September 30, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:53 PM


Recall, Schwarzenegger ahead in new LA Times poll (ERICA WERNER, September 30, 2003, Associated Press)

Voters favored recalling Gov. Gray Davis by a large margin in a Los Angeles Times poll released Tuesday and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was ahead of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a Democrat.

It was the second recent statewide survey to show Davis badly behind and Schwarzenegger in the lead. There is a week to go until the Oct. 7 election.

Likely voters interviewed by the Times supported the recall by a 56 percent to 42 percent margin. That was a dramatic shift from the last Times poll, released Sept. 12, that showed support for the recall apparently stalling, with 50 percent of voters supporting it and 47 percent in opposition.

Schwarzenegger had support from 40 percent of likely voters in Tuesday's poll, Bustamante had 32 percent and Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock had 15 percent.

In the Sept. 12 survey Schwarzenegger was slightly behind Bustamante -- Bustamante had 30 percent, Schwarzenegger had 25 percent and McClintock had 18 percent.

Uglier and uglier...

"They are against food" (California Insider: A Weblog by Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub, September 30, 2003)

Cruz has played the race card -- in an interview in Spanish on the Univision Television Network. The network has translated the interview and sent a transcript to reporters covering the campaign:

"No one is asking me how much money I get from the Latino community, or from African-Americans, or from people in the Jewish community, or any other group," said Bustamante. "No one else, just the indigenous tribal governments. Why is that?" When asked if he saw this as racial discrimination, Bustamante responded: "Well, that's how it is, I think, sometimes. And I believe we need leaders who can unite, not divide, people."

The lieutenant governor had strong words for his Republican opponents in the recall race. "People who are on the ballot - people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock - want Proposition 187 once again. They don't want driver's licenses for immigrants. They are against food. They are against access to colleges and access to schools. They are against the opportunity to organize labor unions. They are against so many of the values we have in our community. I think it's important to see who the enemy is... It's the Republican legislators, candidates, and officials who say that they don't want to solve our community's problems. That they don't want children to go to school. That they don't want driver's licenses. All of those are Republicans, they're not Democrats."

We get the secret-coded VRWC newsletter and, as God is my witness, I've never seen anything in there about opposing food.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:48 PM


Man Behind the Furor: Wilson: Envoy With an Independent Streak (Richard Leiby, October 1, 2003, Washington Post)

Former diplomat Joseph Wilson used to tell reporters he felt certain how his obituary would read. It went: "Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was the last American diplomat to meet with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, died . . . "

But "it seems to change," Wilson said yesterday, smiling across his desk in his Washington office. He has kept mentally revising the obituary to keep up with the political maelstrom over Iraq policy and White House leaks that is swirling around him.

A recent version began: "Joseph C. Wilson IV, the Bush I administration political appointee who did the most damage to the Bush II administration . . . "

The current version goes: "Joseph C. Wilson IV, the husband of the spy the White House outed, . . . "

Wilson, 53, is also now known as the man the CIA sent to Niger in February 2002 to investigate rumors that Hussein was trying to buy uranium there -- and who came back with denials from Niger officials. As President Bush repeated the allegation -- most prominently in the so-called 16 words in the State of the Union address Jan. 28 -- Wilson said, he grew increasingly perplexed. And by July, he was annoyed enough to say publicly that U.S. officials had exaggerated the public case for invading Iraq.

At the time, he said he feared that the White House would retaliate. It allegedly did when administration officials called reporters to identify Wilson's wife as a clandestine CIA operative.

As the world now knows, Wilson is married to Valerie Wilson, nee Plame. She is his third wife. She is 40, slim, blonde and the mother of their 3-year-old twins. In the photos in his office, she has the looks of a film star.

"She is really quite amazing," Wilson said. "We were just discussing today who would play her in the movie," he cracked.

Wilson himself seems to have a theatrical streak. [...]

Even though the White House has said Rove wasn't involved, Wilson made clear yesterday that he has no intention of backing off from his assertion that Rove at least condoned someone's making telephone calls to reporters about his wife. He said he took a call from a reporter who quoted Rove as saying: "Joe Wilson's wife is fair game."

Wilson said he and his wife have attended the same Episcopal church as Rove. Wilson quoted Valerie as saying, "Perhaps the next time we are taking communion I should introduce myself so he can see that I have a face and a name other than 'fair game.' "

He seems to alternate between delusions of grandeur and self-pity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:35 PM


U.S. mission remains on track in Iraq (MICHAEL O'HANLON, 10/01/03, The Japan Times)

[M]ost indicators are now favorable in Iraq. Consider first the security environment. We face three main challenges -- from criminals, Ba'athists and jihadists. On the first matter, while crime rates are too high, they have generally stabilized at levels statistically no higher than in many Western cities. As Iraqi police are increasingly recruited and trained, rates should decline -- though Iraq clearly also needs a judicial system as soon as possible to deal with those detained.

As for Ba'athist remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime, they are diminishing with time as coalition forces detain and arrest them. For example, in the region north of Baghdad now run by Gen. Ray Odierno's 4th infantry division, some 600 fighters have been killed and 2,500 arrested over recent months. Not all of these are Ba'athists, to be sure, but with those kinds of attrition rates, a group of fighters that probably numbered 10,000 to 20,000 at peak strength will decline over time, especially because it has no appealing ideology with which to attract more members.

Terrorist "jihadists" are a greater worry because it cannot yet be confidently asserted that their numbers in Iraq have begun to decline or even plateau. In an overdue move, coalition forces have been strengthening border patrols to check the influx of foreign terrorists. They can hardly be expected to seal off all entry points into Iraq (though a few thousand more coalition troops might help, at least until more Iraqi border police can be trained, but even that would not solve it). But they can probably contain the problem. But their numbers do not appear enormous, and local intelligence networks that enable us to find and attack them are improving with time. [...]

Of course, economic issues are critical in any counterinsurgency as well. [...]

The problems are well known -- high unemployment, low electricity levels, worries about availability of gas supplies for the coming winter, even insufficient food in some places. But there is room for hope. Oil production is up. Coalition authorities are refurbishing power plants and building redundant electricity lines so that when main lines are sabotaged occasionally in the future, as they surely will be, power still flows. They are hiring Iraqis to man security forces, repair public infrastructure, beautify parks and buildings, and fix factories. If Congress does the right thing and approves President George W. Bush's full $87 billion supplemental request for next year, positive trends should accelerate.

Now what do the Democrats have left to talk about?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:23 PM


Japan dumps another 4.5 trillion yen (Japan Times, 10/01/03)

Japan spent 4.46 trillion yen between Aug. 28 and Sept. 26 intervening in the currency market to weaken the yen, the Finance Ministry said Tuesday.

The government has now tossed a record 13.48 trillion yen into yen-weakening operations since the beginning of the year.

The ministry has been conducting the effort to fight the yen's ascent, which makes exporting less profitable.

Currency interventions prove to be both fruitless and costly (CHRISTOPHER LINGLE, 10/01/03, The Japan Times)
The weakening of the U.S. dollar accelerated after finance ministers from the Group of Seven issued a communique calling for market-oriented international exchange rates. Soon afterward, the Japanese yen set a two-year high against the American currency.

Of course, Japanese exporters complain that the rising value of the yen will erode their profits. This has brought considerable political pressure to support government intervention in forex markets to avoid further advances in the value of the yen. [...]

While a stronger currency may adversely affect some exports, this impact is mitigated through diversification of domestic production. Intervening in currency markets discourages producers from making decisions that will be in their long-term interest.

It turns out that these interventions cannot alter the inevitable gains in the yen against the dollar because of the inherent weakness in the U.S. currency. Most market analysts and dealers expect the dollar to continue its downward path.

This is perhaps the most ruinous outcome of the irresponsible monetary policy pursued by the Federal Reserve under Chairman Alan Greenspan. By forcing interest rates down artificially, it has caused such a massive flood of dollars into the system that no amount of intervention will be able to stem its decline on global currency markets.

While forex intervention is likely to be fruitless, it involves high costs and is a distraction from implementing other policies that could promote long-term growth. Indeed, currency intervention goes against the most basic notion of financial prudence. Basically, buying dollars that are certain to be less valuable with yen that are becoming more valuable is equivalent to a "buy high, sell low" activity.

While the net impact of market-induced changes in currency valuations is uncertain, there is also no way to know what the proper market rate of exchange is. And so, forex intervention is a highly speculative and Quixotic adventure that should be avoided.

Except that American interest rates are artificially high and with Iraq winding down, a strengthening economy and Europe headed into recession the dollar will inevitably rise.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:13 PM


The White Man: Can David Jennings please inner-city minorities and neo-con legislators? (Britt Robson, 10/01/03, City Pages)

Before becoming the [Minneapolis] school system's chief operating officer two years ago, [David] Jennings, who lives in Burnsville, had been a corporate executive at Schwan's, president of the Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, and a Republican Speaker of the House in the Minnesota Legislature. In short, he doesn't exactly fit the traditional mold of an MPS superintendent.

Despite this conservative track record, school board members were unanimously enthusiastic about their decision, and former board members Catherine Shreves and Albert Gallmon (the latter the head of the local NAACP), along with the Star Tribune editorial board, all heartily endorsed the appointment.

So what gives?

Those aboard the Jennings bandwagon believe his corporate and legislative experience make him a formidable opponent of so-called "reformers" who are laying siege to public education at the state and federal levels. It's not far-fetched to regard the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" as an agenda for discrediting and ultimately dismantling public school systems nationwide. Because of this, board members like Audrey Johnson and Dennis Schapiro happily explain the political motives behind their support for the new superintendent. "I think David Jennings has the guts enough to stand up and say this is not right," Johnson says, expressing dismay with new state education standards.

Hey, wait a second, didn't Ted Kennedy take George W. Bush to the cleaners on No Child Left Behind? Wasn't it one of W's key failures?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:58 PM


Dan Walters: With one week left: Schwarzenegger rising, Davis falling (Dan Walters, September 30, 2003, Sacramento Bee)

This is the situation, as best one can determine:

* Arnold Schwarzenegger's competent, if not inspiring, performance at last week's debate has solidified Republican voters' support and enthusiasm to turn out and vote both for the recall of Davis and Schwarzenegger as his successor. He has now become the prohibitive favorite to win the successor race, should Davis be recalled, as now looks likely.

* Schwarzenegger's rise has contributed to a reversal of fortunes for Davis, who had appeared to be closing the gap on the recall, at least somewhat, prior to the debate. Pundits who thought Davis was the real winner of the debate were dead wrong. Fence-sitting moderates, both Democrats and independents, who disliked Davis but worried about having an acceptable successor, have moved toward voting for the recall, reopening a strong double-digit gap, and for Schwarzenegger. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, published over the weekend, shows the pro-recall side and Schwarzenegger winning, although the poll's methodology may overstate both. Davis' campaign has indirectly acknowledged that its own polls show the recall and Schwarzenegger gaining, and is now going on the attack on several fronts. Davis knows now that his best chance of surviving is to denigrate Schwarzenegger -- a lesser-of-two-evils strategy that has been a Davis hallmark in the past.

* Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante has faded badly in the last 14 days because of his almost inexplicable entanglement in an ongoing political and legal flap over his acceptance of millions of dollars in campaign funds from casino-owning Indian tribes. What had seemed to be a Bustamante-Schwarzenegger duel, when the two were tied and Davis appeared doomed, now has morphed into a Davis-Schwarzenegger contest. The sheer size of the tribal involvement, coupled with the Indians' obvious interest in having a governor of their choosing, has become a negative with voters, and it's hurting not only Bustamante but the other major Republican candidate, conservative Sen. Tom McClintock, who also embraced tribal money.

* McClintock had been under great pressure from GOP leaders to drop out, but the latest round of polling indicates that with Schwarzenegger's surge, McClintock is becoming almost a non-factor in this race. And his stubborn insistence on remaining in the race even though it's evident that he cannot win, and his involvement with the casino tribes, may have damaged his political future. His Senate district has been expanded into Santa Barbara County, which is not friendly territory for a conservative Republican, and there is serious local speculation that he may face a moderate GOP challenger in the primary next March.

Why didn't McClintock agree to bail out a week ago in exchange for Schwarzenegger's help in the Senate primary to face the entirely beatable Barbara Boxer? In fact, he could have done it right after the debate: "Tonight proved to me that Arnold has what it takes..."

Posted by David Cohen at 10:11 PM


Huffington Quits California Recall Race (Beth Fouhy, AP, 9/30/03)

Independent candidate Arianna Huffington dropped out of the California recall race on Tuesday, saying it was her best hope of preventing Arnold Schwarzenegger from becoming governor.

"I'm puling out and I'm going to concentrate all my time and energy in the next week working to defeat the recall becasue I realize that's the only way to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger," Huffington said as she made the announcement on CNN's "Larry King Live."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:24 PM


Publius vs. Demos (Christopher Hull, 09/30/2003, Tech Central Station)

As any political science 101 student can tell you, the United States is not in fact a "democracy," at least not as the term is understood technically. In a democracy, power to govern is lodged with the demos, that is, the mass of individual citizens. In America's federal republic, the power is allocated to local, state and national representatives by the vote, delegating decision-making authority to them.

This is not an accident. Our Nation's Founding Fathers were sharply opposed to too much democracy -- too much decision-making ability placed at the disposal of individual citizens. They deliberately turned instead to a system in which those citizens selected statesmen according to their merit and judgment.

The greatest voice of our Constitutional constructors is the tri-partite character "Publius," the pseudonym of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, writing around 1787 in defense of the soon-to-be-approved Federal Constitution. These thinkers, though later to be divided by politics, were united in thinking that the Constitutional Convention had gotten it right, and that rejecting the framework for the United States would prove disastrous.

In these "Federalist Papers," as the collected writings are generally called, Publius argues consistently against direct democracy, and for a representative republic. Hamilton and Madison especially were rebutting the Anti-Federalists who had an eye for California-style distribution of power to the states and the masses. They felt "sensations of horror and disgust" over early stabs at self-government in Greece and Italy, for instance, because of their "perpetual vibration between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy." That said, they felt that a republic vitiated these concerns. Unless the country adopted a strong, central representative republic, Publius held,

we shall be driven in the alternative either of taking refuge at once in the arms of monarchy, or of splitting ourselves into an infinity of little, jealous, clashing, tumultuous commonwealths, the wretched nurseries of unceasing discord and the miserable objects of universal pity and contempt. (Federalist 9)

More than just calling for a central authority with representatives from the people, Publius directly assaulted direct democracy itself, charging that where citizens had too much direct power, special interests -- or "factions" -- would rule the day entirely. "A pure democracy," he wrote, "by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction."

And Publius warns that direct democracies themselves

have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. (Federalist 10)

Welcome to the Hotel California.

The most remarkable thing about the Founding is that the opposition was even more opposed to centralized power.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:17 PM


Who Killed Free Trade? (Irwin Stelzer, September 21, 2003, London’s Sunday Times)

Supachai Panitchpadki, director-general of the WTO, claims that “the losers will be the poor and weaker nations,” and that renewed efforts to hammer out an agreement are crucial to world economic prosperity. No surprise: the head of a large bureaucracy that is in the process of being marginalized cannot be expected to think that such a development is a good idea. Indeed, with this defeat the WTO joins the United Nations and, after Sweden’s robust rejection, the euro, among the international concoctions that just ain’t what they used to be.

Then there are the economists who believe that free trade, by permitting the international specialization of labor, increases efficiency and the material well-being of all the participants in trade. Economists at the World Bank estimate that a global deal would raise worldwide incomes by $520 billion by 2015 and lift 144 million people out of poverty. They may be right, but George Bush can hardly be expected to follow the lead of Senator Henry Clay, who in 1839 grandly announced, “I would rather be right than be president.”

The dirty little secret is that the collapse of the Cancun meeting is rather good news for the White House. Of course, the U.S. delegation could hardly join the developing countries in popping the champagne corks when the conference collapsed. Those countries made no secret of their pleasure at the fact that they had finally united to make it clear that there would be no more worldwide agreements until their legitimate demands for freer trade in agricultural products are met.

But the White House is hardly mourning the death at Cancun. With a presidential election now right around the corner, as politicians reckon these things, free trade is hardly the rallying cry that Bush’s advisers will select as his campaign theme. America has lost millions of manufacturing jobs since the Bushes moved into the White House, most of them in states the president must win if he is to avoid his father’s fate. Voters tend to forget the cheap sneakers, cars, T-shirts, and other products that are made for them in Asia, and remember the factories, call centers, and other job-giving enterprises that have pulled stakes and moved to China, India, Mexico, and other low-wage countries. The last thing the administration needs is some agreement that can be made to seem to increase pressure on the U.S. manufacturing sector.

And farmers, who voted for Bush in overwhelming numbers in 2000, would hardly have rewarded the president a second time with their votes had he opened them to competition from African, Caribbean, South American, and other growers, even if the concession had been made in return for an agreement by the poorer countries to open their markets to American manufacturers and providers of financial and other services.

So any tears shed by the White House at the Cancun funeral are of the crocodile variety. Zoellick, although probably more annoyed at the conference’s failure than the White House politicos, can take solace from the fact that he can still pursue his alternative strategy of negotiating bilateral trade agreements with countries who find it to their advantage to do so.

Trade is a near perfect example of the kind of sensible reform that democracy makes almost impossible.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:55 PM

GO, SPEED RACER! (via brian boys):

Clark Campaigns at Light Speed (Brian McWilliams, Sep. 30, 2003, Wired)

Wesley Clark: Rhodes scholar, four-star general, NATO commander, futurist?

During a whirlwind campaign swing Saturday through New Hampshire, Clark, the newest Democratic presidential candidate, gave supporters one of the first glimpses into his views on technology.

"We need a vision of how we're going to move humanity ahead, and then we need to harness science to do it," Clark told a group of about 50 people in Newcastle attending a house party -- a tradition in New Hampshire presidential politics that enables well-connected voters to get an up-close look at candidates.

Then, the 58-year-old Arkansas native, who retired from the military three years ago, dropped something of a bombshell on the gathering.

"I still believe in e=mc², but I can't believe that in all of human history, we'll never ever be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to go," said Clark. "I happen to believe that mankind can do it."

"I've argued with physicists about it, I've argued with best friends about it. I just have to believe it. It's my only faith-based initiative." Clark's comment prompted laughter and applause from the gathering.

Gary Melnick, a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said Clark's faith in the possibility of faster-than-light (FTL) travel was "probably based more on his imagination than on physics."

While Clark's belief may stem from his knowledge of sophisticated military projects, there's no evidence to suggest that humans can exceed the speed of light, said Melnick. In fact, considerable evidence posits that FTL travel is impossible, he said.

"Even if Clark becomes president, I doubt it would be within his powers to repeal the powers of physics," said Melnick, whose research has focused on interstellar clouds and the formation of stars and planets.

Geez, and the Left has coniptions because Reagan based his idea of an anti-missile shield on a movie.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:47 PM


Air Force One Lands At The Reagan Library (Edward B. Driscoll, Jr., 09/30/2003, Tech Central Station)

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in Simi Valley California hosts a 3.5 by ten foot segment of the Berlin Wall. If all goes according to schedule, in mid-2004 it will open a pavilion that houses the Air Force One that flew President Reagan into Berlin, where he gave his legendary "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" speech. The aircraft, sporting tail number 27000, was Reagan's primary Air Force One, in which he logged 631,640 miles and 1,288 hours of flying time. It also flew Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter to Cairo in 1981, to represent the US at the funeral of Anwar Sadat. In 1986, #27000 was used to take Reagan to Reykjavik for his summit meeting with Gorbachev, in which Reagan refused to bargain away SDI, and in so doing, began the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Friend Driscoll somehow managed to hornswoggle a trip to the Reagan Library and get a paying gig out of it.

N.B. The last Time Zone Rule violation by the Brothers was structured around a visit to the Simi Valley shrine, but, sadly, the plane wasn't there and we ain't ever goin' back.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 PM


Novak: Wilson's Wife Not a Covert CIA Agent (NewsMax, Sept. 29, 2003)

The wife of Bush-bashing former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Joe Wilson is apparently not a covert CIA operative or an undercover agent, though she's been described that way repeatedly since the CIA asked for an investigation on how her identity was made public.

According to columnist Robert Novak, who revealed Mrs. Wilson's name in his July 14 column, sources at the CIA expressly told him she was not a spy.

"According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operative, and not in charge of undercover operatives," Novak told his audience on CNN's "Crossfire."

It could be a different Joseph Wilson, but someone of that name in DC is a Kerry contributor

Yup, it's him..

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 PM


Recall race turns into head-to-head brawl (Martin Kasindorf, 9/30/2003 , USA TODAY)

Gov. Gray Davis and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger are slamming away at each other as if no other candidates exist in the final seven days of California's recall election.

Schwarzenegger, 56, the front-running Republican to replace the Democratic incumbent if voters recall him next Tuesday, fires up crowds with calls to "terminate" Davis. The Hollywood star no longer mentions state Sen. Tom McClintock, his Republican rival.

For Davis, 60, it's also mano a mano combat. He had strongly hinted that he would endorse Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, 50, by this past Saturday as a fallback choice for Democrats if he is ousted. But now, Davis is ignoring the fading Bustamante and saying the only options for Democrats are himself or a Republican takeover.

In targeting each other, Davis and Schwarzenegger are ending the offbeat campaign with yet one more oddity. Technically, they aren't opponents on the ballot next Tuesday. Davis is alone on the ballot's first question, which is whether he should stay or go. He needs 50%, plus one vote, to stay in office. Schwarzenegger is one of 135 candidates listed on the second question. If Davis loses, the replacement candidate with the most votes becomes governor.

This is too clever by half on the part of the Governor. The key to the race for him was to disappear from view and hope voters forgot why they hated him, then turn out the party base with organization and money. Turning into Gray Davis vs. Arnold is a disaster.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:02 AM


Only one week left; here's the deal:

You pick the %'s of the "Yes" and "No" votes; the % of the vote that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cruz Bustamante will each get; and, as a tie breaker, the % of eligible voters who will turn out on October 7th.

We'll award whoever comes closest a copy of the magnificent new Illustrated version of James M. McPherson's Pulitzer-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the runner-up a hot--off-the-presses paperback copy of Rick Atkinson's Pulitzer-winning Army at Dawn (both courtesy of our friends at FSB Associates).

Please go to this page to enter your picks.

-Here are he results so far
-Here's the latest poll in pdf form.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 AM


Powell Tells Arab-Americans of Hopes to Develop Mideast (JOSEPH B. TREASTER, 9/30/03, NY Times)

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell came here tonight, to the American city with the biggest concentration of Arab-Americans, and said the United States was dedicated to building a prosperous and peaceful Middle East.

Mr. Powell, speaking at an economic conference of leaders from the Middle East and hundreds of American and Arab-American executives, said millions of people in the Middle East were frustrated by joblessness and poverty. "With so much frustration," he said, "no wonder so many people are angry."

"I come to help you build a new Middle East," Mr. Powell said.

Echoing the Administration's call for help from other nations in Iraq, Mr. Powell said the United States "was committed to supporting Arab efforts at reform and development." But he added: "We cannot do it alone. We need partners in the region and in the international community."

