor-General Michael Jeffery. Australia's new viceroy suggested schools should teach the core beliefs of "faith, hope and love".

He said the reduction or elimination of religion in schools had had a negative impact on society.

Maj-Gen Jeffrey has ignited a debate about the role of church and state, with some bodies critical of his opinions in one of his first public forays.

"The challenge for our community is to try to live by the simple, lasting values the great religions teach," Maj-Gen Jeffrey said in a speech to religious affairs reporters.

"(The challenge) is to instil in our children and our grandchildren the notion that society benefits if we live an ethically good life, including the recognition that with rights go obligations; to each other, to our communities and to our nation."

America, Britain, and Australia seem to be converging ideologically and diverging drastically from the rest of what was once the West.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 AM

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT

Blood on the sky-blue flag (Pepe Escobar, 8/21/03, Asia Times)
During the 1990s, the UN was associated in the minds of the Saddam regime with a ruthless embargo and sanctions - but not necessarily by ordinary Iraqis, many of whom managed to survive thanks to the UN oil for food program. Snubbed and bypassed by the Bush administration's war adventure, the UN in post-Saddam Iraq was fulfilling basically a humanitarian mission. This included a concerted effort to demonstrate to long-suffering Iraqis that the UN was independent - and not part of the occupation force. But in this framework the mission of the UN special representative to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was in itself much broader and ambitious. Although without any formal power, the 55-year-old Brazilian diplomat who is arguably the UN's number one troubleshooter - he was also UN under secretary general and a UN high commissioner for human rights - was acting as a de facto privileged go-between, squeezed by the American proconsular regime under L Paul Bremer on one side and Iraqi political and religious leaders on the other. As the only player trusted by both sides, he was trying to bridge the gap between the unbridgeable - the American-imposed agenda for normalization and the Iraqi desire of "democracy now". [...]

Perhaps a clue to the UN Baghdad bombing can be found in a communique by the Abu Hafs al-Misri Brigades, posted last Friday on the Arabic online Global Islamic Media - which has already published many al-Qaeda statements - but unconfirmed by any other source. The communique claims responsibility for the recent power blackouts in eastern North America, and lists a dozen "benefits of this strike" which, according to them, cost "only US$7,000". The fifth benefit is described as "a message delivered to the United Nations against Islam, whose headquarters is in New York". The communique becomes even more interesting when cross-referenced with an audiotape broadcast by Abu Dhabi-based al-Arabiyah on Sunday and again on Monday, in which an Afghan-based, so-called al-Qaeda spokesman, Abdul Rahman al-Nadji, says that bin Laden and former Taliban supremo Mullah Omar are alive and urging all Muslims to fight a jihad against the Americans in Iraq.

Al-Nadji - who has never been identified before as an al-Qaeda spokesman - congratulates "our brothers in Iraq for their valiant struggle against the occupation, which we support and urge them to continue." If the tape is authentic, this would confirm that al-Qaeda is indeed supporting the Iraqi resistance, but not controlling it.

If the al-Misri Brigades communique is authentic, this would mean that al-Qaeda might have been involved in delivering a "message" to the UN in Iraq. Wherever lies the responsibility for what happened in Baghdad - indigenous Iraqi guerrillas, global jihad, or an alliance of both - the fact is that the US way out of the quagmire via the UN now lies under the rubble.

Despite Mr. Escobar's once again contradictory assertions about what the people of Iraq want, it seems the one group that had genuine cause to hate the UN is opponents of the Ba'athist regime.

Meanwhile, if the UN turns tail and runs after one bombing, no matter how horrible, who can take them at all seriously, especially in the bomb ridden Islamic world? If you do what the terrorists tell you to do, you're not just not an ally but may effectively be an enemy in the war on terror.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 AM

THE COSMIC AUTHORITY PROBLEM

The Last Word (Thomas Nagel)
I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear [of religion] myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that. [...] My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life, including everything about the human mind. Darwin enabled modern secular culture to heave a great collective sigh of relief, by apparently providing a way to eliminate purpose, meaning and design as fundamental features of the world.

What that then allows is for atheists--having displaced God (the Father), in a painfully obvious exercise in Freudianism--to elevate themselves to the position of gods--though each, of course, thinks himself the god--and to imagine themselves competent and entitled to impose their own purpose, meaning, and design on the world. The stubborn resistance of the world to their will is what makes them so aburd. Their capacity to do harm to their fellow men in the process of exercising this will to power--as witness Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, even the culture of death (abortion and euthanasia) here--is what makes them so frightening.

MORE:
-THOMAS NAGEL (NYU School of Law)
-ESSAY: CONCEALMENT AND EXPOSURE (Thomas Nagel, Winter 1998, Philosophy & Public Affairs)
-REVIEW: of Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins and The Pattern of Evolution by Niles Eldredge (Thomas Nagel, London Review of Books)
-REVIEW: of THE PERVERSION OF AUTONOMY: The Proper Uses of Coercion and Constraints in a Liberal Society By Willard Gaylin and Bruce Jennings (Thomas Nagel, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of What We Owe to Each Other by T.M. Scanlon (Thomas Nagel, London Review of Books)
-ESSAY: Thomas vs. Thomas: A New Approach to Nagel’s Bat Argument (Yujin Nagasawa, Inquiry)
-ARCHIVES: Thomas Nagel (NY Review of Books)
-ARCHIVES: "Thomas Nagel" (Find Articles)
-REVIEW: of The Last Word. By Thomas Nagel (Gilbert Meilaender, First Things)
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August 19, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 PM

WITH OUR DEEPEST REGRETS

World squirms as Sobig returns (CNET News.com, August 19, 2003)
The Sobig e-mail virus that caused havoc two months ago has reappeared in a virulent new form, according to e-mail service provider MessageLabs.
The company has given the virus a high-level alert statusbecause of its rapid spread.

The new worm, code-named W32/Sobig.F-mm, appeared Monday, according to the company. All copies came from the United States. So far, the worm has been active in the United States, Denmark and Norway. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it has also spread to Asia-Pacific.

MessageLabs on Tuesday reported that 21 percent of cases were in the United Kingdom. The Sophos Web site indicated that the antivirus company had received "many reports of this worm from the wild."

"Initial analysis would suggest that Sobig.F is a mass-e-mailing virus that is spreading very vigorously. Sobig.F appears to be polymorphic in nature. The address is also spoofed and may not indicate the true identity of the sender," a MessageLabs statement said.

The sender appears to be someone from a recognized domain name, such as ibm.com, zdnet.com or microsoft.com. The subject line typically says "Re: Details," "Resume" or "Thank you."

We're receiving hundreds of these e-mails, so have switched to an e-mail green list that hasn't been update since the late '90s (However, you can send us mail from a brothersjudd address if you care to add an account--it's free). If you're trying to e-mail us and get it kicked back, I apologize.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 PM

SLACKERS

Best 351 College Rankings: How widely used is beer? (Princeton Review)
#18.) Colgate University

The tale is told, probably apocryphal, of a similar Playboy Magazine ranking of schools in the '70s, wherein there was a footnote stating that Colgate and Dartmouth weren't ranked because it wasn't fair to put professionals in with the amateurs. It is more reliably reported that after a mistimed visit to Hamilton, NY, Walter Cronkite said that there were two places on earth he didn't want his daughter to be, the DMZ in Viet Nam and Colgate during Spring Party Weekend.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:58 PM

HABLA FUTURO?

Why Spanish is the favored new language of politics: With a new summer program on Capitol Hill, GOP pushes for key - and contested - voter group. (Kris Axtman, August 20, 2003, The Christian Science Monitor)
Sen. Sam Brownback (R) of Kansas admits his accent is about as flat as the prairie outside his family farm. That is why, perhaps, he often receives quizzical looks when working on his latest Capitol Hill assignment: speaking Spanish.

"I do butcher a number of words," he says. "A Kansas Midwestern accent doesn't always have the easiest time with some of these rapid Spanish phrases."

With Congress in recess, Senator Brownback and a spate of GOP leaders are spending free time printing vocabulary on flashcards and muttering in the backseats of cars, conjugating verbs in low mumbles.

The reason: Spanish is increasingly important to their party's survival. So they're flocking to Spanish classes to communicate, if only rudimentarily, with constit-uents - in an effort to reach into Hispanic homes and relay political concerns.

Feeling comfortable at Hispanic functions - and confident with a smattering of phrases - has spurred congressional Republicans' most ambitious effort to date at mastering the Spanish tongue. Part of that attempt is Spanish on the Hill, a 10-week course held Wednesday mornings while Congress is in session. This summer saw its largest GOP contingency yet. [...]

[F]or Republicans, language lessons seem especially important, as the ability to tap growing minority groups goes to the very future of their party.

"The Republican Party has been pretty homogeneous and white for a long time, and they are realizing that they are going to have to adapt to changing circumstances to stay in power," says F. Chris Garcia, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico. [...]

"Hispanics generally appreciate any effort to show respect for their culture, and using Spanish is a way to honor that culture," says Garcia. "But it's going to take ... sustained actions on policy issues."

And that, he adds, is the real dilemma - for while phonemes come easily, softening its stance on policy issues could shake the traditional Republican base.

Actually, learning Spanish and taking the Hispanic vote seriously is a substitute for the GOP changing its position on issues. This is another sign though that Sam Brownback is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the GOP.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:39 PM

HOOVER AGAIN?

American voters have two choices: Bush or Bush-lite: To win in 2004, Democrats must confront the hard right (Hugo Young, August 19, 2003, The Guardian)
It's one of the more extraordinary spectacles a political scientist, or journalist, let alone a professional politician, could encounter. George Bush is running his
campaign from the same fringe position as the one he has adopted for his presidency.

This is a hard-right administration offering virtually no concessions to the soothing niceties that might make it more electorally attractive to voters who are not Republicans. Its tax policy is grotesquely loaded against the masses and in favour of the rich. Its bias on the environment unfailingly comes out on the side of the big commercial interests. It is daily tearing up tracts of policy and practice that protected the basic rights of people snared in the justice system. It is the hardest right administration since Herbert Hoover's from a very different era. And, which is the point, delights in being so. There is no apology or cover-up.

Herbert Hoover was, of course, a liberal, not a conservative. If Mr. Young wants to compare George W. Bush to a truly conservative president, Calvin Coolidge is a wiser choice.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:21 PM

THE UN?

Suspicion turns to al-Qaida over attack on UN (The Associated Press, Aug. 19, 2003)
The target and the nature of the attack in the bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad Tuesday bore the marks of Islamic militant groups like al-Qaida.

At least 20 UN workers and Iraqis were killed, including the chief UN official in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

As he toured the wreckage of the hotel that housed UN headquarters in Baghdad, former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik told reporters that evidence suggested the attack was a suicide bombing, and noted attackers used "an enormous amount of explosives." Kerik is in Baghdad to rebuild the Iraqi police force. [...]

Mohammed Salah, a Cairo-based journalist who closely follows Muslim extremism, said Tuesday's attack on the UN headquarters was likely the work of Islamic militants who see Iraq as the next base for jihad, or holy war, against the Americans.

"Maybe it is al-Qaida, maybe another organization," Salah said. "In the last few months there have been many attacks in different countries. In my opinion, most are not al-Qaida but are other organizations persuaded by bin Laden and his ideas."

He said these groups would perceive the United Nations as a target because they believe it gives in to American pressure.

Mightn't this be "friendlies" again, as with the Jordanian Embassy bombing, angered at the UN for not participating in the war? Otherwise, why waste explosives on the UN; why not bomb a coalition target or at least an allied target?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 PM

TALKED OUT OF THE MORAL PREMISES

Freedom and Its Counterfeit (Robert P. George, August 2003, Imprimis)
True freedom, the freedom that liberates, is grounded in truth and ordered to truth and, therefore, to virtue. A free person is enslaved neither to the sheer will of another nor to his own appetites and passions. A free person lives uprightly, fulfilling his obligations to family, community, nation and God. By contrast, a person given over to his appetites and passions, a person who scoffs at truth and chooses to live, whether openly or secretly, in defiance of the moral law is not free. He is simply a different kind of slave.

The counterfeit of freedom consists in the idea of personal and communal liberation from morality, responsibility and truth. It is what our nation's founders expressly distinguished from liberty and condemned as "license." The so-called freedom celebrated today by so many of our opinion-shaping elites in education, entertainment and the media is simply the license to do whatever one pleases. This false conception of freedom - false because disordered, disordered because detached from moral truth and civic responsibility - shackles those in its grip no less powerfully than did the chattel slavery of old. Enslavement to one's own appetites and passions is no less brutal a form of bondage for being a slavery of the soul. It is no less tragic, indeed, it is in certain respects immeasurably more tragic, for being self-imposed. It is ironic, is it not, that people who celebrate slavery to appetite and passion call this bondage "freedom"?

Counterfeit freedom is worse than fraudulent. It is the mortal enemy of the real thing. Counterfeit freedom can provide no rational account or defense of its own normative claims. It speaks the language of rights, but in abandoning the ground of moral duty it provides no rational basis for anyone to respect the rights of others or to demand of others respect for one's own rights. Rights without duties are meaningless. Where moral truth as the ground of duties is thrown overboard, the language of rights is so much idle chatter fit only for Hollywood cocktail parties and faculty lounges. Hadley Arkes, the great contemporary theorist of natural rights, has observed in relation to the movement for unfettered abortion that those who demand liberation from the moral law have talked themselves out of the moral premises of their own rights and liberties. If freedom is to be honored and respected, it must be because human freedom is what is required by the laws of nature and nature's God; it cannot be because there are no laws of nature and there is no God.

This is the key point about the 8 Suggestions Contest below: in the absence of God, who has the authority even to make such suggestions?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:04 PM

"FOR MY FUTURE"

For Ugandan Girls, Delaying Sex Has Economic Cost (MARC LACEY, August 18, 2003, NY Times)
A dedicated student who dreams of going to college, Lillian struggles to come up with the fees that all secondary school students in Uganda are required to pay. For Lillian - who, like some of her other classmates agreed to be interviewed on the condition that her last name not be used - the tuition comes to about $30 a month. Recently, some of the cousins with whom she has been living since her uncle's death have begun pressuring her to raise money by selling herself.

"They say, `Why don't you find a sponsor?' " she said, dressed in her dark blue school uniform and looking very young. "I know what they mean. They want me to do what so many girls do and get a sugar daddy. You give him what he wants, and he gives you what you want." [...]

At first she rejected outright suggestions by her cousins that she find a man to solve her financial woes. But the more she talked about it, the more her resolve seemed to weaken.

If she did have sex, she said, it would not be about love, because marriage would end her education.

And she would try to remember everything the club had taught her. She would use a condom and hope that the man would be kind. "If it was a single man who wasn't married, if he had good character, maybe I'd consider it," she said. "It would be for my future."

We're all at risk, right?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 AM

WRONG LESSONS

Why the lessons of Vietnam do matter (Pepe Escobar, 8/20/03, Asia Times)
Iraq now is already like Vietnam after the 1968 Tet Offensive. The Americans could have left Vietnam any time - but this would have meant to lose face, in an Asian sense, and to admit defeat: ultimately, this is what happened when that last helicopter abandoned the US Embassy in Saigon in April 1975. Even if they had any intention of doing it, which they don't, the White House and the Pentagon - although they have declared victory - simply cannot leave Iraq. They know that as soon as the US leaves, a democratically elected, Shi'ite-dominated, anti-American Iraqi government will come into power - as an anti-American communist government took over Vietnam. If the US remains in Iraq for "years" - as the Pentagon would have it - there's only one question: how many body bags does it take for the US public to demand a withdrawal?

The Iraqi resistance's attacks are being conducted by small, mostly well-trained groups who generally manage to escape without losses. They follow classic Giap thought: to demoralize American soldiers and at the same time increase the already unbearable distress suffered by the population, thus nourishing resentment against the occupying power. Asia Times Online has learned of many former high-ranking army officials - now unemployed - who have been called to join the resistance: they answer that sooner or later they will "if the Americans continue to humiliate us". Others are financing small guerrilla groups to the tune of thousands of dollars. The reward for someone launching a rocket against an US fighting vehicle is about US$350 - enough for many to buy what is now the rage in Baghdad's at least partly free market: a color TV with satellite dish.
In Vietnam, the resistance was organized by the Party. In Iraq, it is organized by the tribes. Tribal chiefs - practically all of them loyal to Saddam - are about to reach the deadline of the "grace period" that they conceded to the Americans. The resistance can count either on former Ba'ath Party and army officials, as well as on unemployed youngsters following the appeal of Sunni clerics, their own tribal chiefs and, more broadly, Arab patriotism.

The resistance can potentially count on almost 600,000 individuals who have been demobilized by the American proconsular regime. With more than 20 years of war, virtually all the male population in Iraq has been militarized. More than 7 million weapons were distributed by Saddam Hussein's regime. Millions of rockets and mortars were abandoned when the regime collapsed. Organized armed struggle in Iraq - in the Giap sense - may still be in its infancy, but the results are increasingly devastating. The "popular war" is getting bolder: surface-to-air missiles launched against military transport planes; sabotage of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline. US Central Command admits there may be as many as 25 attacks a day.

These Sunni Iraqi mujahideen - the counterparts of the Sunni Afghan mujahideen now fighting the anti-American jihad in Afghanistan - can count on the active complicity of the local population, just like in Vietnam. It's all becoming a "popular war" in the sense that people in any given neighborhood will know who organized an attack, but obviously they won't tell the invaders about it. But what about Saddam's tapes inciting a jihad against the Americans? Saddam is no Ho Chi Minh - a legitimate leader of a national-liberation struggle. There is not a lot of Saddam nostalgia in Iraq. And former army officials are not nostalgic either - or over-optimistic, for that matter, about the success of the guerrillas. They know that the Iraqi people once again will be the greatest victims - as the Americans are obsessed with their own, not the Iraqi people's, security. But these former officials are ready to join the resistance anyway. [...]

The Iraqi resistance should be underestimated by Washington at its own peril. It is learning fast, on the ground, the lessons of Vietnam - where the communists, in a protracted war, won against the ultimate war machine, Giap would say, because of three factors: decentralization, mass mobilization and mobile military tactics. Giap has articulated a set of political, organizational and technical maneuvers to counterbalance the awesome US war machine that can be applied by resistance forces everywhere in the world, and especially in Iraq.

Never mind that he contradicts himself--when we leave a Shi'ite regime will take over, but the Sunni opposition can count on the co-operation of the Shi'ites they've been oppressing and want to oppress again?--the bigger point that Mr. Escobar misses is that we could leave today, let the "resistance" try to take over, and, if they did, simply depose them again. The great lesson of Vietnam/Nicaragua/Afghanistan/Iraq/etc. is that it's hard (though not impossible) for us to prop up a friendly regime if there's a well-organized guerilla force in place, but quite easy for us to dispose of hostile regimes either by supporting other guerillas or via military action of our own. An American people who "are obsessed with their own, not the Iraqi people's, security" will hardly mind attacking Iraq periodically, and with increasing lethality, if it puts in place regimes we don't like.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 AM

10,000 = 50

July's Home Starts Highest Since 1986 (Reuters, August 19, 2003)
U.S. home builders broke ground on new houses in July at their fastest pace in almost 20 years, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday in a report showing rising mortgage rates have yet to slow the housing market.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 AM

DOES ANYBODY EDIT THE TIMES?

Paul Newman Is Still HUD (PAUL NEWMAN, 8/19/03, NY Times)
The Fox News Network is suing Al Franken, the political satirist, for using the phrase "fair and balanced" in the title of his new book. In claiming trademark violation, Fox sets a noble example for standing firm against whatever.

Unreliable sources report that the Fox suit has inspired Paul Newman, the actor, to file a similar suit in federal court against the Department of Housing and Urban Development, commonly called HUD. Mr. Newman claims piracy of personality and copycat infringement.

Even recognizing that he's Paul Newman and all, and that if his eyes weren't so dreamy he'd make the List of 10, someone should have had sense enough to reject this painfully unfunny column. Though we agree with his policy point, that HUD should be done away with.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 AM

THE OBSCENELY SILLY DOUBLE STANDARD

The Obscenely Easy Exile of Idi Amin (ETHAN BRONNER, 8/19/03, NY Times)
During the nearly quarter-century of his soft exile, no nation tried to bring Mr. Amin to justice. A few years ago, after Spain's government went after Chile's former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, Human Rights Watch did bring up Mr. Amin's case to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, but to no avail. Under international law, any nation, including Saudi Arabia, could have and should have prosecuted Mr. Amin.

But, as Reed Brody, special counsel for prosecutions at Human Rights Watch, says, "If you kill one person, you go to jail; if you kill 20, you go to an institution for the insane; if you kill 20,000, you get political asylum." Mr. Brody keeps a melancholy map on his wall of other tyrants gone free: Alfredo Stroessner, dictator of Paraguay, lives in Brazil; Haiti's Raoul Cedras is in Panama; Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia is in Zimbabwe; Hissene Habre of Chad lives in Senegal.

Nothing better illustrates the core silliness of the Left than bemoaning the failure to prosecute the murderous dictators who are at least out of power while opposing attacks on the dictators who are still murdering their people--Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong-Il, etc.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 AM

60-40 FILES

Facing 2 races, Edwards bides time: Keeps options openon top job, Senate (Patrick Healy, 8/19/2003, Boston Globe)
Possible Democratic candidates for Edwards's Senate seat -- particularly Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff to President Clinton who lost to Senator Elizabeth Dole last year -- have been seeking a decision by Edwards, or at least a green light for them to raise money, as [Florida Senator Bob] Graham has signaled. But Edwards is biding his time. Analysts say the longer he waits, the more he risks not only the good will of state Democrats, but the national Democratic Party's future support, since party leaders do not want Edwards's hedging to hurt their chances of winning control of the US Senate next year.

"He needs to decide by October, certainly -- he knows that we can't lose this place in the Senate," said former state representative Dan Blue, a Tar Heel Democrat who is also considering a run for Edwards's seat.

But Blue, an Edwards supporter, also said he was sympathetic and sensitive to Edwards's concerns.

"He needs to win something next year," Blue said. "Otherwise, it's out of sight, out of mind."

The problem for Mr. Edwards and his party is that he doesn't have time to bide. Every day he stays in the race, competing with people like Howard Dean and John Kerry for Democratic primary voters, who are well to the Left of his constituency, makes it less likely he could win re-election to his Senate seat.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:06 AM

)

France, Power Supplier to Europe, Cuts Back as Surplus Shrinks (Bloomberg, 8/19/2003)
U.S. spending on power-distribution equipment fell by $2.5 billion, or 40 percent, from 1975 to 2000 as electricity use more than tripled, according to the Edison Electric Institute.

I'm amazed we didn't have instabilities in the grid earlier. Apparently we had built in a lot of reserve capacity in 1975.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:33 AM

<~text text="Death of a Dictator: Idi Amin: 1925 - 2003">

Idi Amin Dada, who has died in Saudi Arabia, presided over a decade-long reign of terror in Uganda that encompassed mass murder and torture and left in ruins a country once described by Winston Churchill as the Pearl of Africa.