He spoke of the administration's effort to develop a huge free trade zone in an area that is now hobbled with more trade barriers than any other part of the world, and he spoke of United States programs like those that finance small-business start-ups for women and send Arab students to intern at American companies.

Summarizing developments in the region, Mr. Powell said the United States was making "remarkable progress" in Iraq, but he said the Middle East peace plan for the Israelis and the Palestinians was stalled because of continuing violence.

To move forward in Israel, he said, the Palestinians must be fully committed to fighting violence. He drew his first ripple of applause when he said that "Israel, too, has obligations," and that "settlement activity" in the West Bank "must end."

That "first ripple of applause" bit is ominous, because if these guys aren't enthused about reforming the Middle East, only about focusing on Israel, then they're useless.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 AM


Economy growth beats expectations: A hot housing market and spending for the war in Iraq gave a boost. (Martin Crutsinger, Associated Press)

The U.S. economy, powered by a red-hot housing market and a huge dose of spending for the war in Iraq, grew at a surprisingly strong 3.3 percent clip last quarter and raised hopes for an even better performance the rest of the year.

The increase announced yesterday in the gross domestic product for the April-June period represented an upward revision from a 3.1 percent estimate a month ago.

Analysts said growth in the July-September quarter would be at a significantly higher rate, fueled by President Bush's newest round of tax cuts, which took effect in July, and continued low interest rates from the Federal Reserve, a combination that has helped to push auto and home sales to record levels.

"The economy is firing on all cylinders," said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Wells Fargo in Minneapolis. "The strong economic growth we are predicting in the future should create some new jobs."

So continues 20+ years of uninterrupted economic growth.

September 29, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 PM


Japan's streets grow meaner (The Japan Times, Sept. 30, 2003)

Japanese criminal organizations are increasingly penetrating a variety of economic fields and strengthening their links with foreign organized-crime groups, posing a threat to the nation's public order. The National Police Agency's 2003 white paper highlights "The Fight Against Organized Crime," focusing on how a growing behind-the-scenes presence of Japanese gangs in crime, an increase in foreign involvement in crime and juvenile crime are contributing to the worsening state of public order.

Criminal investigations are not solely a police matter; nonetheless, there can be no more dillydallying on the implementation of measures to restore public order. Stronger steps must be taken to eliminate the gangs that are worming their way into the daily lives of citizens.

Crimes committed by foreigners are often lumped together in reports. In actuality, however, the offenses are diverse, ranging from house burglaries and car theft to armed robbery and the illegal trafficking of guns and drugs. Last year foreigners in Japan accounted for about 35,000 criminal cases and about 16,000 arrests. These figures are the highest on record, exceeding last year's statistics by about 4,000 cases and roughly 1,600 arrests. [...]

Last year there were more than 2.85 million recognized criminal cases, setting a postwar record for the seventh consecutive year. The arrest rate, meanwhile, plunged to a new low. Clearly, the state of public security is declining.

Focusing on the 35,000 out of the 2.85 million seems the mark of a society that can't face its own pathologies, no?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 PM


The secret lives of middle schoolers (Seth Stern, 9/30/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

Writing a book about Maryland middle schoolers forced journalist Linda Perlstein to live like an adolscent again.

She attended swim practices and bat mitzvahs. She watched her subjects instant-message each other from their bedrooms, and even sat through their classes - though she could walk through the halls without a pass.

The result, "not much just chillin','' is a preteenager's view of the world, drawn from what Perlstein likens to a three-year-long game of dodge ball. [...]

[Q:] You suggest sixth-graders quickly change from innocents to snobby and catty?

It's not particularly gradual. It happens every year. The kids who have been pretty sweet all year - it tends to be when they come back from spring break - tend to come back as full-on middle schoolers. Teachers dread it if they remember it. Some forget but come March, they remember. [...]

[Q:] Why do you emphasize how sexualized middle schoolers have become?

I was overwhelmed by it and pretty saddened too. You shouldn't have to be thinking about this kind of stuff at 12. It's not that the kids were going to go off and have sex in the alley, but I wonder what their relationships and sexual relationships would be like later in life. The patterns were so unintimate and objectified. [...]

What should parents do?

The main thing is to be involved and ignore the "get out." These kids still want you around; they just may want you around in a slightly different way.

It's important not to underestimate the amount of power you still have over your child. A lot of parents throw up their hands and think they can't make a difference and throw their children to the peer gods, and that's wrong. Say 'no' and mean it - so the child hits middle school and is used to hearing it.

When our daughter is 12 we're sending her to the Magdalenes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:42 PM


Would a weaker dollar create new US jobs?: American factory workers compete against China, where labor costs are only 5 percent of those in US. (Ron Scherer, 9/30/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

"This administration never said it was for a weak dollar, but they are clearly concerned about the lack of employment growth," says Paul Kasriel, an economist at Northern Trust Company in Chicago. "There is a lot of pressure from the manufacturing sector and labor."

That pressure is particularly strong with the Chinese currency, the yuan, which is pegged to the US dollar.

Many American companies are moving their manufacturing to China where the labor costs are only about 5 percent of the cost of labor in the US. As a result of this stampede, the US trade deficit with China is now running at $130 billion a year - a record for any country. [...]

Another reason the Chinese are reluctant to revalue, says Mr. Kasriel, is that their overall trade surplus with the rest of the world is narrowing. China has now become a major importer of raw materials and parts to assemble for goods shipped to the largest consuming nation - the US.

"This means countries like Chile - which are exporting copper to China - are starting to benefit from the Asian economies," says Kasriel. "And, the Chileans may want to buy something from the US which will help our exports." [...]

In fact, many economists don't see the dollar as having long-term problems. The European economy is in worse shape than the US. And, it's still not clear if the Japanese recovery will last. "Fundamentally, dollar investments are not as good as they used to be, but they are still better than most others" says Wyss. Adds Mr. Vitner, "I think people are too bearish on the US economy."

Three tidbits:

(1) If their labor costs are 5% of ours why is there any reason to believe we'll have any manufacturing jobs in a few years?

(2) They buy raw materials elsewhere, follow plans we think up, and put pieces together. All they are is assemblers and they'll only be that until their own labor force starts pushing wages up. Then the jobs go elsewhere and they're nothing.

(3) [Q:] If you were going to invest your life savings in one economy until you retire, whose is safest?

[A:] Ours.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 PM


Poor nations keep heat on trade: After WTO talks, the 'G-22' group of developing nations focuses on more-open agricultural markets (Patrick Smith, 9/30/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

Global trade negotiations may well proceed more slowly in the aftermath of the World Trade Organization's collapsed talks in Cancún, Mexico, earlier this month. But they are also likely to proceed more equitably.

As the WTO's 148 members brace for their next session, now scheduled for December, it is already clear that the sudden emergence of a coalition of 22 developing nations has turned the negotiating landscape between rich and poor countries into one that more closely resembles a level playing field.

For now, the Group of 22 intends to remain focused on the opening of global markets for farm products - the issue that divided rich and poor at Cancún and prompted the group to walk out on Sept. 14. Viewed more broadly, however, the "G-22" reflects the increasing assertiveness of developing nations - not only in the WTO but in other multilateral organizations, including the UN.

"It's too early to tell what the G-22's larger agenda will be, or even if we will have one," says Rubens Barbosa, Brazil's ambassador to Washington and a prime mover behind the group's formation. "But the political, economic, and trade circumstances are different now. There's a new balance of power, and the US and the European Union are finally going to have to face us."

Why? Or what?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:08 PM


As reform falters, Syrian elite tighten grip: Confidence in President Bashar al-Assad has dropped as familiar players amass more power (Nicholas Blanford, 9/30/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

When Mohammed Naji al-Otari was sentenced to several months in prison for corruption in the mid-1980s, most residents of this city in northern Syria assumed that his political career was over.

They were wrong. Last week, Mr. Otari was appointed prime minister of a new government in Damascus, pledging to stamp out the rampant corruption that continues to stifle economic growth and hamper much sought-after political reforms.

Otari's appointment and the composition of his 31-member cabinet - which proportionately contains more members of the ruling Baath Party than the previous government - has come as a blow to reformers and Syrian human rights activists as well as ordinary Syrians. There is a palpable sense of disillusionment here as hopes of tangible political and economic reform fail to materialize. Faith in Bashar al-Assad, Syria's youthful president, is being replaced by a sullen resentment at his apparent inability to curb the excesses of the powerful and super-rich clique of regime leaders.

Although there is little prospect of significant domestic instability in the near future, cracks in the 40-year-old Baathist edifice are beginning to appear. And analysts, economists, and diplomats believe that unless a concerted effort is made to usher in a genuine and effective reform program, the country could be heading for serious trouble in the long run.

Now would be an excellent time to challenge Baby Assad so forcefully over Syria's role in Lebanon and supporting terror that he either has to back down and be so humiliated as to be quite possibly fatally weakened or else respond and provide us with a pretext for regime change.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 AM


Bush '04 Readying for One Democrat, Not 10 (RICHARD W. STEVENSON and ADAM NAGOURNEY, 9/29/03)

President Bush's political advisers have set in motion an aggressive re-election machine, building a national network of get-out-the-vote workers and amassing a pile of cash for a blanket advertising campaign expected to begin around the time Democrats settle on their candidate early next year, party officials said.

Mr. Bush's senior advisers, in interviews last week, repeatedly described the Democratic field as unusually weak and divided, providing an important if temporary cushion for Mr. Bush. [...]

The decision to delay the start of advertising until about the time the Democrats settle on a nominee is a rejection of what had been a central element of President Bill Clinton's re-election campaign. Mr. Clinton began advertising 16 months before Election Day, in an effort to define the election before the Republicans chose an opponent.

Republicans said that would be a waste of money, given the battle taking place among the Democrats. Instead, aides to Mr. Bush said, their campaign would begin spending when a Democratic nominee starts to emerge from the primary battle, probably battered and very likely almost broke.

The biggest difference between the positions of Mr. Bush now and Mr. Clinton then is that, especially in light of the 1994 midterm, the latter could barely be certain of holding together as much of his Democratic coalition as had voted for him in '96, whereas no one who voted for George W. Bush in '00 is going anywhere. He can fight the re-election out on the Democrats' turf.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 AM


NORTH KOREA: ON THE BORDERLINE: Part 1: Soldiers head for the frontier (Alan Fung. 9/30/03, Asia Times)

Recently, reports have been surfacing about extraordinary movements along the border between China and North Korea. On September 14, Hong Kong's Sing Tao Daily carried a report that up to 150,000 People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops had been deployed on the border, replacing local armed police. On September 15 Kong Quan, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, released a statement that the PLA troops were taking on responsibility for defense of the border as a normal adjustment that was part of China's efforts to unify border control. At the same time, Ta Kung Pao newspaper, the mainland's mouthpiece in Hong Kong, carried a series of reports that there was no large-scale deployment along the border. Its journalists had paid visits to various towns along border and found no illicit crossings of the border. Everything, it reported, seemed to be normal along the border. What is really happening along the Sino-North Korean border? Asia Times Online has dispatched correspondents to the scene to dig out the truth, and this is the first of a series of their reports.

Remember that old saying: when totalitarian dictatorships have a fall out we all win.

Funny, isn't it, how W's stupid approch to N. Korea has now been adopted by all the other players, No more pandering to Pyongyang (Stephen Blank, 9/30/03, Asia Times)

Japan's decision to bring North Korea's nuclear proliferation to the United Nations for debate and resolution marks another significant development in the saga of Pyongyang's nuclearization. Not only does it signify Japan's final loss of patience with North Korea's brinkmanship and nuclear threats, it also represents in more prosaic terms a Japanese effort, no doubt supported by at least some of the other states involved, to call North Korea's bluff.

This, frankly, is unprecedented in the record of crises stemming from North Korean nuclearization. Normally it is North Korea that has pushed its interlocutors to the brink, not the other way around.

One can only wish that the Clnton admiitration had stood up to N. Korea ten years ago.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 AM


U.S. probes leak of CIA agent's identity (Barbara Slavin, 9/28/2003, USA TODAY)

The Justice Department is investigating a CIA complaint that White House officials leaked the name of a CIA officer in an apparent effort to punish her husband and stifle criticism of the U.S. case for war in Iraq.

Joseph Wilson, the husband of the officer, is a former ambassador to Iraq who angered the Bush administration in July by asserting that the White House knew when Bush made statements about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium in Africa that the evidence was dubious.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice confirmed that the Justice Department was looking into a complaint from CIA Director George Tenet that White House officials had leaked the name and occupation of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. [...]

The Washington Post quoted an administration official Sunday as saying two White House officials phoned at least six journalists and disclosed the name and occupation of Wilson's wife. Novak printed the name July 14 and said Wilson, a critic of Bush policy on Iraq, had been sent by the CIA to Africa after his wife suggested it.

Eight days earlier, Wilson, writing in The New York Times, revealed that he had traveled to Niger in February 2002 to investigate reports that Saddam's regime had sought to purchase yellowcake, a form of uranium that can be enriched to produce nuclear weapons. Wilson, who was the top Africa expert on President Clinton's National Security Council, concluded that the reports were based on false information.

Whoever leaked the name is going to have to resign, but given the recent history of administrations leaking about their enemies, no prosecution seems likely. Meanwhile, revenge would appear to be a dubious motive here; more likely is that Ambassador Wilson was seen as a tool of CIA, which was opposed to the war, and folks in the White House thought his at least marital ties to the Agency were the key to understanding his report. He tried to play hardball and had it played back, it would appear inappropriately.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 AM


Poll: Calif. set to oust Davis (John Ritter, 9/29/03, USA TODAY)

California voters are ready to fire Gov. Gray Davis and replace him with actor and political novice Arnold Schwarzenegger, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll finds.

A week before the vote on recalling the two-term Democrat, 63% of probable voters say they will vote to remove him from office. Three-quarters are unhappy with his job performan

Schwarzenegger, a Republican who is making his first run for elective office, captures 40% of the vote in the poll. His closest pursuer, Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, receives 25%.

In a normal election you'd expect the supporters of the subsidiary candidates to come home to the two main parties on election day--in the same way Ralph Nader's support collapsed on Election Day 2000--but this is California and a Recall election, so it's anything but normal. Still, it does not seem possible that in such a heavily Democratic state the annointed candidate could possibly poll under about 40-45% in the actual election.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 AM

- - - :

Cultural movement kindles interest of secular Jews (Cathy Lynn Grossman, 9/29/03, USA TODAY)

Nearly 200 secular humanistic Jews here will gather this week to honor the culture and values of their people.

Minus God.

Like Jews worldwide, they are marking the High Holy Days. Saturday was Rosh Hashana, and Oct. 6 is Yom Kippur.

But they will not pray.

"We don't talk about God. Judaism is more than a religion," says Judi Gladstone, founder of the Secular Jewish Circle of Puget Sound.

The group is part of the national Society for Secular Humanistic Judaism, founded by Rabbi Sherwin Wine in 1963 with the creation of its first synagogue, the Birmingham (Mich.) Temple near Detroit.

Wine, now retired, cites research showing nearly half of all U.S. Jews call themselves secular. About 40,000 are affiliated with congregations linked to Wine's group or the parallel Congress for Secular Jewish Organizations.

Wine believes they are the future of the Jewish people. "Our focus is on how we, as Jewish human beings, can live an ethical life of courage with greater strength and compassion."

Like Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, it raises the question: why bother? If you're trying to reconnect with Jewish culture and live more ethical lives you won't achieve either end without God.

September 28, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:12 PM


Elia Kazan, Influential Director, Dies at 94 (MERVYN ROTHSTEIN, 9/28/03, NY Times)

Elia Kazan, the immigrant child of a Greek rug merchant who became one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history, died yesterday at his home in Manhattan. He was 94.

Mr. Kazan's achievements in theater and cinema helped define the American experience for more than a generation. For Broadway, his legendary productions included "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Death of a Salesman." His movie classics included "On the Waterfront" and "East of Eden."

To many critics, he was the best director of American actors in stage and screen history, discovering Marlon Brando, James Dean and Warren Beatty and redefining the craft of film acting. In 1953 the critic Eric Bentley wrote that "the work of Elia Kazan means more to the American theater than that of any current writer."

Mr. Kazan was a founder and longtime co-director of the Actors Studio; a founder with Robert Whitehead of the first repertory theater at Lincoln Center; a member of the fabled Group Theater in the 1930's; the favorite director of a generation of new American playwrights, including the two most important, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller; and in his later years a best-selling novelist.

He received best-director Tony Awards for his work on two of Mr. Miller's plays, "All My Sons" (1947) and "Death of a Salesman" (1949), as well as for Archibald MacLeish's "J. B." (1959).

In Hollywood, seven of Mr. Kazan's films won a total of 20 Academy Awards. He won best-director Oscars for "Gentleman's Agreement," a 1947 indictment of anti-Semitism, and "On the Waterfront" in 1954. "On the Waterfront," a searing depiction of venality and corruption on the New Jersey docks, won eight Oscars.

Mr. Kazan also received an Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1999. The lifetime achievement award was controversial because in 1952 Mr. Kazan angered many of his friends and colleagues when he acknowledged before the House Un-American Activities Committee that he had been a member of the Communist Party from 1934 to 1936 and gave the committee the names of eight other party members. He had previously refused to do so, and his naming of names prompted many people in the arts, including those who had never been Communists, to excoriate him for decades.

Asked why he had identified others, he cited a "specious reasoning which has silenced many liberals" that ran like this: "You may hate the Communists, but you must not attack them or expose them, because if you do you are attacking the right to hold unpopular opinions."

"I'd had every good reason to believe the party should be driven out of its many hiding places and into the light of scrutiny, but I'd never said anything because it would be called `red-baiting,' " he wrote years later. "The `horrible, immoral thing' that I did I did out of my own true self."

Completely fitting for a great artist, Mr. Kazan had the last word in the naming names dustup with his magnificent film, On the Waterfront, an artwork so powerful that even those who were on the side of the murderers and goons in real life had to acknowledge its core truth: that the exposure of evil is more important than "loyalty" to one's fellows in a ciminal enterprise. Long after the names of all the blacklisted and those who testified and those named in things like the Venona transcripts are forgotten, two testaments to the time will endure: Whittaker Chambers's Witness and Mr. Kazan's Waterfront.

-Elia Kazan (kirjasto)
-Elia Kazan (Wikipedia)
-Elia Kazan (PBS: American Masters)
-Elia Kazan (Spartacus School)

-Elia Kazan: Postage Paid (Modern Times)
-ARTICLE: Hollywood protest at Kazan's Oscar (Tom Brook, February 22, 1999, BBC)
-Washington Post: Academy Awards 1999
-ESSAY: The Legacy of the Anti-Communist Liberal Intellectuals (Ronald Radosh, Partisan Review)
-ESSAY: Elia Kazan's Towering Presence (Larry P. Arnn, Claremont Precepts)
-ESSAY: Elia Kazan: Moral Hero: Kazan should be applauded for defending individual rights by testifying against Hollywood’s communists. (Robert W. Tracinski, Ad Hoc Committee for Naming Names)
-ESSAY: Justice for Elia Kazan (Glenn Woiceshyn, March 1, 1999, Capitalism Magazine)
-ESSAY: Naming Names (Thomas Sowell, 3/19/99, Jewish World Review)
-ESSAY: A Different Waterfront (Paul Greenburg, 3/9/99, Jewish World Review)
-ESSAY: Kazan's Oscar: Not Too Late (L. Brent Bozell III, January 25, 1999)
-ESSAY: Kazan and Miller: Long, Bitter Debate From the '50's: Views of Kazan and His Critics (Richard Bernstein, May 3, 1988, NY Times)
-ESSAY: Why Elia should get his Oscar: moral and political judgments of Elia Kazan should not overshadow his art at this month's Academy Awards (Arthur Miller, March 6, 1999, The Guardian)
-ESSAY: The Forgotten Oscar (Victor Navasky, March 18, 1999, The Nation)
-ESSAY: Blacklist and Backstory: Hollywood's unexpected embrace of Elia Kazan (Jacob Weisberg, January 31, 1999, Slate)
-ESSAY: Why Elia Kazan should not receive an Oscar: By bestowing a special honor on the director, who already has won two Oscars, the academy is glossing over history. (Steve Erickson, March 1999, Salon)
-ESSAY: Hollywood honors Elia Kazan. Filmmaker and informer. (David Walsh, 20 February 1999, World Socialist Web Site)
-ESSAY: And the Winner Is -- HUAC: Elia Kazan will have the statue, but the victory belongs to the blacklist (Christopher Trumbo , 3/19/99, LA Weekly)
-REVIEW ESSAY: Seeing Red: Reviews of Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left, and the Leftover Left by Ronald Radosh, A Very Dangerous Citizen: Abraham Lincoln Polonsky and the Hollywood Left, by Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner, and Red Scared!: The Commie Menace in Propaganda and Popular Culture by Michael Barson and Steven Heller.(Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley, Claremont Review of Books)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 PM


Looks like Clark should go back to basic training (Clarence Page, September 28, 2003, Chicago Tribune)

Will the real Wesley Clark please stand up and throw his helmet in the ring?

Such is the question I hear welling up from the masses as the retired general and fledgling Democratic presidential candidate politically evolves right in front of our eyes. As he figures out what he believes in, Gen. Clark sounds at times like Gen. Chameleon, recoloring himself to suit his surroundings.

In his first debate last week in New York with the nine other Democratic candidates, for example, Clark was asked to explain why he had been a speaker at the May 11, 2001, Lincoln Day fundraising dinner of the Arkansas Republican Party, where Clark gave glowing praise to Ronald Reagan and President Bush.

Clark acknowledged his politics had changed, then he backed that up by criticizing Bush as a man who had "recklessly cut taxes ... recklessly took us into Iraq" and practices "neither conservatism nor compassion."

Then with the warm and confident smile of a man who had just come home, he declared to the audience, "I am pro-choice, I am pro-affirmative action, I'm pro-environment, pro-health [care]. That's why I'm proud to be a Democrat."

Clark handled the question far more smoothly than his flip-flop a week earlier. The New York Times reported that he called out "Mary, help!" for his press aide Mary Jacoby when reporters peppered him with questions about how he would have voted on the congressional resolution to authorize invading Iraq.

Clark's reply, "On balance, I probably would have voted for it," startled and angered anti-war Democrats, forcing Clark to do a U-turn the next day: "I would never have voted for war." Ah, well, even a Rhodes Scholar who graduated first in his class at West Point can find himself sent right back to basic training when he runs for president.

Looks like the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party may not roll over for the General, which will afford us the great pleasure of watching the Democrats destroy a military man (even if a lousy one), while trying to convince the American people that they can be trusted with our military defense.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 PM




The sudden criminal attacks perpetrated by the Japanese in the Pacific provide the climax of a decade of international immorality.

Powerful and resourceful gangsters have banded together to make war upon the whole human race. Their challenge has now been flung at the United States of America. [...]

The course that Japan has followed for the past ten years in Asia has paralleled the course of Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and in Africa. Today, it has become far more than a parallel. It is actual collaboration so well calculated that all the continents of the world, and all the oceans, are now considered by the Axis strategists as one gigantic battlefield. [...]

I repeat that the United States can accept no result save victory, final and complete. Not only must the shame of Japanese treachery be wiped out, but the sources of international brutality, wherever they exist, must be absolutely and finally broken.