Throughout the 1970s Amin, a former trainee cook in the King’s African Rifles, was constantly in the spotlight, hurling outlandish insults at world leaders and flaunting his brutal powers.

If the truth be told, Fleet Street and Scotland’s press initially loved the flamboyant Ugandan tyrant. His buffoonery made good copy. As well as declaring himself Emperor of Uganda and awarding himself the VC (Victorious Cross) and CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire), he also styled himself “the last king of Scotland”. He wore a kilt and tartan forage cap, symbols of a love affair with Scotland that began when Willie Cochrane, pipe major of the King’s African Rifles, taught Amin to play the bagpipes.

When British-Uganda relations were at an all-time low, he proposed marriage to Princess Anne as a way of repairing relations. He asked the Queen to send him “her 25-year-old knickers” in celebration of her silver anniversary on the throne.

But it is for his butchery rather than his clowning that Amin must be remembered. While nobody knows how many Ugandans were killed at his behest during his 1971-79 dictatorship, international human rights groups estimate the toll at between 300,000 and 500,000 out of a population of 12 million. He expelled 50,000 Ugandan Asians to Britain and Canada.

The official killers came from the chillingly named Public Safety Unit and the State Research Bureau. They mainly comprised men from Amin’s own tribe, the Kakwa of northwestern Uganda near the Sudan border. Most died because Amin, who promoted himself to field marshal, and his acolytes despised their origins or because they wanted their women, cars, houses and money.

Amin’s victims were either shot or bludgeoned to death. Many condemned men were forced to smash the skulls of fellow prisoners with sledgehammers. They, in turn, were similarly dispatched by others lined up behind them. Nicholas Moore, Reuters chief correspondent in East Africa, was arrested by Amin and shared a blood-caked prison cell with men who were dragged away to be killed in this way nearby. Describing the sound of each execution, Moore said it was “a curious noise, as of an egg being broken”.

Amin’s sadism was not taken seriously until it affected the countries that had helped him to power, Britain and Israel.

Such were the compromises we countenanced with our own values during the Cold War.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:28 AM

HOW ABOUT SPANISH AS A THIRD LANGUAGE?

Brazil's pivotal adoption of Spanish: MOVE COULD BE HISTORIC FOR LATIN AMERICAN COMMUNITY (Andres Oppenheimer, 8/18/03, San Jose Mercury News)
When historians in the future are asked what was the most important development of the early 21st century in Latin America, they may cite something that is not making headlines anywhere nowadays: the gradual steps by Portuguese-speaking Brazil to adopt Spanish as a second language.

It sounds trivial, but Brazil -- which accounts for more than 50 percent of South America's economy, territory and population -- has always lived in relative isolation from its Spanish-speaking neighbors.

In part because of language, Brazilians have always read different books, watched different movies and seen different TV shows than most of their fellow Latin Americans. Even today, after more than a decade of unprecedented South American integration, Brazil remains an inward-looking giant.

But things are beginning to change. Last week, while the region's attention focused on the Brazilian Congress' preliminary approval of a crucial pension reform bill, Brazilian legislators were debating another measure that could prove even more important in the long term: the adoption of Spanish as a required language for Brazil's 43.5 million students in elementary and high schools.

Which is likely to be more helpful, speaking the language of Argentina or of America?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:18 AM

THE FALL PRODUCT LINE

Meanwhile, Saddam's secrets rise from the desert: New revelations from the man leading the WMD survey team show that Saddam gave the order to fire his deadly weapons. Con Coughlin assesses the meaning of this little-acknowledged breakthrough (Con Coughlin, 17/08/2003, Daily Telegraph)
[I]f Dr Kay's recent predictions about uncovering the secrets of Saddam's various weapons of mass destruction programmes prove to be correct, then the painstakinginvestigation currently being undertaken by Lord Hutton into whether the British Government exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam would be rendered irrelevant.

Certainly many of the discoveries now being made by the survey team would come as no surprise to Dr Kelly who, irrespective of the doubts he expressed about the Iraqis' ability to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of Saddam giving the order, was under no illusion about the wider threat posed by the Iraqi leader's clandestine programmes.

Indeed, the reason that Susan Watts, Newsnight's science editor, and other BBC reporters such as Andrew Gilligan were in contact with Dr Kelly in the first place was that, because of the work he had undertaken as a member of Dr Kay's United Nations weapons teams in Iraq in the 1990s, he was well-acquainted with all aspects of Saddam's weapons programmes.

As Miss Watts made clear in her evidence to Lord Hutton last week, Dr Kelly "thought very definitely that there were [Iraqi] weapons programmes and that if there were to be any evidence of this, it might well be a lengthy process to find that evidence and a process of putting together pieces of information, and that that process was really only beginning".

The fundamental purpose of the work now being carried out by Dr Kay's survey team in Iraq is to complete the process to which Dr Kelly was referring, namely to bring to a close the painstaking weapons inspection process that was launched following the 1991 Gulf war - in which Dr Kelly played an important role but which, because of Saddam's various attempts to obstruct the process, was never completed.

Despite having to work in onerous conditions, Dr Kay and his inspection teams remain confident that they will be able to provide convincing evidence of Saddam's illegal weapons programmes.

When asked during a recent interview with the American NBC television network whether he would find evidence on Saddam's biological, nuclear and chemical weapons programmes, Dr Kay replied: "I think we will have a very strong case on all of those. I think we'll have a strong case on missiles as well."

Past performance may be no guarantee of future success, but it would hardly be surprising if Democrats (and Labourites) soon find that T. S. Eliot was wrong and September is the cruelest month.

August 18, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:25 PM

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

Kenyan Women Reject Sex 'Cleanser': Traditional Requirement for Widows Is Blamed for Aiding the Spread of HIV-AIDS (Emily Wax, August 18, 2003, Washington Post)
The women of this village call Francise Akacha "the terrorist." His breath fumes with the local alcoholic brew. Greasy food droppings hang off his mustache and stain his oily pants and torn shirt.

He's always the first one in line for the village feast, tucking into a buffet carefully prepared by the women of the village like he's diving into the ocean, no restraint. He's too skinny and has, as the women point out, terrible taste in clothes. His latest hat is a visor styled from shabby paper stolen off a local cigarette billboard.

But for all of his undesirable traits, Akacha has a surprisingly desirable job: He's paid to have sexual relations with the widows and unmarried women of this village. He's known as "the cleanser," one of hundreds of thousands of men in rural villages across Africa who sleep with women after their husbands die to dispel what villagers believe are evil spirits.

As tradition holds, they must sleep with the cleanser to be allowed to attend their husbands' funerals or be inherited by their husbands' brother or relative, another controversial custom that aid workers said is causing the spread of HIV-AIDS. Unmarried women who lose a parent or child must also sleep with the ritual cleanser. [...]

Areas that still practice the tradition have the highest rates of the disease, and health workers say the custom must be stopped. It's a striking example of how HIV-AIDS is forcing Africans to question and change traditions as the disease ravages the continent. [...]

A cleanser is typically the village drunkard or someone considered not very bright. The job is seen as low class but essential to "purifying" women.

The more we find out about African practices--both healthcare and sexual practices--the less plausible the case for a different strain of AIDs that is more readily transmitted in typical heterosexual sex will become. It will be heinous and aberrant traditions like these that are responsible.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 PM

SQUARE PEGS

POST-WAR PATTERNS IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ (Matthew Riemer, 8/14/03, EurasiaNet)
Though the wars fought in Afghanistan and Iraq were tactically dissimilar and of varying levels of intensity, the post-war social, cultural, and political factors at play are very similar. The most relevant and foundational similarity between the two countries is their creation: each was cobbled together from amongst a plethora of local, autonomous/tribal regions into reluctant wholes in the form of what the conquering country felt to be a modern nation-state. And for both, since their involuntary birth, this fact has hampered their development, as well as posing a deep, historical puzzle for, first, Great Britain and, now, the United States, in their efforts at "nation building."

This predicament - if only in the name of thoroughness - must eventually elicit a series of important questions from the concerned observer, some of which might be:

-What are the inherent weaknesses of the "nation-state" model?

-When Washington uses the phrase "nation building," what does this really imply?

-Is the so-called "nation-state" a viable model for Afghanistan and Iraq?

The United States may be uncovering a troublesome truth in its latest global endeavors: the fact that the nation-state is not a universal model for all regions and peoples of the world, and, in some cases, it may even obstruct the development of the very stability and select economic development the United States is seeking through its operations - especially in areas with a concentration of ethnic diversity like in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and much of Central Asia where state-sized regions more readily stabilize under a sub-network of autonomous zones defined by some obvious feature, whether it be ethnic, linguistic or geographical. The dominant US polity has always assumed that the keys to American success are the keys to global success, that what works for them will work for others. This belief has led many in the US leadership to think that concepts like democracy and free market capitalism can be smoothly exported to other regions and environments and have the same effect that they had in 18th and 19th century America. This widely held belief is shared by the Bush administration and has been explicitly stated in its 2002 National Security Strategy.

It's hard to believe that anything even approaching a coherent state can emerge in Afghanistan, unless it is some kind of embattled Pashtunistan, but Iraq should be easily divisible into a Kurdistan and a Shi'ite state--the sooner the better.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:43 PM

SLOTH ON A STICK?

Is sin in?: Centuries after the seven deadly sins became the ultimate measure of moral depravity, a new series of essays asks if they are still relevant. (Kim Campbell, August 07, 2003, The Christian Science Monitor)
When Pope Gregory I refined the list of seven deadly sins toward the end of the 6th century, he never guessed that one day they'd become ice cream flavors.

But 1,400 years later, people can lick gluttony off a stick while they ponder that particular sin and its infamous brethren - anger, pride, envy, sloth, lust, and greed.

Clerics aren't too happy about the sins being trivialized, especially of late in Europe, where the gimmicky ice cream originates. They also have to contend with a group of chefs in France, who earlier this year petitioned Pope John Paul II to take gluttony off the list - or, rather, to change the current word used in French to describe the sin because its meaning has changed.

All the hoopla lends itself to the idea that the deadlies don't have the fearsome reputation they once did. Even those who are religious often have to be reminded of what's on the list. But at the same time - maybe thanks to all the reality TV - analyzing human nature is more interesting than ever, and these historic vices present a good place to start. Popular culture takes a stab at exploring them every few years, through an MTV special, or a movie (1995's grisly "Seven"), or, more commonly, a book. This month, a more thoughtful approach to the deadly seven will commence when the first in a series of palm-sized volumes on the sins is published by Oxford University Press.

If not necessarily deadly, can we all at least agree that it's unwise to fall prey to them?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 PM

PITY WE LOST BRITAIN

Shock Sun poll: Your verdict on Britain's biggest crisis (TREVOR KAVANAGH, 8/18/03, The Sun uk)
BRITAIN is demanding a halt to the flood of asylum seekers swamping the nation, a shock Sun poll reveals today.

It shows voters believe the Government has failed Britain in EVERY key element of its vow to curb illegal immigration.

The overwhelming majority of voters - 82 per cent - say its policies are not tough enough.

And 84 per cent believe that the flood of arrivals is now out of control.

Disturbingly, 78 per cent reckon the Government is trying to cover up the full scale of the crisis.

The survey exposes mounting anger across the nation and reveals that the issue will top the agenda at the next General Election.

More than eight out of ten people quizzed (82 per cent) think Prime Minister Tony Blair has failed to act effectively to stop tens of thousands of migrants arriving - and staying - without visas.

And there are fears that Britain has been changed permanently - for the worse. [...]

Asked how Britain has changed in the last 50 years, only one in three (32 per cent) told pollsters YouGov it has been for the better.

More than half (54 per cent) say it has changed for the worse, losing "something of our traditional character".

The better solution would be to restore that character, but since such is even more unlikely there than here, assimilation may be impossible there and therefore opposition to immigration necessary. Combine that opposition with Europhobia and a "return to Britishness" and the Tories could be back in business.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:06 PM

FIRST FLOWERING

How Christianity Created Capitalism (Michael Novak, May/June 2000, Religion & Liberty)
Capitalism, it is usually assumed, flowered around the same time as the Enlightenment-the eighteenth century-and, like the Enlightenment, entailed a diminution of organized religion. In fact, the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was the main locus for the first flowerings of capitalism. Max Weber located the origin of capitalism in modern Protestant cities, but today's historians find capitalism much earlier than that in rural areas, where monasteries, especially those of the Cistercians, began to rationalize economic life.

It was the church more than any other agency, writes historian Randall Collins, that put in place what Weber called the preconditions of capitalism: the rule of law and a bureaucracy for resolving disputes rationally; a specialized and mobile labor force; the institutional permanence that allows for transgenerational investment and sustained intellectual and physical efforts, together with the accumulation of long-term capital; and a zest for discovery, enterprise, wealth creation, and new undertakings. [...]

The economic historian David Landes, who describes himself as an unbeliever, points out that the main factors in this great economic achievement of Western civilization are mainly religious:

--the joy in discovery that arises from each individual being an imago Dei called to be a creator;

--the religious value attached to hard and good manual work;

--the theological separation of the Creator from the creature, such that nature is subordinated to man, not surrounded with taboos;

--the Jewish and Christian sense of linear, not cyclical, time and, therefore, of progress; and

--respect for the market.

As the world enters the third millennium, we may hope that the church, after some generations of loss of nerve, rediscovers its old confidence in the economic order. Few things would help more in raising up all the world's poor out of poverty. The church could lead the way in setting forth a religious and moral vision worthy of a global world, in which all live under a universally recognizable rule of law, and every individual's gifts are nourished for the good of all.

I believe this is what the pope has in mind when he speaks of a "civilization of love." Capitalism must [be] infused by that humble gift of love called caritas, described by Dante as "the Love that moves the Sun and all the stars." This is the love that holds families, associations, and nations together. The current tendency of many to base the spirit of capitalism on sheer materialism is a certain road to economic decline. Honesty, trust, teamwork, and respect for the law are gifts of the spirit. They cannot be bought.

In his book, Fire of Invention, Mr. Novak likewise makes the point that the monasteries of the Middle Ages were the forerunners of the modern corporation. He quotes Paul Johnson to the effect that:
A great and increasing part of the arable land of Europe passed into the hands of highly disciplined men committed to a doctrine of hard work. They were literate. They knew how to keep accounts. Above all, perhaps, they worked to a daily timetable and an accurate annual calendar--something quite alien to the farmers and landowners they replaced. Thus their cultivation of the land was organized, systematic, persistent. And, as owners, they escaped the accidents of deaths, minorities, administration by hapless widows, enforced sales, or transfer of ownership by crime, treason and folly. They brought continuity of exploitation. They produced surpluses and invested them in the form of drainage, clearances, livestock and seed...they determined the whole future of Europe; they were the foundation of world primacy.

This "continuity of exploitation"--or "institutional permanence", as Mr. Novak more tenderly put it--is just one way in which the idea of linear time broke the West out of cyclical thinking. The monastery, unlike the patriarchal family, was relatively unchanging and could plan for the future with some reasonable degree of confidence. Odd as it will seem to those who despise it, the Church was, in this worthwhile sense, progressive.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:29 PM

ALL COMMONLY ACCEPTED KNOWLEDGE IS WRONG, part 4,732

Rethinking the Articles of Confederation (H.A. Scott Trask, August 18, 2003, Mises.org)
If your children attend a public or private university in this country, they will be taught that President Roosevelt "saved" capitalism from itself with his New Deal legislative program in the 1930s. They will also be taught as unquestionable truth that the Federalists rescued the fledgling national economy from imminent collapse during the decade following the War of Independence (1780s), a decade ominously described by statist historians (are there any other kind?) as "the critical period." They learn that these years were a tumultuous and tragic follow-up to the Revolution. Without a strong central authority, the country was convulsed and confused by violent internal rebellion, economic stagnation, the petty rule of "bad men" (i.e. local-minded and self-interested), and national weakness in the face of predatory commercial rivals. Into this despairing void, stepped a shining band of broad-minded, far-seeing, disinterested, nationalist leaders who realized the impotent and inept government of the Confederation had not the powers to deal with the crisis or guide the country into the regulated, centrally managed future. Consequently, they led a constitutional revolution which discarded the Articles of Confederation and replaced it with a broad charter of national power, falsely described as federal, that by taxing, regulating, and promoting (i.e. subsidies!) rescued the economy and laid the solid foundation for America's future growth and prosperity. Students graduate thinking that were it not for the federal Constitution, we would all be sitting on the front porch of our cabin spitting tobacco, drinking home-made whiskey, and kicking our dog Blue.

The prevailing historical interpretation of the country under the Articles of Confederation is an example of the harm that has resulted from the ignorance of economics among generations of historians. Let us consider the work of Richard B. Morris, the Columbia University historian, whose book The Forging of the Union, 1781-1789 (1987) is considered the standard history of that decade. Morris ascribes the postwar depression (1784-88) to four causes: the "dumping" of low-cost British goods upon the American market (imagine the gall of those sneaky Brits; you beat 'em in war and then they do this to us?); the closing of the British West Indies and other foreign markets to American goods; an unregulated money supply (it is not clear if Morris thinks the problem was too much, or not enough, money; apparently, he seems to think that only the Solons and Greenspans destined to run the federal government knew the right amount); and the lack of a national government with national taxing and regulatory powers (the horror, the horror).

For Morris, the calling of a constitutional convention was a necessity recognized by nearly all. "Businessmen, mechanics, and artisans witnessed a Confederation government incapable of controlling the money supply, of paying interest on the public debt, or of regulating and encouraging foreign and domestic commerce. Little wonder that these groups recognized the grim necessity for setting up a stronger central government."

The economy was beginning to thrive again in 1788, the year the Constitution was ratified, and Morris naturally awards credit to the new government for the change. "The ratification of the federal Constitution seems to have laid a basis for economic recovery." It never occurs to him that the recession was bound to end sometime, or that its end was due to causes unrelated to the creation of a new national authority.

Our best guides to the critical decade of the 1780s are two of the few American historians who understand economics and are true liberals-William Graham Sumner and Murray Rothbard. Although Sumner was a nationalist and antidemocrat who favored the new constitution for other reasons, he understands as well as Rothbard that the depression of the 1780s was not due to the lack of a powerful central government. Both explain that after the war, there was a great pent-up demand for British goods, which were preferred to all others, including domestic, both for their quality and their cheapness.

There was also an abundance of specie in the country, due to French and British disbursements, the Havana trade, and French and Dutch hard-money loans. However, there was also a large quantity of paper money still afloat. As the paper money was serving as the principal circulating medium, the merchants shipped much of the nation's specie abroad to help pay for their large importations of capital and consumer goods. Lacking credit cards, the American consumer was soon "tapped out," and merchants found themselves holding large stocks of unsold merchandise.

At the same time, there were many manufacturers and mechanics whose businesses had been profitable only during the autarkic wartime conditions. Now that peace and commerce had resumed, they were in trouble. An additional negative factor was the British decision to place the Americans on the outside of their colonial system after the war. The Americans found the British West Indies closed to them, the North Atlantic fisheries forbidden, and the British home market tightly restricted. (Of course, the British hurt themselves by these restrictions, for the Americans could not buy from them if they could not sell to them; but they were acting according to the logic of mercantilism and probably revenge.) A final factor was the capital losses sustained and the debts incurred during the war. The capital losses had to be made up and the debts paid.

In summation, the Americans were suffering the natural aftereffects of a long war financed by debt and inflation, and exacerbated by the continuing circulation of inconvertible paper currency. As Sumner records, "misery was great throughout the country, owing to paper money and debt and the losses of the war." The postwar depression was a necessary period of hardship during which Americans readjusted to new trade patterns and economic realities, paid debts, and repaired the damage and neglect wrought by war. No government could have legislated or regulated away these facts of life.

Americans, flush with soaring hopes unleashed by the Revolution, wanted to believe otherwise, but there was no political substitute for hard work, reconstruction, self-denial, and patience. Regrettably, as is the case so often in our history, many sought political panaceas to escape economic realities. Mechanics and manufacturers petitioned their state legislatures for protective tariffs to exclude lower cost British-made goods. Ship builders and owners lobbied for navigation laws to exclude British shipping from American ports, and southern exporters and northern merchants pleaded for retaliatory legislation to force open closed British markets. Farmers demanded that paper money be issued and lent on the security of land. Only a few years after independence, Americans were trying to replicate the main features of the British colonial and mercantile system from which they had just freed themselves.

With his usual perspicuity, Sumner observes how the collapse in prices and the prostration of business following a period of currency inflation led to a movement for protective tariffs, setting a recurring pattern. Here was the first time, but by no means the last, "in which currency errors become intertwined with errors as to foreign trade, a junction which has run through all our history to the present moment [1876] and which has been productive of mischief."

Even if a period of consolidation and centralizatioon was necessary to stabilize and preserve the nascent Union--and we're willing to assume it was--the Anti-Federalists nonetheless had the better argument in the long run.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:09 PM

FUNDING EVIL

China Meets AIDS Crisis With Force: Police, Not Physicians, Answer Villagers' Pleas (Philip P. Pan, August 18, 2003, Washington Post)
Xiong Jinglun was lying in bed on the night of the raid, resting his frail, AIDS-weakened body when the shouting outside jarred him awake. The 51-year-old farmer struggled to his feet and shuffled out of his shack to investigate, but someone had cut off the electricity in the village, and it was difficult to see in the pitch dark.

Suddenly, several men wearing riot gear and military fatigues surrounded him, struck his head with a nightstick and knocked him to the ground, he recalled. Xiong begged them to stop hitting him, crying out that he was an old man, that he had AIDS. But he heard one of the assailants shout: "Beat them! Beat them even if they have AIDS!"

A few days earlier, residents of this AIDS-stricken Chinese village had staged a protest demanding better medical care, rolling two government vehicles into a ditch to vent their frustration. Now, local authorities here in central Henan province, about 425 miles northwest of Shanghai, were answering their appeal for help. But instead of doctors, they sent the police.

More than 500 officers, local officials and hired thugs stormed the muddy hamlet of 600 residents on the night of June 21, shouting threats, smashing windows and randomly pummeling people who got in their way, witnesses said. Police jailed 18 villagers and injured more than a dozen others, including an 8-year-old boy who tried to defend his sick mother.

"They beat me because I stepped outside," Xiong said, coughing and pointing out scars and bruises on his head, arms and legs. Like many villagers, he said was afraid the police would return. But he agreed to an interview, saying, "I'm going to die anyway."

The desperation of residents in Xiongqiao and the local government's blunt response has complicated China's bid for $100 million in aid from the U.N. Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. AIDS activists have demanded human rights guarantees from the government as a condition for any funding. [...]

"If you give China money, then you should require they add these human rights protections," said Wan Yanhai, an AIDS activist who was detained briefly last year for distributing a government AIDS report. "If you don't stand with the AIDS activists and empower them, these funds may be corrupted. They may be used to hire thugs to beat people with AIDS."

Even if China didn't use international funds to abort children and beat people with AIDs, even if they used the money in humane ways, it would still be freeing them up to use other monies to oppress their own people. We should be working to topple the regime, not helping to prop it up.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:51 PM

BUSH V. BUSH

How to beat Bush (Al From, 8/17/03, The Seattle Times)
As strong as President Bush seems today, he's not invincible. But there's only one way any Democratic candidate can defeat him in 2004. That's by asserting a clear sense of national purpose - by getting the big things right and by convincing Americans that he can provide our country better leadership than Bush can.

But there are any number of strategies that won't work for Democrats. [...]

Democrats won't win by polarizing the debate. Bush is a staunch conservative, not the moderate he claimed to be in the 2000 campaign. But Democrats who believe the way to counter his conservatism is by moving left to sharpen the contrast - to offer, in the words of failed presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, "a choice, not an echo" - are wrong.

A recent Gallup poll revealed that on social issues, 37 percent of Americans identify themselves as conservatives, 23 percent as liberals. On economic issues, it's 43 percent conservatives, 15 percent liberals. Running to the short side of the field is not a winning strategy. [...]

As the campaign begins in earnest, Democrats need to remember that their party has had its greatest successes when it has championed great national purposes.

It means dedicating a presidency to fighting the war on terrorism and keeping our country safe. It also means building a strong, growing 21st-century economy that expands opportunity, creates jobs again, raises incomes and secures retirement - all the things Bush has failed to do.

The candidate Mr. From has described here is, unfortunately for him, George W. Bush. Perhaps Mr. From should consider joining the GOP where his ideas are commonplace.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:45 PM

10,000 = 50

Wall Street powers ahead; Dow tops 9,400: Tech stocks and Dow components surge as the Big Index hits a 14-month high. Nasdaq, S&P 500 join in. (CNBC Market Dispatches, 8/18/2003)
Relieved at a quick bounceback from the nation's worst-ever power outage and bolstered by solid earnings and recent economic news, stocks posted a striking rally today.

The Dow burst through key resistance and ended above 9,412, its highest close since June of 2002. [...]

And it wasn't just the Dow in rally mode. The Nasdaq moved close to its July highs with a gain of 2% as techs surged, while the S&P 500 closed within a whisper of 1,000.

The renewed rally faces a few hurdles tomorrow, with several economic reports and a slew of earnings due out. But for today, things were pretty much all looking up. "We walked in here today expecting a little fallout from the blackout, but if there was any it didn?t last long," Seaport Securities President Ted Weisberg told CNBC. "We have clearly broken out of this trading range."

Somebody please take away Tom Daschle's belt & shoe laces.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:29 PM

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, BAMBI?

A thing of the past: Why teams have gone away from a four-man rotation (John Shea, August 17, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle)
The Big Four. The Fab Four. The Ain't They A Swell Four. Call them what you want, but don't call them The Only Four.

The A's have the best young pitching rotation in the majors with Tim Hudson,

Barry Zito and Mark Mulder. Add newcomer Rich Harden, whose bite is as good as his hype so far, to the mix, and it's a high-quality quartet. [...]

So why don't the A's go with their strength on a daily basis? Why don't they use the old-fashioned, when-men-were-men four-man rotation? [...]

The last team with a quintessential four-man rotation was the last team with four 20-game winners, the 1971 Orioles. By then, four-man rotations were evolving into five-man rotations, though Baltimore manager Earl Weaver stayed loyal through much of the '70s. [...]

The game has changed, and so have pitchers, who aren't physically or mentally prepared to work as often as pitchers in past generations. Teams are afraid to risk injury to draftees who make millions in signing bonuses, so they apply strict pitch counts throughout the minor leagues, babying their prospects along the way.

By the time a starting pitcher reaches the majors, he's programmed to throw every five days, at the most, and is not always accustomed to reaching 100 pitches.

[Pitching coach Rick] Peterson is overly protective of his co-aces for a reason -- they're the strength of the organization -- and isn't silly enough to use them as a guinea pig for an experiment. He did extensive research last September, with help from Dr. James Andrews of the American Sports Medicine Institute, before using them on three days' for the playoffs. [...]

With a true four-man rotation, each pitcher would throw 40 or 41 times over 162 games.

"That's only five more starts," Zito said. "I think it could work, but that's one starting job times 30. That's a lot of lost jobs. I'd like to go back to when they used four-man rotations to look at their pitch counts and see what kind of off-speed stuff they were throwing and how often they were throwing it."

This is one of the least well understood issues in baseball, with the direst implications, despite ample explanation from George Bamberger (pitching coach for those Orioles) and statistical work by Bill James. Bamberger had his pitches throw a lot, even if just long-tossing the ball to each other in the outfield on days off. He argued that the key, contrary to popular opinion, is not to limit how often you throw but how much you throw when you pitch. Bill James has run the numbers to back this up and shown that the most direct correlation to injuries in young pitchers comes not from the numbers of times they pitch but how many pitches they're allowed to throw in those outings. Limit starters to 100 pitches and they'd be unlikely to have greater injury risk even if they were in a four-man rotation. Moreover, the pitch limit creates a greater incentive to throw strikes, which in turn makes it imperative for them to throw more fastballs, which also cuts injury risk, as well as speeding up games. And getting rid of the generally rancid fifth starters in the majors would likewise tend to cut average game times by avoiding the slug fests that are routine when they start.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:03 PM

CRUZIN' FOR A BRUISIN'

Bustamante claims sabotage by Davis: He says the governor is undercutting his recall bid as an alternate Democrat. (Gary Delsohn, August 18, 2003, Sacramento Bee)
Any pretense that Gov. Gray Davis and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante are united in their fight against the recall vanished Sunday when the lieutenant governor went on national television and accused Davis of undermining his bid to give voters a Democratic replacement if the recall succeeds.

"If some of the governor's minions would stop trying to undercut my efforts, I think we could have a very coalesced opportunity for Democrats," Bustamante, the only established Democrat on the recall replacement ballot, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I think if he worked with me a little bit more, I think we could make sure that we had a good strategy for the people of California and to make sure that the Democratic Party kept hold of this position."

Later in the day, Bustamante's chief consultant charged that Davis aides are calling Indian tribal leaders and others to urge them not to support Bustamante.

"They're contacting potential supporters and contributors and telling them don't give (money) and don't support Bustamante's effort," said Richie Ross, Bustamante's consultant.

"They're trying to shut it down. We think that is selfish and irresponsible," he said. "They want it to be all or nothing, them or no one."

What exactly were they expecting from someone like Gray Davis?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 AM

EVERYTHING THAT LINKS MUST CONVERGE?

Anglosphere: Converging universes (James C. Bennett, 7/28/2003, UPI)
Separate as the British and American information universes have been until now, a process of convergence has begun that will continue until there is only a single Anglosphere information universe. In this, the differences between right and left (for example) become more important than the distinctions of national origin. This process is already foreshadowed in the leading edge of the information universe, which at this point in time is the blogosphere -- the world of the Web logs, or blogs.

Several interconnected and mutually reinforcing developments are driving this process. The first and most obvious is the advent of the Internet and World-Wide Web. This permits flat-rate worldwide communications, ready access to the press of all nations, and, most importantly, the ability to link documents. Two things about the blogosphere are of particular interest: the ability of almost anyone with basic computer literacy to start and run a blog, and the practice of embedding links to other documents of interest. [...]

The blogosphere is still miniscule compared to the audience for broadcast and print media. (Although reporters are more and more relying on the blogosphere for research and background, and more and more aware that the blogosphere has the power to expose quickly errors that previously could be buried.) However, its denizens are disproportionately young and disproportionately well-educated professionals. They will likely set the tone more and more for the coming generation. Furthermore, the rise of the blogosphere will likely affect Britain disproportionately to America. [...]

Full convergence is still some time away, but it is coming, as surely as today's younger blog-readers will move into positions of influence as time passes. The parallel information universes will be tied together with the thread of Internet linkage. The informational Anglosphere, in the sense of the entirety of written and recorded information in the English language, is gradually becoming fully accessible through Internet and Web, and accessible without regard to national boundaries.

At some point linkage will be so fluid and transparent, and indexing and search so effective, that documents will cease to be stand-alone artifacts, and the entire body of information in English (and for that matter, the entire body of information in other languages) will become in effect a single artifact, probably the most complex human artifact ever to emerge. Intra-Anglosphere national boundaries will become rather weak demarcation lines within the structure of that artifact. Linguistic boundaries, on the other hand, will remain significant decouplers for the foreseeable future, resulting in a number of such massive informational artifacts existing in parallel. It is these that will be the parallel information universes of the future.

There are numerous caveats that come to mind, and leave one necessarily skeptical about bloggers driving the future, but one obvious underestimation here is that the continued geo-political/economic dominance of the Anglosphere and the Web itself are likely to speed the adoption of English as the world's lingua franca.
Posted by David Cohen at 10:58 AM

THE EIGHT SUGGESTIONS.

Picking up from a comment below, it appears that we need a secular substitute for the Ten Commandments, which I have chosen to call the Eight Suggestions. I will donate some very modest prize -- I don't know what yet, it will depend on what I can sneak past my wife -- to the best suggestion as determined by the Brothers Judd posters. (OJ has kindly offered to kick in some prizes, too.) The Suggestions can not, of course, start off "Thou shalt not", but rather "You might want to consider . . . ." I'll get the ball rolling with "You might want to consider not hurting other people's feelings."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 AM

THE YOUNG AND THE HEARTLESS (via Mike Daley)

Right young things: A youthquake that is helping George Bush (The Economist, Jul 24th 2003)
Why this upturn in conservatism? One reason is a healthy desire to tweak the noses of people in authority. America's academic establishment is so solidly liberal that Naderites easily outnumber Republicans. The leftists who seized control of the universities in the 1960s have imposed their world-view on the young with awesome enthusiasm, bowdlerising text-books of anything that might be considered sexist or racist, imposing draconian speech codes and inventing pseudo-subjects such as women's studies. What better way of revolting against such illiberal claptrap than emulating the character in Mr Allen's film?

Another reason is September 11th, which not only produced a surge of patriotism but also widened the gap between students (who tended to see the attacks as examples of evil) and Vietnam-era professors (who agonised about what America must have done wrong). The Harvard Institute of Politics found two-thirds of students supporting the war in Iraq. Pro-war groups sprouted in such liberal campuses as Brandeis, Yale and Columbia. At Amherst College many students were noisily furious when 40 teachers paraded into the dining hall with anti-war slogans.

A third reason is that American conservatives devote a lot of energy to recruiting the young. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Young America's Foundation and the Federalist Society are out organising. Conservative foundations finance conservative newspapers and provide scholarships for right young things (one conservative impresario compares funding young conservatives to building a wine collection). The Heritage Foundation provides internships for 100 students a year.

In 2000, the Republicans discovered that they could no longer rely on their air superiority (ie, paid television advertising) to win elections. They needed troops on the ground. In 2002 College Republicans (together with gun activists) played the same sort of role in the party that trade unionists and blacks have long played in the Democratic Party. They boosted turn-out and harassed opponents. Norm Coleman, the new senator for Minnesota, attributes his victory to College Republicans.

These footsoldiers also represent the future of the Republican Party. One reason why Britain's Conservative Party is in such a sorry state is that the average age of its members is almost 70. The young conservatives who crowded into Washington this week suggest a sprightlier future for the Republicans.

NPR had an unintentionally hilarious moment on Friday, as Noah Adams discussed NYC's reaction to the blackout with a CUNY professor on Talk of the Nation. At one point, the professor said: "Well, I am analyzing this from a Marxist perspective." Mr. Adams, to his great credit, guffawed and said how rather few people took that perspective anymore. The exception, of course, is the professoriat.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM

WASN'T IT THE OBELISK?

Look who was talking: We began talking as early as 2.5m years ago, writes Stephen Oppenheimer. Is that what drove the growth of our brains? (Stephen Oppenheimer, August 7, 2003, The Guardian)
An alternative to the Chomskian theory, is that language developed as a series of inventions. This was first suggested by the 18th-century philosopher Etienne Bonnot de Condillac. He argued that spoken language had developed out of gesture language (langage d'action) and that both were inventions arising initially from the simple association between action and object. The Condillac view, with some development, can be traced to the present day with the recent work of New Zealand psychologist Michael Corballis and others. The theory sees gesture language as arising originally among apes as sounds accompanying gestures, with these sounds gradually becoming coded into "words" as the new skill drove its own evolution. Subsequently, coded words developed into deliberate, complex communication. Evolutionary pressures promoted the development of an anatomy geared to speech - the larynx, vocal muscles and a specific part of the brain immediately next to that responsible for gestures.

This view, that spoken language was ultimately a cultural invention like tool-making, which then drove the biological evolution of the brain and vocal apparatus, seems obvious when you think of the development of different languages. [...]

So we have the paradox that over the period when our brain was growing most rapidly, our material cultural development, as measured by stone tools, advanced only marginally; then, over a million years later, when the culture of anatomically modern humans finally started to accelerate, artistically and technologically, our brains were actually getting smaller.

The additional piece of evidence that makes this paradox all the more significant is that brain size did not just leap between human species in a direct line of ascent towards ourselves. Over the period from 2.5 to 1.5m years ago, it turns out brains were growing more rapidly than at any time since, within all the different human species and also in Paranthropus species. The logical conclusion is that there must have been a unique new behaviour driving brain growth, shared between all species of humans and Paranthropus, with its origin, presumably, in their immediate shared walking ape ancestor.

So, what was driving rapid brain growth right at the beginning 2.5m years ago? The answer may have been staring us in the face. Namely, that not only were early humans and Paranthropus communicating but their ancestor, a walking ape, had started the trend in this very useful skill. Around 2.5m years ago the weather took a decided turn for the worse, becoming more variable and colder and dryer. The search for food became more taxing, and there would have been a real need to communicate more effectively and cope with the worsening environment in a cooperative way.

Speech, a complex system of oral communication, is the only inherited primate skill that would self-evidently benefit from a larger computer than that of a chimp. The near maximum in brain size achieved by 1.2m years ago indicates that those early ancestors could already have been talking perfectly well. It was all over bar the shouting. Our new Rolls Royce brain, developed to manipulate and organise complex symbolic aspects of speech internally, could now be turned to a variety of other tasks.

Of course, one wonders then why only one of the primates developed this capacity, given that all would have benefited equally. But that's the nature of determinism.
Posted by David Cohen at 10:05 AM

THIS IS SO GAY.

'How to be Gay' course draws fire at Michigan (George Archibald, The Washington Times, 8/18/03)
A course called "How to be Gay: Male Homosexuality and Initiation," scheduled this fall, has reignited a culture war at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. . . .

The professor says critics misunderstand the 'How to be Gay' class.

'It does not teach students to be homosexual,' Mr. Halperin says in an interview. 'Rather, it examines critically the odd notion that there are right and wrong ways to be gay, that homosexuality is not just a sexual practice or desire but a set of specific tastes in music, movies, and other cultural forms — a notion which is shared by straight and gay people alike.

'The reason these courses exist is not that homosexual teachers have hijacked the university for their own purposes; they exist because they convey the results of research which sheds genuinely new light on history, culture, society and thought.'

However, in a course description on the university's Web site, Mr. Halperin says: 'Just because you happen to be a gay man doesn't mean that you don't have to learn how to become one. Gay men do some of that learning on their own, but often we learn how to be gay from others.'
Taking the Professor's description at face value, this sounds like a fascinating and useful course. Some minority groups in the US adopt self-images that are helpful to their success and assimilation, others fall into destructive self-images. Blacks have to constantly fight against a self-image that says that studying hard, working towards a goal and upward-mobility are essentially "white" traits. Gay men could have been wiped out by a culture that prided itself on anonymous promiscuity. A course that studies how these self-images form, how they are influenced and how they can be changed is interesting and important.

It would also require the making of moral judgments, and so I doubt that the actual Michigan class much resembles the ideal class I would like to see.

I also find it interesting that Professor Halperin and the University see no danger to themselves from playing a fairly obvious and successful game of épater le bourgeois. For myself, I have always found tweaking those who pay the bills to be satisfying in the short term but disastrous in the long term.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 AM

FACTION (via ef brown)

Green Party Happy to 'Spoil' Democratic Presidential Run in 2004 (Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, August 18, 2003, Fox News)
Some members of the Green Party are reserving much of their anger for Democrats these days, and say they don’t care if another third-party run by Ralph Nader wrecks the Democrats' opportunity to replace President Bush in 2004.

"As the Democrats have retreated from their core constituencies, they have given the Republicans a real license to move into greater extremes," said national party media coordinator Scott McLarty, who accuses Democrats of betraying their so-called progressive ideals.

"[The Democratic Party] seems to be crumbling as a political force that means something to anybody, crumbling as a real force of opposition," he said. "That is what we mean when we say we are so strongly in favor of running a national candidate."

One of the primary challenges that faces the Democrats is that as a matter of ideology--at least among the white intellectuals, activists and politicians who comprise the backbone of the Party--the Green platform has considerable appeal. However, it has none to Labour, blacks, and Hispanics--the voters upon whom the Party depends to remain competitive. For sixty years, control of Congress and frequently the White House, meant that the former could buy off the latter with federal monies, laws, regulations, and the like and never really needed to compromise on ideology to win majorities. The questions now concern whether the Left can move to the center and broaden the Party's appeal and whether interest groups will stay loyal to a party that can't buy them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 AM

BAD BET

Dollar higher as investors eye US growth (Neil Dennis, August 18 2003, Financial Times)
The dollar was close to its high point of the month on Monday as investors shrugged off Friday's muted session and focused on last week's US data suggesting continued signs of recovery.

With few data releases due for this week, investors are likely to consolidate dollar gains after last week's slew of upbeat reports. Retail sales and industrial production both surprised on the upside, and deflationary fears were eased by rising consumer prices. Along with improving growth, reported in the previous week, indications remained for a strengthening US currency.

It's been fun while it lasted, but if currency values are basically bets on the economic future of the countries concerned, there was no way the dollar could stay so low against the Euro. Europe's future is too bleak and ours too bright.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM

WHO'S NICHOLAS KRISTOF?

U.S. to Send Signal to North Koreans in Naval Exercise (STEVEN R. WEISMAN, 8/18/03, NY Times)
The Bush administration, while preparing for talks soon with North Korea, is also stepping up military pressure with plans for a joint naval exercise next month to train for interdicting at sea arms and other materials being transported to and from the North.

Administration officials and Asian diplomats said that the exercise would be carried out in the Coral Sea off northeastern Australia in September and that it was officially described as directed at no one country. A principal intention, however, was to send a sharp signal to North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, they said.

The next round of talks with North Korea is planned for Aug. 27 in Beijing, with six nations taking part. The United States has been working with its allies to decide which items to present, from economic benefits to security guarantees, that would be provided if the North Korean government agreed to shut down its program verifiably and irreversibly.

Hasn't the Administration been reading all the op-eds that say there is no military option?

August 17, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 PM

EVERYTHING MODIFIES AND DESCENDS BUT THE FAITH

Why so cross?: a review of Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins and The Pattern of Evolution by Niles Eldredge (Thomas Nagel , London Review of Books)
Contemporary biologists who write for the general public usually have more to impart than scientific information. They have lessons to teach us about how to think of ourselves and our relation to the universe. This is not surprising, since biology is pervaded by Darwin's theory of evolution, and the significance of that theory for our self-understanding remains largely unassimilated.

It isn't just that evolution contradicts the Biblical story of the creation - which the Roman Catholic Church and most Protestant denominations don't take literally any more. Darwin's theory, as usually understood, is one of the most radically reductive scientific conceptions of all time, for it says that the appearance of purpose in the intricate design of living things and in their exquisite adaptation to their environments is an illusion: the whole plant and animal creation is a cosmic accident, or rather the result of a very long chain of accidents, explainable only in terms of the non-purposive laws of particle physics. That the process ever got started, with the formation of a suitable self-replicating molecule, seems to have depended on a chemical accident, though it is not possible at present to construct a realistic scenario that makes probable its occurrence in the time available since the earth began. And it seems radically contingent that, having begun, the process should have followed a path that included the appearance of vertebrates, mammals and ourselves. All this is obscured by the purposive-sounding Just-So stories by which evolution is often explained. [...]

The biological problem that is the focus of the dispute is set out most clearly in Eldredge's book: what modification of the conception of the evolutionary process is required by the fact that the fossil record does not support Darwin's belief that evolution proceeded gradually, and at a more or less constant rate? The fossil record is of course very patchy, but what it seems to reveal are species that come into existence, persist largely unchanged, often for millions of years, and then become extinct. It does not reveal long sequences of gradually changing ancestors of new species, linking them by minute intergenerational variation to predecessor species. Nor does it reveal the kind of gradual, cumulative intraspecies evolution that finally results in a difference great enough to constitute a new species.

Rather, the time required for the appearance of a new species is apparently very short by comparison with the time during which it then persists largely unchanged. A species that appears in the geological blink of an eye - say, ten thousand years, too short a time for any transitional stages to show up as fossils - may stay the same for five to ten million years after that. The process by which a new species is formed is apparently too fast to show up in the fossil record, but too slow to be observed in human experience. 'No utterly convincing case of true speciation (that is, involving sexually reproducing organisms) has as yet emanated from a genetics lab,' Eldredge writes.

He believes that these facts are incompatible with an unmodified version of Darwin's theory, because Darwin believed in gradualism: that evolution proceeds at a constant rate, with gradual variations within species (of the kind commonly produced by animal breeders) leading to differences and branching that eventually become so great that they turn into separate species. In a sense, Eldredge says, Darwin didn't believe in the reality of species, as discrete entities. What was real were individuals - and the gradually developing differences between them. Species, however, do seem in some sense real: their distinctness and internal uniformity both at a time and over time are striking. Eldredge and Gould coined the term 'punctuated equilibria' to describe their theory of this non-gradual evolutionary process whereby short bursts of rapid change are followed by long periods of stasis.

Now this might seem like the locus of a profound disagreement within evolutionary theory. What gives rise to new species, suddenly, if not the slow process of incremental change that Darwin envisioned? Does it mean that creative forces of some kind are at work, generating radically new forms of life through a process internal to the genetic material? That would certainly be incompatible with the reductionist outlook of the traditional theory of natural selection.

Eldredge thinks nothing of the kind, however.

Well, he wouldn't, would he?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 PM

HIGH SPEED ROADWAY

Israel Softens Stance on Wanted Palestinians (JAMES BENNET, 8/17/03, NY Times)
Israel has relented on one of its core demands on the Palestinian leadership, backing away for now from its insistence that the men it regards as wanted terrorists be held under lock and key in Palestinian prisons, Israeli and Palestinian officials said today.

Instead, Israel has accepted in principle the assurances of Muhammad Dahlan, the Palestinian minister of security, that he will monitor the wanted men in the cities where they now live and prevent them from mounting attacks, the officials said.

That would represent a less aggressive strategy than the immediate "dismantlement" of terrorist infrastructure that Israel has sought. Bush administration officials had indicated that they would accept for now the milder Palestinian approach, which amounts to containment and, perhaps, assimilation into mainstream society.

Palestinian officials said the agreement cleared the way for an effective amnesty for wanted men who abandon violence.

The road continues to have far fewer turns, twists, potholes, and detours than folks expected and it still ends in just one place: statehood.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:51 PM

LET ME GUESS, HE'S NOT A CONSERVATIVE

Ordinary People (Interview with H. W. Brands, Atlantic, September 2003)
H. W. Brands argues that too much reverence for the Founding Fathers is unhealthy—and that it's time to take them down a notch or two ...