In my Message to the Congress yesterday I said that we "will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again." In order to achieve that certainty, we must begin the great task that is before us by abandoning once and for all the illusion that we can ever again isolate ourselves from the rest of humanity.

In these past few years -- and, most violently, in the past three days -- we have learned a terrible lesson.

It is our obligation to our dead -- it is our sacred obligation to their children and to our children -- that we must never forget what we have learned.

And what we have learned is this:

There is no such thing as security for any nation -- or any individual -- in a world ruled by the principles of gangsterism. There is no such thing as impregnable defense against powerful aggressors who sneak up in the dark and strike without warning.

We have learned that our ocean-girt hemisphere is not immune from severe attack -- that we cannot measure our safety in terms of miles on any map any more.

We may acknowledge that our enemies have performed a brilliant feat of deception, perfectly timed and executed with great skill. It was a thoroughly dishonorable deed, but we must face the fact that modern warfare as conducted in the Nazi manner is a dirty business. We don't like it -- we didn't want to get in it -- but we are in it and we're going to fight it with everything we've got.

I do not think any American has any doubt of our ability to administer proper punishment to the perpetrators of these crimes. Your Government knows that for weeks Germany has been telling Japan that if Japan did not attack the United States, Japan would not share in dividing the spoils with Germany when peace came. She was promised by Germany that if she came in she would receive the complete and perpetual control of the whole of the Pacific area -- and that means not only the Ear East, but also all of the Islands in the Pacific, and also a stranglehold on the west coast of North, Central and South America. We know also that Germany and Japan are conducting their military and naval operations in accordance with a joint plan. That plan considers all peoples and nations which are not helping the Axis powers as common enemies of each and every one of the Axis powers.

That is their simple and obvious grand strategy. And that is why the American people must realize that it can be matched only with similar grand strategy. We must realize for example that Japanese successes against the United States in the Pacific are helpful to German operations in Libya; that any German success against the Caucasus is inevitably an assistance to Japan in her operations against the Dutch East Indies; that a German attack against Algiers or Morocco opens the way to a German attack against South America and the Canal.

On the other side of the picture, we must learn also to know that guerilla warfare against the Germans in, let us say Serbia or Norway, helps us; that a successful Russian offensive against the Germans helps us; and that British successes on land or sea in any part of the world strengthen our hands.

Remember always that Germany and Italy, regardless of any formal declaration of war, consider themselves at war with the United States at this moment just as much as they consider themselves at war with Britain or Russia. And Germany puts all the other Republics of the Americas into the same category of enemies. The people of our sister Republics of this Hemisphere can be honored by that fact.

The true goal we seek is far above and beyond the ugly field of battle. When we resort to force, as now we must, we are determined that this force shall be directed toward ultimate good as well as against immediate evil. We Americans are not destroyers -- we are builders.

We are now in the midst of a war, not for conquest, not for vengeance, but for a world in which this nation, and all that this nation represents, will be safe for our children. We expect to eliminate the danger from Japan, but it would serve us ill if we accomplished that and found that the rest of the world was dominated by Hitler and Mussolini.

So we are going to win the war and we are going to win the peace that follows.

And in the difficult hours of this day -- through dark days that may be yet to come -- we will know that the vast majority of the members of the human race are on our side. Many of them are fighting with us. All of them are praying for us. But, in representing our cause, we represent theirs as well -- our hope and their hope for liberty under God.

Three things leap out about this speech:

(1) If you're education was anything like mine--at utterly conventional public schools and a liberal arts college--you'll have heard innumerable times that Hitler's declaration of war on the United States was a totally unnecessary, almost deranged, blunder, that came out of the blue. In fact, it followed this address by FDR, which all but officially declared war on Germany.

(2) Given that there was practically no coordination between Japan and Germany and that we well knew that to be the case, we might consider this FDR's own Iraq speech, overstating the case against an obvious enemy of freedom in order to drag a reluctant, even dubious, into war with his chosen target, rather than theirs.

(3) We can probably go out on a limb and say that no one ran editorials the next day complaining about his references to evil or about his closing line being too religious.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:54 PM


Inside the Islamic Mafia: Bernard-Henri Lévy exposes Daniel Pearl's killers. (Christopher Hitchens, September 25, 2003, Slate)

I remember laughing out loud, in what was admittedly a mirthless fashion, when Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, one of Osama Bin Laden's most heavy-duty deputies, was arrested in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Straining to think of an apt comparison, I fail badly. But what if, say, the Unabomber had been found hiding out in the environs of West Point or Fort Bragg? Rawalpindi is to the Pakistani military elite what Sandhurst is to the British, or St Cyr used to be to the French. It's not some boiling slum: It's the manicured and well-patrolled suburb of the officer class, very handy for the capital city of Islamabad if you want to mount a coup, and the site of Flashman's Hotel if you are one of those who enjoys the incomparable imperial adventure-stories of George MacDonald Fraser. Who, seeking to evade capture, would find a safe house in such a citadel?

Yet, in the general relief at the arrest of this outstanding thug, that aspect of the matter drew insufficient attention. Many words of praise were uttered, in official American circles, for the exemplary cooperation displayed by our gallant Pakistani allies. But what else do these allies have to trade, except al-Qaida and Taliban suspects, in return for the enormous stipend they receive from the U.S. treasury? Could it be that, every now and then, a small trade is made in order to keep the larger trade going?

One hesitates to utter thoughts like these, but they recur continually as one reads Bernard-Henri Lévy's latest book: Who Killed Daniel Pearl? Everybody remembers—don't they?—the ghastly video put out on the Web by Pearl's kidnappers and torturers. It's the only live-action footage we possess of the ritual slaughter of a Jew, preceded for effect by his coerced confession of his Jewishness. Pearl was lured into a trap by the promise of a meeting with a senior religious demagogue, who might or might not have shed light on the life of the notorious "shoe-bomber," because of whom millions of us must take off our footwear at American airports every day, as if performing the pieties required for entering a mosque.

What a sick joke all this is, if you study Lévy's book with care. If you ever suspected that the Pakistani ISI (or Interservices Intelligence) was in a shady relationship with the Taliban and al-Qaida forces, this book materializes the suspicion and makes the very strong suggestion that Pearl was murdered because he was doing his job too well, not because he was a naive idealist who got into the wrong car at the wrong time. His inquiries had at least the potential for exposing the Pakistani collusion and double-dealing with jihad forces, in much the same pattern the Saudi Arabian authorities have been shown to follow—by keeping two sets of books, in other words, and by exhibiting only one set to Americans.

In case you've ever wondered why the India-Israel-America axis is the most important and under-reported story in the world today.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:25 PM


Review of Environment Rules Finds Benefits Outweigh Costs (JOHN H. CUSHMAN Jr., 9/28/03, NY Times)

The White House office in charge of reviewing federal regulations has reported that the benefits of some major environmental rules appear to exceed the costs by several times and that the net benefits may be even larger than previously acknowledged. [...]

The report included only a handful of the 4,135 final rules published in the Federal Register during the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2002. Its principal focus was on three rules issued by the Energy Department, the Transportation Department and the E.P.A. They imposed estimated annual costs of $1.6 billion to $2 billion, but produced estimated annual benefits of $2.4 billion to $6.5 billion.

If they save that much money we might be inclined to keep them, but this story is a tad cryptic, no?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:47 PM


Here's the deal:

You pick the %'s of the "Yes" and "No" votes; the % of the vote that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cruz Bustamante will each get; and, as a tie breaker, the % of eligible voters who will turn out on October 7th.

We'll award whoever comes closest a copy of the magnificent new Illustrated version of James M. McPherson's Pulitzer-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the runner-up a hot--off-the-presses paperback copy of Rick Atkinson's Pulitzer-winning Army at Dawn (both courtesy of our friends at FSB Associates).

Please go to this page to enter your picks.

-Here are he results so far
-Here's the latest poll in pdf form.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:42 PM


Few catch glimpse of Bustamante (VICTORIA MANLEY, 9/28/03, Monterey Sun)

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante didn't have time for small talk when he dropped into Salinas on his campaign trail Saturday. Not that there were many who seemed to care.

Bustamante, who has mostly run on a "no on recall, yes on Bustamante" campaign for California governor, visited with a small group at a private fund-raiser in a home south of Salinas.

Apparently, anyone not willing to pay to speak with Bustamante was out of luck. The politician arrived in a private jet at Salinas Municipal Airport at 4 p.m., and within minutes of landing was whisked into a black sedan.

He arrived around 4:40 p.m. at the Alisal Road home of Jose L. Alcala, owner of Shorty's Portable Toilets. The chauffeured car was driven to the rear of a roped-off driveway, where Bustamante was escorted to the back door of the house and greeted by paid guests.

The visit to Salinas was the first, and likely the last, for Bustamante while on the recall campaign trail.

Despite assurances that he would address the public and talk to the press, Bustamante was swiftly escorted to rear entrances. Not once did he greet onlookers to answer their questions.

Then again, onlookers were few. Aside from mostly local reporters and a half-dozen Arnold Schwarzenegger supporters, no one seemed to notice or care that Bustamante was in town.

If he weren't a Democrat in CA, you'd have to stick a fork in him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:23 PM


No wonder America has so many enemies (ERIC MARGOLIS, 9/28/03, Toronto Sun)

President Bill Clinton was impeached by a Republican-controlled Congress for lying about sex. President George W. Bush and aides lied the United States into a stupid, unnecessary colonial war that has so far killed more than 305 Americans and seriously wounded more than 1,400. It has also cost many thousands of Iraqi dead, and $1 billion US weekly.

Lying about sex is an impeachable offence; lying the nation into war apparently is not.

I was no Clinton fan, but give me his iffy morals any day over Bush's Mussolini-like strutting.

Harold Meyerson calls it a Jefferson Davis strut.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:47 PM


Mexifornia: A State of Becoming by Victor Davis Hanson (C-SPAN, September 28, 2003 , 8 & 11 pm)

Two themes dominate most of what has been written about Mexicans in California, and I have tried to avoid both. On the one extreme, we hear scary statistics that "prove" California will become part of Mexico by the sheer fact of immigration. On the other, we are told that either nothing much is changing, or that what alterations are occurring in the fabric of our social life are all positive. The truth, as always, is in between: California is passing through tumultuous times, but there is no reason to anticipate that it must become a de facto colony of Mexico. More importantly, I do not believe all that much in historical determinism—the idea that broad social, cultural and economic factors make the future course of events inevitable and render what individuals do in the here and now more or less irrelevant.

My main argument instead is that the future of the state—and the nation too, as regards the matter of immigration—is entirely in the hands of its current residents. California will become exactly what its people in the present generation choose to make it. So it is high time for honest discussion, without fear of recrimination and intimidation. How else are we ever going to sort out the various choices that will decide our collective fate—especially at a perilous time when we find ourselves at war with those who kill us as Americans regardless of accent, skin color or origin? That many in the business community will consider what follows naïve or dub me a protectionist/isolationist worries me as little as the critical voices I am sure to hear from an academic elite whose capital remains largely separatist identities and self-interest. Both parties, after all, did their part to get us into this predicament and have so far escaped accountability for the harm they have done.

We have extensive links to more by and about Mr. Hanson and his writings following our review of his earlier title, The Soul of Battle.

-BOOK SITE: Mexifornia: A State of Becoming by Victor Davis Hanson (Encounter Books)
-ESSAY: Do We Want Mexifornia? (Victor Davis Hanson, Spring 2002, City Journal)
-INTERVIEW: Such a Lovely Place: Talking with Victor Davis Hanson about the future of California — and the United States. (A Q&A by Kathryn Jean Lopez, 6/11/03, National Review)
-ESSAY:Hanson on “Mexifornia”: Good – But Not Good Enough (Sam Francis, June 19, 2003, V-Dare)
-REVIEW: of Mexifornia: A State of Becoming by Victor Davis Hanson (Ken Masugi, Claremont Review of Books)
-REVIEW: of Mexifornia: A State of Becoming by Victor Davis Hanson (Emily Cochran,
-REVIEW: of Mexifornia: A State of Becoming by Victor Davis Hanson (Paul A. Garcia, Fresno Bee)
-REVIEW: of Mexifornia: A State of Becoming by Victor Davis Hanson (John Fonte, Hudson Institute)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:19 PM


Now Is the Time to Teach Democracy: How can we defend our democratic way of life if we don't even understand it? (Diane Ravitch, Winter 2002, Hoover Digest)

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was sitting at my kitchen table, enjoying a second cup of coffee and reading the morning paper. A friend called to tell me that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I live about three blocks from the waterfront in Brooklyn, directly across the river from Lower Manhattan, so I ran to the harbor. Just as I arrived, the second plane crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Along with about six others, I stood there wordless as we watched huge balls of flame and smoke erupting from the two buildings. On that bright blue, cloudless morning, the air in the harbor was filled as far as the eye could see with tiny bits of paper, like confetti in a ticker-tape parade, the paper blown off the
desks of people who worked in the upper floors of the burning buildings. All that day, ashes and soot rained down on my neighborhood. Cars were coated with the airborne ash, and a distinctive sickening smell, something akin to burning plastic, permeated the air. Thousands were killed in the conflagration. They were people of all races, religions, ethnicities, and social origins. Most were Americans, some were not. The hundreds of rescuers who died when the buildings collapsed were trying to save human lives, without distinction to anyone's color, beliefs, or national origin. By day's end, New Yorkers were lining up at emergency centers to give blood or to offer supplies or to volunteer in any way that seemed useful. The outpouring of volunteers was so large that many were turned away. So much for those who have decried the decline of civic participation in the United States. Since the mass murders, educators have been opining about how we must change what we teach our children. We must teach tolerance, they say, as if our children were somehow responsible for what happened because their teachers had failed to teach them tolerance. Of course, we must teach tolerance and we do teach tolerance, but we must not teach children to tolerate those who hijack commercial jetliners and kill innocent victims. We must not teach children to tolerate fanaticism, be it political or religious. Perhaps we could engage in civic dialogues with educators in the countries that the terrorists came from, to share what we know about teaching tolerance. Other educators have said that the events of September 11 demonstrate the necessity for a multicultural curriculum. Again, the implication is that this unprecedented atrocity was caused by a failure in the schools' curriculum, rather than by heartless, inhumane terrorists. [...]

I suggest that what our schools must do is to teach young people the virtues and blessings of our democratic system of government. Our ability to defend what we hold dear depends on our knowledge and understanding of it. If we value a free society, we must know about its
origins and its evolution. If we value our rights and freedoms, we must understand how we got them and what it would mean to live in a society that did not have them. To be sure, our democratic practices are not universal, even though almost all of them were clearly articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was endorsed by the United Nations in 1948. It is true that there are many societies that treat women as beasts of burden, many societies that do not choose their leaders, and many societies where the government and religious authorities decide who is allowed to speak and write. There are societies where free public education does not exist, where homosexuals are rounded up and imprisoned, and where our Western legal concepts of due process are unknown.

Some of these societies hate us because they hate our way of life. They think it is decadent. They think we are decadent because we protect freedom of speech, allowing people to read, say, and write whatever they want; because we protect freedom of religion, allowing "truth" and
"untruth" to be taught without any regulation; because we grant equal rights to men and women, allowing women to be educated to the same extent as men and to advance in the same professions. Certainly other generations of Americans understood that these rights and freedoms were part of the American way of life. The members of the "greatest generation," which saved the world from fascism and Nazism, knew that they were defending these rights and freedoms. The Cold War generation that helped to bring down Soviet totalitarianism understood the importance of these rights and freedoms. We do not know what sacrifices will be required of us in the months and years ahead. What we should know is the importance of teaching our children about democracy, freedom, human rights, the principle that every person is equal before the law, and the value of the individual. These are ideas with a long history. Our children need to know them.

It's inherently important for citizens to comprehend the Founding and the ideas that undergird America, but it's also important not to turn history into fantasy. Americans generally had no idea why we were fighting the Germans in WWII and wanted no part of it. Killing the Japanese was popular at home, but really only for racial reasons. When Ike toured Buchenwald, the first concentration camp to be liberated, he snarled at a G.I.: "Still having trouble hating them?" Tolerance and freedom and the like are lovely ideals, but folks aren't big on going to war for them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 PM


Advertising Freedom (NPR: On the Media, 9/28/03)

According to a recent poll by the AdCouncil, an overwhelming majority of Americans think that fellow citizens take their freedoms for granted. And so the people who brought you Smokey Bear and the crash test dummies have taken up the cause with their latest series of TV, radio, and print PSAs. The latest installment in the "Campaign for Freedom" features immigrants who have fled from repressive regimes. AdCouncil President & CEO Peggy Conlon speaks with Bob about the campaign.

So host Bob Garfield asks about one ad in particular where in a dystopic America a man tries checking a book out of a library but is carried off by federal agents, "which is ironic because under the Patriot Act the same exact thing is happening right now in the real America." Mind you, this is a program devoted to keeping track of the uses and abuses of the media.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:19 AM


Mother Angelica’s Empire of the Airwaves: Kathryn Jean Lopez tracks the 20-year growth of Catholic broadcast giant (Crisis, July/Aug 2001)

Hanceville, Alabama, is in the heart of the Bible Belt, in a state with a population that is less than 3 percent Catholic. Turn onto Old Country Road in this northern Alabama town, and you'll likely see more than a few Southern Baptist churches as you drive along. But
soon the religious landscape changes: For a mile or so, just about every house displays a statue of the Virgin Mary in the front yard. Or a sign indicating that the dwelling is named after a saint and is a guest house for visiting pilgrims. Or a "For Sale" placard naming an astronomical price for the privilege of residing in an area that lives and breathes Catholicism.

Finally, you drive along a seemingly endless white picket fence framing fertile, farmable land, and you see what looks incongruously like a 13th-century abbey, surmounted by an enormous Italian Romanesque church with a red-brick campanile. Its name: the Our Lady of the Angels
Monastery, housing the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration, members of a 147-year-old order of cloistered Franciscan sisters in traditional black-and-white garb. The church has its own name: the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, where the nuns spend their days in the presence of the Eucharist, displayed in an eight-foot monstrance.

You're in the land of Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, P.C.P.A., the 78-year-old nun who brought the Poor Clares to Alabama as their abbess (in 1962), built the Hanceville monastery (it opened in 1999; see "Mother's Magnificent Temple" in the September 2000 issue of Crisis), and helped turn this pocket of Alabama into a veritable Catholic theme park. Mother Angelica is best known as the founder of the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN)--with just under 300 employees, an annual budget of about $29 million, and an audience of about 66 million households in 43 countries, the largest Catholic cable network in the nation.

On August 15, EWTN will celebrate its 20th birthday--two decades of skyrocketing growth since Mother Angelica started it in 1981 with just $200 as a single television station operating out of the garage of her previous monastery in Irondale, Alabama, a Birmingham suburb some 50 miles from Hanceville. Irondale is still the home of EWTN's headquarters, and although Mother Angelica retired as chairman of its board last year, she still makes the drive there twice a week to tape her popular Mother Angelica Live television show in front of a studio audience.

Many Catholics idolize Mother Angelica as a media mogul of faith, an up-to-date version of the video-savvy Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen of the 1950s who did Sheen one better by building her own broadcasting empire. They refer to her reverently as "Mother," and some have moved to Hanceville just to be near her, as the front-yard statues around the monastery indicate.

Perhaps just as many other Catholics can't stand her, finding her needlessly truculent and all too ready to pick quarrels with those who strike her as less than orthodox in their beliefs. Whatever the reactions, Mother Angelica may well be, as Time magazine once described her, "the most influential Roman Catholic woman in America."

The tv remote control offers no more jarring experience than to stumble upon Mother Angelica in the midst of music videos, cartoons, and sports shows. They do a nice program on G.K. Chesterton.

September 27, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:29 PM


Republicans for Hillary, Part 2: Why conservatives want her to run. (Timothy Noah, September 23, 2003, Slate)

Yesterday, Chatterbox demonstrated that the "Draft Hillary" movement consists almost entirely of conservative Republicans. Liberals are largely indifferent to the idea of Hillary running, and a few oppose it.

Never Say Never: Why the Hillary buzz won’t go away (Eleanor Clift, Sept. 26, 2003, Newsweek)
However many times Hillary Clinton denies she is running in 2004, the buzz continues about her possible candidacy. We always love the candidate who is outside the process. The entry last week of Gen. Wesley Clark into the race only fed the rumors that the Clintons are orchestrating the primaries behind the scenes with an eye to reserving a place for Hillary and extending Bill’s legacy.

The confluence of circumstances is almost too delicious. Clark is the vice president Clinton never had. He’s from Arkansas, a Rhodes scholar and he performed heroic service in Vietnam and won a war in Kosovo. With Clark in the White House, the Clinton era returns. If Clark doesn’t live up to his potential on the campaign trail, then Hillary jumps in to save the party.

It’s a tantalizing scenario, and former president Clinton drops enough hints to keep it alive.

We'd like to be the first to welcome Eleanor Clift and Bill Clinton to the ranks of the VRWC, the exclusive domain of the Hillary for President meme according to Mr. Noah.

Time for Hillary to fish or cut bait (Bill Press, September 26, 2003)
Hillary Faces Test - Is She a Clinton Who Keeps Pledges? (Mort Kondracke, September 23, 2003)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:18 PM


Candidate Plans 'Democracy Tour' of Afghanistan (LA Times, September 27, 2003)

Badi Badiozamani, one of the 135 people running for governor, has invited four of his fellow candidates to accompany him on a mission to Afghanistan, where they hope to share the lessons from the campaign trail with a country struggling to create democratic institutions.

"I would like to tell them about the democracy we have, that ordinary people can run for any position," said Badiozamani, a nonpartisan candidate from San Diego who moved to America from Iran in the early 1980s.

He said the trip was being planned under the auspices of the Center for East-West Understanding, which he runs.

Dick Lane, a Democrat from Sunnyvale; Frank Macaluso, a Democrat from Visalia; Lawrence Strauss, a Democrat from Sherman Oaks; and Jon Zellhoefer, a Republican from San Jose, have volunteered for the trip.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:15 PM


The Terror War Needs Liberal Democrats, Too (Richard Brookhiser, NY Observer)

Why should liberal Democrats interest themselves in the Terror War? One reason I would think is national liberation. Over two decades of political gladiatorship, I have often found liberals taking that side of controversial issues. They wanted the black majority of South Africa to have equal rights. They lost no love on pro-American strong men like Pinochet, Marcos or the Shah. And whatever they felt about the Cold War, they didn’t seem sad when Communism lost. Leonard Bernstein conducted a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth in Berlin to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Terror War has already burst open jails, real and metaphorical, in two countries. Men in Afghanistan can shave their beards, women who wish to can show their faces. Iraqi soccer players are no longer tortured for missing goals, Kurdish children are no longer stuffed into mass graves.

Indifference to the fate of dusky peoples used to be the property of the right, especially its satirists. The classic expressions of such sentiments are the African farces of Evelyn Waugh, Scoop and Black Mischief, filled with comic savages and their jabbering intelligentsia. (Waugh’s white people don’t come off any better, but it his depiction of the Other that stings.) The Tory view of the world acknowledged that people and cultures are different, and that they cannot be homogenized by mere decrees. But in its extreme form it treated different races as different species, and consigned some to eternal darkness. Liberals should not want to be in that role.

Liberal Democrats’ chief interest in the Terror War, however, should be what it means for us. Ordinary Americans, including ordinary liberal Americans, are precisely what the terrorists and their patrons hate most in the world. The Islamist utopia has no room for minorities, deviants, independent women, religious freedom or intellectual expression. Islamists enforce their tastes with murder on their ascent to power, and with capital punishment once they have achieved it. Secular terrorists in the Muslim world may drop a few clauses of this agenda. Iraqi women could wear skirts; they just couldn’t speak, vote or read.

Paint John Ashcroft as black as you please, and stick demon horns on his head. He will not murder his enemies. If his party loses, he will go home. That is why the proper arena for liberal Democrats who quarrel with him is the ballot box.

Imagine for a moment that Scoop Jackson had to listen to a Democratic Presidential debate. He'd be physically ill.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:59 AM


US army turns over border control to Iraqis (Ireland On Line, 27/09/2003)

The US Army turned over a large stretch of the border separating Iraq from Iran to an American-trained border police force today, for the first time relinquishing control of a sensitive frontier area to the provisional government.

The 210-mile length of frontier running from the edges of Kurdish-controlled territory in the north to a point just southeast of Baghdad is part of a broader effort to give Iraqis more control over their affairs and relieve the US military of the burden of guarding the border.

“They are now controlling the border, we are in oversight mode,” said Lt Col Reggie Allen, commanding officer of the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry.

Anybody got a dictionary? Quagmire appears not to mean what the Left says it does.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:52 AM


DEMOCRATIC CONFUSION ON VOUCHERS (Matthew Miller, 9/24/03, Tribune Media Services)

Democrats are prepared to filibuster a Republican plan to spend $13 million to give up to 2000 children in Washington, D.C., a $7,500 school voucher. But Democrats are not planning to filibuster President Bush's plan to spend a fresh $87 biillion in Iraq without rescinding some tax cuts for the wealthy to pay for it.

There is something wrong with this picture.

To say that Democrats have a voucher problem is to understate matters. But because passions run so high on this issue, let me throw in the obligatory caveats. Even though the Democratic mayor of Washington, Anthony Williams, rightly wants this plan passed, it is not a serious test of the voucher concept. A serious test would offer more generous vouchers to most of Washington's 70,000 children, not only a tiny fraction.

Let me also stipulate that Republicans are often evil, and their claim to champion poor children is largely a hoax.

Thank goodness for the qualifiers: "often" and "largely".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 AM


Man guilty of damaging churches (DAN ROZEK, 9/27/03, Chicago Sun-Times)

A Joliet man who authorities said targeted churches because of his hostility to religion pleaded guilty Friday to robbing and vandalizing nine DuPage County churches and religious schools.

During one break-in, 41-year-old Jamie Pytell beheaded and desecrated a statue of Jesus Christ, prosecutors said. He also set small fires during at least two of the burglaries, authorities said. [...]

Pytell confessed during interviews with police to committing the break-ins, telling them that several happened during fits of rage at religious institutions. A law enforcement source said after Pytell was arrested last year that the attacks took place because Pytell "hates religion." [...]

While Jacobs had raised concerns about Pytell's mental state, Pytell was found mentally fit to stand trial in August, although he remains on psychotropic medication while being held in the DuPage County Jail.

Pytell vandalized and burglarized churches of different denominations, including Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist and Christian Fellowship.

One of the most ridiculous, yet widely accepted, stories of recent years concerned the supposedly racially-motivated epidemic of black church burnings. It turns out that there are a series of perfectly logical reasons why churches--predominantly white, predominantly black, and everything in between--are victims of fire. First, the buildings are often old and susceptible to fire of the accidental sort. Second, they're unoccupied and don't have much security so they're inviting targets for vandals. Third, as above, they tend to be the target of mentally-ill people. Many of the unbalanced seem to enjoy expressing their rage at God by lighting his buildings on fire. If such arsons are hate crimes they are not primarily fueled by racial but by religious animus.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 AM


Army Chaplain's Arrest Puts Chinese Americans on Edge: : The unanswered questions and media frenzy around the arrest of Capt. James Yee remind Chinese Americans of the charges -- almost all of which were later dropped -- against Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee, which they say ruined an innocent man's career. (Andrew Lam, Sep 26, 2003 , Pacific News Service)

Many Chinese Americans are feeling dread in the wake of the arrest of Capt. James Yee, a Muslim chaplain stationed at Fort Lewis Army Base, Wash. The case brings back memories of the prosecution -- some would say persecution -- of Dr. Wen Ho Lee.

Lee, the Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist, was arrested by the FBI in 1999 on espionage charges and found not guilty after months in solitary confinement. President Clinton later apologized to him, though Dr. Lee's career as a scientist was already ruined.

Yee's arrest is as troubling as Dr. Lee's, says Ling Chi Wang, a professor of East Asian Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Though not prepared to pass judgment on the case, Wang says that "based on what has been leaked to the media, I smell a rat." The public knows next to nothing about the Yee case other than what the FBI and the military have revealed to the press, he says, much of which "we can safely regard as propaganda and half-truths." [...]

The effect of the arrests of Dr. Lee and other Chinese scientists due to racial profiling, Chan adds, "is that now, few Asians want to join government institutions. How many Chinese will want to go to West Point if they see what's happening to Capt. Yee?"

Phil Ting, director of Asian Law Caucus, is also watching the case with concern. "The New York Times article about Yee insinuates certain amount of guilt already," he says. Ting adds that in some ways, Captain Yee's situation is worse than Dr. Lee's because after 9/11, government power over civilian and military personnel increased. "If it's a closed military tribunal, I wonder if Yee will be getting due process."

Asian Americans are more vulnerable after 9/11, says Zia. "At times of heightened government scrutiny, the clergy are among the first to be rounded up. Faith communities should be especially concerned. Unfortunately for Chaplain Yee, he's facing a double whammy, being Chinese and Muslim." But everyone has a right to a fair and open trial, she says, "to be treated as innocent until proven guilty."

Whether Wen Ho Lee was an actual spy or not, butv what is indisputable is that he engaged in criminal activity and endangered national security. He admits as much. Maybe these folks could find another "martyr".

Meanwhile, that they are mainly worried about themselves in the face of revelations of a potentially disastrous security problem at Guantanamo hardly speaks well of their patriotism.

Potomac Watch: Case shows U.S. vulnerability in Arabic shortage (STEWART M. POWELL, 9/27/03, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER)

The spying charge against an Air Force translator at the terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, underscores the U.S. government's shortage of Arabic language specialists at a time when the war on terrorism demands their skills.

To offset the shortage of U.S.-trained Arabic translators, U.S. intelligence officials were relying on Syria-born airman Ahmad al-Halabi to carry out sensitive assignments involving the terrorism suspects.

Al-Halabi, 24, who emigrated from Syria to Dearborn, Mich., in 1996 and joined the Air Force after high school graduation in 1999, faces 32 military charges, including some that could involve the death penalty, for alleged espionage at the Guantanamo base where he worked for nine months as a translator. The Pentagon is holding about 660 al-Qaida and Taliban terror suspects at the base, subjecting many to intensive interrogations about past and future terrorist attacks and the locations of fugitive suspects.

"We're so desperate for Arabic speakers that we may end up getting people who speak the language but may not be 100 percent reliable," says Kevin Hendzel, head of ASET International Services, a translation firm with Pentagon contracts.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:48 AM


All Segways recalled (AP, 9/26/2003)

Segway scooters, touted as almost untippable when unveiled two years ago, are being recalled. It turns out they don't work so well when the batteries get low - riders have fallen off and been injured.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall Friday of all 6,000 scooters that have been sold, saying three people had been hurt. One suffered a head wound and needed stitches.

Commission spokesman Ken Giles said Segway told the agency about the problem. [...]

The single-rider, two-wheeled Segway Human Transporters can travel up to 12 mph. Costing $4,950 each, they use gyroscopes to keep upright, making them less likely to fall or be knocked over.

But scooters being operated with low battery power may not have enough juice to remain upright when the rider suddenly speeds up or tries to drive over a bump or up an incline.

In a related story, all automobiles are being recalled because of failure to accelerate in traffic when they run out of gas.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 AM


Europe's Utopian Hangover (Paul Johnson, 10.06.03, Forbes)

One thing history teaches, over and over again, is that there are no shortcuts. Human societies advance the hard way; there is no alternative. Communism promised Utopia on Earth. After three-quarters of a century of unparalleled sufferings, the Soviet Union collapsed in privation and misery, leaving massive Russia with an economy no bigger than tiny Holland's. We are now watching the spectacle of another experiment in hedonism, the European Union, as it learns the grim facts of life.

The EU is built on a fantasy--that men and women can do less and less work, have longer and longer holidays and retire at an earlier age, while having their income, in real terms, and their standard of living increase. And this miracle is to be brought about by the enlightened bureaucratic regulation of every aspect of life.

The EU is a French concept and is still largely run according to French ideas.

Is there a more blood-curdling phrase in the English language than "French ideas"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:37 AM


Getting the Bustamante Butterflies: Democrats fear the lieutenant governor's campaign has stalled, with no spark in sight (Matea Gold, September 27, 2003, LA Times)

After a lackluster performance in this week's debate and a rash of stories that highlighted criticism of his fund-raising, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante faces a growing perception that his campaign has stalled, according to fellow Democrats and independent analysts.

With 10 days left until the Oct. 7 election, Bustamante "has to be much more public and build some momentum for his candidacy," said Democratic consultant Gale Kaufman. "He did that on the front end, but now he's been more quiet. And in order to ensure Democratic turnout, it's incumbent for him to get out and build it."

Among Democratic leaders and constituency groups, anxiety has begun to take hold that Bustamante's campaign is fumbling its opportunities, said a Democratic official with ties to both the lieutenant governor and Gov. Gray Davis who spoke on condition that he not be named.

"People are almost cringing sometimes, saying, 'He's got to be stronger,' " the official said. [...]

But since entering the race in August, Bustamante has been unable to climb above 30% in public opinion polls, putting him neck and neck with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California indicated that many Democrats remain ambivalent about the lieutenant governor, with just 49% saying they plan to vote for him.

"The challenge is to develop a degree of momentum, and with 10 days out it's awfully difficult," said David Provost, a political science professor at Cal State Fresno and the author of a college textbook on California politics.

The problem for Mr. Bustamante, as it is for Gray Davis, is that the more people see of him the less they like of him. That's not a helpful quality in politics, or life, for that matter.

Bustamante ordered to explain lack of refunds: Senator may seek contempt charges if he's not satisfied. (Alexa H. Bluth, September 27, 2003, The Sacramento Bee)

A Sacramento judge ordered Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante on Friday to prove that he tried in earnest to cancel television ad contracts and return money for the recall campaign that he collected in violation of the state's campaign finance laws.
If Sen. Ross Johnson, who filed the original lawsuit against Bustamante, is not satisfied that he made a good-faith effort to comply with the order, the judge wrote, Johnson may seek contempt charges.

"The Court does expect a good faith effort to cancel what may be reasonably canceled," wrote Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster.

His future isn't worth a plugged buffalo nickel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:55 AM


REGIME CHANGE IN IRAN: A REASSESSMENT: A quarter-century ago, Iran underwent a regime change, which became one of the main factors shaping the Middle East's subsequent history. What does this case study show us about regime changes in general and the nature of Iran's revolution itself? (Barry Rubin, June 2003, Middle East Review of International Affairs)

The politics and ideologies dominating the region can best be seen as the product of two great regime-changing revolutions: Egypt in 1952 and Iran in 1979, respectively. Explicitly or implicitly, these major innovations were taken as exemplars of the proper ideology and methodology for seizing and holding power. They were not merely political revolutions but also represented comprehensive worldviews and paradigm shifts.

Now advocates of a third revolution have appeared, though they are still far more prevalent in the United States than in the Middle East. This third revolution would be one which advocated as its main features: democracy, moderation, human rights and civil liberties, a more free enterprise economy, friendship with the West, and peace with Israel, among other features. It is the model that has basically triumphed in most of the world, but certainly not in the Middle East. The idea is that Iraq would be a starting point and would then become a model whose success would encourage others to follow in its path.

One could argue that the failure of the two old revolutions in their own countries would encourage--indeed, make inevitable--their abandonment as a model for other places. The fact that the Arab world and Iran have suffered so many failures and defeats in the last half-century, while not attaining any of their major goals, should be very persuasive arguments. That this has not happened is due to many factors, though it can be most simply explained by the regimes' determination and clever strategy in maintaining the beliefs that justify their existence.

What is undeniable, though, is that even today, the overwhelming majority of Arabs--though, ironically, not necessarily most Iranians--still see the two frameworks represented by these past revolutions as the very foundation of their political views and even of their personal self-image. Although the product of these two revolutions--Arab nationalism and Islamism--can be seen as rival interpretations, they also have a great deal in common. They seek to answer the same question, solve the same problem, and share the same goals. Their sense of right and wrong, friends and enemies, methods and prescriptions, overlap far more than they conflict.

Both movements spawned by these two different revolutions attempted to answer the same basic question and provide the answer to it: Why were the Arabs, Iranians, and Muslims in general behind the West? How could they catch up and surpass the West? While the prescriptions were not entirely the same, both rested on revolt, mobilization, and conflict with the West.

While both could be said to embrace value-neutral technology, and Arab nationalism took the ideology of nationalism from the West (as well as other techniques from the Communist states), both also rejected the basic path taken by Western Europe and North America. A path which includes embracing such concepts as democracy combined with free enterprise, an emphasis on moderation and gradual reform, and a defense of the individual's rights against the state.

In this process of surpassing the West, democratic rule and moderation in general were largely discredited as useful tools for Arabs or Muslims in pursuit of their dreams. Cooperation with the West and with the existing political order was seen as illegitimate, though in practice often pursued. The proper goals of Arab politics were seen as being the expulsion of Western influence, the unity of all Arabs (and of all Muslims for the later Islamists), the destruction of Israel, mobilization of the masses from above, a statist and socialist-style approach to economic development, all under the aegis of a charismatic leader.

The problem with Islam is obvious enough to most sensible observers: it is too totalitarian, in the non-pejorative sense. That is to say that because of the unique circumstances of its early success and the fact that Mohammed actually took control of the State, it became not a counterbalancing authority and a social institution, but a state authority. But the answer to too much totalitarianism can hardly be, as Islamicism assumes, to become more totalitarian. If the 20th Century served any useful purpose--a dubious proposition--it demonstrated the ultimate unwokability of statism/totalitarianism and the inferiority of any and every such system--whether communist, Nazi, socialist, or Islamic--to liberal democracy. When History came to its End, that end was the conclusion that:
What we are witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or a passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.
-"X" (Francis Fukuyama), The End of History? (The National Interest)

It must be apparent then that the first two revolutions referenced above--the national socialist and the Islamicist--are and were doomed to failure.

Now, it is the very great tragedy of the Islamic world that its period of decolonialization and the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire happened to occur at just the time when elites in the West had despaired of liberal democracy and embraced totalitarianism themselves. As Paul Berman writes in Terror and Liberalism, Islam simply adopted the very worst ideas of Western modernity, BOOKNOTES: Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman (C-SPAN, June 22, 2003):

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.

This is sad enough, that the horrifically dysfunctional ideologies around which Islamic politics has organized itself are a product of Western intellectuals, but what's even worse is that these selfsame folk are still wallowing in their generations long crisis of confidence and seem unable to recognize the End of History, the failure of their utopian dreams, and the need to loudly and confidently reassert the superiority of Western wisdom circa 1776. Every time some nitwit academic opens his/her mouth and natters on about the validity of other cultures and all we have to learn from them and denigrates our own, they reinforce the notion that other nations have other options. They don't.

The remaining totalitarianisms of the world--be they communist, national socialist or Islamicist--have to liberalize and become Western if they are to enjoy any kind of future worth having. They have wandered down cultural dead-ends and must change or perish. Multi-culturalists do them no favor by lying to them--wittingly or un--about the relative value of other systems. The outcome of the clash of civilizations is predetermined; all we're in the process of deciding now, as we have been for two hundred plus years, is how much damage is incurred before those who diverge from Western norms are brought into line.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:48 AM


Was the Islam of Old Spain Truly Tolerant? (EDWARD ROTHSTEIN, 9/27/03, NY Times)

The impulse to idealize runs strong. If Andalusia really had been an enlightened society that combined religious belief with humanism and artistry, then it would provide an extraordinary model, offering proof of Islamic possibilities now eclipsed, while spurring new understandings of the West. In Spain, that idealized image has even been institutionalized. In Córdoba, a Moorish fortress houses the Museum of the Three Cultures. There was once a time, the audio narration says, when "East was not separated from West, nor was Muslim from Jew or Christian"; that time offers, it continues, an "eternal message more relevant today than ever before." In one room, statues that include the 12th-century Jewish sage Maimonides; his Islamic contemporary the Aristotelian Averroës; and the 13th-century Christian King Alfonso X are illuminated as voices recite their most congenial observations.

A more scholarly paean is offered in "The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain,"(Little, Brown, 2002) by Maria Rosa Menocal, a professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Yale University. Ms. Menocal argues that Andalusia's culture was "rooted in pluralism and shaped by religious tolerance," particularly in its prime -- a period that lasted from the mid-eighth century until the fall of the Umayyad dynasty in 1031. It was undermined, she argues, by fundamentalism -- Catholic and Islamic alike.

But as many scholars have argued, this image is distorted. Even the Umayyad dynasty, begun by Abd al-Rahman in 756, was far from enlightened. Issues of succession were often settled by force. One ruler murdered two sons and two brothers. Uprisings in 805 and 818 in Córdoba were answered with mass executions and the destruction of one of the city's suburbs. Wars were accompanied by plunder, kidnappings and ransom. Córdoba itself was finally sacked by Muslim Berbers in 1013, its epochal library destroyed.

Andalusian governance was also based on a religious tribal model. Christians and Jews, who shared Islam's Abrahamic past, had the status of dhimmis -- alien minorities. They rose high but remained second-class citizens; one 11th-century legal text called them members of "the devil's party." They were subject to special taxes and, often, dress codes. Violence also erupted, including a massacre of thousands of Jews in Grenada in 1066 and the forced exile of many Christians in 1126.

In fact, throughout Andalusian history — under both Islam and Christianity — religious identity was obsessively scrutinized. There were terms for a Christian living under Arab rule (mozarab), a Muslim living under Christian rule (mudejar), a Christian who converted to Islam (muladi), a Jew who converted to Christianity (converso), a Jew who converted but remained a secret Jew (marrano) and a Muslim who converted to Christianity (morisco).

Even in the Umayyad 10th century, Islamic philosophers were persecuted and books burned. And despite the Córdoba museum's message, Maimonides and his family fled Muslim fundamentalism in Córdoba in 1148 when he was barely in his teens. Averroës was banished from Córdoba about 50 years later. Tolerance may have left less of a cultural mark than intolerance: the historian Joel L. Kraemer has suggested that in Andalusia, a sense of precariousness inspired mysticism, esoteric teachings and a "prudent dissimulation" before Islamic superiors.

And what of Andalusian cultural interchange? Ms. Menocal cites the ways Islamic styles appear in Spanish synagogues (one, in Toledo, even incorporating Koranic inscriptions) and in the 14th-century Christian palace the Real Alacazar in Seville. But far from exhibiting convivencia, these resemblances display the power of a culture as dominant as American popular culture is now: it is imitated even if otherwise opposed.

The whole tolerant Islam schtick, like the notion that Muslim culture at the time was far more advanced than that of the West, is essentially just a whip with which liberal historians and intellectuals have sought to scourge Christianity. But even if we take it at face value, is not the lesson that such an imagined epoch teaches that it is appropriate for the more tolerant civilization to conquer less tolerant societies and impose tolerance upon them? After all, the Moors were not Spaniards.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:34 AM


No-Call List: Constitutional Doubt on Hot Political Issue (ADAM LIPTAK, 9/27/03, NY Times)

Much of the legal terrain in the telemarketing case is clear. There is no dispute that the marketing calls forbidden by the registry are commercial speech. Nor does anyone dispute that commercial speech is not entitled to as high a level of First Amendment protection as many other forms of speech, including that of charities, political parties and religious institutions.

At first blush, then, the distinction drawn by the creators of the do-not-call registry would seem to draw the line in precisely the right place.

But legal experts said that analysis was too superficial. They said that commercial speakers were entitled to insist that the government justify discrimination against them by showing that there is no other good way to overcome the problem it is trying to solve. In legal terms, as Judge Nottingham put it, "a content-based distinction cannot be made on constitutional grounds unrelated to the asserted government interest."

The government's interest here, of course, is the protection of privacy in the home and the right to be free from unwanted phone calls.

Lawyers for the telemarketers said there was no logical connection between the registry's limited scope and advancing that interest.

"A ringing phone is a ringing phone," said Robert Corn-Revere, a Washington lawyer who represents the American Teleservices Association and two Colorado telemarketers, which are the three plaintiffs in the case. "You don't regulate commercial speech differently if the problem you seek to regulate has nothing to do with the commercial nature of the speech."

It is for that reason that legal scholars said Judge Nottingham's decision was at least plausible.

"It's obviously not a popular decision, and for millions of people it is a profoundly irritating one," said Floyd Abrams, the prominent First Amendment lawyer. "But it is consistent with existing First Amendment law."

Legal experts agreed that the ultimate outcome of the Denver case will turn on the proper interpretation of a case decided by the Supreme Court in 1993 involving news racks, the sidewalk boxes that contain newspapers and advertising pamphlets. In that case, the court held that the city of Cincinnati had violated the First Amendment in banning, in the interest of aesthetics, only the advertising pamphlets.

The discrimination was unconstitutional, the court held, even though the pamphlets were commercial speech and the newspapers were entitled to full First Amendment protection. The distinction between the two, it said, was insufficiently linked to the city's interest in beautification. [...]

In a passing remark, Judge Nottingham outlined what he thought regulators might remain free to do if his ruling stands.

"Were the do-not-call registry to apply without regard to the content of the speech, or to leave autonomy in the hands of the individual," he wrote, "it might be a different matter."

Congress could, then, at substantial political cost -- and in some cases against its members own interests -- create a registry that would allow the blocking of a broader range of calls from charities, political fund-raisers and the like. It could also probably allow consumers to choose which kinds of call they would block.

No matter how popular Do-Not-Call is with voters, it will be a cold day in Paris when the Congress bans religious groups and political organizations and candidates from calling people at home.

September 26, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 PM


Koizumi promises to pummel postal services into submission: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi vows to privatize postal services in April 2007. (Japan Times, 9/27/03)

But luckily they remain too racist and anti-immigrant to even begin to solve their demographic crisis, Foreigners blamed for crime woes (Japan Times, 9/27/03)

Japanese police have blamed deteriorating public security in the country on foreigners, despite figures showing that 96 percent of the nation's crimes are committed by Japanese.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 PM


Political biography tells half the tale: A lopsided look at Reagan and America: a review of Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power By Lou Cannon (Rick Perlstein, September 21, 2003, Chicago Tribune)

[R]eagan was not in the final analysis simply a Teflon President, uniquely immune to damage and criticism, any more than he was simply a Teflon Governor. Cannon tends to ignore in his work on Reagan--as others do as well, including Morris--that the man was also, for many millions of Americans, a consistent object of rage. That's an unbecoming flaw for a biographer. Dazzled by how much Reagan was loved, Cannon refuses the challenge of understanding how much he was simultaneously hated--and what the simultaneity of these emotions says about America's divisions as they evolved during the 1960s, and as they endure through our very own Aughties.