Brands: One of the things that strikes me as mind-boggling is this timid reverence toward the Constitution.... The Founders were willing to make drastic changes in the governance of America, yet we're not willing to make even the smallest changes. That's what I would like people to think about when they think about the Founders. They were a group characterized by courage and boldness. I don't think they were any wiser than we are, but they were a whole lot more willing to take risks on behalf of what they believed in.

Atlantic: What do you think should be the mechanism for this rewriting of the Constitution? Are you imagining that it would be rewritten within the existing process of amendments?

Brands: Well, that would certainly be a start. If we were really in the spirit of the Founders, people would just get together and call an utterly extra-legal convention, because that's what the convention of 1787 was. They had no authorization to do anything.

Brands's idea isn't new. Blackmun, Burger, Douglas, Brennan, Stewart, Marshall, and Powell have already held such a convention.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:31 PM

WHOSE OBJECTIVES IS HE TALING ABOUT (via Mike Daley)

War and Aftermath (Frederick W. Kagan, August 2003, Foreign Policy)
Why has the United States been so successful in recent wars and encountered so much difficulty in securing its political aims after the shooting stopped? The obstacles in the way of establishing stable polities in Kabul and Baghdad were always considerable. It was never likely that the road to peace and stability in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan would be short or smooth. The nature of the American military operations in both countries, however, multiplied those obstacles instead of reducing them and greatly increased the chance of failing to achieve the political objectives that motivated both wars.

The reason for this fact lies partly in the vision of war that President Bush and his administration brought into office and have implemented in the past two wars. This vision focuses on destroying the enemy's armed forces and his ability to command them and control them. It does not focus on the problem of achieving political objectives. The advocates of a "new American way of war," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Bush chief among them, have attempted to simplify war into a targeting drill. They see the enemy as a target set and believe that when all or most of the targets have been hit, he will inevitably surrender and American goals will be achieved.

War is not that simple, however. From the standpoint of establishing a good peace it matters a great deal how, exactly, one defeats the enemy and what the enemy‚s country looks like at the moment the bullets stop flying. The U.S. has developed and implemented a method of warfare that can produce stunning military victories but does not necessarily accomplish the political goals for which the war was fought.

If these two wars represented merely isolated cases or aberrations from the mainstream of military and political developments in the U.S., then the study of this problem would be of primarily academic interest. That is not the case. The entire thrust of the current program of military
transformation of the U.S. armed forces, on the contrary, aims at the implementation and perfection of this sort of target-set mentality. Unless
the direction and nature of military transformation change dramatically, the American public should expect to see in the future many more wars in which U.S. armed forces triumph but the American political vision fails. [...]

The most important problem with these visions of war is not anything within them, but the fact that they leave out the most important component of war ? that which distinguishes it from organized but senseless violence. Neither ncw nor "shock and awe" provides a reliable recipe for translating the destruction of the enemy's ability to continue to fight into the accomplishment of the political objectives of the conflict.

The decisive flaw in Mr. Kagan's reasoning is fairly easy to expose, and it is this: if the political objective of American war was to create stable democracies, we'd not leave a USSR in place for the fifty years of the Cold War, nor a Saddam Hussein in place for the twelve year cold phase of the Iraq War. In point of fact, we've demonstrated fairly little historical interest in how other nations are run, so long as they don't annoy us. When they do begin to annoy us, we've a tendency to briefly take cognizance, try to make them less annoying, and then ignore them again. It would be delightful if the people of Iraq--or what's left of it after Kurdistan shears off and the Sunni flee--decided to become a stable liberal democracy. But it's silly to imagine that an America that didn't even stay involved in Germany long enough to make sure that it met the criteria after WWI and which expended no effort to make sure that the Eastern half of Germany met it after WWII will now set as its national policy the creation of such a state in Baghdadistan. And it is nearly deranged to believe we'd set such a goal for Afghanistan, which has none of the characteristics of a state, let alone a stable one or a democracy.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:26 PM

EVOLUTIONARY THEORY PROBABLY EXPLAINS WHY BACHELORS ARE MORE LIKELY TO CLIMB EVEREST, TOO

A researcher says marriage ruins a beautiful mind (Clive Thompson, Boston Globe, 8/17/2003)
Physics and mathematics are filled with prodigies who erupted with ideas in their 20s, only to spend the rest of their lives failing to replicate their early strokes of genius....

Armchair theorists have offered plenty of reasons why....

But earlier this summer, a brash new study claimed to discover the real culprit, and a rather unlikely one: marriage. In a paper for the Journal of Research in Personality, Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science, declared that evolutionary psychology explains why male scientists, at least, lose steam as they age. Scientists achieve great things, he argued, because, like rams butting heads on the African veldt, they're attempting to woo mates and ensure their genetic heritage. Once they marry, their drive to achieve declines.

"We've evolved these big brains partly to attract mates," Kanazawa says. "And science is one part of what we do to attract mates."...

Half as many unmarried scientists made their major contribution in their late 50s as in their 20s. Married scientists, however, were only 4.25 percent as likely to hit it big in their 50s as in their 20s. For Kanazawa, it was proof that our evolutionary urges are governing our science.

I expect that around 2024, the Journal of Research in Personality will publish a pathbreaking paper by an unmarried psychologist suggesting an alternative explanation: It's hard to do great and original science when your kids want to play with you and your wife wants attention.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:04 PM

HE LEARNED A DIFFERENT LESSON

Bush honing his smart weapons (ROBERT NOVAK, August 17, 2003, Chicago SUN-TIMES)
George W. Bush's main fund-raisers and contributors expected a pep talk from the president when they were his guests for a barbecue at Crawford, Texas, last weekend but instead received a long and enthusiastic portrayal of U.S. capability to remove ''evil'' regimes.

In a speech that lasted close to an hour, President Bush described the use of American military power in Iraq as ''history-making.'' He said the use of smart weapons to ''decapitate'' any regime's tyrannical leadership was no ''blunt ax.'' Instead, it showed dictators that they ''can't hide'' from avenging Americans.

A lot has been written the past few weeks about how post-war Iraq has chastened the Administration and left it unlikely they'd embark on another regime change--like in N. Korea or Syria. The folks writing such things don't seem to have learned the main lesson of Iraq, while the President has: it's really easy for us to topple enemy regimes. And the question isn't can we replace them with liberal democracies--we probably can't--but are we better off with them gone--we are.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 PM

THE WAR THAT MATTERS

Pentagon Reform Is His Battle Cry: Donald H. Rumsfeld, with new political clout won in Iraq and Afghanistan, intensifies his war on the military establishment. (Doyle McManus, August 17, 2003, LA Times)
Donald H. Rumsfeld has won two wars and won them his way, overruling military traditionalists. But to the secretary of Defense, Afghanistan and Iraq were merely two battles in a larger crusade.

Even as he directs military operations around the world, Rumsfeld has seized a leading role in the national security debate in Washington, giving the Pentagon new clout in administration debates on foreign policy and intelligence.

He has set out to "transform" the military establishment. He wants everything to move more quickly, whether it's getting Marines to trouble spots or designing and delivering new weapons systems.

Pentagon officials would write fewer reports to Congress, get raises based on performance rather than seniority, and buy weapons and supplies at the best value for the dollar. And overseas troops would shift from Cold War garrisons in Europe to terrorism hot spots like East Asia and the Middle East.

All that at the age of 71, on the final lap of a long political career.

If Rumsfeld succeeds on all those fronts, he may enter the history books as one of the most powerful secretaries of Defense since the office was created -- as powerful as Robert S. McNamara, who remade the Pentagon in the 1960s. [...]

Rumsfeld is pugnacious, demanding, brusque and, to his rivals, infuriating. That, admirers say, is what makes him effective.

Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger collided with Rumsfeld almost 30 years ago, when Rumsfeld was on his first tour as Defense secretary under President Ford. Kissinger described the young Rumsfeld in his memoirs as "a special Washington phenomenon: the skilled full-time politician-bureaucrat in whom ambition, ability and substance fuse seamlessly."

To quote "Rumsfeld's Rules," a collection of aphorisms the Defense secretary has compiled over half a century: "Don't necessarily avoid sharp edges. Occasionally they are necessary to leadership."

Or, more succinctly: "If you try to please everybody, somebody's not going to like it."

"Rumsfeld has a black belt in both proactivity and reactivity," said a former senior official. "[Secretary of State Colin L.] Powell is spending most of his time being reactive.... The result is that Rumsfeld often dominates. On a lot of issues, he's this administration's thought leader."

One of the reasons that folks don't really comprehend how thoroughly the Bush administration is trying to revolutionze the federal government is because bureaucratic infighting is hard to ubnderstand and nearly impossible to make sexy in the press. It is these reforms that matter in the long run, not things like the war in Iraq, yet few even know about the former while all are obsessed with the latter.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:52 PM

AN EVEN DIRTIER DERBY

Soap Box Derby Rolls Into an Uphill Challenge:Trying to get the race back on the road, organizers refuse to confront cheating. (Melanie Payne, August 13, 2003, LA Times)
For a few hours one recent Saturday, Wilton "Bill" Blakely, a 13-year-old from North Carolina, was on top of the world. He was a member of an elite group of fewer than 120 people who could call themselves All-American Soap Box Derby world champions.

Bill had taken the triumphant ride back up Derby Downs race track in Akron, Ohio, where minutes before his gravity-powered racing car had coasted to victory. He was wearing the gold jacket that distinguished him as the champ. He posed with his trophy -- nearly as tall as he is -- on the hill where he won the race. But three hours later he was world champion no more. He was stripped of his title and the $2,500 college scholarship that went with it. He was asked to remove his jacket and hand it over to a derby official.
A post-race inspection had found that the teenager had doctored his racer -- he had cheated.

Such cheating, to one degree or another, is as old as the race. Despite the attempts that the All-American's board of trustees has made to portray the race as pure, wholesome fun, there's a dark side that reared its ugly head again in Akron last month. And an event that was finally making a comeback was tainted once again not only by cheating and but also by a failure to acknowledge that it goes on. [...]

In 1972, a man named Bob Lange decided his son would enter -- and win -- the All-American race. The car was designed by a research scientist in California. Lange flew a former world champion from Indiana to his home in Boulder, Colo., to act as a consultant, and he had the car tested in a wind tunnel. Lange's son won the race, but before the car could be examined, Lange spirited it out of Akron, raising ire and suspicion.

The next year Lange went through similar machinations to make sure the title of world champion stayed in the family. Lange even gave his nephew, Jimmy Gronen, an extra edge by installing a battery-operated magnet in the nose so that when the metal starting plate went into the ground he would automatically be propelled forward. Officials examining Gronen's racer found buttons on the steering wheel and headrest. An X-ray showed the wires and the battery. In front of a group of reporters in downtown Akron, the officials cut the car in half and exposed the illegal device.

Geez, makes those shop teacher dads at the Pinewood Derby look like pikers.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:59 PM

ANOTHER BITE AT A DIFFERENT APPLE

In Calm Blackout, Views of Remade City (MARTIN GOTTLIEB
When the lights went out on Thursday, Imani Kuumba was in an eyeglass shop on 116th Street in Harlem. She was also in a very different New York from the one she lived in when the last major blackout in 1977 turned her South Bronx neighborhood into a harrowing zone of plunder and mayhem.

In 1977, "it was complete chaos, just total chaos," Ms. Kuumba recalled. "They grabbed the flashlights and started looting." This time, the eyeglass-store owner and the other shopkeepers along 116th Street quickly ushered their customers onto the street and pulled down their iron gates.

The police showed up so fast, she said, "it was like they knew beforehand this was going to happen." And through the night, "the people took it in stride," she said. "They barbecued in the dark. They sang. They were listening to KISS and partying. I think they felt that this was just another event, something that occurs in New York, and it would be over soon."

Tall buildings have crumbled in New York since the last blackout. Drug scourges have come and gone. The economy has boomed and flattened and struggled to boom again. Millions of people have moved out and in and changed the face of the city forever.

Through it all, though, the blackout as metaphor for the civic psyche appears to have survived. And this time, Kenneth T. Jackson, the president of the New-York Historical Society, says he thinks it may be saying, "This is a city that seems to be under control."

In 1977, New York had reached an arson-scarred, drug-infested, economically challenged nadir. The blackout looting then was breathtakingly panoramic, often against a background of rock-throwing and flames. Today, the first snap of a blackout easily awakens fears of terrorist attacks. But this notwithstanding, Mr. Jackson said, "when we think of the city we think of the ordered city."

Much of the credit for this certainly goes to Rudy Guiliani, but it is also worth considering the possibility that 9-11 made New York a better, more cohesive, city and us a better people, at least for a while.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:53 PM

FUNNY HOW A BOMBING CHANGES YOUR POLICY, EH?

Australia: awakes: It used to be a minor international player, but the Bali blast and action in the Solomons have changed that. (Nick Squires, 10 August 2003, Sunday Herald)
They were on the scene within hours of Tuesday’s devastating car bomb outside the five-star Marriott Hotel in Jakarta. Dressed in blue boiler suits and wraparound sunglasses, a dozen Australian police officers picked their way through the twisted metal, mangled body parts and shattered glass which littered the hotel’s horseshoe-shaped forecourt.

Along with their Indonesian counterparts, they began the painstaking task of looking for clues as to who detonated the bomb that killed 10 people and injured around 140 others.

Four years ago such co-operation would have been unthinkable. Not only did Indonesia have a deep distrust of Australia, arising from Canberra’s intervention in the bloody separatist conflict in East Timor, it denied it had a terrorist problem at all.

But the wounds left by Australia’s prompt and muscular military intervention against pro-Jakarta, anti- independence militias in East Timor in 1999 have begun to heal.

And Indonesia’s president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, has finally faced up to the threat posed by Islamic militants based in the sprawling archipelago.

In a speech to the nation’s top legislative body early this month, she admitted that home-grown terrorist groups posed “a terrifying threat” that had to be “cut off at the roots”.

Australia and Indonesia, despite lingering cultural, political and historical differences, have rarely been closer. [...]

The relationship began to improve, ironically, after the fireballs that engulfed the Sari Club and Paddy’s Bar in Bali last October, killing 202 people, 88 of them Australian.

That's a strange place to insert the word "ironically". Of course the attention of these two governments was seized by the bombing.

August 16, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:56 AM

LONG VIEW REPUBLICANS

Right's view of Isakson changes (Tom Baxter, 8/9/03, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Throughout the '90s, Rep. Johnny Isakson's relationship with the religious right was frosty, and when he cut an ad staking out his position on abortion in the 1996 Senate campaign, it turned downright frigid. For a while, the rap on Isakson was that he could do well in a statewide general election campaign but would have a hard time ever winning a Republican primary, because of opposition from religious conservatives.

That perception has changed. [...]

As Southeastern chairman of the Bush re-election campaign, Ralph Reed isn't taking sides in the Senate primary. But the former state GOP chairman and national director of the Christian Coalition credits Gov. Sonny Perdue's election with a change of attitude within the religious right.

"Sonny has given social conservatives a place at the table and an important role in the Republican majority that makes it less necessary for them to settle every other single score in the party," Reed said.

Although abortion is likely to remain the core issue for religious conservatives, the focus of their attention for the next election or so might be such recent developments as the U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared bans on homosexual activity unconstitutional and the appointment of an openly gay Episcopal bishop.

"There are a lot of things falling out now regarding the culture that have grabbed the attention of conservative Christians," Fields said.

Isakson has signed on as a co-sponsor of a House bill that would ban gay marriage. He isn't likely to be any further to the right on that issue than any of his Republican opponents, but the issue could have an inoculating effect nevertheless.

Keen said support by religious conservatives for the Bush administration, and the recent defeat in the Senate of judicial nominees supported by the religious right, are causing some intraparty differences to be put aside.

"You want people who'll support his policies," Keen said about the president, "and, if you're in the U.S. Senate, someone who'll confirm his nominees."

Get to 60 Republicans in the Senate and all of the social conservative issues become winnable, especially as the judiciary gets restocked with conservatives.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 AM

DOCTRINE MATTERS

Who Else Need Not Apply If Religion Comes Into It? (William Saletan, August 10, 2003, Washington Post)
It's true that many Catholics oppose abortion. Three years ago, in Stenberg v. Carhart, all three Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court -- Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- voted to uphold a Nebraska ban on "partial-birth" abortions. A litmus test on that issue might have kept them off the court. But the test cuts both ways. The court's two Jews, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, voted to strike down the Nebraska law on the grounds that such abortions might be necessary to protect the woman's health. That's consistent with recent statements of Reform and Conservative Jewish doctrine. If you buy the argument made by Hatch and Sessions, Republicans who voted against Breyer and Ginsburg because of their statements about abortion were enforcing a litmus test against Jews. [...]

Anti-abortion activists opposed the elevation of Breyer and Ginsburg to the court. In 1999, Pat Buchanan wrote, "If the Republican Party were truly pro-life and anti-judicial activism, neither Justice Ginsberg [sic] nor Breyer would have been approved." This year, the Cardinal Newman Society, the foremost Catholic collegiate organization, called for protests at commencement addresses by Breyer and by journalist Steven Roberts -- who, the Society noted in a quotation from his wife Cokie, "is Jewish [and] more sympathetic to the pro-choice side."

Senior Republicans in the Senate likewise opposed the confirmations of Breyer and Ginsburg for abortion-related reasons. In 1993, Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.), voted against Ginsburg. At the time, the Associated Press reported that Nickles "said he was worried that her position that restricting abortion rights would be sex discrimination might lead her to limit the rights of states to put restrictions on abortion." In 1994, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., declared on the Senate floor that he would vote against Breyer in large part because Breyer's "views on abortion in general are questionable." Republicans subsequently elected Lott and Nickles to the two most powerful Senate posts.

Neither Lott nor Nickles brought up Judaism in their criticisms of Ginsburg or Breyer. But Democrats who voted against Pryor this year never brought up Catholicism, either. In a letter to The Washington Post earlier this month, C. Boyden Gray, who served as White House counsel to former president Bush and now chairs the group that ran the "Catholics need not apply" ads, failed to produce a single instance of a Democrat using the C-word. The religious-bias argument made by Hatch and his Republican colleagues doesn't require such explicitness. It merely requires that you oppose a judicial nominee because of his or her abortion views. If those views coincide with the doctrine of that nominee's faith, you're a bigot.

If Republicans believe that, they'd better start answering their own question. When they vote against judicial nominees who support abortion rights, are they saying that Reform and Conservative Jews need not apply?

Yes. If Reform and Conservative Jewish nominees approve of Roe v. Wade--which is not only anticonstitutional but against the Natural Law basis of the Declaration--then Republicans should oppose their elevation to the bench, just as Democrats oppose the nominations of devout Christians. The fact that the Constitution bars religious Tests does not mean peoples' religious views should not be considered. The only question here is what kind of political price the parties may pay. Being perceived as anti-Christian seems more dangerous.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 AM

MONUMENTAL

United States v Roy Moore: The most important states' rights case in decades... (Mark Alexander, August 15, 2003, Townhall.com)
Defending the protection of the state from federal jurisdiction in this case, Justice Moore testified, "The basic issue is whether we will still be able to acknowledge God under the First Amendment, or whether we will not be able to acknowledge God." But U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson would have none of that and ordered the monument removed.

Justice Moore took his case to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, protesting that "...Federal district courts have no jurisdiction or authority to prohibit the acknowledgment of God that is specifically recognized in the Constitution of Alabama," but Judge Ed Carnes upheld Thompson's ruling. Carnes wrote: "Any notion of high government officials' being above the law did not save [states' rights proponents] from having to obey federal court orders, and it will not save [Alabama Chief Justice Roy S. Moore] from having to comply with the court order in this case. ... If necessary, the court order will be enforced. The rule of law will prevail."

Apparently, Judge Carnes relied on the same adulterated version of our Constitution used by Thompson. Our copy still says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," which applies to, well, Congress, not Chief Justice Moore, who was elected to state office by the people of the state of Alabama. The only parties in this case involved in "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion are the ACLU and their Leftjudiciary minions.

Chief Justice Moore has appealed the 11th Circuit Court ruling to the Supreme Court, declaring: "We must defend our rights and preserve our Constitution. ... To prohibit the acknowledgment of God upon Whom our justice system is established is to undermine our entire judicial system. We will defend this display in the judicial building vigorously. It is an acknowledgment of a sovereign, holy God Whose laws superintend those of man. We will not retreat from that position, because it is true."

Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist has noted previously, "The wall of separation between church and state is a metaphor based upon bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned. ... The greatest injury of the 'wall' notion is its mischievous diversion of judges from the actual intention of the drafters of the Bill of Rights."

Ironically, in the Supreme Court, the Ten Commandments are etched in a marble relief above the Justices' bench, for indeed they are the moral foundation of American law. [...]

The foundational question all constitutional constructionists should be asking: On what legitimate constitutional grounds can a federal judge lodge demands, punishments and fines against chief judicial officers in the several states -- or does the federal bench now assume that the states are nothing more than administrative agencies of the central government -- rather than federally separated governments subject to their own constitutional sovereignty?

We're thinkin' Judge Moore's enjoying himself.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 AM

LONGSHOREMAN OF LIBERTY

The legacy of Eric Hoffer (Thomas Sowell, June 18, 2003, Townhall.com)
The twentieth anniversary of the death of Eric Hoffer, in May 1983, passed with very little notice of one of the most incisive thinkers of his time -- a man whose writings continue to have great relevance to our times.

How many people today even know of this remarkable man with no formal schooling, who spent his life in manual labor -- most of it as a
longshoreman -- and who wrote some of the most insightful commentary on our society and trends in the world?

You need only read one of his classics like The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements to realize that you are seeing the work of an intellectual giant.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 AM

IF ONLY ONE EAR LISTENED

Black boys see little to encourage education (Nathan McCall, 8/17/03, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
I now teach at Emory University and have devoted my life to learning. Yet, looking back, I understand why it's so hard nowadays to convince young black males of the value of education.

I thought about that after reading two pieces in last Sunday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the difficulty in motivating young males to strive to excel in school. The issue has mushroomed into a national debate, but in all the wrangling there is one vital point that often gets underplayed: As adults, we tend not to see what they see when they look out into the world we have made for them.

We still tell them they can be president, and they see that the top job is still reserved for rich white men. They also see that, with brilliant blacks
holding multiple college degrees, a mediocre white man of average intelligence (George W. Bush!) gets to run the world. And despite all the lofty declarations of equality, few people will seriously entertain a different ethnic choice.

I suspect that black males see that, among African-Americans who boast sterling college credentials, many still appear to be beaten down.

Moreover, there is an appalling paradox concerning higher education in America and black males that is virtually impossible for young people to overlook. That paradox is this: We say we cherish educational opportunity, but as the recent Michigan affirmative action battle demonstrates, what we say and do are different things. Nowadays, blacks entering the nation's top schools often are haunted by suspicion and nasty lawsuits that essentially challenge their right to be in school. [...]