Here's something you would never know from reading Cannon: In summer 1968, Reagan's approval rating in California was 30 percent, and he was the object of a serious recall campaign himself (that this was also the period in which he was being seriously pushed as a Republican presidential nominee gets to the heart of the enigma of Ronald Reagan, that creature of dreams, whose mysteries neither Morris nor Cannon, and certainly not conservative propagandists like Dinesh D'Souza, have yet come even close to figuring out). The recall was run by liberals, it was a shoestring operation--as of June 1968 they had spent $7,000 and had $52 in the bank, compared to the nearly $2 million that had been pledged to the Davis recall by June this year--and it did rather well, considering: They got about half the signatures the Davis petitions did, though they were gathered so unprofessionally that only about 30 percent of them counted.

The absence of this story (as well as the story of a later, 1971 recall attempt against Reagan by conservatives) is a symptom of a not-so-good book. It lacks richness, intensity, irony, complexity, strangeness--the strangeness of its subject, which is, ultimately, us: a nation that loves its dream weavers and excuses them; and hates its dream weavers for deceiving them; and, sometimes, hates each other over the disagreements we have about what constitutes a dream and what a nightmare. You simply don't see anyone disagreeing about Ronald Reagan in this book.

Americans disagree. Recognizing that should be a fundamental building block of any biography of any American leader who's major enough to deserve one. Let alone one of the most major of them all.

We're big Rick Perlstein fans--his book on Barry Goldwater was a model of fairness--and his point is perfectly valid, but it's not terribly realistic. For instance, the next bestselling biography of Harry Truman or FDR that isn't a slobbering hagiography will be the first. Meanwhile, the Reagan wars are being fought out by two fairly coequal camps--with the Noonans, D'Souzas, etc. on one side and the Wills's, Haynes Johnsons, etc. on the other. Neither side makes much effort at non-partisanship. What's most interesting is that Mr. Cannon started out as at best skeptical of Ronald Reagan, when he covered him as a reporter, then wrote fairly about him in Role of a Lifetime and only in recent years has become a Reagan defender. Maybe he just feels lkike the Reagan haters have had more than their say?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 PM


Diane Lane in 'Under the Tuscan Sun' (Steve Sailer, Sept. 25, 2003, UPI)

Here's the book's plot: Mayes, a creative writing professor at San Francisco State, and her husband Ed buy a 300-year-old house outside Cortona, a splendid hilltop village an hour from Florence, to use as a summer home. Over the next four years, they and a host of construction workers fix it up. Mayes is ecstatically happy the entire time.

That's it. The book consists of 260 pages of present-tense prose-poetry about the simple but voluptuous glories of their daily life in Tuscany and 28 pages of recipes.

It's easy to criticize Wells for distorting and vulgarizing Mayes' lyrical tribute to the Italian genius for fine living. The more interesting issue, however, is why anyone in Hollywood ever thought this book was filmable.

Indeed, producers keep buying the rights to upscale books that the clerk at your local Blockbuster could tell them wouldn't make a decent movie. (The dozens of failed Henry James adaptations are only the most obvious examples).

Although you wouldn't guess from watching the output of the studios, the simplest explanation for why film people are suckers for classy books is that they really do have refined tastes. Unfortunately, they believe, with more than a little marketing research to back them up, that the rest of us are, on the whole, boors and morons.

So, what's poor Audrey Wells to do with a beloved bestseller possessing no more dramatic momentum than "The Baseball Encyclopedia?"

A lot, it turns out, much of it vapid.

Hey, wait a second, the Baseball Encyclopedia is one of our Five Desert Island books. Then again, the Henry James shot more than makes up for it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:37 PM


Bush's Rhetoric Deficit: In making the case for the war, he downplays his strongest argument: America's duty. (David Gelernter, 10/06/2003, Weekly Standard)

ON IRAQ the administration likes to talk interest, not duty. "We did ourselves and the world a favor." But interest is always arguable; duty can be absolutely clear. Torture, mass murder, and hellish tyranny make for the clearest case possible. Yet too often the administration has sounded hesitant and defensive on Iraq. It has a compelling, open-and-shut moral case but prefers to make pragmatic arguments about global terrorism and Arab politics. Of course security is important, but mass murder is even more important. In Iraq the torture is over, the gale of blood is finished; we put an end to them. What else matters next to a truth like that?

On September 23 the president gave a measured, stately speech at the U.N.--which decidedly did not begin: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have shut down the terror, the torture, and the murder in Iraq." (The speech was well underway before the Saddamite terror got a passing mention, and then one full paragraph of its own.) The president began by recalling 9/11--but don't we owe it to the world and ourselves to couple that story to an account of how we answered the deed of terror by two of liberation, thereby converting a maniac monologue into one of the more moving, astounding dialogues in human history? [...]

Yes, the question has its nuances. Have we always intervened, will we always, to overthrow a murderous dictator? No; but in this post-Cold-War era the boundary-lines are new--no nation has ever dominated the world militarily as we do today; it will take us time to get our bearings and understand our new responsibilities. Didn't we have pragmatic, selfish reasons to act in Iraq? Of course we had. Isn't self-defense itself a moral imperative? Absolutely. But these side issues fade to nothing in the sunlight of a new reality: A bloody tyrant is overthrown. That fact dominates all others.

The president is at a decision-point: temporize, or move proudly straight ahead? For now, "temporize" is fatal advice. The administration must stand on its achievements, not its anxieties. Start with the moral issue. The same holds for the U.N.: Why does the administration sound defensive when it ought to stand on the moral heights? If it were any kind of morally serious organization, the U.N. would have carried a vote of gratitude to the Coalition the day Saddam fell. How come the Security Council is so "Eurocentric," anyway? Counting Russia as 50 percent European, half of all vetoes belong to Europe. Why? And where are congressional hearings when we need them?--hearings on the deposed Saddam regime. Let Iraqis speak; let the world listen.

But after all, conservatives have a long history (going back to Vietnam) of ceding the moral high ground to their opponents without a fight--and thereby of participating in the cardinal error of modern political thought: the neglect of spiritual, moral, and religious things.

Sadly, Mr. Gelernter is right. The flipside of the WMD argument only being necessary when we were courting the UN is that it (and the UN) should be treated with contempt now and the emphasis should be placed just on ending a terrible regime and giving the Iraqi people an opportunity at freedom and a decent society.

Posted by John Resnick at 6:56 PM


Show Me the Proof and I’ll Hush (Omid Safi, 9/25/2003,

[.....] An unnamed military official reporting on “fear and suspicion” that someone “might” be acting in an “unspecified” way? Is this what the legal system of this country has come to? Show me the proof that Yee was planning to do something evil, and have that proof legally obtained and able to stand up to a court of law, and I will gladly watch Yee receive the punishment he deserves.

I want to be clear about this point: I am perfectly willing to concede that among the prisoners held at Guantanamo, there are al-Qaeda members who may have even participated in terrorist activities. However, that is a conclusion that one can arrive at only after a legal process, not before. Even Guantanamo prisoners are innocent until proven guilty. Perhaps a true test of democracy is if it is willing to say especially Guantanamo prisoners are innocent until proven guilty.

Fortunately, democracy needn't be subjected to such and ambiguous "test" to prove itself capable of doing the right, or, as in many cases today, wrong thing. Meanwhile, Mr. Safi might want to re-visit the rights afforded to Captain Yee under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as they may differ somewhat from his interpretation of what the U.S. Constitution affords.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:05 PM


Sex Selection Goes Mainstream (Marcy Darnovsky, September 25, 2003, AlterNet)

Several times over the past few months, a small but striking ad from a Virginia-based fertility clinic has appeared in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. Alongside a smiling baby, its boldface headline asks, "Do You Want To Choose the Gender Of Your Next Baby?"

If so, the ad continues, you can join "prospective parents...from all over the world" who come to the Genetics & IVF Institute (GIVF) for an "exclusive scientifically-based sperm sorting gender selection procedure." The technique, known by the trademarked name MicroSort, is offered as a way to choose a girl or boy either for the "prevention of genetic diseases" (selecting against the sex affected by an X-linked or Y-linked condition) or for "family balancing" (selecting for a girl in a family that already has one or more boys, or vice versa).

GIVF has been promoting MicroSort on its Web site for several years, and a few other fertility clinics offer other "family balancing" methods online. But the MicroSort ads in the New York Times represent a bolder and higher-profile approach. They mark the first time that high-tech methods for sex selection, and their use for clearly social purposes, have been openly marketed in a mainstream US publication.

Two years ago, when newspapers aimed at Indian expatriates in the United States and Canada carried fertility clinic ads for sex selection, the Times covered the event as a news story. The article included hard-hitting criticism from Indian feminists in the United States, and discussed the hugely skewed sex ratios in South and East Asia (some demographers estimate as many as 100 million "missing girls") that are the result of female infanticide, neglect of girl babies, and prenatal diagnosis followed by sex-selective abortion. It noted that the sex-selection ads would be illegal in India, and reported that one of the publications dropped them after controversy erupted.

The Times has also covered other aspects of the debate about sex selection. To date, however, it has taken no note of the MicroSort ad campaign. Nor have other newspapers. [...]

High-tech sex selection poses a range of difficult policy dilemmas -- especially the problem of addressing it without in any way weakening women's rights and access to abortion. But address it we must, because of the grave concerns it raises about exacerbating sexism and gender stereotyping, undermining disability rights, putting children at risk (if the child turns out to be the "wrong" sex or the "wrong kind" of girl or boy), skewing sex ratios or the number of firstborn boys, and setting the stage for a consumer eugenics in which parents are sold techniques to select not just their child's sex, but a range of other traits as well. As the UK-based NGO Human Genetics Alert asks, if we allow sex selection, how will we be able effectively "to oppose `choice' of...appearance, height, intelligence?. The door to 'designer babies' will not have been opened a crack -- it will have been thrown wide open."

Any time someone says of any ghoulish social pathology, "It could never happen here", it's safe to assume it's already happening.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:23 PM


-REVIEW: of 'Reagan: A Life in Letters' edited by Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson (Edmund Morris, Washington Post)

The central paradox about Ronald Reagan, our most world-changing president since Harry Truman, was that a man so attractive in his public persona, so irresistible in negotiation, and so transparently decent a human being, could have been such a bone-cracking bore. I interviewed him regularly throughout his second term, read half a million words of his presidential diaries and reams of his manuscripts (including most of the letters collected in these two volumes), and can only endorse the bemused remark of his first wife, "Ronnie never shut up."

It wasn't what he said or wrote that glazed your eyes. At least through late middle age, when his hard drive filled up, Ronald Reagan was exceptionally well informed. An editor of The Washington Post met him in December 1939, and was amazed by his detailed knowledge of the situation in Finland. The silky voice, the delightful humor, the clarity of expression (his manuscripts are remarkable for their lack of erasures) never failed to impress -- at first. Only when you began to note, the sixth or 36th time he repeated himself, that his facial expressions, his phraseology, even his self-deprecating chuckles seemed to be projected from some inner, infinitely replayable DVD, did you get the creepy feeling he was not quite real, and wondered where, if anywhere, the real Reagan was.

I like Edmund Morris--whose Reagan novel is vastly underrated--but this is silly.

Do you tell stories in your family? We do. When someone starts one we can all pick it up and finish it for them, complete with pauses, gestures, etc. That's the nature of story-telling. And that's just within our family, never mind a professional politician who has to perform for strangers endlessly.

Ronald Reagan was a story-teller par excellence and the best story he told was the one about us, the American people. When that story gets to be "a bore", then God help us.

It's a curious aspect of the intellectual class that they think it a drawback when a man knows who he is and what he thinks or when our nation believes itself to be decent and good, as it always was in Ronald Reagan's telling.

-BOOKNOTES: Reagan In His Own Hand edited by Kiron Skinner (C-SPAN, April 29, 2001)
The Real Reagan: Think you know what made him tick? His letters may surprise you (MICHAEL DUFFY AND NANCY GIBBS, 9/21/03, TIME)

Future scholars may argue with the substance of Reagan's principles but not with their pedigree, for now they will have a paper trail of the kind historians can only dream. It was his Vice President, George Herbert Walker Bush, who was famous for the thank-you notes he flecked off in every direction. But few people knew that Reagan ranks among the most prolific Presidents, author of more than 5,000 letters on everything from his love of Snoopy to his guilt about sex, his hatred of gossip and his taste for Ayn Rand. And so the private account of a public life, to be published in Reagan: A Life in Letters, is a code breaker for anyone still curious about which version most resembles the Real Reagan.

The letters are easy, intimate; but to read them is to wonder if they are an extension of his personal relationships or a substitute for them. He began his public life as a radio announcer, talking to an audience he could not see; he went on as a movie star to delight an audience he never met. But the fans would write letters, and he would write back. In the case of Lorraine Wagner, Reagan fan-club president, Philadelphia chapter, there were some 150 letters over the course of 50 years. As his political following grew, the conversation continued, and there was remarkably little difference in tone and tenderness in his letters to his fans, his children and the leaders of other superpowers.

The letters suggest a man for whom writing was less a habit than a need, like food and water, as though the very act shaped his thoughts as much as the thoughts shaped the writing. Reagan didn't type; he wrote by hand in blue or black ink on a yellow legal pad or dictated for his secretaries to transcribe, and so the drafts were often saved, stuffed into a box and then forgotten. In 1996 Kiron Skinner, now a professor at Carnegie Mellon, was researching a book on the end of the cold war when she stumbled on the first batch. As she dug a little deeper, more boxes appeared. Overwhelmed by the sheer volume, she called in Martin Anderson, who served as Reagan's first domestic-policy adviser, and his wife Annelise, a Reagan aide at the Office of Management and Budget, to help. First there were 1,000 letters, then 3,000, and in the end the trio sorted through more than 5,000, and suspect there are an additional 3,000 or 4,000 out there still unaccounted for—until they turn up on eBay.

Reagan was called the great communicator, and that was usually meant to describe the way he spoke. But it may be that one secret to his success, his ability to persuade people, was that he took his beliefs more seriously than he took himself. Spelling and grammar errors aside, the prose is literate, not literary; he does not seem to try to make an impression with shiny turns of phrase. He stays out of the way of the arguments he is making, and in his asides and self-deprecation, there is the verbal version of that little duck of the head, the modest gesture that says, "This isn't about me. This is about things that matter more than both of us."

-ESSAY: Reagan's heartfelt letters illuminate his presidency: Collection of letters provides new glimpse of the former US president. (Peter Grier, 9/03, CS Monitor)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:36 PM


George Plimpton, Author, Dies at 76 (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/26/03)

George Plimpton, the self-deprecating author of ``Paper Lion'' and other sporting adventures and a patron to Philip Roth, Jack Kerouac and countless other writers, has died. He was 76.

Plimpton died Thursday night at his Manhattan apartment, his longtime friend, restaurateur Elaine Kaufman, said Friday. She had no information on the cause. [...]

He boxed with Archie Moore, pitched to Willie Mays and performed as a trapeze artist for the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus. He acted in numerous films, including "Reds" and "Good Will Hunting." He even appeared in an episode of "The Simpsons," playing a professor who runs a spelling bee.

But writers appreciated Plimpton for The Paris Review, the quarterly he helped found in 1953 and ran for decades with eager passion. The magazine's high reputation rested on two traditions: publishing the work of emerging authors, including Roth and Kerouac, and an unparalleled series of interviews in which Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and others discussed their craft.

Mr. Plimpton was far too talented to be remembered just for his stunts, but inevitably will be. Perhaps his greatest though didn't involve him pretending to be an athlete, The Curious Case of Sidd Finch: He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd's deciding about yoga -- and his future in baseball (George Plimpton, April 1, 1985, Sports Illustrated):
"I never dreamed a baseball could be thrown that fast. The wrist must have a lot to do with it, and all that leverage. You can hardly see the blur of it as it goes by. As for hitting the thing, frankly, I just don't think it's humanly possible. You could send a blind man up there, and maybe he'd do better hitting at the sound of the thing."

Christensen's opinion was echoed by both Cochrane and Dykstra, who followed him into the enclosure. When each had done his stint, he emerged startled and awestruck.

Especially Dykstra. Offering a comparison for SI, he reported that out of curiosity he had once turned up the dials that control the motors of the pitching machine to maximum velocity, thus producing a pitch that went approximately 106 miles per hour. "What I looked at in there," he said, motioning toward the enclosure, "was whistling by another third as fast, I swear."

The phenomenon the three young batters faced, and about whom only Reynolds, Stottlemyre and a few members of the Mets' front office know, is a 28-year-old, somewhat eccentric mystic named Hayden (Sidd) Finch. He may well change the course of baseball history. On St. Patrick's Day, to make sure they were not all victims of a crazy hallucination, the Mets brought in a radar gun to measure the speed of Finch's fastball. The model used was a JUGS Supergun II. It looks like a black space gun with a big snout, weighs about five pounds and is usually pointed at the pitcher from behind the catcher. A glass plate in the back of the gun shows the pitch's velocity -- accurate, so the manufacturer claims, to within plus or minus 1 mph. The figure at the top of the gauge is 200 mph. The fastest projectile ever measured by the JUGS (which is named after the oldtimer's descriptive -- the "jug-handled" curveball) was a Roscoe Tanner serve that registered 153 mph. The highest number that the JUGS had ever turned for a baseball was 103 mph, which it did, curiously, twice on one day, July 11, at the 1978 All-Star game when both Goose Gossage and Nolan Ryan threw the ball at that speed. On March 17, the gun was handled by Stottlemyre. He heard the pop of the ball in Reynolds's mitt and the little squeak of pain from the catcher. Then the astonishing figure 168 appeared on the glass plate. Stottlemyre remembers whistling in amazement, and then he heard Reynolds say, "Don't tell me, Mel, I don't want to know. . . "

The Met front office is reluctant to talk about Finch. The fact is, they know very little about him. He has had no baseball career. Most of his life has been spent abroad, except for a short period at Harvard University.

The registrar's office at Harvard will release no information about Finch except that in the spring of 1976 he withdrew from the college in midterm. The alumni records in Harvard's Holyoke Center indicate slightly more. Finch spent his early childhood in an orphanage in Leicester, England and was adopted by a foster parent, the eminent archaeologist Francis Whyte-Finch, who was killed in an airplane crash while on an expedition in the Dhaulaglri mountain area of Nepal. At the time of the tragedy, Finch was in his last year at the Stowe School in Buckingham, England, from which he had been accepted into Harvard. Apparently, though, the boy decided to spend a year in the general area of the plane crash in the Himalayas (the plane was never actually found) before he returned to the West and entered Harvard in 1975, dropping for unknown reasons the "Whyte" from his name. Hayden Finch's picture is not in the freshman yearbook. Nor, of course, did he play baseball at Harvard, having departed before the start of the spring season.

His assigned roommate was Henry W. Peterson, class of 1979, now a stockbroker in New York with Dean Witter, who saw very little of Finch. "He was almost never there," Peterson told SI. "I'd wake up morning after morning and look across at his bed, which had a woven native carpet of some sort on it -- I have an idea he told me it was made of yak fur -- and never had the sense it had been slept in. Maybe he slept on the floor. Actually, my assumption was that he had a girl in Somerville or something, and stayed out there. He had almost no belongings. A knapsack. A bowl he kept in the corner on the floor. A couple of wool shirts, always very clean, and maybe a pair or so of blue jeans. One pair of hiking boots. I always had the feeling that he was very bright. He had a French horn in an old case. I don't know much about French-horn music but he played beautifully. Sometimes he'd play it in the bath. He knew any number of languages. He was so adept at them that he'd be talking in English, which he spoke in this distinctive singsong way, quite Oriental, and he'd use a phrase like "pied-a-terre" and without knowing it he'd sail along in French for a while until he'd drop in a German word like "angst" and he'd shift to that language. For any kind of sustained conversation you had to hope he wasn't going to use a foreign buzz word -- especially out of the Eastern languages he knew, like Sanskrit -- because that was the end of it as far as I was concerned."

When Peterson was asked why he felt Finch had left Harvard, he shrugged his shoulders. "I came back one afternoon, and everything was gone -- the little rug, the horn, the staff. . . Did I tell you that he had this long kind of shepherd's crook standing in the corner? Actually, there was so little stuff to begin with that it was hard to tell he wasn't there anymore. He left a curious note on the floor. It turned out to be a Zen koan, which is one of those puzzles which cannot be solved by the intellect. It's the famous one about the live goose in the bottle. How do you get the goose out of the bottle without hurting it or breaking the glass? The answer is, 'There, it's out!' I heard from him once, from Egypt. He sent pictures. He was on his way to Tibet to study."

Finch's entry into the world of baseball occurred last July in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where the Mets' AAA farm club, the Tidewater Tides, was in town playing the Guides. After the first game of the series, Bob Schaefer, the Tides' manager, was strolling back to the hotel. He has very distinct memories of his first meeting with Finch: "I was walking by a park when suddenly this guy -- nice-looking kid, clean-shaven, blue jeans, big boots -- appears alongside. At first, I think maybe he wants an autograph or to chat about the game, but no, he scrabbles around in a kind of knapsack, gets out a scuffed-up baseball and a small, black leather fielder's mitt that looks like it came out of the back of some Little League kid's closet. This guy says to me, 'I have learned the art of the pitch. . .' Some odd phrase like that, delivered in a singsong voice, like a chant, kind of what you hear in a Chinese restaurant if there are some Chinese in there.

"I am about to hurry on to the hotel when this kid points out a soda bottle on top of a fence post about the same distance home plate is from the pitcher's rubber. He rears way back, comes around and pops the ball at it. Out there on that fence post the soda bottle explodes. It disintegrates like a rifle bullet hit it -- just little specks of vaporized glass in a puff. Beyond the post I could see the ball bouncing across the grass of the park until it stopped about as far away as I can hit a three-wood on a good day.

"I said, very calm, 'Son, would you mind showing me that again?'

"And he did. He disappeared across the park to find the ball -- it had gone so far, he was after it for what seemed 15 minutes. In the meantime I found a tin can from a trash container and set it up for him. He did it again -- just kicked that can off the fence like it was hit with a baseball bat. It wasn't the accuracy of the pitch so much that got to me but the speed. It was like the tin can got belted as soon as the ball left the guy's fingertips. Instantaneous. I thought to myself, 'My god, that kid's thrown the ball about 150 mph. Nolan Ryan's fastball is a change-up compared to what this kid just threw.'

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:54 AM


'Hero' Coach Halts School Shooting (MINNEAPOLIS-ST PAUL STAR TRIBUNE, September 26, 2003)

Mark Johnson sat on the bleachers in the Rocori High School gym Wednesday, tuning out the normal pre-lunch hubbub in order to get ready for the physical education class he was to teach.

Suddenly, he heard a sound too commanding to ignore.

"I heard a shot in front of me," Johnson said. "I looked up and saw Seth [Bartell] on the gym floor. He was right in front of me. ... Then I saw ... [the student] with the gun. He pointed it at me."

Johnson thrust out his hand and shouted, "No!"

"Fortunately for me and the other kids, he put down the gun," Johnson said. "I grabbed the gun right away. He didn't struggle."

Johnson took the 15-year-old freshman to the school office, then ran back and tried to help senior Aaron Rollins as the boy lay bleeding in a hall outside the locker room.

The shooter was in police custody yesterday. Police have not identified him, but several media outlets and students said he was the son of a sheriff's deputy. Police said that he was cooperating but that a motive had not been determined. About 30 students witnessed the shootings, officials said.
Several students described the suspect as an intensely shy, quiet boy. "He really didn't associate with people," said Scott Eisenschenk, a freshman. Others said he was self-conscious about his severe acne, which some kids teased him about.

Meanwhile, on the streets of Cold Spring, stunned students and residents described Johnson as a hero who probably saved students' lives as well as his own.

To Johnson, that seemed largely irrelevant, as he, like his neighbors, struggled to absorb the terrible realities of the shootings that took Rollins' life and critically wounded ninth-grader Bartell.

Emergency worker finds son among school shooting victims (KAMC-TV, 9/25/03)
An emergency worker responding to Wednesday's school shooting in rural Minnesota made a heartbreaking discovery when he reached one of the wounded students.

It was his son.

Tom Rollins was too emotionally distraught to care for his 17-year-old son, Aaron, who was mortally wounded in the shooting.

Other workers tended to Aaron, but he later died.

Home>Book excerpt: If God is Good, Why is the World so Bad?: In a revolutionary new book, noted author and lecturer Rabbi Benjamin Blech takes Kushner to task and (finally) answers life's most compelling question: Why do bad things happen to good people? (Rabbi Benjamin Blech, September 25, 2003, Jewsweek)
Although Job is perhaps the only imaginary hero of Biblical personalities, he is at the same time the most universal of all of them. He is the father who has inexplicably lost his job and has no means of supporting his family. He is the mother who has just been told her child has terminal cancer. He is the Holocaust survivor who still wakes up screaming in the middle of the night. He is me, and he is you.

That's why the book of Job is not really the story of a tragic figure of old. The book of Job is about twenty-first-century men and women who try to make sense out of the unfair circumstances of their lives even as they struggle to hold onto their beliefs. Most of all, the book of Job is about a dilemma which, sooner or later, every one of us must resolve in our lives. This dilemma is the apparent contradiction between three basic assumptions:

* God is just. He judges all of us with impartial fairness. He rewards the good, and He punishes the wicked.

* God is all-powerful. He can do anything. Nothing happens in the world without His willing it. Indeed, everything that happens is part of His plan.

* Job is a good man.

Now as long as everything is going well with Job -- he is healthy and wealthy -- we can believe all three of these statements at the same time with no difficulty. But when Job's suffering begins, when he loses his possessions, his family and his health, we have a problem. We can no longer make sense of all three propositions simultaneously. We can now affirm any two only by denying the third.

If God is both just and all-powerful, then it must be that the third statement is wrong -- Job is not a good man; he is a sinner, and he deserves what is happening to him. But if Job is good and God causes his suffering nonetheless, then God cannot be just. Or if Job is good and God is not responsible for his suffering, then God cannot be all-powerful.

For all three to be true appears to be impossible. So which one is wrong? Which one of these three assumptions are we going to sacrifice on the altar of reality? That is the question.

For many, the most logical conclusion is that God is not just. God is capricious, perhaps even evil. Indeed, this was the prevailing worldview in ancient times when people worshiped gods like the Mayan ChacMool or the Mesopotamian Nergal -- the precursor of our Satan. To these gods they sacrificed virgins, slaves and even their children -- whatever it took to win the gods' appeasement.

For some, questioning God's justice takes a slightly different form: Although God is good, He must have an opponent who isn't, and who often prevails. This view inevitably leads to dualism, the belief that there are two gods -- one a god of goodness and the other a god of evil. This is one of the oldest approaches to understanding the Divine and finding a rational response to the theological difficulty of evil. Zoroastrianism, the predominant religion of much of the Middle East from the time of the Persian Empire until the advent of Islam, accepted this view. We still see vestiges of it in those forms of Christianity that ascribe supernatural, godlike powers to Satan, the enemy of God. (In contrast, Judaism sees Satan as a servant of God whose function is to set up choices between good and evil so that we can exercise our free will.)

Abraham, the first monotheist, taught us that there is only one God. At the conclusion of his story in Genesis, the Bible tells us, "Abraham was now old, advanced in years, and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things."

And yet had God really blessed him in all things? Didn't God put him through ten difficult tests, the most staggering of which was the demand that he sacrifice his own son? Didn't Abraham have to wander the whole of the Fertile Crescent, endure famine and defend family members from attackers? Didn't he just bury his beloved wife Sarah, in the very sentences preceding this declaration that he was blessed "in all things"?

But Abraham was blessed in all things because he understood that a good God would only do things for his benefit. He saw every test, every difficulty, as an opportunity for self-improvement -- a vehicle for the building of character, for the strengthening of faith, for moving closer to God. And therefore he considered everything that happened to him a blessing.

From the time of Abraham onward, the descendants and followers of the great patriarch proclaimed the oneness of God. The fundamental credo of Judaism states: Shema Israel, Adonay Elohainu, Adonay Ehad. "Hear O Israel, the Lord [is] Our God, the Lord is One." An observant Jew is required to repeat this credo twice a day, every day of his life. And these are the very last words that he is urged, if at all possible, to utter on his deathbed.

The question is obvious: Isn't this an odd way to express the oneness of God? If God is one, why does He have two names? Why is he called "Lord" and "God" --Adonay and Elohainu (the possessive form of Elohim)?

In this most basic expression of monotheism, the very struggle of man to understand the apparent contradiction of good and evil is addressed and answered. God is one, but He has two different attributes. Just as I am one person, while known at different times as Rabbi, Ben, Daddy, depending on the role I am filling, so too God is known alternatively as Adonay (translated Lord) and Elohim (translated God), depending on His function and the nature of His relationship at that particular moment. There are times that He appears to us as a loving father, exuding goodness and mercy; His name then is Adonay, to convey His quality of kindness. In English, we often say, "Thank the good Lord," because "Lord" is the proper translation for this name that stresses God's mercy. But there are other times when He appears to us as a tough judge, meting out justice according to His law and punishing us for our infractions. Then His name is Elohim, "God," stern disciplinarian and unforgiving ruler of the universe. That's why, quite correctly, when we cry out in pain we say, "Oh my God" rather than "Oh my Lord."

But even though we describe Him by His two attributes, we know that in reality they are both aspects of one and the same loving Creator. The one who appears as strict disciplinarian is acting solely with the motivation of a kind and caring parent. In other words [to paraphrase]: "Hear O Israel, (Adonay) the Lord, and (Elohainu) our God, are actually Adonay Ehad, one Lord."

So the most basic tenet of Judaism states that of our three assumptions, we cannot reject the first. God is just and fair and good. His very essence is "Lord," even when He appears to be "God"; apparent harshness is merely camouflage for divine concern and love.

There's a very good line in Spy Kids II, when Steve Buscemi, as a mad scientist whose hybrid animals have taken over his island, asks: "Do you think God stays in Heaven because He's afraid of what He's created on Earth?"

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM


The Nominations of Robert Bork and David Souter (GRISWOLD & ROE - CASES THAT SHAPED THE SUPREME COURT, Constitutional Law II, Loyola Law School, Fall 1997, Professor Karl Manheim)

Bork Attacks Griswold

Robert H. Bork, Neutral Principles and Some First Amendment Problems, 47 Ind. L.J. 1, 2-3, 6-7, 9 (1971)

The requirement that the Court be principled arises from the resolution of the seeming anomaly of judicial supremacy in a democratic society. If the judiciary really is supreme, able to rule when and as it sees fit, the society is not democratic. The anomaly is dissipated, however, by the model of government embodied in the structure of the Constitution, a model upon which popular consent to limited government by the Supreme Court also rests. This model we may for convenience, though perhaps not with total accuracy, call "Madisonian."

A Madisonian system is not completely democratic, if by "democratic" we mean completely majoritarian. It assumes that in wide areas of life majorities are entitled to rule for no better reason that they are majorities... The model has also a counter-majoritarian premise, however, for it assumes there are some areas of life a majority should not control. There are some things a majority should not do to us no matter how democratically it decides to do them. These are areas properly left to individual freedom, and coercion by the majority in these aspects of life is tyranny.

Some see the model as containing an inherent, perhaps an insoluble, dilemma. Majority tyranny occurs if legislation invades the areas properly left to individual freedom. Minority tyranny occurs if the majority is prevented from ruling where its power is legitimate. Yet, quite obviously, neither the majority nor the minority can be trusted to define the freedom of the other. This dilemma is resolved in constitutional theory, and in popular understanding, by the Supreme Court's power to define both majority and minority freedom through the interpretation of the Constitution. Society consents to be ruled undemocratically within defined areas by certain enduring principles believed to be stated in, and placed beyond the reach of majorities by, the Constitution.

If I am correct so far, no argument that is both coherent and respectable can be made supporting a Supreme Court that "chooses fundamental values" because a Court that makes rather than implements value choices cannot be squared with the presuppositions of a democratic society. The man who understands the issues and nevertheless insists upon the rightness of the Warren Court's performance ought also, if he is candid, to admit that he is prepared to sacrifice democratic process to his own moral views. He claims for the Supreme Court an institutionalized role as perpetrator of limited coups d'etat.

. . . The problem may be illustrated by Griswold v. Connecticut, in many ways a typical decision of the Warren Court . . . .

The Griswold opinion fails every test of neutrality. The derivation of the principle was utterly specious, and so was its definition. In fact, we are left with no idea of what the principle really forbids . . . .

Griswold, then, is an unprincipled decision, both in the way in which it derives a new constitutional right and in the way it defined that right, or rather fails to define it. We are left with no idea of the sweep of the right of privacy and hence no notion of the cases to which it may or may not be applied in the future. The truth is that the Court could not reach its result in Griswold through principle. The reason is obvious. Every clash between a minority claiming freedom and a majority claiming power to regulate involves a choice between the gratifications of the two groups. When the Constitution has not spoken, the Court will be able to find no scale, other than its own value preferences, upon which to weigh the respective claims to pleasure . . . .

Senators Questions Bork About Privacy

Hearings Before the Senate Comm. on the Judiciary, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. (Part I) 114-17, 182-83 (1987)

CHAIRMAN [Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.)]: In your 1971 article, "Neutral Principles and Some First Amendment Problems," you said that the right of married couples to have sexual relations without fear of unwanted children is no more worthy of constitutional protection by the courts than the right of public utilities to be free of pollution control laws.

You argued that the utility company's right or gratification, I think you referred to it, to make money and the married couple's right or gratification to have sexual relations without fear of unwanted children is no more worthy of constitutional protection by the courts than the right of public utilities to be free of pollution control laws.

It appears to me that you are saying that the government has as much right to control a married couple's decision about choosing to have a child or not, as that government has a right to control the public utility's right to pollute the air. Am I misstating your rationale here?

Judge [Robert] BORK. With due respect, Mr. Chairman, I think you are. I was making the point that where the Constitution does not speak-there is no provision in the Constitution that applies to the case-then a judge may not say, I place a higher value upon a marital relationship than I do upon an economic freedom. Only if the Constitution gives him some reasoning. Once the judge begins to say economic rights are more important than marital rights or vice versa, and if there is nothing in the Constitution, the judge is enforcing his own moral values, which I have object to. Now, on the Griswold case itself-

CHAIRMAN. So that you suggest that unless the Constitution, I believe in the past you used the phrase, textually identifies, a value that is worthy of being protected, then competing values in society, the competing value of a public utility, in the example you used, to go out and making money-that economic right has no more or less constitutional protection than the right of a married couple to use or not use birth control in their bedroom. Is that what you are saying?

Judge BORK. . . .[A]ll I am saying is that the judge has no way to prefer one to the other and the matter should be left to the legislatures who will then decide which competing gratification, or freedom, should be placed higher.

CHAIRMAN. Then I think I do understand it, that is, that the economic gratification of a utility company is as worthy of as much protection as the sexual gratification of a married couple, because neither is mentioned in the Constitution.

Judge BORK. All that means is that the judge may not choose.

CHAIRMAN. Who does?

Judge BORK. The legislature.

Senator [Orrin] HATCH [R-Utah]. I can certainly understand that there is a privacy protection in the Constitution, in the sense of guarantees against unreasonable searches of one's home, and the prohibition of laws that abridge free speech and the free exercise of religion. Those are areas where there is no question about the right of privacy, is there?

Judge BORK. None whatsoever.

Senator HATCH. What did Justice Black say about the scope of the so-called privacy right that is no where found in the Constitution?

Judge BORK. I think he said it was utterly unpredictable. I don't recall his exact words, but nobody knows what the scope is.

Senator HATCH. And that's what you were concerned about?

Judge BORK. That's what I meant when I said that, you know, privacy to do what? We don't know. Privacy to take cocaine in private; privacy to fix prices in private; privacy to engage in incest in private?

The elitist anti-democratic tendencies of the Democrats and the improbable populism of conservatives was never more clearly, and painfully, displayed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:52 AM


In Baseball or in Life -- Win or Lose, You've Got a New Game Every Day (Jay Hook, September 23, 2003, LA Times)

I was the starting pitcher for the 1962 New York Mets, a team that holds the worst record in modern-day baseball.

We won only 40 games that year, lost 120 and were rained out twice on our road to ignominy. No club has ever lost that many games.

By the end of the '62 season, when I would leave the ballpark after a game, I felt that I had better focus on grad school because my baseball career was beginning to throw me a curve. [...]

Unlike Casey Stengel - who, let's face it, had nothing to lose even with a losing team - the Tigers' Alan Trammell is in his first year as a major league team manager. Trammell was a terrific player and is a guy who knows how to win.

It would be a shame to start his managerial career with a record number of losses.

As a team, the Tigers are in a rebuilding phase and have many young, inexperienced players. Yet these guys had to be winners at some point in their careers or they wouldn't be playing at this level. Many of them will go on to be winners in the major leagues. They deserve a better start.

No matter what happens, though, I hope each of them remembers what 1962 taught us: It's a new game every day. Some of us will be successful at baseball, some at engineering, some at medicine or whatever.

I've had three careers, one in professional baseball, one in business as an executive in the automobile industry and one in what I call social service, including being a professor, president of the trustees of a United Methodist seminary and a leader of a community college foundation.

Many of my teammates from 1962 also have gone on to lead successful lives. And the Mets went on to win a world championship in 1969.

Mary Pickford expressed her philosophy as follows: "Today is a new day. You will get out of it just what you put into it If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, there is always another chance for you. And suppose you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose. For this thing we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down."

The 1962 Mets lived through the losses, but it sure didn't end there.

We love ya', tomorrow.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:49 AM


Supremes OK Anonymous Free Speech  (Julia Scheeres, Jun. 18, 2002, Wired)

In a case pitting the privacy rights of homeowners against the rights of door-to-door solicitors to anonymity and free speech, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a village in eastern Ohio cannot force doorstep canvassers to obtain permits before hawking wares or beliefs.

The folks in Stratton, Ohio, a village of 297 residents nestled against the Ohio River, were sick and tired of what the mayor called "flim-flam con artists who prey on small-town populations," so town leaders passed an ordinance in 1998 requiring itinerant solicitors to disclose their name, home address, employer and purpose of planned activity, and obtain a permit before ringing doorbells. Failure to comply with the decree was considered a fourth-degree misdemeanor and included a $50-$100 fine.

On Monday, the High Court struck down the local law in a 8-1 decision, ruling that the ordinance violated the First Amendment because it forced all petitioners -- even those wanting to talk politics and religion –- to get permission from the mayor's office before approaching townspeople.
The ruling was based on a case brought against the village by the Jehovah's Witnesses, who take literally the biblical exhortation to teach "publicly, and from house to house."

The church had lost in two lower courts before appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The mere fact that the ordinance covers so much speech raises constitutional concerns," wrote Justice John Paul Stevens in the opinion of the Court. "It is offensive -- not only to the values protected by the First Amendment, but to the very notion of a free society -– that in the context of everyday public discourse a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors and then obtain a permit to do so."

Pennsylvania Town Suspends Restrictions on Door-to-Door Canvassing Under Threat of ACLU Lawsuit ACLU Press Release, August 28, 2003)
Officials in Kennedy Township in Western Pennsylvania today agreed to the American Civil Liberties Union’s request that it suspend enforcement of a new ordinance that restricts peoples’ right to go door-to-door to discuss political, religious and other issues face-to-face with community residents.

Witold Walczak, the Pittsburgh ACLU’s legal director, called the Township’s decision to suspend enforcement prudent. "The Supreme Court ruled just last year that municipalities cannot require people to register with the government before they knock on their neighbors’ door. There is no more important free speech principle in this country."

Kennedy’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance on August 11, 2003, over objections from a community resident who said that the ACLU had already advised her that the new law violated constitutional free speech guarantees. 

The Pittsburgh ACLU, acting on behalf of community residents Joan Sakai and Michelle Bittner, sent a letter on August 26 to town officials requesting that it immediately suspend enforcement of the law or face a federal civil rights lawsuit. Today, the Township agreed to suspend enforcement of the law while it studies the ACLU’s objections.

Bittner, a candidate for a Montour School District Board Director position in November elections, lauded the Township’s decision. "The school district is facing some very serious issues, and I want to be able to hear directly from my potential constituents about their views and I want them to hear mine. The best way to do that is to go door-to-door where you can establish rapport with a person and have a meaningful conversation."

The ACLU’s August 26 letter cited three problematic provisions in the new Kennedy Township law: 

1. some political and/or non-profit-group solicitors had to register with the police and get a permit before going door-to-door;

2. between October 1 and March 31 no soliciting could occur after 6:00 p.m.; and 

3. the Township would maintain a "no-knock" list of people who didn’t want to be solicited and a violation of that restriction carried hefty fines and a possible jail terms.

In its letter, the ACLU advised the Township of 2002 Supreme Court decision holding that a law very similar to the Pennsylvania law was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

Not only will the lower court judge's ruling that the Do Not Call List is unconstitutional be upheld by the Supreme Court, the case will be unanimous or nearly so. This is not really an issue that's open to dispute in our current constitutional/judicial regime.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:26 AM


UN scales down presence to bare minimum (Mark Turner and Kim Ghattas, September 25 2003, Financial Times)

The UN on Thursday said it was scaling down its presence in Iraq to a bare minimum, as news of the death of Akila al-Hashemi, a member of Iraq's Governing Council, reinforced fears the security situation there was becoming untenable.

In the wake of two direct attacks on its headquarters in Baghdad, the UN officially announced a "temporary redeployment" of its international staff.

Only 42 were left on Thursday in the capital, and 44 in the north, and those numbers could "be expected to shrink over the next few days", the UN said. The final number could be as low as 20, subject to further review.

But the UN, keen not to send a political message of defeat...

Which proves the truth of that old axiom: you can't make chicken salad out of the United Nations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:22 AM


On this day, Iraqi leaders display united front: As US plays role of skeptical parent, Iraqi Governing Council doesn't want to look like 25 James Deans. (Howard LaFranchi, 9/26/03, CS Monitor)

It happens in every family: The kids want to strike out on their own, and the folks want to keep them under their wing a little bit longer.

Something like that breaking-away process is happening between the United States and Iraq's new leaders - some of them formerly exiled Iraqis the US nurtured and then installed in the interim Iraqi Governing Council.

The keepers of an ancient civilization may take offense at the parent-child analogy. But it nevertheless comes to mind as members of the US-appointed IGC - the learner's permit of what would be the world's newest democracy - make the rounds in New York at the United Nations and in Washington.

The group was sounding much more rebellious a few days ago, but by a press conference Wednesday at the UN, all talk of impatience or dispute with the power paying the bills was silenced - or at least on hold. [...]

Chalabi appeared at the packed press conference with two IGC colleagues: Hoshyar Zebari, who holds the council's rotating foreign-minister slot, and Adnan Pachachi, a former UN envoy and Sunni Muslim representative on the council. Mr. Pachachi said he thought completing a constitution by May is realistic, while Mr. Zebari spoke in terms of an ideal full turnover of sovereignty within a year.

Memorial Day 2004 has always seemed like the most probable goal, though earlier would likely have been better.

-Powell Gives Iraq 6 Months to Write New Constitution (STEVEN R. WEISMAN, 9/26/03, NY Times)

September 25, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:18 PM


Letter to Eugene Stoffels (Alexis de Tocqueville, July 24, 1839)

You seem to me to have understood the general ideas on which my programme rests. What most and always amazes me about my country, more especially these last few years, is to see ranged on the one side men who value morality, religion, and order, and upon the other those who love liberty and the equality of men before the law. This spectacle strikes me as the most extraordinary and deplorable ever offered to the eyes of man; for all the things thus separated are, I am certain, indissolubly united in the sight of God. They are holy things, if I may so express myself, because the greatness and the happiness of man in this world can only result from their simultaneous union. It seems to me, therefore, that one of the finest enterprises of our time would be to demonstrate that these things are not incompatible; that, on the contrary, they are bound up together in such a fashion that each of them is weakened by separation from the rest. Such is my basic idea.

In fact, America is premised on the assumption that the second set of ideas is dependent on the first set.

“New Liberalism” (M.R.R. Ossewaarde, Ph.D., London School of
Economics, The 2002 Lord Acton Essay Competition)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 PM


A rabbit following: The surreal and swirling film 'Donnie Darko' is finding its destiny as a cult favorite (Tom Russo, 9/24/2003, Boston Globe)

It's oddly fitting that so much of filmmaker Richard Kelly's 2001 debut, "Donnie Darko," is wrapped up in the mind-bending intricacies of predestination. Perhaps the movie itself was destined to fizzle at the box office -- not for lack of merit, but rather because this is almost invariably the path to cult-favorite status. "Darko," with its intelligent, tough-to-peg interweaving of achingly realistic teen drama, black humor, David Lynch-worthy mystery, and time bending, is quickly achieving just that level of under-the-radar appreciation. The movie, which screens at the Brattle Theatre this weekend, chronicles a tumultuous month in the life of suburban adolescent Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal), a borderline schizophrenic trying to make sense of the swirling, surreal world around him: his visions of a 6-foot-tall, Son of Sam-like bunny named Frank, the sheared-off jet engine that (really) comes crashing down into his bedroom early in the film, and that always treacherous high school caste system. It's a heady mix -- and one that earned the $4.5 million indie barely half a million dollars in its initial release. Not even an appearance by Drew Barrymore, whose production company served as an angel to the project behind the scenes, was enough to make a difference. Likewise for an inspired supporting turn by Patrick Swayze as a smarmy motivational speaker.

But now, not only is "Darko" enjoying a healthy extended life on DVD, video, and cable television, it's also become an art-house staple.