[W]e need to examine this educational challenge from the vantage point of the people we seek to help -- young black males. If we do, we might realize that there is no lack of logic guiding them. We might also discover that they are, in fact, motivated -- not by what adults tell them is true but by what they see is so.

So, let's see if we have this straight, when whites challenge affirmative action, young black men hear the message that they aren't wanted in schools because of their race, but when affirmative action prevails whites shouldn't hear the message that less qualified blacks are given an advantage just because of their race? Precisely what should they be hearing?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 AM

CRAWLING FROM THE WRECKAGE

The Clinton Candidate: Howard Dean didn't just come out of left field. (PETER BEINART, August 11, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
The mystery of the 2004 Democratic campaign isn't that a governor has caught on--that happens in most presidential years. The mystery is that there is only one governor in the field, and that he comes from such a tiny state. Usually, presidential fields are roughly split between governors and senators. And usually, the governors hail from large states (Bush, Reagan) or at least midsize ones (Carter, Dukakis). Even Mr. Clinton's Arkansas is four times the size of Vermont. Were there another governor in this year's Democratic pack, particularly one from a larger state, he would likely have exploited the same institutional advantages Mr. Dean has, and therefore detracted at least somewhat from the Vermonter's allure.

To understand why there is not, look at Bill Clinton's stewardship of the national Democratic Party. Any governor running for president in 2004 would have come of political age in the 1990s. And when Mr. Clinton took office in 1993, the states looked like a fertile source of eventual Democratic presidential contenders. Democrats controlled the governors' mansions in 28 states, including six of the 10 largest.

But the liberal taint of Mr. Clinton's first two years--on gays in the military, guns, and health care--decimated Democratic governors across the
country. By 1995, there were only 19, and only one in the nine largest states. Gone were heavyweights like Mario Cuomo, Ann Richards and Jim Florio, and numerous others who saw promising careers cut short. Several weeks after the 1994 disaster, Mr. Clinton invited a handful of Democratic governors to a private dinner and received an earful for having abandoned the center. Among the participants was Howard Dean, who told the Associated Press, "I can assure you there was no one at the table arguing the president should go to the left."

Mr. Clinton took their advice. And over the next few years, he capitalized on GOP radicalism to re-establish his moderate credentials and resuscitate the Democrats in Washington. By the time Mr. Clinton left office, the Democrats had regained three Senate seats and eight House ones. But in the states, where politics is generally less ideologically polarized, Republicans did not fall prey to the same overreach, and Democrats never recovered, ending the decade with even fewer governorships than they held in 1995.

So the 1990s, a productive decade for the Democratic Party in Washington, was an extremely unproductive one for Democratic governors.

The strange addendum to this is that the Democratic Party is now diving headlong back to where Bill Clinton mistakenly took it in 1993-4--on health care, gays, national security, etc.. You'd think they'd want to get back to where he was when he managed to win re-election: reforming welfare, cutting spending, putting schoolkids in uniforms, etc. Instead of getting back to the Center-Right, they seem hellbent on going way Left. Strange.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 AM

)

Freedom (Joseph Epstein, Summer 2003, Notre Dame Magazine)
Personal freedom pivots on two prepositions: freedom for and freedom from. Thirty or 40 years ago one might have said that women were most concerned about freedom from: from loneliness, economic worry, anxiety generally. Men wanted freedom for: travel, pleasure, adventure generally. Men may have been the greater fantasts. [...]

I recently read a biography of Count Harry Kessler (1868-1937), the German cultural impresario who, along with being an important patron of modernist art during its difficult early years, was also a figure on the edge of German politics. A man born to great wealth, Kessler, toward the end of his life, realized he had spread himself too thin. His explanation of why he did so is, I think, instructive in the light of the kind of personal freedom our own age so highly values without ever quite being able to achieve.

"But no one can live out all the personalities he contains," Kessler wrote in his diary, "which is why no person (aside from quite primitive ones) is entirely happy. The more complicated he is, the more souls he contains, the more personalities he can and must be in order to live out his life fully, the more unhappy he is, at least relatively. Only for the very superficial or very primitive is it possible to exhaust all the contents of one's soul in a short life span; for one must necessarily neglect a part of one's potential fulfillment."

For all his wealth, talent, connections, Kessler could not achieve the fulfillment for which he longed. Like so many other worshippers of freedom, before and after him, Kessler finally "drowned," in the phrase of Soren Kierkegaard, "in the sea of possibilities." The desire for fulfillment, for seeking an outlet for all one's potentialities, in the end comes to little more than another version of the search for personal freedom -- in this case, the freedom for complete self-development.

Personal freedom may, alas, ultimately be a fantasy. As soon as one thinks about one's happiness or one's freedom, one senses that one is neither happy nor free. Freedom may even be one of those words, happiness is another, that one has only to think about in a concentrated way and -- poof! -- it disappears.

My own lately arrived at, rather dour view is that there is no genuine freedom without constraint. Freedom is available, I have come to believe, only after one has lived through and conquered constraint.

More important than the personal aspect, a general freedom from constraint must soon lead to a clamp down precisely because the "freedom for" is counterbalanced by the at least equally compelling desire for "freedom from" and as href=http://transfinitum.net/brothersjudd/archives/week_2003_04_06.html#005250>liberty declines into little more than license folks will
inevitably and justifiably seek a return to order--nearly any kind of order--just to be protected from the arbitrary and capricious behavior of their
fellow men.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 AM

QUIXOTIC, AGAIN

Explaining Bush to Italy: The view from here to there. (Michael Novak, August 14, 2003, National Review)
I cannot think of a president who, once in office, so surprised both his critics and his followers as George W. Bush. True, people
expressed surprise at how adroit Reagan was as a political leader, particularly with the Congress, and how truly brilliant as a communicator. But George W. Bush as president had surprised everyone by the high quality of his speeches, and by the bold and ambitious agenda he has step by step organized, one stunning challenge after another. After the suicide attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, for instance, many who had earlier opposed him publicly thanked God that Bush (not Gore) had been elected the preceding year. The young Bush instantly became the voice of the best in the American spirit. He was prayerful and reverent. His public leadership was fearless and steely eyed. When he asked people for their prayers, people who had never met him before knew he meant it. Among evangelicals and others there are many highly active prayer groups, some of them worldwide, praying intensely for him daily.

The desire of G.W. to do the right thing, conscientiously, is palpable.

Never have Catholics had so solicitous a friend in the White House. Bush met early and often with the cardinals, usually without press attention. He also called into existence a lay Catholic "sounding board" led by the editor of the lay journal Crisis, Deal Hudson, to stay in almost daily contact with his top staff. No president has ever been stronger on "the culture of life," or a more consistent supporter of the vision set forth by John Paul II. So pro-Catholic are the president's ideas and sentiments that there are persistent rumors that, like his brother Jeb, the governor of Florida, G. W. might also become a Catholic. These rumors probably have no substance but merely verbalize an impression: How could the president's express ideas be so Catholic unless...?

Many Europeans have a hard time sympathizing with the American Republican party. For in Europe they are so inured to statist modes of thinking that there is nothing like the Republican party. From my own experience, I can sympathize on this point. Only slowly, and over intense inner resistance, did I myself come to side more with Reagan's vision of the world than with the social-democratic Democrat-party ideas I had been educated in during my youth. For one thing, the Republican grasp of the dynamism of economic life is much closer to reality, and less statist and (yes) less corrupt. Republicans have a strong sense of community, but their community is the local communities, the "little platoons" written of by Edmund Burke, and families. These are what they reverence, not the state.

Show Democrats a problem, they look for a new state program -- always costly, usually inefficient, and probably counterproductive in the long run. Republicans look to see what people, pulling together in associations, can do for themselves.

For the Republicans, "liberty" is the powerful and dynamic social ideal. For the Democrats, "security" is the most powerful organizing tool. Crying "security," they seek to attract majorities, and to direct the flow of history toward the construction of an ever more watchful and solicitous state. The Democratic style suggests motherliness, the caring nanny. The Republican style suggests manliness and the valiant woman.

Any essay that adopts the freedom vs. security theme is thumbs up in our book, but there's another useful idea here: boiling down George W. Bush's philosophy of government to the "desire...to do the right thing." Such a desire is never a guarante of good results and is quite dangerous if not guided by a restraining morality and genuine humility, but it would explain a good many perceived contradictions in his policies.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 AM

BUT THE MOBOCRACY WAS SUPPOSED TO BE PROGRESSIVE

Days of the Locust: Yet another of California?s middle-class riots is upon us (Harold Meyerson, AUGUST 15 - 21, 2003 , LA Weekly)
California's most distinctive social upheavals...are neither those of the working class nor those of the lumpens, but those that the broader, unanchored white middle class supports on Election Day. They've included tax revolts, like Howard Jarvis? Proposition 13, and somewhat veiled moves for racial separation, like last year's failed campaign for San Fernando Valley secession from Los Angeles. There have also been the Perotoid revolts against the state?s political class, which have led to term limits so severe that most state Assembly members are still learning how a bill becomes a law as they're being shown the door.

The recall circus into which the state has now plunged is the reductio ad absurdum of these middle-class eruptions. Though it began more simply, as Darrell Issa's new-age coup d'etat, it quickly took on all the symptoms of a classic California convulsion, in which the state's problem (supposedly, Gray Davis) and its solution (supposedly, Arnold Schwarzenegger) are characteristically misidentified. But in a state where television news coverage of politics and government is nonexistent and where the entertainment industry is covered (actually, hyped) constantly, the emergence of Arnold as the political savior of the month should come as no surprise.

The sheer abundance of fruitcake and exhibitionist candidates, the treatment of politics as tabloid entertainment, the touting of Schwarzenegger's "leadership" capacities (as evidenced by what? Conan's rescue of the princess?) and his quick embrace (according to the polls) by a quarter of the California electorate--all these seem to come straight out of Nathanael West's 1939 comic-grotesque novel of L.A.?s embittered and sensation-seeking lower-middle class, The Day of the Locust. "Their boredom becomes more and more terrible," West wrote of his anomic Angelenos. "They realize they've been tricked and burn with resentment. Every day of their lives they read the newspapers and watched the movies. Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, wars. This daily diet made sophisticates of them." How West was able to anticipate a typical Channel 7 newscast is anyone's guess.

West's novel ends with a deadly riot at a Hollywood premiere. A bit hyperbolic, that; when the Golden State?s white middle class riots, it normally happens at the ballot box. And so we get the California that votes against desegregated housing and for sending immigrants back to Mexico.

Which brings us up to October 7, Election Day, which may turn out to be one more Day of the Locust after all, with Gray Davis devoured by an angry mob.

The best part of California's disastrous experiment with direct democracy is that it's brought the Left face to face with the fact that they hate the
demos. The intellectualized version of "the people" is supposed to be a social animal, eager to share and get along with his fellow man. In fact, they are brutally selfish. Of course, the Founders could have told them that, if only they'd listen to anything other than the sweet reason of their own intellects.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:17 AM

A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF ME

True Lies: A week in the life of the Terminator, the candidate hiding in plain sight (Bill Bradley, AUGUST 15 - 21, 2003 , LA Weekly)
The strongest challenger was definitely not going to compete. It was obvious. Nearly everyone knew it. So the other players made their preparations accordingly. Then, just before the start of the contest, Arnold Schwarzenegger stunned nearly everyone by announcing that he was in after all.

Sounds like the 2003 California governor's race. It also happened in the 1980 Mr. Olympia contest. Schwarzenegger had been retired from competitive bodybuilding for five years before coming back to win his seventh Mr. Olympia title, a record that still stands. (The canny Schwarzenegger always emphasizes his five Mr. Universe titles now but the most prestigious world championship is Mr. Olympia, a rather, well, Aryan-sounding name.) Scheduled to be a commentator at the event, Schwarzenegger surprised the field by showing up in Australia as a competitor instead.

If you can get past the fact that this is the epitome of the worst kind of modern journalism, in which the author presents himself as at least of co-equal interest to the reader as his subject, it's pretty interesting.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 AM

)

When editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez portrayed George W. Bush as the Viet Cong in the famous street execution scene from the Tet Offensive, he made a very bad mistake, though one that any competent editor should have caught. But folks who were more familiar with his work assured that he was in fact conservative and that the piece was meant to suggest that the President was being unfairly attacked over Iraq. His latest cartoon would certainly seem to support the view that he's a conservative.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 AM

THE BEKAA BECKONS

Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in Lebanon? (WorldNetDaily: Geostrategy-Direct, August 15, 2003)
Israeli intelligence has identified what are believed to be Iraqi weapons of mass destruction goods in Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon, U.S. officials said.

The Israelis used a spy satellite to photograph several tractor-trailer loads of suspected weapons into the Bekaa Valley, where the Islamist terrorist group is based.

Shipments there began in early January and ended the first week of March.

According to Israeli intelligence, Saddam paid Syrian leader Bashar Assad $35 million to hide the weapons.

One would be even more dubious of this if Bill Gertz, who gets so many National Security stories right, weren't involved in Geostrategy-Direct.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 AM

BIG GOVERNMENT, SMALL STATE

A 'Big Government Conservatism': George Bush hasn't put a name to his political philosophy, but we can. (FRED BARNES, August 15, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
The essence of Mr. Bush's big government conservatism is a trade-off. To gain free-market reforms and expand individual choice, he's willing to broaden programs and increase spending. [...]

When I coined the phrase "big government conservative" years ago, I had certain traits in mind. Mr. Bush has all of them. First, he's realistic. He understands why Mr. Reagan failed to reduce the size of the federal government and why Newt Gingrich and the GOP revolutionaries failed as well. The reason: People like big government so long as it's not a huge drag on the economy. So Mr. Bush abandoned the all-but-hopeless fight that Mr. Reagan and conservatives on Capitol Hill had waged to jettison the Department of Education. Instead, he's opted to infuse the department with conservative goals.

A second trait is a programmatic bent. Big government conservatives prefer to be in favor of things because that puts them on the political offensive. Promoting spending cuts/minimalist government doesn't do that. Mr. Bush has famously defined himself as a compassionate conservative with a positive agenda. Almost by definition, this makes him a big government conservative. His most ambitious program is his faith-based initiative. It would use government funds to expand social programs run by religious organizations. Many of them have been effective in fighting drug/alcohol addiction and helping lift people out of poverty. So far, the initiative has had only a small impact, its scope limited by Congress.

Another trait is a far more benign view of government than traditional conservatives have. Big government conservatives are favorably disposed toward what neoconservative Irving Kristol has called a "conservative welfare state." (Neocons tend to be big government conservatives.) This means they support transfer payments that have a neutral or beneficial effect (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) and oppose those that subsidize bad behavior (welfare). Mr. Bush wants to reform Social Security and Medicare but not shrink either.

That last seems somewhat incorrect. Rather, we might say that under George W. Bush's vision of the welfare state, the government would force individuals to exercise freedom, a contradictory sounding thing to be sure. But once you accept that conservatives have lost the war over the welfare state, and that people are simply going to insist that there be a social services net beneath them throughout their lives, then perhaps this is the best option remaining to those of conservative instinct.

What this emerging vision proposes is that rather than have the central government collect and then disperse monies for these services as they are needed, the individual be required to pay into a variety of funds for a lifetime, retain some significant degree of control over them, and, in essence, dispense the monies to himself. What ends up happening in such a regime is that, as a threshold matter, one has one's freedom taken away--one is given no choice whether to participate in the system or not. This is a bitter pill for conservatives to swallow. However, one is then returned the better portion of the liberty that we no longer enjoy today when that once confiscated money is put into the personal accounts that each of us would administer or rendered into vouchers. On its face--though it might be a different story in practice--this appears to add up to a society with greater freedom than we have now and with a considerably smaller state, even if it has some sizable government programs.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 AM

THE ALIEN TONGUE

What Threatens Us (Paul J. Cella, 08/14/2003, Tech Central Station)
Both Belloc and Chesterton knew, at least intellectually, that Muslims are really our brothers, even if they have been led astray. Belloc in particular repeatedly wrote in his superb book on the great heresies that though Islamic civilization is at the moment materially inferior, it remains spiritually strong, and that there is no compelling reason to believe such a material impotence will persist indefinitely. He admired this strength; though he had no love for the heresy animated by it. He reminded his readers that, hardly a hundred years before the founding of the American Republic, the Turks were threatening to overrun central Europe; that, in other words, men of the American Revolutionary generation in Europe felt the menace of the "Mohammedan" not unlike the way men of the 1950s felt the menace of the Communist. Chesterton, meanwhile, noted the spiritual strength of Islam with this striking insight:

A void is made in the heart of Islam which has to be filled up again and again by a mere repetition of the revolution that founded it. There are no sacraments; the only thing that can happen is a sort of apocalypse, as unique as the end of the world; so the apocalypse can only be repeated and the world end again and again. There are no priests; and this equality can only breed a multitude of lawless prophets almost as numerous as priests. The very dogma that there is only one Mohamet produces an endless procession of Mohamets.

Reading these two towering English Catholics illuminates the inky darkness into which stiff secularism has thrown us. That which has stirred the minds of men across the centuries, in our own civilization and others, and will do so yet until the crack of doom, is distant and impenetrable to us today.

"Cultures spring from religions," wrote Belloc, "ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude toward the
universe; the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it." This is like an alien language to the modern mind; but alien or no, it is a real and vital language, unlike the mere gibberish on offer elsewhere.

The darkness doesn't get much inkier than this, Is banning the Bible next? Mark
Steyn, Aug. 13, 2003, Jerusalem Post):
If you live pretty much anywhere in the Western world these days, you'll notice a certain kind of news item cropping up with quiet
regularity. The Irish Times had one last week.

As Liam Reid reported, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has warned Catholic bishops that distributing the Vatican's latest statement on
homosexuality could lead to prosecution under the 1989 Incitement to Hatred Act, and a six-month jail term.

"The document itself may not violate the Act, but if you were to use the document to say that gays are evil, it is likely to give rise to hatred, which is against the Act," says Aisling Reidy, director of the ICCL. "The wording is very strong and certainly goes against the spirit of the
legislation."

Compare this to the still "vital force" in Christianity outside of the developed world and in Islam, Lead Us Not...! (Amr Mohammed Al-Faisal, Arab
News):
The West today is following a secular-materialist philosophy, which it imposes on all other human beings--whether they like it or not.

Its Christian leaders in this example prefer to follow the supposedly liberal Western ideology and encourage the idea that a person should be allowed to act on whatever their sexual preference is, because that amounts to “personal freedom”, while in the process ignoring two millennia of Christian teachings and the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) which state the opposite.

Then, having trampled over centuries of doctrine, they go on to trample over the religious sensibilities of all their non-Western “brothers” and impose their decision by elevating one of their own Western homosexuals to the position of bishop of the Anglican Church. They are exploiting the poverty and vulnerability of their non-Western “brothers” by ignoring their more traditional views.

The African, Asian and Latin American branches of the Anglican Church are faced with the choice of acceding to their Western “brothers” (“It’s my way or the highway!”) or to accept the inevitable negative consequences.

So we learn an important lesson on the respect Westerners have for religion and how they deal with any religion that does not conform to their “liberal” ideology. After all, does that non-Westerner Jesus (peace be upon him) know more about Christianity than an American or British bishop?

If this is how they deal with their own religion, think what they will try (are already trying) to do with other religions such as Islam.

...and you can see why these men who respected culture had such high regard for the potential of Islam. The question that confronts us is whether it is more likely that the Islamic world can reform its political and economic institutions or the West can recapture its former moral clarity and spiritual vigour. The answer is not obvious.

MORE:
CHESTERTON:
-EXCERPT: from The Everlasting Man: The Escape from
Paganism (G. K. Chesterton)
-ESSAY: The Newness of The New Jerusalem (James V. Schall, S. J., Winter 2002, The Chesterton Review)
-ESSAY: Causes and Catapults: The Incarnation and Its Enemies (Philip Jenkins, December 2001, Philip Jenkins)
-ESSAY: Digging Up the Future: On GK Chesterton (David Langford, Vector 100 1980)
-SERIES SITE: G. K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense (EWTN)
-REVIEW: of The Flying Inn by G. K. Chesterton (Addison H.
Hart, Touchstone)

BELLOC:
-ESSAY: Hilaire Belloc: Defender of the Faith: Had we had ten
Hilaire Bellocs in the English-speaking Catholic world in the past fifty years, we might have converted the whole kit-and-caboodle and avoided the mess we find ourselves in today. Hilaire Belloc, coupled in memory always with his great friend G. K. Chesterton, made the defence of the Faith the main business of his life. He wielded a mighty sword. (FREDERICK D. WILHELMSEN, The Catholic Writer: The Proceedings of the Wethersfield Institute 2, 1989)
-ESSAY: "Islam Will Not Be the Loser": Hilaire Belloc's study of the Crusades provides a unique and fascinating look at the relation of military and spiritual forces. To read him today is almost like reading current history. (JAMES V. SCHALL, January-February 2002, Catholic Dossier)
-ESSAY: BELLOC ON THE “APPARENTLY UNCONVERTIBLE” RELIGION (James V. Schall, S. J., April 1, 2003, Vital Speeches of the Day)
-ESSAY: Islam Under Attack (Pat Buchanan, Jihad Unspun)
-Hilaire Belloc (Alliance of Literary Societies)

GENERAL
-ESSAY: Comparing Christianity & Islam: Peter Kreeft outlines the main theological and practical differences, as well as the important common elements, between Christianity and Islam. (PETER KREEFT, May 1987, National Catholic Register)
-THE CRESCENT AND THE CROSS Issue (Catholic Dossier,
January/February 2002)
Posted by M Ali Choudhury at 6:29 AM

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

World population will grow significantly - despite falling fertility



There is a most striking paradox in global population trends: on one hand we have had a rapid decline in fertility for over two decades in many developing countries - not to mention the already very low fertility in most of the highly developed nations; on the other hand we will almost certainly experience a further massive increase of the world population. Between now and the middle of the next century world population will most likely increase by some 3.68 billion people - all of these increase will be contributed by the developing countries.

From the 3.68 billion people that will be added to the world population between 1995 and 2050, Asia will contribute some 2 billion. Most of this growth will occur in the next three decades. Between 1995 and 2025 Asia's population will grow by 1.35 billion - between 2025 and 2050 the increase is projected to be just 658 million. Despite a projected increase in mortality due to AIDS, we cannot expect a significant slowing down of population growth in Africa. This continent will contribute 1.3 billion people to the world population between 1995 and the middle of the next century - almost twice as much as its current total population. Europe's population will almost certainly decline - by 27 million over the next 30 years and by another 64 million between 2025 and 2050.

Which countries, worldwide, will have the highest increase in population during the 100-year period between 1950 and 2050? If the 1996 UN medium variant population assessments and projections are accurate (and there is no reason to believe otherwise) India will lead the group with an increase of 1.18 billion people - significantly larger than that of China, which will have a population increase of "only" 962 million (see Table C1_3). The third largest contributor to world population growth between 1950 and 2050 will be Pakistan with an increase of 318 million people. The ranking of the other 7 countries is as follows: Nigeria (+306 million); Indonesia (+ 239 million); Ethiopia (+ 194 million); United States of America (+ 190 million); Brazil (+ 189 million); Bangladesh (+ 176 million) and Iran (+ 153 million).