We're on the bandwagon for Donnie Darko/.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:18 PM


A Fairy Tale:
The latest presidential candidate arrives in shining armor (David Corn, SEPT. 26 - OCT. 2, 2003, LA Weekly)

Deliver us a white knight, a true and brave soul who can rid us of scoundrels, scalawags and in-it-for-themselves special interests. That’s the cry that periodically
arises within American politics, as would-be voters disgusted (rightfully) with business-as-usual politicians call for a non-politician to rescue the system from itself. At the moment, two candidates in the national spotlight are trying to capitalize upon this save-us-from-politics sentiment.

First came Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then, last week, retired Army General Wesley Clark made a late airdrop into the Democratic presidential contest. Clark, who was supreme commander of NATO before being canned in 1999 by Defense Secretary William Cohen, can boast he is the only Democratic contender whose campaign was preceded by an authentic grassroots movement
urging him to run. The Draft Clark movement recruited 258 regional coordinators nationwide and operated a Web site that drew more visitors than the site of any of the already-running Democratic candidates, except ex–Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Clark has never sought nor held elective office. He cannot recall precisely who he voted for in years past (but assumes he voted for Ronald Reagan at least once). He only recently declared himself a Democrat. Yet plenty of Democrats — and some independents — see him as their white knight.

White-knight politics has had a bumpy time in recent years. In 1992, millions of Americans in search of political salvation looked to tycoon Ross Perot, who claimed that the country’s sputtering economy could easily be fixed if only experts — not politicians — were drawn together to fashion a solution. He turned out to be a bit too eccentric and erratic, more Don Quixote (or Don Knotts) than Lancelot. But he managed to pull 19 percent of the presidential vote. Then, in 1995, Colin Powell pondered a presidential bid, as admirers across the country pined for an above-the-fray/free-of-politics contender. Powell disappointed his fans but persuaded them to buy his memoirs and became a best-selling author instead. In 1998 in Minnesota, former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura, a crash-the-party independent, was surprisingly elected governor. But he was more of a black than a white knight.

Clark’s candidacy may be the best test of white-knightism. He’s neither nutty (like Perot) nor reluctant (like Powell). He has been hailed by anti-Bushies of various ideological inclinations. Populist filmmaker and hero-of-the-left Michael Moore wrote an open letter to Clark pressing him to
run. (He praised Clark’s support of affirmative action, gun control, abortion rights, and his opposition to Bush’s tax cuts, the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq.) The investment bankers at the Blackstone Group — not quite a populist outfit — have been squiring the general. Members of the Blue Dog caucus — conservative Democrats in the House — are expected to sign on early. A Moore–Blackstone–Blue Dog alliance? That’s wide appeal.

Here's a sure sign you've been inside the Beltway too long: you think that three Democratic groups that no one's ever heard of rep[resent a wide range of opinion. Here's another: you think there's a national constituency outside the confines of the Democratic Party that's looking for a candidate who's: pro-gun control, pro-quota, pro-abortion, pro-taxes, anti-war, and against rounding up illegal immigrant Arabs.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 PM


No knock-out for Arnold, but he's still standing (Daniel Weintraub, September 25, 2003, Sacramento Bee)

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger probably could have used this debate to establish himself as the front-runner and to put distance between himself and Bustamante. He didn't do that. But while he didn't knock any pitches out of the park, neither did he embarrass himself. He held his own in his first debate in big league politics, appearing fairly informed without forcing it, and that in itself might have been enough to position him strongly for the campaign's final 12 days.

Despite speculation that McClintock and Schwarzenegger would be at each other's throats, continuing their unofficial primary for the Republican vote, they had not a cross word for each other. Instead, they formed something of a tag team against Camejo and Huffington, and, to a lesser extent, Bustamante.

When the other candidates chastised Schwarzenegger for overstating the state's business woes, McClintock jumped in with a dissertation on the problem. A few minutes later, Schwarzenegger, when the subject came up again, said, "I agree with Tom. We have the worst business climate right now anywhere in the nation." [...]

Bustamante's tone, while more sedate, was more maddeningly condescending. While Huffington was criticizing the construction of a new prison in Delano as a $600 million waste of money, Bustamante tried to interrupt her to say that canceling the project wouldn't help pay for health or education programs because the prison was funded by special bonds. When she continued, Bustamante kept muttering, "Yes, Arianna, yes, Arianna," in a voice that a husband might use while sarcastically trying to placate his spouse. "Let me say this so you can understand it."

If I treated my wife that way I'd be sleeping on the couch. I have to think many women tuning in will put Bustamante in the same place when it's time to cast their votes.

In the end, the debate probably didn't change much in the race. Nobody did well enough to take control or poorly enough to disqualify themselves.

Schwarzenegger's adequate performance will probably increase pressure on McClintock to drop out or at least turn his fire away from his fellow Republican. Bustamante will still need to do far more to distinguish himself as a leader who can move up from his ceremonial post as lieutenant governor to the top job.

The thing is in a debate like this all Arnold has to do is show that he's of equal stature politically as his more experienced competitors. There are lawn gnomes that could pass such a test against Cruz Bustamante.

Two leading Republicans endorse Schwarzenegger (ERICA WERNER, September 25, 2003, Associated Press)

Two leading California Republicans threw their support behind Arnold Schwarzenegger in the state's gubernatorial recall Thursday, a day after the political novice held his own in a barb-filled debate.

Former gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon announced Thursday that he was endorsing Schwarzenegger, and Rep. Darrell Issa, who bankrolled the drive to get the recall on the ballot, planned to do the same at an appearance with the actor Friday, a Republican source said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:34 PM


House Authorizes F.T.C. to Administer Do-Not-Call List (Reuters, 9/25/03)

A second federal judge has blocked a national ``do not call'' list that would have allowed consumers to stop unwanted sales calls.

However, Thursday's decision was based on telemarketers' free speech rights rather than questions over whether the Federal Trade Commission had the authority to implement such a list.

U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham in Denver said ``the Federal Trade Commission has chosen to entangle itself too much in the consumers' decision by manipulating consumer choice and favoring speech by charitable (organizations) over commercial speech,'' the judge wrote.

Here's the First Amendment ruling we've all been waiting for--inevitable and accurate according to precedent, but wrong as to the intent of the Constitution. Only political speech needs such high protection.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:17 PM


Do Not Call: Congress Speed Dials (CBS News, Sept. 25, 2003)

The House voted 412-8 after less than hour of debate. Lawmakers from both parties uniformly blasted a decision by U.S. District Judge Lee R. West, who ruled Tuesday that the Federal Trade Commission lacked authority to create and operate the registry. [...]

The Senate was to vote later in the day, reports CBS News Correspondent Howard Arenstein.

It probably still won't pass constitutional muster, but it's amusing to see how fast they act when 40 million people have signed up for something.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:09 PM


Streisand: "My Music Bores Me" (25 September 2003, Celebrity News)

She left out her movies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:43 AM


Fallujah: A multilayered picture emerges (Pepe Escobar, 9/26/03, Asia Times)

This is the heart of the Iraqi resistance. Fallujah, with a population of almost 500,000 people, traditionally "the city of mosques", is now called "the city of heroes" as it is at the core of the Sunni triangle (Baghdad-Ramadi-Tikrit) where most of the resistance to the US occupation is taking place. [...]

For starters, the citizens of Fallujah don't agree with the usual statistics according to which the Shi'ites make 62 percent of the Iraqi population. After a careful tabulation of the population in the main Iraqi cities, they insist more realistic figures would be 6 million Kurds, 8 million Shi'ites and 8.7 million Sunnis: this would prove their point that Sunnis are woefully under-represented in the Governing Council. [...]

The citizens of Fallujah are adamant: the resistance is composed of members of families angry with or victims of violent American behavior, as well as former army soldiers and officers. They swear that they have not seen any Arab fedayeen (fighters) - and definitely no al-Qaeda. And there are no Ba'ath Party members in this indigenous resistance: "They are bad people. They have money. If you had money, would you risk your life resisting?" They insist that "the main reason for resisting is loyalty to your own country". [...]

Convincing tools for the young and the restless are multiple: defense of tribal values, defense of the motherland, and most of all defense against the "bad behavior" of the Americans. The mujahideen can count on total popular complicity. When al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya - the nemesis of the Governing Council - show images of American casualties, not only in Fallujah but also in Baghdad, people stop talking and their faces lighten up. The running commentary is inevitable: "We thanked them for our freedom, but they should have left long ago." At least in Fallujah, as far as the American occupation is concerned, the battle for hearts and minds is irretrievably lost.

One would wish this to be true, but considering the source it likely isn't. If there were a generalized Sunni resistance throughout Fallujah then we could simply treat them all as the enemy and kill them, making the task of running the country far easier.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 AM


Japan's promise - and problems (John Berthelsen, 9/26/03, Asia Times)

While the Japanese authorities have taken important regulatory and legal steps to strengthen the financial sector, and banks have attempted to improve their capital adequacy, raise provisioning and accelerate the disposal of non-performing loans (NPLs), "it has become clear that financial institutions have not been able to solve the problems on their own", the IMF says, noting:

# The banking system's capital cushion has been run down to minimal levels, and most new capital has been in the form of interest-bearing paper that is not the basis for stronger balance sheets.

# Life-insurance companies are under considerable stress as a result of the declines in investment income and stock prices, which have weakened their capital base.

# The corporate sector is highly leveraged and deflation has increased the real burden of debt.

# On a macroeconomic basis, land values remain weak, reflecting the sluggish economy and overhang in the real-estate market. Despite the broad run-up over the last seven months, the Nikkei index of 225 stocks is hovering near 11,000, hardly more than a third of the 38,000-plus where it closed in 1989.

# Although Japanese banks have disposed of more than 90 trillion yen worth of non-performing loans amounting to 16 percent of GDP since 1992, official NPLs still account for more than 8 percent of outstanding loans as new problem loans continue to emerge.

# Return on assets (ROA) on an operating-income basis in the corporate sector has remained flat since 1993. To compare this with other Group of Seven countries, ROA in Japan is about half to a quarter that of Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In another IMF report issued this month on selected issues facing the health and vulnerability of the Japanese economy overall beyond the financial sector, a team of five economists wrote that "we find that weak companies account for a significant portion of total debt and continue to make losses".

In 2002, despite record negative real interest rates, companies with non-performing debt accounted for 16 percent of Japan's total debt, while those with losing money on operations accounted for 10 percent of total debt. A quarter of those weak companies had reported negative operating profit for two years or more. While debt-to-equity ratios in the corporate sector have fallen from a peak of 287 percent in 1975 to 155 percent in 2002, debt leverage is still breathtaking. That 155 percent compares with an average of 80 percent in Germany, 70 percent in the US, and 45 percent in the UK.

Otrher than that, they're poised for precipitous population decline, an inability to fund their retirement system, and they're contemplating developing a serious Defense for the first time in sixty years, which will waste even more money.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM


Proposed Rule Would Ease Stance on Feeding at Nursing Homes (ROBERT PEAR, 9/25/03, NY Times)

The Bush administration is relaxing regulation of nursing homes to allow low-paid workers with one day of training to feed patients who cannot feed themselves.

Administration officials said the new workers would improve the quality of care, providing additional assistance to patients at busy mealtimes. Nursing homes, facing a severe labor shortage, have long sought permission to hire such "feeding assistants."

But patients' advocates, including AARP and the Alzheimer's Association, objected to the change. They said it could cause "real harm to nursing home residents," in the words of David M. Certner, director of federal affairs for AARP.

Under a final rule to be issued in the next few days, nursing homes could hire part-time workers to help feed patients, a task that can now be performed only by licensed nurses, certified nurse's aides and other health care professionals.

Feeding assistants would have to complete an eight-hour training course. Nurse's aides, by contrast, are required to have 75 hours of training.

Is not the real point of this story that we have a government so intrusive that it requires you have 75 hours of training in order to shovel gruel?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM


President gave the UN tough talk it deserves (Zev Chafets, Sept. 25, 2003, Jewish World Review)

You could see expectation on the faces of the delegates as President Bush took the podium.

For weeks, the President's critics had been predicting that he would come to the UN General Assembly to beg for help in Iraq. And, now, here he was.

"He needs something," CNN's Aaron Brown sagely observed moments before the President's speech. "He needs something." And then up stepped Bush and it turned out he didn't need a damn thing.

The President began by redeclaring war on a global terrorist enemy that stalks the world from downtown Manhattan to Jakarta (not forgetting, as the UN would like to forget, Jerusalem). Deadpan, he told his audience, which included representatives of some of the terrorists' biggest supporters, that these killers "should have no friend in this chamber."

Last year, Bush said much the same thing in a memorably tough speech. Yesterday, buoyed by what he regards, correctly, as a great victory in Iraq, he was even tougher - and unmoved by criticism.

Lies in need of correction (David Warren, Sept. 25, 2003, Jewish World Review)
President Bush's address to the General Assembly will not make sense, entirely, if the reader has fallen for the false media account of the sequence of events. The first thing to grasp is that the U.S. appeal for United Nations help in Iraq and Afghanistan is nothing new. It is the continuation of an appeal that began more than a year ago, when Mr. Bush last addressed the General Assembly.

The fact that UN members have been remarkably uncooperative in the meantime does not make this latest speech surprising. I, personally, may disagree with the Bush strategy, in having gone to the UN at all, but the administration has been perfectly consistent, and almost inhumanly patient. The rebuilding of Iraq -- which necessarily involved the removal of the totalitarian dictatorship of Saddam Hussein -- has been U.S. policy continuously. And so has been the U.S. appeal for help. They didn't get much of it for the invasion, they are still hoping for more in the apres guerre. [...]

As he also hinted, there would be no point in muttering ungraciously if France, Germany and other powers, which got conspicuously in the way, now want to be included in the prize round. The world is the world, it needs mercy more than justice. The second big lie, in urgent need of correction, is that the United States expects much from the UN itself. The haplessness of that organization has already been demonstrated, with an abundance exceeding farce. What the United States instead needs is a resolution from that augustly fickle body. It can then use the resolution to collect on promises from not only France and Germany, but more particularly such countries as India and Turkey, which said they'd send troops and aid of various kinds, but have used the lack of a UN resolution as an excuse for dawdling.

We've really only had two conviction politicians in the presidency in modern times--Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush--and the press and the world seem to have no idea how they work. What confuses them most is that they mean what they say. Tricky devils...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 AM


Democrats Step Up Attacks on Iraq War (CARL HULSE, 9/25/03, NY Times)

Congressional Democrats, sensing an opening against President Bush, pressed forward today with bitter criticism of the administration's handling of the aftermath of the Iraq war, directly challenging the White House after months of treading softly when it came to the conflict.

At hearings, at press conferences and in interviews, Democratic lawmakers unleashed a torrent of criticism, finding fault with everything from the administration's rationale for the war and a lack of postwar planning to its diplomatic efforts and even Mr. Bush's decision to leave the United Nations Tuesday before others finished speaking.

The assault was a marked contrast to the reluctance of many Democrats to confront a popular wartime president while that war was under way. They were constrained not only by an unwillingness to question the commander in chief during combat but by the prospect of being pummeled by Republicans who were quick to attack any Democrat who questioned administration policy.

Democratic lawmakers say the request for $87 billion ó including more than $20 billion to rebuild Iraq at a moment when the U.S. economy is struggling ó has shifted the dynamic of the political fight. They say it gives them a new opportunity to contrast their policies and priorities with the president's.

One of the wisest of Milton Friedman's axioms holds that by the time the Federal Reserve figures out what's happened in the economy recently and makes an effort to react, the economy itself will have already reacted so the Fed should do the opposite of what it decides needs to be done.

Similarly, the Democrats are going on the attack far too late. With the Shi'ites riled up enough to defend themselves, most of the senior Ba'athists captured or killed, and the Iraqis ready and eager to start assuming control of their own destiny, this is a story that's nearly run its course. By the end of next Spring we'll have drawn down significantly and Iraq will be broadly considered a success, however untidy. This is of a piece with their focus on the economy which they'll not want to touch with a ten foot pole next year because it will redound to the President's favor. They should get back on their core message which is greater government benefits--like health care--for everyone for free. In a time of relative peace and normal economic growth that will play quite well.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:23 AM


Apples as a symbol of good?: Why Jews eat the "serpent's fruit" on Judgment Day (Rabbi Berel Wein, Sept. 25, 2003 , Jewish World Review)

All Jewish customs have Torah, historical and traditional origins, though many of them may be now somewhat obscure due to the passage of time and the circumstances of the long exile of Israel. On Rosh HaShana, Jews dip an apple into honey. Why? What is the special symbolism of the apple that makes it the fruit that most graces our Rosh HaShana table?

The sophisticated doubters amongst us have stated that the apple is used because it is the fruit that was most available in all of the areas of the world of the Jewish exile. However, such reasoning begs the question and misses the entire point of the reasons for the preservation of Jewish customs.

Jewish customs come to reinforce Jewish identity and memory. They serve to remind us of our special responsibilities and duties towards the Creator and man. They reinforce our sense of solidity with all of the previous Jewish generations and provide an effective method of transmitting our tradition and heritage to our children and grandchildren. One of the tragedies of the alienation of many Jews currently from their heritage is their ignorance and non-participation regarding Jewish customs. Thus, the custom of the eating of the apple dipped into the honey on the night of Rosh HaShana does have a special traditional significance over and above the ready availability of the fruit at this season of the year. And it is this special significance of memory that enhances the beauty and even the sweetness of the custom.

One of the fruits to which the Jewish people are compared in King Solomon's Song of Songs is the apple. "As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved — Israel — amongst the maidens (nations) of the world." The Midrash informs us that the apple tree puts forth the nub of its fruit even before the leaves that will surround and protect the little fruit at its beginning stage of growth are fully sprouting. The Jewish people, by accepting the Torah with the statement that "we will do and we will understand" — placing holy action and observance of Torah commandments even before understanding and rational acceptance — thereby imitated the behavior of the apple. Thus, the apple became a Jewish symbol, a memory aid, so to speak, to the moment of revelation at Sinai.

No one can truly understand the historical suffering of the Jewish people until they've shared a few of the holiday meals.

September 24, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 PM


Meet Bobby Jindal: The fast-talking conservative who could be the next governor of Louisiana. (Ramesh Ponnuru, September 5, 2003, National Review)

Bobby Jindal is a fast talker. He has to be, to get through all the ideas he has about what he'll do if he wins the race for governor of Louisiana. Ask him about the state's economy, or health care, or education, and you'll generally get a quick four-point response.

On education, for example, Jindal wants school choice, including private schools. He wants more charter schools: "The Fordham Foundation gave our charter-school process a D. It's too politicized." He is for paying teachers more "but also treating them as professionals" -- which means they will have to be regularly certified and paid on the basis of results. He thinks universities should be able to help schools without worrying about restrictive union rules.

Jindal's first order of business on the economic front would be to eliminate three corporate taxes: the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, the corporate franchise tax, and the property tax on offshore equipment. Few other states have such taxes, and as a result, he says, Louisiana is losing business. In the long run, Jindal would like to see income taxes brought down. He has taken Grover Norquist's no-tax-hike pledge.

I think that all took about three minutes.

But speed is only the third thing you notice about Jindal. The first is that he's of Indian descent; his parents moved to Louisiana just before he was born. The second is that he's young: He just turned 32 in June. [...]

Jindal is one of three Republican candidates for governor. The first round of the election is on October 4. A runoff will take place a month later. Earlier this year, Democrats were boasting that they would win the top two slots and that the runoff would thus be an all-Democrat affair. They had two candidates who hold statewide office, lieutenant governor Kathleen Blanco and attorney general Richard Ieyoub. Republicans, including those working for Jindal's campaign, were worried that their party would not coalesce sufficiently to prevent that scenario. Some worry still remains - Jindal would certainly like it if the other two Republicans dropped out - but the Democratic boasting has faded as the polls have changed. The latest one has Jindal within one point of Blanco, the leading candidate. (Ieyoub has now slipped to third place among the Democrats and fourth overall.)

CA may just be the start of an ugly Fall for the Democrats, with GOP gubernatorial candidates also poised to run well in LA, MS, and KY.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 PM


Bush's Dangerous Nuclear Double Standard: With the White House pushing for new types of warheads, other nations may not heed the call for nonproliferation. (Edward M. Kennedy and Dianne Feinstein, September 23, 2003, LA Times)

President Bush is expected to go to the United Nations today and, with Iran and North Korea obviously in mind, make a strong plea for nuclear nonproliferation.

Okay, we'll give you that much--now guess who the nation is that we aren't treating the same way we do North Korea and Iran? We'll send a book to the first person who gets it right without looking. (You're all on your sacred honour here.)

CONGRATULATIUONS: to andrew who got the--typical for Ted Kennedy but appalling from Senator Feinstein--answer first.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 PM


Framing a Democratic Agenda (George Lakoff, September 24, 2003, The American Prospect)

When I teach framing in Cognitive Science 101, I start with an exercise. I give my students a directive: "Don't think of an elephant." It can't be done, of course, and that's the point. In order not to think of an elephant, you have to think of an elephant. The word elephant evokes an image and a frame. If you negate the frame, you still activate the frame. Richard Nixon never took Cognitive Science 101. When he said, "I am not a crook," he made everybody think of him as a crook.

If you have been framed, the only response is to reframe. But you can't do it in a sound bite unless an appropriate progressive language has been built up in advance. Conservatives have worked for decades and spent billions on their think tanks to establish their frames, create the right language, and get the language and the frames they evoke accepted. [...]

Reframing takes awhile, but it won't happen if we don't start. The place to begin is by understanding how progressives and conservatives think. In 1994, I dutifully read the "Contract with America" and found myself unable to comprehend how conservative views formed a coherent set of political positions. What, I asked myself, did opposition to abortion have to do with the flat tax? What did the flat tax have to do with opposition to environmental regulations? What did defense of gun ownership have to do with tort reform? Or tort reform with opposition to affirmative action? And what did all of the above have to do with family values? Moreover, why do conservatives and progressives talk past one another, not with one another?

The answer is that there are distinct conservative and progressive worldviews. The two groups simply see the world in different ways. As a cognitive scientist, I've found in my research that these political worldviews can be understood as opposing models of an ideal family -- a strict father family and a nurturant parent family. These family models come with moral systems, which in turn provide the deep framing of all political issues.

The Strict Father Family

In this view, the world is a dangerous and difficult place, there is tangible evil in the world and children have to be made good. To stand up to evil, one must be morally strong -- disciplined.

The father's job is to protect and support the family. His moral duty is to teach his children right from wrong. Physical discipline in childhood will develop the internal discipline adults need to be moral people and to succeed. The child's duty is to obey. Punishment is required to balance the moral books. If you do wrong, there must be a consequence.

The strict father, as moral authority, is responsible for controlling the women of the family, especially in matters of sexuality and reproduction.

Children are to become self-reliant through discipline and the pursuit of self-interest. Pursuit of self-interest is moral: If everybody pursues his own self-interest, the self-interest of all will be maximized.

Without competition, people would not have to develop discipline and so would not become moral beings. Worldly success is an indicator of sufficient moral strength; lack of success suggests lack of sufficient discipline. Those who are not successful should not be coddled; they should be forced to acquire self-discipline.