There are several overwhelmingly Muslim populations with very high population growth rates, such as those of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or the United Arab Emirates. But none of them is projected to have such a massive absolute increase of the population as Pakistan. In 1950 Pakistan had a population of about 40 million people. Since then it has more than tripled and stood at 136 million in 1995. But the real population explosion in Pakistan will only come over the next few decades, because the country not only has a very young population, but also still an extremely high fertility - much higher, for instance, than in Bangladesh or Thailand. These large numbers of children and young adults will soon come into reproductive age and will produce a large number of offspring even if we assume, as in the UN medium variant, a rapid decline in average fertility to reproductive level (of 2.1 children per woman) by 2020. Pakistan's population will be about 357 million by 2050 (according to the UN medium variant projection) (see Figure C1_6).

Over the next decades the world population will inevitably age. This is an unavoidable consequence of large birth cohorts during the 1950s and 1960s and the rapid fertility decline since the 1970s. In 2025 the "baby boomers" of the 1950s and 60s will be between 65 and 75 years of age. These large aging cohorts are followed by the relatively small "baby bust" generations of the worldwide fertility decline.

While currently population aging is most serious in Europe and Japan, China will experience a dramatic increase in the proportion of elder people by the middle of the next century. This is largely due to the country's success in family planning, which rapidly reduced the relative size of birth cohorts since the 1970s.

August 15, 2003

Posted by David Cohen at 10:00 PM

WE CAN REMEMBER IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE.

Actor Rob Lowe Joins Schwarzenegger Campaign (Reuters, 8/15/03).
Actor Rob Lowe, who played a top White House aide on television, has joined the real-life gubernatorial campaign of fellow star Arnold Schwarzenegger, a campaign spokeswoman said on Friday.

Lowe, a longtime Democratic activist whose attendance at the party's 1988 national convention led to a sex scandal, has accepted a volunteer post to organize celebrity supporters for Schwarzenegger, a Republican seeking to unseat Democratic California Gov. Gray Davis in a recall election this fall.

Lowe became the third high-profile addition to the Schwarzenegger campaign in as many days, following announcements that billionaire investor Warren Buffett -- another Democrat -- and former Secretary of State George Shultz had agreed to serve as co-chairs of the actor's Economic Recovery Council.
This may seem like an odd line to draw, but I can't help feeling that we just took a sharp turn off Reality Avenue.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:41 PM

FTC FILES

The Arab media and the Iraq war: The Iraq war was not simply about regime change in a single country, but a prelude to a larger regional shift in political systems. The crucial impact on the Arab world will include a vital lesson for its media: no less than the inevitability of democracy. Can the Arab media rise to the challenge of telling this story truthfully? (Abdel Karim Samara, 13 - 8 - 2003 , Open Democracy)
There were three most obvious shortcomings in these stations’ reporting. The first and most important was their inability to communicate the stance taken by the Iraqi people towards its regime. We did not see one Iraqi criticising the regime. Was this due to state censorship or to self-censorship due to fear of the regime and its oppression?

The second fault was any knowledge of the structure of the Iraqi opposition, its capabilities and internal relations. This was shown in their common assumption that the future of Iraq was being played out by the forces in the field – that is the Iraqi and allied forces. The third dimension is the lack of credibility of some reports, with battles described by a correspondent as fierce, while the same station later reported that they were merely short exchanges of fire. [...]

Despite these criticisms, the war showed the media’s importance in the Arab world, where freedom of expression has become a necessary priority. This in itself has made us more optimistic, as it shows the Arab masses will not remain bound to the dictates of their regimes or external forces. Intense and bulky doses of the war as fed to us by the media forced us to examine phrases such as “gaining victory over the infidels and gangs of international rogues,” as the Iraqi information minister put it, and “the liberation of Iraq” as the American president and his secretary of defence put it. All previous political assessments of Arab-Arab relations or Arab-international relations, and more importantly, the relations between the governing and the governed, should be reconsidered to pave the way for new premises that are scientific, modern and open to criticism and review.

This is how the pressures of globalization are supposed to work, but we'll see.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:32 PM

GOT MINE; GET YOURS

Class warfare?: The lawsuit over school vouchers in Colorado is following a familiar pattern: Better-off suburban parents who are happy with their children's public schools oppose poorer parents who want options (Lynn Vincent, 8/23/03, World)
Colorado Governor Bill Owens in April 2003 signed a bill that created the first publicly funded school-voucher plan since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Cleveland Scholarship Program last year. In May, the Colorado Education Association filed suit with a Denver district court to block the program, naming Gov. Owens as defendant. Now that action is winding its way through side motions. The main case may be heard as early as this fall.

The Colorado suit is like others brought by teachers unions against school-choice programs that dare to challenge the public-school monopoly. The union plaintiffs are joined by liberal interest groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way, which fight legislatures that redirect public-education dollars when public schools fail to educate kids. The Institute for Justice, a conservative legal group that argued for Cleveland's voucher program before the U.S. high court, is defending COCP.

This suit, like other school-choice legal battles, also names individual families as plaintiffs and defendants--12 who want vouchers and five who don't. (More individual plaintiffs claim injury as taxpaying parents, but they often represent interest or faith groups. WORLD focused on the 17 families who filed on behalf of their minor children.)

Parties on each side of the suit have accused their opponents of using these families to peddle their agendas. But a closer look at six of the families blows that myth--and reveals that citizens on each side are separated not only by a wide economic gulf, but also by deeply held differences over proper public spending and the meaning of educational opportunity. [...]

According to 2000 census data, the average of median household incomes in zip codes where pro-voucher families live is $33,337 compared with $51,954 for families who don't want vouchers. Is the lawsuit, then, a battle between the "haves" and the "have-nots"? [...]

Plaintiff parent Alan DeLollis doesn't believe any publicly funded private education program will—or should—work: If parents choose education alternatives outside of public education, he said, that's their privilege and their right. "But they shouldn't be using public funds."

A senior producer for the City of Denver's Internet and television department, Mr. DeLollis is married to a public-school elementary teacher, Deborah Brennan. The couple lives off Denver's "Antique Row" in Platt Park, a trendy urban area where some homebuyers are fixing up houses built between 1910 and 1940. The DeLollises also own a mountain cabin in Fairplay, Colo.

Cameron DeLollis, 14, will start high school this year, majoring in cinematography at Denver School of the Arts (DSA), a public magnet school. Eleven percent of DSA students are low-income; 2003 CSAP test scores are high in reading and writing (75 to 95 percent of sixth- through 10th-graders scored at or above proficient), and lower in math (44 to 65 percent of students scored at or above proficient.)

Asked how long parents of children in failing public schools should wait for improvement before agitating for change, Mr. DeLollis remained firm in his support of public education: "I don't think that's a decision we should make. As a social contract, [citizens] have agreed to fund a public-school system and that's what we should do."

Meanwhile, Angelia Teague believes the social contract has failed her daughters. To anti-voucher parents, she had this to say: "I want what's best for my children just like you. I pay taxes, just like you. Why can't I use my tax money to prepare my children for their future? Knowledge can take my children places they otherwise wouldn't be able to go."

This is why vouchers aren't likely to be adopted to the degree that they should be. Republican elected officials with their well-to-do white constituencies just aren't going to follow their ideology at the expense of voter support. And since the Democrats are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Labor movement--and teachers' unions are afraid of a free market in education--they're not going to push the programs. Besides, it's only poor kids who end up being screwed and it's not like they're a powerful lobby or voting bloc.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:16 PM

THE WIFE ALWAYS WONDERED WHERE THOSE BULLETS WENT

The Untold Story of the Civilian Death Toll (Mohamad Ozeir, August 13, 2003, Pacific News Service)
Most reports coming out of Iraq are built around the casualties of American soldiers in post-war attacks. Deaths and injuries among Iraqi civilians, however, rarely make it to the pages of U.S. newspapers, even when the Iraqis are killed in the same incident -- and even when major international newswires report these casualties.

In late July, for example, the major story out of Iraq was the killing of Saddam's two sons, Uday and Qusay, and his grandson, Mustapha, in a raid on a house in the city of Mosul. But Western media missed a crucial aspect of the story.

Several reports of the sons' deaths mentioned that some Iraqis celebrated the news in a traditional Iraqi way: firing guns into the air. What was missing in the coverage was that many Iraqis lost their lives in the celebrations. Al Mu'tamar newspaper, published by the Iraqi National Conference -- the closest of American allies -- quoted medical and security sources in Baghdad citing that 31 civilians were killed and 76 injured as a result of the revelry gunfire. No U.S. media reported such news.

Maybe the press just had a healthy sense of embarrassment for people that stupid?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:11 PM

WHICH NATION IS THE "N" IN "NPR"?

The Siren Song of Punditry (Jeffrey A. Dvorkin [NPR Ombudsman], August 11, 2003, NPR Online)
NPR encourages its journalistic staff to speak in public. But they are expected to hold to the same high standards when they appear in other media as they would in their regular duties on NPR. A number of NPR journalists appear in other media. Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr's essays first heard on NPR often appear as a weekly column for the Christian Science Monitor. Other NPR journalists are frequently asked to pen their observations for op-ed columns around the country.

Still other NPR journalists have regular duties on some of the national television talk shows. It's on television where the temptations and dangers of personal opinion seem the greatest, in my view. On television, the challenge is for NPR journalists to stay in their role as reporters and to avoid any punditry that might be viewed as personal opinion. NPR's Nina Totenberg and Tom Gjelten regularly appear on PBS where the discussions are often weighty and the tones are measured. PBS hosts often urge their guest to voice their opinions, but few NPR listeners find that problematic.

Some listeners find this more troublesome when it comes to Fox News and the regular presence of NPR's Juan Williams and Mara Liasson. That issue came to a head with reference to statements made by Liasson on Fox.

Last Oct. 3, Mara Liasson on Fox News Sunday commented on the arrival of Congressmen Bonior and McDermott in Baghdad prior to the start of the war: "These guys are a disgrace. Look, everybody knows it's 101, politics 101, that you don't go to an adversary country, an enemy country, and badmouth the United States, its policies and the president of the United States. I mean, these guys ought to, I don't know resign." [...]

Bruce Drake as vice president of news is responsible for NPR's journalistic standards. He says:

"My guidelines are simple: an NPR News reporter should not say something on a television talk show, the Internet or a public speech that they could not say on-air for NPR in their own reporting. NPR listeners need to know that the journalists they hear on our air are committed to accuracy and fairness. Our listeners need to know that our journalists do not come to the stories they cover with an agenda, meaning that they must maintain a firewall between their private opinions and their professional performance."

Liasson realizes that her spoken words can't be retracted: "I certainly shouldn't have said it. I don't believe it is in any way representative of remarks I make anywhere, on Fox, PBS, NPR or in person about the news. I would encourage people to read the entire transcript from 10/3/02."

If you can't say that on NPR then shut it down.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:05 PM

GET RICH QUICK!

In boost for peace plan, Israel agrees to hand over four West Bank towns to Palestinian control (Lara Sukhtian, 8/15/2003, Associated Press)
In a major boost for the ''road map'' peace plan, Israel has agreed to hand over an additional four West Bank cities to Palestinian control, Palestinian and Israeli officials said Friday.

Israel also announced that it will permit Yasser Arafat to travel to the Gaza Strip to visit the grave of his sister Yousra, who died earlier this week and was buried in Gaza City, Israel TV reported. It would be Arafat's first time leaving his besieged compound in Ramallah in more than a year and a half. [...]

Implementation of the road map peace plan has been held up in recent weeks in a dispute over the release of Palestinian prisoners and demands for a crackdown on Palestinian militants. In the meantime, a key truce by militants has been shaken by two suicide bombings this week that killed one person and other violence.

So far, Israel has returned to Palestinian control the West Bank town of Bethlehem and parts of the Gaza Strip.

Israel freed 73 Palestinian detainees on Friday, the second group in less than two weeks, though Palestinians dismissed the release as insufficient.

Here's an easy and nearly foolproof way to make money: every time folks claim that a recent bout of violence or some other stumble marks the end of the Road Map, bet them a thousand dollars they're wrong.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:53 PM

MISTER, WE COULD USE A NEOCON LIKE HERBERT HOOVER AGAIN?

The Neoconservative Persuasion: What it was, and what it is. (Irving Kristol, 08/25/2003, Weekly Standard)
A few years ago I said (and, alas, wrote) that neoconservatism had had its own distinctive qualities in its early years, but by now had been absorbed into the mainstream of American conservatism. I was wrong, and the reason I was wrong is that, ever since its origin among disillusioned liberal intellectuals in the 1970s, what we call neoconservatism has been one of those intellectual undercurrents that surface only intermittently. It is not a "movement," as the conspiratorial critics would have it. Neoconservatism is what the late historian of Jacksonian America, Marvin Meyers, called a "persuasion," one that manifests itself over time, but erratically, and one whose meaning we clearly glimpse only in retrospect.

Viewed in this way, one can say that the historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy. That this new conservative politics is distinctly American is beyond doubt. There is nothing like neoconservatism in Europe, and most European conservatives are highly skeptical of its legitimacy. The fact that conservatism in the United States is so much healthier than in Europe, so much more politically effective, surely has something to do with the existence of neoconservatism. But Europeans, who think it absurd to look to the United States for lessons in political innovation, resolutely refuse to consider this possibility.

Neoconservatism is the first variant of American conservatism in the past century that is in the "American grain." It is hopeful, not lugubrious; forward-looking, not nostalgic; and its general tone is cheerful, not grim or dyspeptic. Its 20th-century heroes tend to be TR, FDR, and Ronald Reagan. Such Republican and conservative worthies as Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked. Of course, those worthies are in no way overlooked by a large, probably the largest, segment of the Republican party, with the result that most Republican politicians know nothing and could not care less about neoconservatism. Nevertheless, they cannot be blind to the fact that neoconservative policies, reaching out beyond the traditional political and financial base, have helped make the very idea of political conservatism more acceptable to a majority of American voters. Nor has it passed official notice that it is the neoconservative public policies, not the traditional Republican ones, that result in popular Republican presidencies.

Not only is this last silly but it's silly in a particularly revealing way. Herbert Hoover was an archetypal neocon. He was a true believer in the kind of national greatness nonsense that David Brooks and William Kristol are so fond of, that the government should always be trying to do something enormous just so it has something to do, and of which TR is their exemplar. The dynamics of the liberal rewriting of history require the view that Hoover was a continuation of Coolidge and that he sat stunned as the Depression occurred, unable to accept the need for bold government action. But then, thankfully, FDR came along, gave government its head, and got America growing again. The truth is quite otherwise. It was Hoover who first exploded the size of government, giving us deficit spending, our first federal budget over a billion dollars (if memory serves), and increasing taxes to do so. (Nor is that kind of action surprising given that his previous experience had been the rebuilding of Europe after WWI, including the disastrous decision to feed and thereby save the USSR.) The problem wasn't that Hoover didn't begin a New Deal; it is that under both Hoover and FDR such propgrams were utterly ineffective. It was not until WWII got going and we were in the weapons business big time that the American economy truly recovered. Even David Kennedy, a fairly garden variety liberal historian, but a terrific writer, sets out the case conclusively in the Oxford History of the United States volume on the depression and WWII, Freedom from Fear. FDR, in fact, would likely be recalled not much more warmly than is Hoover had the War not unfortunately saved him and the reputation of the Welfare State.

Meanwhile, Ronald Reagan can be claimed by both neocons and conservatives, but Coolidge and Eisenhower were both fabulously successful and popular presidents and, as Mr. Kristol says, obviously conservative in the classic sense. Indeed, there appears to be no link between the espousal of neoconservatism and the popularity of the president in question.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:32 PM

JUST THAT ONE BAD DECADE

Recently Traumatized, Coping Yet Again (Robin Givhan and Lynne Duke, August 15, 2003, Washington Post)
The worst place to be was on the subway.

When the power failed in New York and across the Northeast today, subway cars lurched to a sudden halt and the stations turned inky black. The air thickened and passengers sat trapped on trains for as long as two hours, stuck below ground in hot tin cans. The only escape were stairs at the end of a dark dirt- and grease-covered tunnel, the place where the rats live.

When rescue workers and volunteers finally arrived at Josephine Balancer's car, the babysitter guided her two young charges out of the car and into the tunnel, all while carrying her own 15-month-old daughter in a stroller. She had been on the Broadway local, deep under midtown Manhattan, headed uptown to the Bronx. They picked their way along the filthy tunnel on a 15-minute trek to the station at Columbus Circle.

When they emerged into a city without power, they were met by a friendly hot dog vendor bearing bottles of water and paper towels, which they used to wash a thick slick of black grease from their arms and faces.

Late tonight, as some of the thousands of commuters who were stranded tried to sleep on newspapers they had laid out on the streets around Grand Central Station, the city remained gripped by darkness. There were no reports of disturbances amid a heavy police presence in the streets. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said authorities had called in every available police officer to deal with the emergency.

In the first hours of the power outage, across a city that somehow coped with the unthinkable nearly two years ago, people seemed almost happy to show New York's best side once more, under less fearsome conditions. Though traffic lights were out and sweat-soaked pedestrians streamed through the streets, car horns were not leaned on, brakes went unscreeched. When people waved, it was with all five fingers.

Interesting that this represents a return to the rather decent behavior of 1965 and stands in stark contrast to the wretched behavior of 1977. Anyone who wonders why Herb Brooks death mattered need only consider how badly 1970s America needed to know it was redeemable. Anyone who thinks we weren't a better nation before the late '60s and aren't a better nation today than we were by the late '70s need only ponder these examples.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:23 PM

DEALING W THE REAGAN CARD

Air Controllers Clash With White House (Don Phillips, August 15, 2003, Washington Post)
After years of labor peace under a friendly Democratic administration, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association has chosen to take on the Bush administration over whether the Federal Aviation Administration can continue to contract out control towers at some smaller airports.

At first glance the boisterous duel seems to be over whether to continue unchanged a program that the union once tolerated. But beneath the surface, it represents a decision by the union and Senate Democrats to use the issue as a battleground for the Republican philosophy of privatizing functions now handled by government employees.

Union President John Carr said bluntly that he aims to head off any future plan to privatize other air traffic control functions.

"I'm not really comfortable leaving it up to ideologues when it's a matter of safety," Carr said.

Obviously it should be left up to the union bosses...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:18 PM

CONTAINING MULTITUDES

Assessing Latino political paradox: POLLS SHOW THEY WANT IT BOTH WAYS (Joe Rodriguez, 8/15/03, San Jose Mercury News)
Another political poll arrived the other day to remind us that Latinos are walking contradictions. Thank you, very much.

The New York Times and CBS poll said Latinos back big government and President George W. Bush, who is famously in favor of little government. It said Latinos want more government services and lower taxes. But tax cuts mean service cuts.

The poll said Latinos trust the Democrats to improve public education, but they also like the school vouchers Republicans would give their children to attend private schools. It said Latinos back affirmative action, as true liberals do, but they take the conservative side on abortion and gay marriages. [...]

What I find most interesting is the Latino affinity for President Bush.

The poll found they approved of his job performance 52 to 38 percent, while 54 percent agreed that he "cares about the needs and problems of people like yourself.'' By contrast, just 40 percent of Latinos had a favorable view of the Republican Party.

Seems largely just a function of him making it clear that he wants to be liked by them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:40 AM

THE TIMES--WHERE MEN ARE ANGELS

Elders Behind the Wheel (NY Times. 7/27/03)
When an 86-year-old driver plowed through a farmers market at high speed in Santa Monica recently, killing 10 people and injuring dozens of others, he reignited a smoldering debate over the need for stricter regulation of elderly drivers. It is a sensitive issue, pitting the desire of older Americans to remain mobile and independent against the public's need for safety on the roads. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to this dilemma. Experts say there is no surefire test to spot those apt to cause trouble behind the wheel and no alternative transportation in many parts of the country to serve those barred from driving.

Virtually everyone agrees that as people reach advanced age their reflexes slow, their vision deteriorates and their strength, agility and coordination may diminish. But plenty of old people retain their skills to an advanced age, and plenty of young people can be terrible drivers. Statistically, the elderly do not cause all that many deaths on the highways, partly because many limit their driving as their abilities diminish, avoiding highways or sticking to home after dark. Drivers 75 and older are more likely to be involved in collisions than middle-aged drivers and more likely to be held liable for causing injuries and property damage. But mostly they harm themselves and their passengers. Drivers younger than 30 are responsible for far more injuries and lives lost in the vehicles they hit. Teenagers remain the greatest menace. [...]

The privilege of driving should not lightly be denied to the elderly in a society built around the automobile. In the absence of any foolproof system of weeding out dangerous drivers, society will have to rely on the elderly to recognize their own limitations and on family members to engage in a friendly conspiracy to take away their keys.

That's absurd. People, especially the elderly, are unlikely to judge themselves incompetent to do much of anything, let alone something like drive. Driving shopuld be a privilege that obtains from ages 21 to 75, but can be revoked for either legal or medical reasons at any time. If old people and young people need to get around, let them depend on family for rides and return responsibility for young and old to their families. We can rebuild social capital even as we make our roads safer.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM

FROM THE NON-PROBLEM PROBLEM FILES

Homeowner Boards Blur Line of Who Rules Roost (MOTOKO RICH, 7/27/03, NY TImes)
About one in six people in the nation, or roughly 50 million residents, lives in a community governed by a homeowners association, from co-op buildings in New York City to suburban subdivisions. Formed to take care of the small tasks that fall through the cracks of municipal government, like picking up garbage and repainting curbs, some homeowners associations are asserting far broader powers, backed by local courts.

Cities and counties, which are reluctant to raise taxes to pay for services, have in many cases stepped aside, allowing associations to become de facto governments with increasing authority over daily life.

The growth of associations has created "a whole sector of people who don't use public services," said Evan McKenzie, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois in Chicago who has written widely about the subject. Homeowners who live in such communities, he added, "don't need local governments."

Homeowners associations collect dues, which finance a variety of things, including landscaping and playgrounds. The boards, composed of elected volunteers, dictate house paint colors, lawn-mowing schedules and parking policies for recreational vehicles. The boards can fine residents who break these rules and, in some cases, foreclose on homeowners who cannot afford the monthly dues.

While many homeowners say the codes preserve neighborhood harmony and property values, a growing and vocal group of opponents say the way association rules are enforced is actually tearing apart communities. "Homeowners associations are based on a negative attitude that you can't trust your own neighbor," said George Staropoli, a business broker in Phoenix who founded Citizens Against Private Government H.O.A.'s two years ago.

Grass-roots networks of critics, linked by the Internet, have formed to lobby state legislatures. Lawmakers in Arizona, California and Texas have proposed measures restricting the powers of homeowners associations to foreclose without due process.

Here's an idea: move.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 AM

OBJECTIFICATION

The Culture of Disease: After all the effort exerted to convince the world that AIDS is not a gay disease, we now have a generation embracing AIDS as its gay birthright. (HARVEY FIERSTEIN, 7/31/03, NY TImes)
In our effort to remove the stigma of having AIDS, have we created a culture of disease? We all see the ads for H.I.V. drugs. They
illustrate hot muscular men living life to the fullest thanks to modern science. Other ads show couples holding hands, sending the message that the road to true love and happiness is being H.I.V. positive.

Is that message: You're going to be O.K.? (Which is terrific.) Or is it: You want to be special? Get AIDS. H.I.V. equals popularity and acceptance.
(Which would be tragic.)

My heart goes out to all who have the infection. But while I pledge my energies and resources to the fight for a cure, quality care and justice, I still think we need to examine what we're teaching our gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and straight youth. In my opinion, the messages the drug companies are spreading are lies. The truth is that AIDS is not fun. It's not sexy or manageable. AIDS is a debilitating, deforming, terminal and
incurable disease. H.I.V. drugs can bring on heart, kidney and liver disease, as well as a host of daily discomforts.

Unlike the photos in the ads we see, most of my friends who are on drug cocktails are not having the time of their lives. They spend mornings in the bathroom throwing up or suffering from diarrhea. They spend afternoons at doctor's appointments, clinics and pharmacies. And they spend endless evenings planning their estates and trying to make ends meet because they are not well enough to support themselves and their new drug habit. And those are just the friends for whom the drugs work. For many women the cocktails are nothing but a drain on finance, internal organs and stamina.

Even if the drugs were as effective as advertised, should we be creating a community of drug dependency? We have done a terrific job removing the stigma of having AIDS. But in doing so we've failed to eliminate the disease. H.I.V. is an almost completely avoidable infection. You need to be compliant in some very specific behaviors to be at risk. In fact, if every person now infected vowed that the disease ended with him, we could wipe out the ballooning number of new infections.

Instead, we've sold our next generation into drug slavery and their destiny to medical researchers because we'd rather treat each other as sexual objects than as family.

This last is apparently said without irony.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:49 AM

WHAT'S PLAN C?

California Democrats Give Davis Two Weeks (Major Garrett, August 15, 2003, Fox News)
A new statewide Field Poll released Friday shows that 58 percent of Californian voters now favor recalling Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (search), a seven point increase over the last Field Poll in July.

The news sent Democrats across the state into panic and deepened disillusionment with Davis' continued demands that party donors and special interest groups stick with him in his drive to defeat the Oct. 7 recall.

"It's really, really bad for him," a top statewide Democratic strategist told Fox News. "Because he's been leaning on people all week saying polls showing him in trouble are wrong. Well, what's he going to say now when almost every newspaper in the state on Friday will carry this poll?" [...]

Democrats say Davis has been betting that the media will pound actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is running for the governor's seat as a Republican, and that his image will suffer as the campaign drags on. Strategists also say Davis will appear in public as often as possible to remind Democrats that he's their leader in Sacramento and that the recall is an assault on the entire Democratic Party.

"He's going to say in very strong terms that the recall is part of a Republican attempt to achieve through recall what they haven't achieved in a regular election for years," said a Democratic member of Congress. "We are hoping that people in this state will begin to wake up and see this as a Republican grab for power."

Democratic strategists also said they decided against a public boost for Bustamante because that campaign isn't ready to step into the fray.

You're kind of hurt when you can't risk having the campaign spotlight turned on your backup candidate, notorious lightweight Cruz Bustamante.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:23 AM

MORE POISON, PLEASE

Believe It, or Not (By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, 8/15/03, NY Times)
Americans believe, 58 percent to 40 percent, that it is necessary to believe in God to be moral. In contrast, other developed countries overwhelmingly believe that it is not necessary. In France, only 13 percent agree with the U.S. view. (For details on the polls cited in this column, go to http://www.nytimes.com/kristofresponds.)

The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time. The percentage of Americans who believe in the Virgin Birth actually rose five points in the latest poll.

My grandfather was fairly typical of his generation: A devout and active Presbyterian elder, he nonetheless believed firmly in evolution and regarded the Virgin Birth as a pious legend. Those kinds of mainline Christians are vanishing, replaced by evangelicals. Since 1960, the number of Pentecostalists has increased fourfold, while the number of Episcopalians has dropped almost in half.

The result is a gulf not only between America and the rest of the industrialized world, but a growing split at home as well. One of the most poisonous divides is the one between intellectual and religious America.

What Mr. Kristof seeks to portray as new here--American anti-intellectualism--is in fact one of the defining characteristics of the Republic and maybe the single most important reason that we were able to resist the worst effects of the rise of Statism in the 20th Century and may succeed in reversing as much of it as we unfortunately adopted. To the extent that the "poisonous divide" has grown it is largely a function of the conspicuous failure of intellectualism and reason as organizing principles for a healthy society and of the enduring validity of the religious critique. The American experiment proceeds from a statement of faith--that "All Men are Created equal"--because reason is incapable of arriving at such a departure point, indeed denigrates it, Americanism must be hostile to intellectualism. The question for Mr. Kristof is rather simple: do you prefer France?

MORE:
Mission men (Rabbi Berel Wein, August 8, 2003, Jewish World Review)
The basic tenet of all of Jewish life, history, culture and civilization appears in this week's Torah reading: "Hear O Israel the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is uniquely one." [...]

The ravages of nineteenth and twentieth century secularism gutted this core belief of Judaism for many Jews.

Blinded by the false light of the promise of a better world, vast numbers of Jews forsook "the L-rd is our G-d" for new slogans, Marxist, secularist, Bundist, nationalist and assimilationist in their outlook. But, now at the end of the bloodiest century in human history, when all of the ideologies and empires that began this century as all-powerful and progressive now lie in the ashbin of history, all of these slogans and certainties are mockingly hollow.

New "Judaisms" have arisen that somehow attempt to preserve the Jewish people --- Jewish history and purpose, without a belief in the divinity of the Torah and G-d of Israel. Thus, the "new" types of Judaism have abandoned "the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is uniquely one." Whether a Jewish society can long survive without the Sh'ma as its basic credo is certainly the basic question of our modern world.

All of Jewish history indicates that such a secular, non-observant, assimilationist form of Jewish life will lead only to the extinction of Jewish civilization that the proponents of "secular Judaism" are attempting to preserve. [...]

Every Jew, every human being, should consider what the purpose of life is. This basic question is the one that modern man, now so technologically and educationally advanced, must answer satisfactorily in order for life and society to progress.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 AM

ELECTROMAN TO THE RESCUE!?!

Bush Doesn't Let Blackout Upset Lunch With Troops ( ELISABETH BUMILLER, 8/15/03, NY Times)
President Bush was having lunch with troops at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station when Joe Hagin, his deputy chief of staff, told him of the massive blackout on the East Coast.

But unlike the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when news of another New York catastrophe sent Mr. Bush on an odyssey on Air Force One, today he continued his lunch and went ahead with plans to attend a $1 million political fund-raiser here this evening. Still, he spent the rest of the afternoon on the phone trying to sort out the damage and the cause of the power failure with his top national security aides.

By late afternoon California time, White House officials said the president had determined that terrorism had most likely not caused the blackout. So after more than four and a half hours of White House silence, Mr. Bush made what was intended to be a reassuring statement to a small group of reporters at the Grand Hyatt hotel here.

"One thing I think I can say for certain is that this was not a terrorist act," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush added that he had "been working with federal officials to make sure the response to this situation was quick and thorough, and I believe it has been."

What was he supposed to do, fly there and fix it himself? And what's with the "intended to be" reassuring statement? Was it not reasssuring?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:59 AM

95 SENATORS CAN'T BE WRONG

Global Warming Not Man-Made Phenomenon (Space Daily, Aug 15, 2003)
Global warming will not be helped much by efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere, say two scientists who have studied the matter. Dr. Nir Shaviv, an astrophysicist from the Racah Institute of Physics of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Prof. Jan Veiser a geochemist at the University of Ottawa in Canada and Ruhr University in Germany, say that temperature variations are due more to cosmic forces than to the actions of man.

In a recent article published in GSA Today (the journal of the Geological Society of America) and described in Nature, Shaviv and Veiser tell of their studies illustrating a correlation between past cosmic ray flux -- the high-energy particles reaching us from stellar explosions -- and long-term climate variability, as recorded by oxygen isotopes trapped in rocks formed by ancient marine fossils. The level of cosmic ray activity reaching the earth and its atmosphere is reconstructed using another isotopic record in meteorites.

The study showed that peak periods of cosmic rays reaching the earth over the past 550 million years coincided with lower global temperatures, apparently due to the way that the cosmic rays promote low-level cloud formation (hence blocking out sun warming). No correlation was obtained, however, with the changing amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:40 AM

BUFFET MAY GIVE INDIGESTION

Arnie's Money Man (Don Luskin, Wall Street Journal op/ed, 8/15/2003)
Gone are the hopes that Arnold Schwarzenegger would bring his own brand of free-market Austrian economics to California's troubled economy. The would-be tax terminator has chosen as his chief economics adviser a tax perpetuator -- Warren Buffett....

In introducing the 1991 re-release of Milton Friedman's "Free To Choose" video series, Mr. Schwarzenegger said, "I come from Austria, a socialistic country . . . I felt I had to come to America, where government isn't always breathing down your neck or standing on your shoes."

I have a theory about centrist Republicans: they are people whose ideas have been formed in conversation with liberals, have heard the liberal caricatures of Republicans, and decided that they actually support some parts of the caricature. Yet they also embrace many liberal positions, for lack of familiarity with any alternative; and because their belief is in a caricature, which liberals constructed to be a straw man, their convictions can easily have the stuffing knocked out. Thus, it is not uncommon to see such people drift left once their beliefs are subjected to criticism. They have more confidence in their lifelong relationships with liberals than in their casual relationship to ideas.

Will the Buffet relationship trump the Friedman idea? I hope not, but Mr. Schwarzenegger will have to decide. Already his liberal friends are trying to push him left:
Schwarzenegger Adviser Buffett Hints Property Tax Is Too Low (Wall Street Journal, 8/15/2003)

Warren Buffett, the billionaire financial adviser to Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign for California governor, strongly suggested in an interview that the state's property taxes need to be higher....

Mr. Buffett stopped short of saying he would urge Mr. Schwarzenegger to seek a reversal of Proposition 13 to increase property taxes -- a move that would almost certainly be attacked by many of Mr. Schwarzenegger's fellow Republicans. But he left little doubt that that is where he is leaning.

If it's Schwarzenegger's considered position that Proposition 13 has to be repealed, he'll lose all conservative support. Fiscal conservatives could forgive his pro-abortion and pro-gun-control stands, but they won't forgive the pro-tax trifecta.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:05 AM

CARRY ON, MR. DAVIS

Labor's feeling chill on Davis: Leaders may back replacement if governor's chances look dim. (Aurelio Rojas, August 14, 2003, Sacramento Bee)
Labor leaders who have been Gov. Gray Davis' staunchest allies are having reservations about his ability to survive a recall election and will consider their options at an Aug. 26 convention that could decide his fate.

Those options could include supporting a replacement candidate on the Oct. 7 ballot, which will have 135 names. [...]

Miguel Contreras, executive secretary of the 800,000-member Los Angeles federation, said labor officials are awaiting results of their latest polling.

"But if the polling comes back and says (Davis) is hopeless, then we have to figure out if our resources would be best spent promoting a candidate," Contreras said. [...]

"You don't win elections in Los Angeles without Miguel Contreras," Davis' wife, Sharon, said at the Los Angeles barbecue.

"If labor bolts on (Davis), he's dead meat," said Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media at California State University, Sacramento.

Labor was the largest donor to Davis' re-election campaign last year, for which he raised a total of $78 million. The governor is reportedly seeking an additional $10 million from labor for the recall campaign.

O'Connor said the campaign will also rely heavily on "organized constituents" to turn out their voters and that a mixed message could impede that effort.

"It's very difficult, rhetorically, to say, 'We're really adamantly against this recall, but if you feel you must vote against us, we need to be prepared,' " O'Connor said.

If union officials shift to a backup candidate, O'Connor said, "I would view that as a tacit admission that the governor had gone down (in the polls), and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

It's really just a question at this point of how Gray Davis goes down: meekly, supporting Cruz Bustamante, or fighting and trying to take other folks down with him.

August 14, 2003

Posted by David Cohen at 11:58 PM

ALL GAY MARRIAGE, ALL THE TIME.

Dumb and DOMA (Doug Ireland, Alternet, 4/26/2000)
Election-Year Demagogy around the issue of homosexuality is nothing new in American politics: Ever since a legendary Southern politician named Pitchfork Ben Tillman defeated an opponent by labeling him a 'thespian,' dumping on same-sexers has been a staple of conservatives in both parties. Bill Clinton, however, has the distinction of being the first sitting president to endorse a specific piece of gay-bashing legislation as a campaign tactic.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a Republican bill that sailed through final Congressional passage last week with the president's blessing, was spawned by the strategic musings of Republican ideologue Bill Bennett, who urged his party to attack same-sex unions as a way of underscoring the alleged 'decadent liberal permissiveness' of the Democrats. Clinton's endorsement of DOMA undercut the opposition to it within his own party; two-thirds of House and Senate Democrats followed their president and voted for it.
Leaving the merits of the issue to one side, gay marriage is a perfect example -- even better than the possible nomination of Howard Dean -- of the major problem their base poses for the Democrats this year. The Democrats know perfectly well that this issue is poison in the country at large. After all, Bill Clinton, boy genius, made clear to them that they had to get to the right side of this issue to neutralize it. He knew that, on the one hand, support for gay marriage would raise an unnecessary obstacle to the election of Democrats in red America and that, on the other hand, like other Democratic special interests, gays would give the party a pass. So he got the Defence of Marriage Act (gag) passed, got Democrats to vote for it and signed it. There's not a professional Democrat around who would argue that being pro-gay marriage will be a vote getter come November, '04. Yet, the logic of the Democratic primaries and the continued success of Governor Dean forces the candidates to, at best, fudge this issue and, as time goes on, become increasingly supportive of some recognition of gay unions. The candidates have no choice but to dig for primary gold, but come the convention they're going to find themselves in a hole.
Posted by David Cohen at 9:45 PM

BROTHERS JUDD THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Will & Grace #508-509 Marry Me A Little, Marry Me A Little More
"Oh, please! Gay weddings? Some witchy lesbian waves a stick over you on a beach somewhere. While a drag queen sings 'Evergreen.'"

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 PM

RORSCHACH BUSH

Four More Years?: The invincibility question (Patrick J. Buchanan, September 2003, The Atlantic Monthly)
Though some in the media may portray George W. Bush as a right-wing extremist, he is surprisingly vulnerable to a challenge from his right. Issues: his soaring deficits; his preferential option for the rich; his sellout of conservative principle to embrace big government; his failure to protect America's borders and control immigration; his cave-in on the assault-gun law; his concessions to the gay Log Cabin Republicans; his refusal to put a stop to race preferences and reverse discrimination; his free-trade zealotry, which has helped to kill one of every eight manufacturing jobs in the United States while creating jobs in China; and, potentially the most explosive, his "quagmire" in Iraq. If U.S. soldiers are still dying from sniper fire and ambushes in Iraq in September of 2004, Bush could be vulnerable to the campaign slogan "Support Our Troops-Bring Them Home Now!"

Continued casualties would also raise anew the questions of why we went into Iraq in the first place, who "cooked the books" on the intel, who misled us about the weapons of mass destruction. The President dismisses this as revisionist history. But after World War I-which produced Bolshevism, fascism, and Nazism-the revisionist historians, who indicted the "merchants of death" and "British propagandists" who had "lied us into war," carried the day.

The Democrats are paralyzed in making a case against Bush on most populist issues because they agree with him on so many: war in Iraq, free trade, affirmative action, open borders, big government, amnesty for illegal aliens, foreign aid, gay rights.

Indeed, it has been the great success of Bush-Rove to talk the talk and affect the swagger of cowboy conservatives while occupying the center and the center-left and crowding out the moderate Democrats.

What's most amusing about the putative revolt on the Right is the starkness of the contrast with the Dean phenomenon. As the Buchanacons seek to portray George Bush as a new Nixon, clandestinely pursuing liberal policies, Governor Dean has gained traction for his presidential candidacy by portraying Mr. Bush as a conservative ideologue somewhere to the Right of Ronald Reagan. Perhaps it's just a case where to those on the extremes even the man in the middle appears to occupy the opposite extreme.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 PM

BLOOD GUILT?

What's wrong with Arnold?: He may be a box office king, but years of accusations that the Governator is an anti-Semite may harm Schwarzenegger in the voting booth. And it probably won't help that his dad was a Nazi. (Benyamin Cohen, August 14, 2003, Jewsweek.com)
More than a decade ago, Schwarzenegger approached the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center to help do research on his tainted lineage. As it turns out, Schwarzenegger Sr. joined the Nazis in 1941 where he served as a police officer. Perhaps with the foresight of a possible future political run, the actor immediately gave the Jewish organization a sizeable donation. Rabbi Marvin Hier, the head of the Wiesenthal Center, said in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the actor donated almost a cool million of his own cash and helped raise millions more from other people.

"Smart politician that he is, Schwarzenegger has bought himself insurance against his father's Nazi Party affiliation in Austria," explains Newsweek's Martha Brant. "If money can buy a recall election, why can't it buy a clean family record?"

It is beneath contempt for folks to try to hold a son responsible for the crimes of his father.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:01 PM

WHO'S DICK TODAY?

Dick Gephardt Seeks to Energize Campaign (RON FOURNIER, 8/14/03, AP)
When Dick Gephardt attacked his free trade-backing rivals for president, Deb Hansen shouted her approval. She shook her fist and applauded when the Missouri Democrat blasted President Bush's tax cuts.

When he spoke in hushed tones about his son's recovery from cancer, she dabbed tears from her eyes. "I've never seen this much emotion from Gephardt," Hansen said after Gephardt and five other Democratic presidential candidates addressed her Iowa labor group. "It's a new face for him."

Gephardt is working hard to put a new face on his campaign. The old one hasn't been working. [...]

"What I saw was a Dick Gephardt I've never seen before. He's got the biggest health care plan and delivers a speech with a lot of fire," he said. `This is not Dick Gephardt of 1988 or 1994 — button-down Dick. This is a new guy."

Gephardt said he's the same guy, but more free to be himself. No longer is he campaigning for Iowa congressional candidates or calibrating his every word to avoid offending the Democratic House caucus.

One of the theme's of Richard Ben Cramer's What It Takes is that Dick Gerphardt has no self. He was willing to "believe" and say anything that his advisors--whoever they happened to be--told him would further his ambitions.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:02 PM

THE GREAT DEM HOPE

Is Cruz in for a Bruisin'? (John Fund, OpinionJournal, 8/14/2003)
Mr. Bustamante .... "solidified his reputation for all-over-the-map indecisiveness," says Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters. "He would not do well in debates."

Another example of how he got that reputation: In 1997, during Mr. Bustamante's tenure as Assembly speaker. Bill Lockyer, who was then the Democratic leader in the state Senate, and Curt Pringle, leader of the Assembly Republicans, had worked out an intricate bipartisan agreement on a budget issue. But they needed a sign of approval from Speaker Bustamante. For weeks he dithered and wouldn't provide it. Finally, Messrs. Lockyer and Pringle marched over to Mr. Bustamante's office to confront him. Reporters who observed the two men entering the speaker's office were startled to see Mr. Bustamante slowly backing out of a side door that provided access to a hall from his private office. When Mr. Bustamante spotted the reporters, he broke out into a sweat. He then sheepishly went back in.

If he squeaks into the governorship, we'll soon be reading that he's a leading Dem presidential contender in 2008.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:41 PM

BERKELEY STUDY INCONCLUSIVE

Study of Bush's psyche touches a nerve (Guardian, 8/13/2003)
A study funded by the US government has concluded that conservatism can be explained psychologically as a set of neuroses rooted in "fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity".

As if that was not enough to get Republican blood boiling, the report's four authors linked Hitler, Mussolini, Ronald Reagan and the rightwing talkshow host, Rush Limbaugh, arguing they all suffered from the same affliction....

The authors also peer into the psyche of President George Bush, who turns out to be a textbook case. The telltale signs are his preference for moral certainty and frequently expressed dislike of nuance.

"This intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes," the authors argue in the Psychological Bulletin.

One of the psychologists behind the study, Jack Glaser, said the aversion to shades of grey and the need for "closure" could explain the fact that the Bush administration ignored intelligence that contradicted its beliefs about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction....

George Will, a Washington Post columnist who has long suffered from ingrained conservatism, noted, tartly: "The professors have ideas; the rest of us have emanations of our psychological needs and neuroses."

Ooh, "ingrained conservatism," sounds painful. Does it have something to do with the feet?

But isn't Professor Glaser's belief that there are no WMD in Iraq a trifle premature? Presumably he jumped to this conclusion because he is a conservative. On the other hand, it seems the discovery of WMD would change the paper's conclusions, by showing that it was the liberals who "arrived at premature conclusions, and imposed simplistic cliches and stereotypes." Given that psychology is an empirical science, I imagine the authors will be quick to publish a revision in that case. David Kay, get on with it: your work is critical to the advance of psychological science!


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 AM

THE DEMOCRATIC DERANGEMENT CONTINUED

Majority Against Blessing Gay Unions: 60% in Poll Oppose Episcopal Decision (Richard Morin and Alan Cooperman, August 14, 2003, Washington Post)
A strong majority of the public disapproves of the Episcopal Church's decision to recognize the blessing of same-sex unions, and a larger share of churchgoing Americans would object if their own faith adopted a similar practice, according to a new Washington Post Poll.

So broad and deep is this opposition that nearly half of all Americans who regularly attend worship services say they would leave their current church if their minister blessed gay couples -- even if their denomination officially approved those ceremonies, the survey found.

As courts, companies and congregations across the nation consider what standing to give gay couples, the poll demonstrates strong public disapproval of any religious sanctioning of same-sex relationships. It underscores the sharp distinction most Americans make between relationships blessed by the church and those recognized by the law.

"Americans are saying, 'We're willing to move pretty far on this issue, we're much more tolerant than we used to be, but don't mix it up with religion and God,' " said Boston College political scientist Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life. [...]

The poll also found, however, that public acceptance of same-sex civil unions is falling. Fewer than four in 10 -- 37 percent -- of all Americans say they would support a law allowing gay men and lesbians to form civil unions that would provide some of the rights and legal protections of marriage.

That is a precipitous, 12-point drop in support found in a Gallup Organization survey that posed the question in identical terms in May, before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law against sodomy and Justice Antonin Scalia argued in his dissent that the court was on a slippery slope toward legalizing gay marriage.

There seems no reason that a simple contractual relationship shouldn't be available to gay couples, one whose provisions are enforcable under the law but that's essentially private, rather than sanctioned by the Church or the State. If Democrats really are determined to push this issue, as their presidential candidates seem willing to do, it may suffice to move the Catholic Rust Belt into the Red State column.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 AM

A TAD TOO MACHIAVELL

Schwarzenegger Outcome Could Affect Bush in 2004: Gubernatorial Win in California Would Bring Potential Risks as Well as Rewards, Strategists Say (Dana Milbank and Mike Allen, August 14, 2003, Washington Post)
The White House finds itself in the awkward position of playing spectator in a race that could alter Bush's political future. Though Rove cares so much about California that an associate calls the state "Karl's Ahab," the recall was driven by people at odds with the administration, such as Shawn Steel, who was pushed out by Bush allies as state Republican Party chairman. "It changes the fortune for the presidential campaign dramatically if we win," Steel said. [...]

Still, Schwarzenegger's decision to join the race, and early polls showing broad support, has buoyed the Bush campaign's hopes of a lift in 2004. "Schwarzenegger is the only candidate who has a chance to achieve what we wanted," one adviser said, adding that the two leading conservatives in the race, businessman Bill Simon and state Sen. Tom McClintock, have too much of a "hard edge" to add to Bush's appeal in the state.

Don't expect Bush to say that publicly, however. Bush aides believe that appearing to meddle would backfire and boost Democrats' efforts to link the California recall to the 2000 Florida recount. Still, California Republicans say, lawmakers and others tied to the White House have been putting what one called "heavy pressure" on Simon and McClintock to drop out -- and one GOP strategist close to the White House expects one or both to quit.

The eventual decisions of Simon and McClintock will give the surest indication of what the White House is really up to. If they bow out it will be as much because of Karl Rove and the President as because of any offer from the Schwarzenegger camp. Best case scenario for all involved would be for McClintock to be offered a big time job in the coming Schwarzenegger administration and Simon to get both Arnold and the White House's backing for a senate race against Barbara Boxer.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:42 AM

COSTLY DELUSIONS

The euro and America (Martin Walker, 8/14/2003, UPI)
Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson is either a desperate man prepared to say anything to stave off a humiliating political defeat, or he is telling us all something fundamental about the real purpose of the European currency, the euro.

Seven million Swedes go to the polls next month in a referendum on whether or not they should give up their traditional Swedish crown and join the euro, as the Social Democratic premier and his government recommend. Although the bulk of big business, the media, the political classes and elite opinion are in favor of joining the other 12 members of the eurozone, the latest opinion polls suggest they could lose the vote by as much as 10 percent to 12 percent.

So facing an uphill final lap of his campaign, Persson told a rally Saturday in the industrial town of Skelleftea some 600 miles north of Stockholm that Swedes should vote Yes to help counterbalance the economic supremacy of the United States.

This dynamic has been obvious for months, as the Europeans helped drive their own economies into recession by keeping the Euro artificially high against the dollar, just in order to be able to pretend that they are a serious counterbalance to the U.S.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:35 AM

APPARENTLY IT WAS RIORDAN WHO WAS REAGANESQUE

Bush's Terminator (Robert Novak, August 14, 2003, Townhall.com)
Arnold Schwarzenegger's late decision to jump into the California recall election was made after weekend meetings to plan what was supposed to be a campaign for governor by Richard Riordan. The two men, non-conservatives and only nominal Republicans, are friends and political allies. But the multi-millionaire movie actor was disturbed by the demeanor of the multi-millionaire former mayor of Los Angeles.

As Schwarzenegger later related to associates, he was unpleasantly surprised by his old friend. In their private conversation, the 73-year-old Riordan duplicated his shaky performance in losing the 2002 Republican primary for governor. To Schwarzenegger, Riordan seemed so confused and disorganized he could not possibly be elected governor. That was the trigger to create the state's current uproarious scene, casting a long shadow on national politics.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 AM

"I CAUSED THE DEFICIT"

Huffington Paid Little Income Tax: The candidate for governor has criticized 'fat cats' for avoiding taxes. She denies taking advantage of loopholes and unfair deductions. (Rich Connell and Robert J. Lopez, August 14, 2003, LA Times)
TV commentator and author Arianna Huffington, who launched her campaign for governor with criticism of "fat cats" who fail to shoulder a fair share of taxes, paid no individual state income tax and just $771 in federal taxes during the last two years, her tax returns show.

Huffington, who released her tax returns for the last two years to The Times, lives in an 8,000-square-foot home in Brentwood above Sunset Boulevard that is valued at about $7 million. She socializes with many wealthy and prominent people.

But the returns show that at least for the last two years, her income was far outweighed by losses that she reported were incurred by Christabella Inc., the private corporation she owns and uses to manage her writing and lecturing business.

In announcing her candidacy last week, Huffington blamed California's fiscal crisis, in part, on the corrupting influence of special interest groups that have helped "corporate fat cats get away with not paying their fair share of taxes." [...]

The net result was an adjusted gross income of negative $2.67 million last year, the returns show. She owed no federal income tax beyond the self-employment tax paid to Social Security -- $771 over the two-year period.

Huffington's tax form lists $46,763 in contributions to charity in 2002. Those were not deductible because she had no taxable income.

The contributions include payments to three prominent private schools on Los Angeles' Westside -- the Archer School, Crossroads and New Roads. They also include payments of $6,675 to the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness and a related foundation.

The church, founded by John-Roger, describes itself as designed to "teach Soul Transcendence, which is becoming aware of yourself as a Soul and as one with God, not as a theory but as a living reality."

"I've been involved with John-Roger and the church for many years now," Huffington said. "He's a good friend, and I've gotten a lot of value from the work he has done."

Sunlight truly is the best disinfectant.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM

THE DEMOCRATIC DERANGEMENT FILES

Davis and Democrats Should Beware of Prop. 187 Fight (George Skelton, August 14, 2003, LA Times)
Like any team, the Democrats have one old reliable play they love to run. And they'll keep running it as long as it works. It's called Pummel Pedro.

It's about hammering former Gov. Pete Wilson for promoting Proposition 187, the 1994 ballot initiative that sought to deny public benefits to illegal immigrants. This play scores well with Latinos, theoretically, and drives them to the polls.

Democrats have dusted it off again because Wilson is a campaign co-chairman for Arnold Schwarzenegger. [...]

But do Davis and Democrats really want to resurrect the volatile issue of illegal immigration?

Schwarzenegger voted for Prop. 187, but so did 5.1 million other Californians. It passed with 59% of the vote.

A federal judge tossed out most provisions and Davis didn't put up any fight in the courts. Some parts wound up in federal welfare reform.

But Prop. 187 would pass again today, pollsters and strategists say. A 1999 Times poll found that 60% of registered voters would support another Prop. 187. Moreover, 75% of Republicans said they'd back it -- a sentiment that's bound to help Schwarzenegger, since the recall election could be tilted to the right by an unusually large turnout of GOP voters.

"The worst thing for Democrats to do is rerun Prop. 187," says political analyst Tony Quinn. "It helps Schwarzenegger where he needs the most help: among core Republicans."
Beyond that, Democrats shouldn't be demagoguing on illegal immigration -- or any immigration.

Dig into those deficit numbers -- in Sacramento and city halls -- and you'll find a lot of red ink flowing to services for immigrants, legal and illegal.

The great danger in politics, one that the Democrats seem increasingly prone to succumb to, is to start believing in your own partisan rhetoric. It's all well and good to cast conservatives as racist because of their general opposition to immigration, so long as you don't forget that they're on the majority side of the issue. And while restricting immigration may be bad policy, barring illegal immigrants from public services is excellent policy. If Democrats want to fight out this election on the issue of illegal immigrants and their effects on California budgets, Arnoild may get to 50%, rather than just a plurality.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:18 AM

DAMN SUV DRIVERS

Mars is Melting (Tony Phillips, Aug 11, 2003, NASA Science News)
The south polar ice cap of Mars is receding, revealing frosty mountains, rifts and curious dark spots.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:23 AM

STOP WORRYING

It took an unconscionably long time (my apologies to Mr. Durnell), but our review of Dr. Strangelove is finally posted and it should be clear why it failed to qualify as a winning counter-example in our All Humor is Conservative Contest last summer.

August 13, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 PM

COME OUT AND FIGHT LIKE A MAN

God? Loud Denials and a Few Shrugs (ERIN CHAN, August 10, 2003, NY Times)
SITTING in on a social meeting of the New York City Atheists can be like walking through Times Square for the very first time.

A flurry of philosophical ideas assaults your senses. Arguments and theories dart into your cerebrum, voices swirl through the inner ear. When it's over, you need to blink hard, breathe deep and tell yourself to go to bed. You'll relive it later.

Two things, though, become clear about this fusion of unbelievers: they may not need God, but they need each other. And they need each other to disagree. [...]

On a recent Tuesday at a corner table at the back of Mustang Harry's, 352 Seventh Avenue in the garment district, 4 women and 14 men gathered.

Under a framed excerpt from Joyce's "Ulysses" (which bore three references to God), Kevin Jones, a computer systems analyst from Long Island who looked more like an ex-football player, had drifted into a debate with Kirsten Sorteberg and Jack Schweitzer, a feisty retired couple from the Upper West Side who looked more like they had tumbled in from a New Hampshire farm. Ms. Sorteberg wore a red, white and blue patchwork skirt and a T-shirt reading "Democracy Not Theocracy."

"I'm sure I don't believe in God," Mr. Jones said. "I'm not sure I like the term 'atheists.' "

"We could battle over this," Ms. Sorteberg replied.

"It gives into the fact that it's natural to believe in God."

"That's deep. That doesn't make sense to me."

"I like my term."

"What's that?"

"Healthy."

Ms. Sorteberg shrugged.

The disagreement is the point of the exercise, isn't it? Sort of the way the smallest guy in the bar always seems to want to fight the biggest.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 PM

TIGHTROPE? MORE LIKE A TRAMPOLINE

Recall is a tightrope for Bush: He plans to visit the Golden State Thursday - carefully, if not quietly. (Liz Marlantes, August 14, 2003, The Christian Science Monitor)
Mr. Bush recently said he believed Arnold Schwarzenegger would make a "good governor," but he is not expected to appear with the actor or to offer any sort of official endorsement.

For one thing, such a move might upset Bush's own conservative base, which opposes Mr. Schwarzenegger's stands on issues such as abortion and gay rights.

But it also would be of only questionable value to Schwarzenegger, whose approval rating with Democratic-leaning Californians is higher than the president's. If Bush appears personally involved in the recall, it could give credence to Democratic efforts to portray it as a White House-orchestrated coup. It could also allow Democrats to nationalize the election, making it less a contest between Gov. Gray Davis and challengers like Schwarzenegger than a clash between national Democrats and Republicans.

"It's important that the recall not become overly partisan or be about people outside of California," says Sal Russo, a Republican strategist. For the recall to succeed, he says, the focus must not shift to Bush - or to anyone other than Governor Davis.

One reason for Bush to step gingerly in California is that it's not entirely clear that a win by a Republican would be a positive for him. Given the state's budget problems, many GOP strategists argue Bush might be better off with Davis and the Democrats in power and taking the blame, rather than a Republican governor who could wind up even more unpopular.

But the California governorship would also give Bush a key organizational base for fundraising and campaign activity in 2004. If Schwarzenegger sweeps into office, bringing a wave of new voters with him - and if the state's budget situation improves as a result of either new policies or external forces - it could reap dividends for the president.

Mr. Schwarzenegger is going to win and the President can only benefit from being seen to have backed him. Meanwhile, if California's economy--and therefore its budget problem--hasn't improved greatly by Fall of 2004, the rest of the national economy likely won't have improved either and penumbras and emanations from the Arnold candidacy will be the least of Mr. Bush's worries. Hard to see how he can possibly lose here.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 PM

SELL IT SOMEWHERE ELSE, SISTER

In praise of the pinewood derby (Michelle Malkin, January 31, 2003, Townhall.com)
Feminists will howl, but this is the truth: Sometimes, girls are meant to sit on the sidelines.

I came to this un-p.c. conclusion many Kodachrome-colored years ago, as I sat in the family garage, watching with just a twinge of envy as my dad and younger brother prepared for the Cub Scout pinewood derby. This annual ritual, which begins every January in school gymnasiums and American Legion halls, is now a half-century-old. An estimated 40 million dads and sons have participated in the races while their wives and sisters cheered them on.

It's the simplest and purest of bonding experiences: a father, his boy, a kit containing one block of soft pinewood, four nails, and four tires, and their joined imaginations. The objective is to create a little wooden car that will start from an elevated standstill and race down a 32-inch plywood track. The track is an inclined ramp with wood strips down the center to guide the miniature cars.

There may be no fancy electronic gizmos or computer software involved, but the competition is as thrilling as any televised BattleBots match-up. Yes, there are always eager beaver dads who go overboard in an angst-ridden quest to build a winning speed demon. (There are even Internet sites that peddle winning secrets.) But generations of sons hold the warmest memories of the derby and the preparations leading up to it as precious time spent with the most important man in their lives.

It's the designing and building of the car, more than the racing of it, which is at the heart of the tradition.

The Father Judd determined that it would be a valuable learning experience if every bit of my Pinewood Derby racer was my very own work. The end result was this day-glo green cinder block lookin' thing with its wheels glued solid. Meanwhile, our troop had not one but two sons of shop teachers, whose cars could have sold for three digit figures at FAO Schwartz. One son might have helped apply a single decal, though I'll dispute that to this day. Oh yeah, and the Sister Judd didn't cheer; she laughed hysterically. The only consolation was that the car was highly flammable, especially when doused with gasoline. Stupid pinewood freakin' derby.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:47 PM

KNOWING HOW REVOLUTIONS BEGIN

The Happy Cold Warrior: Arnold Beichman at 90. (David Brooks, Summer 2003, Hoover Digest)
Beichman rose to become city editor and assistant managing editor [of PM] and thus took part in a series of ferocious battles for control of the news coverage, amid vicious attacks from the communist press. One secretary disappeared and showed up later on the payroll of the New York office of the Soviet news agency Tass. At one point Ingersoll got permission from Earl Browder, the head of the Communist Party of the United States, to fire a few of the more incompetent Communists, just to preserve the paper's credibility.

It was during this period that Beichman did the most amazing thing: He became a fellow traveler. This was during the Spanish Civil War, the so-called national front period, when leftists and Communists worked together against Franco. Arnold did publicity for an outfit he knew was a front group, supposedly raising money for the anti-fascists in Spain. Eventually he deduced that not some of the money but all the money being raised in the name of Spain was in fact going to the Communist Party.

During World War II, Beichman published the first American reports of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, having found a man who had escaped from the battles and could provide maps and a firsthand account. After the war, he interviewed Holocaust survivors as they landed in New York. He came across one beautiful young woman who had seen her five children killed but who had been kept around to serve the Nazi officers. Beichman innocently asked her how she could have preserved the will to live after her children's murder. "That's what I cannot forgive God for," she replied. "You still want to live no matter what. But I will never have children. That I know." [...]

In 1949, Stalin launched a peace campaign, and a group of 800 intellectuals gathered at the Waldorf Astoria to call for the United States to endorse Soviet foreign policy. Beichman, Sidney Hook, James Burnham, Mary McCarthy, Dwight McDonald, and others organized a counter-demonstration. Through his connections with the hotel service workers' union, Beichman got the anti-communist group members a suite at the Waldorf, and they successfully undermined the conference, with Hook and others embarrassing the Soviet delegation with uncomfortable questions and harsh arguments.

In the 1950s and '60s, Beichman was one of the New York intellectuals who worked to delegitimize communism. "A staunch anti-communism was the great moral-political imperative of our age," Diana Trilling once declared, which became the credo of Beichman's professional life. He headed the American Committee of the Congress of Cultural Freedom (refusing to accept what turned out to be the CIA money that eventually tainted the international branch of the congress). He fell in with the Partisan Review crowd and became friendly with Irving Kristol, whom he regards as his most important intellectual influence. [...]

Beichman wrote a book about the United Nations and-this being Columbia in the late 1960s-found himself again in the middle of the action. Knowing that he had been a student radical, some of the 1960s radicals came to him for advice. "What's your ideology?" Beichman asked, but of course they had none. Beichman was also appalled by the cowardice of much of the faculty, who hissed administrators trying, belatedly, to preserve order. "I remember warning Jacques Barzun," Beichman recounts. "They just didn't know what was going on under their noses, any more than the ancien regime knew before the Bastille. They didn't know how revolutions began."

Beichman went on to write a book called Nine Lies about America, defending the United States from the waves of anti-Americanism. During his book tour he found himself on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, along with the actor Jon Voight. Carson asked Voight what he thought of Beichman's pro-American arguments. "I'm frightened by America today," Voight responded. To which Beichman-by now an old pro at winning debates-turned to the audience and asked, "Is anybody else afraid of America?" to which the audience roared, "NO!"

Because Diana Trilling was right, it is somehow easier to forgive those who were committed communists than those who were anti-anti-communists.

MORE:
-ESSAY: Eight Years That Shook the World: On the anniversary of two of his great speeches, an appreciation of Ronald Reagan, the "indispensable president." (Arnold Beichman, Summer 2002, Hoover Digest)
-ESSAY: Barbarians at the Lectern: The troubled history of our chattering class. (Arnold Beichman, Spring 2002, Hoover Digest)
-ESSAY: A Holiday for Freedom: With some help from George W. Bush, Hoover fellow Arnold Beichman explains why November 9 is a day to celebrate. (Hoover Digest, Winter 2002)
-ESSAY: Who Trained the Terrorists?: Looking for clues in the aftermath of the deadly attacks. By Hoover fellow Arnold Beichman, Fall 2001, Hoover Digest)
-ESSAY: The New World Disorder: The bloody ethnic conflicts in Kosovo, Chechnya, and East Timor are symbols of the new world disorder, as small-scale civil wars become the new threat to international peace. (Arnold Beichman, Spring 2000, Hoover Digest)
-ESSAY: In the Balkans to Stay: We're doomed to spend the next decade or more policing the Balkans. (Arnold Beichman, Winter 2000, Hoover Digest)
-ESSAY: Save This Date: Reflecting on the tenth anniversary of "the most important historical event of our lifetime," Hoover fellow Arnold Beichman explains why we should forever commemorate November 9, 1989 (Hoover Digest, Fall 1999)
-ESSAY: Arsenal of Poison: The Tocqueville-quoting president of Iran, Mohammed Khatami, has impressed the West as a moderate-while at the same time amassing an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. By Hoover fellow Arnold Beichman, Summer 1999, Hoover Digest)
-ESSAY: Guilty as Charged: Hoover fellow Arnold Beichman surveys recently declassified Soviet documents. What Hiss and the Rosenbergs didn't want you to know. (Hoover Digest, Spring 1999)
-ESSAY: Two Freedoms: Beijing is attempting to establish economic freedom while stifling political freedom. Can it have the one without the other? (Arnold Beichman,Hoover Digest, Winter 1999)
-ESSAY: Between Iraq and a Hard Place: Saddam Hussein still appears determined to develop chemical weapons. Should Israel consider a preemptive strike? (Arnold Beichman, Summer 1998, Hoover Digest)
-INTERVIEW: Beichman@90: A Cold War warrior talks about his first nine decades. (Interview by Kathryn Jean Lopez, Summer 2003, Hoover Digest)
Fearless Sidney Hook (Thomas Main, August 2003, Policy Review)
THERE IS, however, one opinion - or better, one set of opinions - that one had to share with Hook in order to admire him much. This was his anti-communism and the policy conclusions that he drew from it. After the 1930s, anti-communism was probably the theme Hook most frequently took up. Hook?s writing was always intense, but when he wrote on anti-communism it could be with the urgency of someone calling life-saving instructions to a drowning victim. Such was the tone of his book from the early fifties, Heresy, Yes - Conspiracy, No, in which he argued that communism was not "an open and honestly avowed heresy but an international conspiracy centered in the Kremlin, in a state of undeclared war against democratic institutions." Hook was very seldom personal in his polemics but he could be stinging in his characterization of an antagonist's reasoning when the issue of communism came up. Thus, he blasted "Lillian Hellman, who in her book Scoundrel Time seems to have duped a generation of critics devoid of historical memory and critical common sense." Or again, he began his condemnatory review of a book by David Caute on the McCarthy period by noting, "It is a well known phenomenon that without containing a single falsehood, a description of an historical situation, personage or event can still be a lying account." Sometimes, in presenting a passage from anti-anti-communist authors, Hook could not resist inserting a "sic" or even a "sic!" in the quotation, as if reading such stuff was almost too much to bear.

Hook faithfully pursued what he saw as the policy consequences of his anti-communism. He supported the Cold War, rejected the New Left, and - most fatefully for his reputation - opposed allowing Communist Party members to hold teaching positions. All of this led to the common complaint that Hook was an obsessive anti-communist. Indeed, Arthur Schlesinger has claimed that Hook's "great error" was "in letting anti-communism take over his life." This judgment is unfair. Precisely what Hook did not do was allow his anti-communism, or any other single idea, to determine the whole of his thought. Many of the characteristic ideas that he continued to express prolifically to the end of his life had nothing to do with anti-communism. Nonetheless, anti-communism was a major theme in Hook's work, and the perception that he was overly preoccupied with it has had a negative impact on his reputation.

Allegedly obsessive anti-communism is not the only feature of Hook's work that has damaged his reputation. Hook was a polemicist, "probably the greatest polemicist of [the twentieth] century," as Edward Shils has written. And Hook's modal form of expression was the essay, rather than the book, and that often published in a nonacademic journal. His philosophical interests - Marxism, pragmatism, and public affairs - were considered marginal concerns in academic philosophy throughout much of his university career. For this reason, an article in the National Post (December 17, 2001) condemns the trajectory Hook's career took after the publication of one of his early books as follows: "unlike Hook's later and more polemical work, Towards the Understanding of Karl Marx was a genuine original contribution to philosophy." In this way, Hook has often been seen as a politicized intellectual journalist rather than as a serious philosopher.

Recently, however, this judgment seems to be waning. Several developments suggest that Hook is beginning to receive serious consideration as something other than a street-fighting debater. One indication of this change was a symposium entitled "Sidney Hook Reconsidered: A Centennial Celebration," held at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York last October. Towards the Understanding of Karl Marx, originally published in 1933, is back in print for the first time in decades. And a much-needed representative sample of Hook's essays from throughout his career is now available, The Essential Essays: Sidney Hook on Pragmatism, Democracy and Freedom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:16 PM

I'LL SEE YOUR BILL CLINTON AND RAISE YOU ONE WARREN BUFFETT

Buffett to Be Aide in Schwarzenegger Race (Yahoo News, Aug 13, 2003)
Arnold Schwarzenegger has hired Warren Buffett as his senior financial and economic adviser in his bid to replace Gray Davis if the governor loses the recall vote, the Republican actor's campaign announced Wednesday.

Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, is a billionaire investor legendary for his financial prowess. He is also a Democrat.

"What he will be doing is assembling other prominent business leaders and economists and setting up a team to address the issues facing California," said Schwarzenegger spokesman Sean Walsh.

Buffett said in a statement: "I have known Arnold for years and know he'll be a great governor. It is critical to the rest of the nation that California's economic crisis be solved, and I think Arnold will get that job done."

Personally, I think Mr. Buffett is a dangerous man, but this is just brilliant as campaign strategy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:10 PM

WELL, I GUESS IT WOULD BE NICE IF I COULD TOUCH YOUR BODY

Science Fashions and Scientific Fact (Michael Riordan, Physics Today)
One of the great strengths of scientific practice is what can be called the "withering skepticism" that is usually ap