When this view is translated into politics, the government becomes the strict father whose job for the country is to support (maximize overall wealth) and protect (maximize military and political strength). The citizens are children of two kinds: the mature, disciplined, self-reliant ones who should not be meddled with and the whining, undisciplined, dependent ones who should never be coddled. [...]

The Nurturant Parent Family

It is assumed that the world should be a nurturant place. The job of parents is to nurture their children and raise their children to be nurturers. To be a nurturer you have to be empathic and responsible (for yourself and others). Empathy and responsibility have many implications: Responsibility implies protection, competence, education, hard work and social connectedness; empathy requires freedom, fairness and honesty, two-way communication, a fulfilled life (unhappy, unfulfilled people are less likely to want others to be happy) and restitution rather than retribution to balance the moral books. Social responsibility requires cooperation and community building over competition. In the place of specific strict rules, there is a general "ethics of care" that says, "Help, don't harm." To be of good character is to be empathic and responsible, in all of the above ways. Empathy and responsibility are the central values, implying other values: freedom, protection, fairness, cooperation, open communication, competence, happiness, mutual respect and restitution as opposed to retribution.

In this view, the job of government is to care for, serve and protect the population (especially those who are helpless), to guarantee democracy (the equal sharing of political power), to promote the well-being of all and to ensure fairness for all. The economy should be a means to these moral ends.

This is more true than not though it's old hat. Conservatives are the Daddy Party--the party of freedom and freedom requires strict morality, because if you can't be fairly certain of how those around you are going to behave you'll not be willing to have them be free. Liberals are the Mommy Party--the party of social security and imposed equality of outcomes. Morality is not required because the State takes responsibility for regulating all behavior. One glaring error is his mention of the "job of parents" in the "Nurturant Parent Family"--actual parents are unimportant, are in fact a pediment, once the State takes on the role of "nurturer".

The other problem with Mr. Lakoff's analysis is that those provisions of the Contract with America that he couldn't figure out all polled in the 60-80% range. America is generally a Daddy Party kind of place with a deep distrust of the State, or as progressive see it: Mommy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM


Annan Trounces Bush at UN (Ian Williams, September 23, 2003, AlterNet)

While the U.S. media will most likely play up George Bush's boring speech to the UN, the day clearly belonged to Kofi Annan.

In his distinctively quiet-spoken manner, Annan trounced the Bush administration's foreign policy doctrine of unilateral preemptive strikes at the United Nations General Assembly. Saying the world had "come to a fork in the road," at what "may be a moment no less decisive than 1945 itself, when the United Nations was founded," Annan spelt out explicitly and in the most public way possible the position he has until now reserved for quiet off-the-cuff sessions with the media. Drawing on the power of his office, he ripped apart the U.S. policy of hot preemption -- though without pointing specifically at the Bush administration:

"Until now it has been understood that when states go beyond (self-defense), and decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, they need the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations.

"Now, some say this understanding is no longer tenable, since an 'armed attack' with weapons of mass destruction could be launched at any time, without warning, or by a clandestine group. Rather than wait for that to happen, they argue, states have the right and obligation to use force pre-emptively, even on the territory of other states, and even while weapons systems that might be used to attack them are still being developed.

"According to this argument, states are not obliged to wait until there is agreement in the Security Council. Instead, they reserve the right to act unilaterally, or in ad hoc coalitions.

"This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last fifty-eight years ... if it were to be adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without justification."

By UN standards, it was an unprecedented, if justly deserved, rebuff to the United States.

So, just suppose that North Korea sold a nuclear weapon to al Qaeda--are Mr. Annan and Mr. Williams seriously arguing that we'd have to wait for UN authorization to go after them?

The President's Thorny Olive Branch (Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay, September 24, 2003, LA Times)

There has been much talk in recent weeks about President Bush's apparent determination to change course in Iraq. Exhibit One is his decision, reiterated in Tuesday's speech to the United Nations, to seek a new U.N. resolution encouraging other countries to contribute troops and money to the Iraq reconstruction effort. The White House, it appears, has finally recognized that it cannot succeed on its own in Iraq.

But a closer analysis of Bush's argument to the U.N. General Assembly suggests that there is less here than meets the eye, and that any policy changes he might be making are purely about tactics and not about strategy.

The speech was vintage Bush - clear, concise, hard-charging, with not an inch of give to his critics. Everyone has to make a choice, he said, and those that make a wrong choice (as did the regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq) must suffer the consequences. He admitted no mistakes in postwar planning and defended the U.S. decision to take the fight against terrorism "to the enemy."

"The deadly combination of outlaw regimes and terror networks and weapons of mass murder is a peril that cannot be ignored or wished away," Bush said.

The problem is, the president's worldview leaves little room for allies or international institutions that do not bend to Washington's ways.

Talk about mastering the obvious...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 PM


Indian Givers--II: Tribes that run California casinos aim to run the whole state. (John Fund, September 24, 2003, Wall Street Journal)

The Indians are seeking all these additional advantages at a time when they are already sitting pretty. The Los Angeles Times calls them "California's principal growth industry." Because they enjoy tribal sovereignty and pay no property, sales or corporate taxes, the state's 54 Indian casinos rake in over $5 billion a year, a sum bigger than the take in Atlantic City and more than half that of neighboring Nevada. Indian slot machines can legally offer a payout of only 70 cents on the dollar, compared with 90 cents at Las Vegas casinos. They can allow gamblers under 21, and they also make a pretty penny selling tax-free cigarettes.

To protect all that loot, the tribes have become the biggest political givers in the state by spending $125 million on California politics since 1998. Untold millions that can't be traced have been contributed by individual tribal members who are flush with cash from payouts of casino profits. Indian tribes are also exempt from the contribution and issue-advocacy bans in the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law.

Shouldn't part of their tribal sovereignty be that their attempt to donate to political races can be treated the same as other foreign contributions, thus limited or even banned?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:22 PM


Court bans religious gifts to classmates (Julia Duin, 9/21/03, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

Kindergartners and first-graders may not distribute to their classmates gifts that bear a religious message, according to a ruling by a federal appeals court.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of a New Jersey elementary school in forbidding a boy from giving out pencils with the message "Jesus loves the little children" with a heart symbol substituted for the word love.

The classroom is not a place for student advocacy, wrote Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Anthony J. Scirica, speaking for the court in Walz v. Egg Harbor Township Board of Education. The school, he said, has a "legitimate area of control" regarding speech within school confines.

And the younger the student, "the more control a school may exercise," he added. [...]

Daniel was given the option of distributing the pencils and candy during recess or before and after school, he said.

Judge Scirica made a similar point, saying that schools can restrict speech in class or during school-sponsored events but should hold off when the speech occurs in hallways between classes or during free time.

So long as the school district applies its rules to every kind of message--for instance, they ban "Protect Widlife" pencils too--and they allow the kid to distribute the stuff before and after class it seems like a reasonable restriction.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:05 PM


Court Hangs Up On 'Do-Not-Call' (CBS News, Sept. 24, 2003)

A federal judge has ruled that the Federal Trade Commission overstepped its authority in creating a national do-not-call list against telemarketers.

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by telemarketers who challenged the list, comprised of names of people who do not want to receive business solicitation calls. The immediate impact of Tuesday's ruling was not clear.

The list was to go into effect Oct. 1. Some 41.7 million people have signed up.

U.S. District Judge Lee R. West sided in favor of the plaintiffs, U.S. Security, Chartered Benefit Services Inc., Global Contact Services Inc., InfoCision Management Corp. and Direct Marketing Association Inc.

The judge found that Congress had never given the FTC specific authority to create such a list or enforce penalties against violators.

Under a 1991 law, the FTC was allowed to create a list of people who did not wish to receive telephone solicitations. A separate 1994 law called on the FTC to prohibit abusive or deceptive telephone solicitations. The judge essentially ruled that the authority in the second law does not apply to the list in the first one.

This is probably inevitable as to court precedents but nonsense as to the intent of the First Amendment. Only political speech--that speech intrinsic to the functioning of the Constitutional scheme itself--should be protected at such a high level. If Congress, the Executive and forty million Americans are all agreed that the do-not-call list is allowed by the Constitution, then it is.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:59 PM


In Nearly All of Our Wars We've Made Serious Mistakes (Thomas Fleming. 9/24/03, History News Network)

The current cacophony over President Bush's supposed miscalculation about the difficulty of pacifying Iraq is badly in need of some historical perspective. The commentators and candidates can't seem to recall any war before Vietnam. If we look a little farther back -- and even a lot farther back -- we will find that many American leaders, including the founding fathers, went to war on assumptions that soon proved painfully wrong. [...]

Woodrow Wilson's decision to enter World War I is perhaps the most egregious example of presidential miscalculation. Wilson, brainwashed by British and French propaganda (as were most members of Congress and the nation's leading newspapers) assumed there was no need to send any soldiers to France. He thought American participation in the war would be naval and financial. The chief of staff of the U.S. Army put a memorandum in his files to this effect, a month after Congress declared war. A few days later, British and French military missions arrived in Washington. "We want men, men, men!" one French general said. They revealed for the first time the Germans were close to winning the war. The French army had mutinied and only two divisions were reliable. The British were almost as demoralized by their massive casualties in the battle of the Somme. By the time the war ended, there were two million American soldiers in France. In five months of ferocious fighting, they won victory at the cost of 50,300 dead and 198,000 wounded.

America's entry into World War II began with a grievous miscalculation by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Desperate to get the United States into the war before Hitler's armies conquered Russia and turned on an isolated England, FDR decided a "back door" approach was his only option, since the Germans declined to give him an incident that would justify a declaration of war. He would lure Japan into an attack by cutting off their oil supplies, and use it as a pretext to declare war on both Germany and Japan, who had a treaty of alliance. The calculation was based on the racist assumption that the Japanese were inept pilots and mediocre sailors, because their eyesight was bad and they were not terribly bright. They could be contained by a modest defensive force of American ships and planes, letting us throw most of our military might into the European war. Pearl Harbor and the clockwork air and sea assault on the Philippines exploded this assumption. Tens of thousands of American soldiers and sailors died in the Japanese trans-Pacific rampage. Only hairbreadth victories in the Coral Sea and at Midway rescued Australia and Hawaii from Japanese occupation. An anecdote sums up this dolorous tale. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox visited FDR in the White House on the afternoon of Pearl Harbor. Knox later recalled, "He was white as a sheet. He expected to get hit but not hurt."

If you've not read Mr. Fleming's splendid book, The New Dealers' War: FDR and the War Within World War II, you don't know as much as you think you do about WWII.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 AM


Here's the deal:

You pick the %'s of the "Yes" and "No" votes; the % of the vote that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cruz Bustamante will each get; and, as a tie breaker, the % of eligible voters who will turn out on October 7th.

We'll award whoever comes closest a copy of the magnificent new Illustrated version of James M. McPherson's Pulitzer-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the runner-up a hot--off-the-presses paperback copy of Rick Atkinson's Pulitzer-winning Army at Dawn (both courtesy of our friends at FSB Associates).

Please go to this page to enter your picks.

-Here are he results so far
-Here's the latest poll in pdf form.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:43 AM


Gen. Shelton shocks Celebrity Forum, says he won't support Clark for president (Joan Garvin, 9/24/03, Los Altos Town Crier)

Retired General H. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 9/11, shared his recollection of that day and his views of the war against terrorism with the Foothill College Celebrity Forum audience at Flint Center, Sept. 11 and 12.

His review of that historic event and his 38 years in the military kept the audience's rapt attention throughout. But it was his answer to a question from the audience at the end that shocked his listeners.

"What do you think of General Wesley Clark and would you support him as a presidential candidate," was the question put to him by moderator Dick Henning, assuming that all military men stood in support of each other. General Shelton took a drink of water and Henning said, "I noticed you took a drink on that one!"

"That question makes me wish it were vodka," said Shelton. "I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."

The dirty little not-so-secret of General Clark's military career is that he is universally loathed by his peers and the troops who served under him. And, of course, the Clintonites who are running his campaign all worked for the president who fired him. Mr. Clark's run for president--like that of Dick Gephardt, Carol Moseley-Braun, and John Edwards--is a case of trying to fail upwards.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:35 AM


New Plea Bargain Limits Could Swamp Courts, Experts Say (ADAM LIPTAK and ERIC LICHTBLAU, September 24, 2003, NY Times)

If Attorney General John Ashcroft's new directive limiting the use of plea bargains in federal prosecutions were enforced to the letter, legal experts said, the criminal justice system would soon face a crisis.

"If even just a small fraction of the 96 percent of all defendants who currently plead guilty end up going to trial, the courts will be overrun in no time," said Marc Mauer, the assistant director of the Sentencing Project, a research group in Washington that supports prisoners' rights. [...]

Whatever Mr. Ashcroft's motives and goals, the directive's practical impact could be enormous.

David Burnham, co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which tracks data on federal law enforcement, said the Justice Department could not significantly reduce plea bargains "without collapsing the entire court system."

You'd think the Left, which is so properly suspicious of George W. Bush's motivations would figure these things out quicker. You're entering an era of complete Republican dominance of the White House and Senate and the President just proposed a rule change that would make it necessary to add a ton of new federal judges. It's as radical as FDR's court packing plan only it's being done by a more subtle mind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:23 AM


Meet the Ukrainian Chassidic Jew who is a world-class chess player: Ze'ev "Velvel" Dub is dispelling stereotypes (M. Gardner, 9/24/03, Jewish World Review)

A child prodigy, in the last few years Velvel has mastered most of the Talmud through the Mifal Hashas program. As a means of support, he competes in chess tournaments.

Velvel says that his grandfather was a chess champion, and his father also excelled at the game. He began playing — and winning — at age 4. At 14, he joined the local chess club.

At the time he left to attend the Moscow yeshiva, he was about to play a decisive game that would have established him as the Ukrainian youth chess champion. He chose instead to forgo that distinction and learn about his sacred heritage. [...]

The first large monetary prize Velvel received was from the Israel Chess Union. In presenting him with the award, the Union decided to arrange a lavish ceremony. Politicians and celebrities were invited. One, as it happened, was the recently chosen head of the Union, Knesset member Tommy Lapid.

A chess aficionado, Lapid also enjoys a reputation as being a rabid anti-religious rabble rouser.

When Velvel was called up to receive the prize, Lapid's mouth fell open, as his stereotype of religious Jews was dispelled.

Velvel, who began playing piano as a child, has also continued his musical career. To date, he has released four albums of classical music that he composed and plays on.

Maybe M. Gardner grew up in a different kind of neighborhood than we did, but somehow the Jewish stereotype we knew isn't dispelled by a chess and piano playing kid.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM

"GOOD" vs. "EVIL"?:

Bush's dangerous singleminded dualism (Ehsan Ahrari. 9/24/03, Asia Times)

Watching President George W Bush at the United Nations on September 20, I was reminded of the foreign policy behavior of two major personalities of the United States: John Foster Dulles and Lyndon B Johnson. Dulles, who served as secretary of state during the Eisenhower administration, viewed the Cold War as essentially a struggle between "good" and "evil".

In his worldview, the USSR epitomized the devil, while the United States symbolized everything virtuous and good. By so portraying the international struggle of the Cold War, he was scornful of the fence sitters (ie, the non-aligned nations) as essentially immoral for not joining the "good guys" in that epochal struggle.

One searches the rest of the essay in vain for a nuanced explanation of what is good about Communism and/or Islamicism and/or what is evil about confronting them, but even Mr. Ahrari hasn't the audacity to make such an argument.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 AM


Democracy, Closer Every Day (NOAH FELDMAN, September 24, 2003, NY Times)

Essentially all of Iraq's Shiite Muslims and Kurds, who between them make up 80 percent of the population, were happy to see Saddam Hussein go and have made it clear that they want the coalition to remain long enough to prevent the Baath party from re-emerging.

Thus the main internal threat comes from Sunni Arabs, who have long held power despite being only about 15 percent of the population. Yet even if many of these Sunnis want the coalition out, only a few seem so far to be willing to take up arms -- otherwise we would be seeing thousands of incidents each week rather than a handful. Perhaps the greatest concern is the possibility that some attacks have been initiated by terrorists controlled by Iran or Al Qaeda who have infiltrated Iraq's essentially unguarded borders.

Still, the answer to this threat isn't bringing in foreign troops or putting more Americans on the ground, but creating an effective Iraqi security force -- fast. [...]

More important to the future of democracy in Muslim Iraq, the senior Shiite religious leaders, and the political parties loosely associated with them, have consistently eschewed divisive rhetoric in favor of calls for Sunni-Shiite unity. Most have repeatedly asserted their desire for democratic government respectful of Islamic values, rather than government by mullahs on the failed Iranian model. As a result, they have been largely successful in marginalizing younger radicals like the rejectionist Moktada al-Sadr. When Mr. Sadr organized an anti-coalition protest in the holy city of Najaf in July, he was forced to bus in supporters from Baghdad, three dusty hours away. (Wisely, the coalition has declined to arrest Mr. Sadr; his hopes for a living martyrdom denied, he increasingly looks more like a small-time annoyance than the catalyst of a popular movement.)

The emergence of democratic attitudes among religiously committed Shiites was underscored on Saturday in Detroit when Ibrahim Jafari, leader of the Islamist Dawa Party and the most recent Iraqi Governing Council member to hold its rotating presidency, addressed the second annual Iraqi-American Conference. The largely Christian audience of Iraqi-Americans spent the morning worrying about the dangers of a constitution declaring Islam the official religion of Iraq, but then treated Dr. Jafari to a standing ovation after he made the case for a pluralistic, tolerant Iraq in which all citizens -- Muslim and non-Muslim, men and women -- would have full rights of citizenship.

The same proud insistence on the compatibility of Islamic values and a democratic Iraq was sounded last week in Bahrain by 40 Iraqi Shiites at a program on constitutional values sponsored by the American Bar Association. Skeptical of arguments for a strong separation of religion and state, these representatives nonetheless took as a given that a country as religiously diverse as Iraq must ensure religious freedom -- mandated, they said, by the Koran -- and equality for all citizens.

The likelihood is that the Democratic candidate for president will mention neither Iraq nor the economy during the general campaign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:13 AM


The Turkish Card (WILLIAM SAFIRE, September 24, 2003, NY Times)

Will nations that refused to help overthrow the dictator now join us to finish the job? Will Iraqis welcome such assistance to end the sabotage and sniping by Saddam's diehards?

A key to both answers lies in Turkey, the only democracy bordering Iraq. The new Turkish government made the mistake of appearing to put a price tag for its cooperation before the war, to our dismay; now that breach is healing.

I put it directly to Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister here for the U.N. meeting: Will his nation answer the Bush request for a substantial force to help bring stability to Iraq? Answer: "Public opinion in Turkey is changing. A peaceful, stable Iraq is in Turkey's interest. If our government decides to send this recommendation to the Parliament, which meets next week, I believe Parliament will not refuse."

Is another U.N. resolution required? "It would be helpful, as would the invitation of the Iraqi Governing Council," Mr. Gul replied. What say Turkey's generals, who were silent before the war as Parliament refused transit to U.S. troops? "This time, the army supports going down there."

As we found out in Korea, the Turks have some extremely useful soldiers.

September 23, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:56 PM


Powell Calls U.S. 'Judeo-Christian,' Then Amends (Reuters, September 23, 2003)

Powell made the remark in an interview with the Charlie Rose Show on public television while talking about Washington's vision of what kind of government Iraq should have.

He said he expected it to be "an Islamic country by faith, just as we are a Judeo-Christian..."

"Well, it's hard to tell any more, but we are a country of many faiths now," he added quickly.

Wasn't he supposed to be the Leftish babysitter who curbed President Bush's worst tendencies?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:37 PM


A rush to the registrar: GOP numbers surge as deadline to register passes. (JOHN GITTELSOHN and RONALD CAMPBELL, September 23, 2003, The Orange County Register)

"From what I've been told, this is the biggest last-minute numbers ever," interim Registrar of Voters Steve Rodermund said. "It wasn't bad until today. We got inundated."

Stuart Cohen, a native of South Africa who became a citizen Sept. 17, said he registered as a Republican so he could vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"It's actually funny and ironic that my first vote as an American citizen is for the 'Terminator,'" said Cohen, 51, a U.S. resident for 17 years. The last-minute influx reflects enthusiasm for the recall election and dissatisfaction with Gov. Gray Davis - at least in Orange County. Since July 1, Republicans accounted for 47 percent of the county's 74,000 newly registered or re-registered voters. More new independents registered than Democrats, who added fewer than 18,000 voters.

John Burkett delivered about 1,500 new applications to the registrar shortly before the 5 p.m. closing time, having dropped off applications to registrars in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. He headed to Los Angeles County, where the registrar stayed open until midnight. About 80 percent of his applications were Republicans, Burkett said.

"I've seen people in their 40s, 50s and 60s who are registering for the first time in their lives," said Burkett, who makes a living registering voters and gathering petition signatures.

Let's go out on a limb and assume that most people registering for the first time haven't caught Bustamante Fever.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:04 PM


Republicans look for ways to cut Iraq costs (Andrew Clark, 9/23/03, Reuters)

Democrats on the House Budget Committee said the United States will spend $179 billion in Iraq under even a best-case scenario and that could rise to more than $400 billion if U.S. troops have to stay in the country for years to come.

The very reasonable and capable Congressman John Spratt came up with that $400 billion worst-case-scenario price tag and it seems believable. It's also, by way of comparison, the cost of just three years worth of farm subsidies. So, in other words, we just liberated a country from one of the worst tyrannies of recent years--a concrete achievement any way you spin it--for about what it costs to have agribusiness not grow stuff--a rather ephemeral accomplishment at best. I'll gladly trade Sam Donaldson's mohair subsidy for a free Kurdistan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM


Joss Stone Gives Soul New Voice, New Look (Weekend Edition, Sept. 13, 2003, NPR)

The CD The Soul Sessions is making a major impression on the music world. The singer is Joss Stone -- white, British and just 16 years old. Stone's mentor and producer is African-American soul legend Betty Wright. Hear Stone, Wright and NPR's Scott Simon.

Sister's got some serious pipes. The Wife predicts Norah Jonesdom. Best of all, the album is only $10

-ALBUM SITE: The Soul Sessions (S-Curve)
-PROFILE: From a British teen, sounds of pure soul: Joss Stone's debut showcases a voice that evokes a bygone era (Renee Graham, 9/12/2003, Boston Globe)
-PROFILE: Joss Stone puts heart and soul into her music (Tom Moon, 9/21/03, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 PM


President Bush Addresses United Nations General Assembly (The United Nations, New York, New York, 9/23/03)

Mr. Secretary General; Mr. President; distinguished delegates; ladies and gentlemen: Twenty-four months ago -- and yesterday in the memory of America -- the center of New York City became a battlefield, and a graveyard, and the symbol of an unfinished war. Since that day, terrorists have struck in Bali, Mombassa, in Casablanca, in Riyadh, in Jakarta, in Jerusalem -- measuring the advance of their cause in the chaos and innocent suffering they leave behind.

Last month, terrorists brought their war to the United Nations itself. The U.N. headquarters in Baghdad stood for order and compassion -- and for that reason, the terrorists decided it must be destroyed. Among the 22 people who were murdered was Sergio Vieira de Mello. Over the decades, this good and brave man from Brazil gave help to the afflicted in Bangladesh, Cypress, Mozambique, Lebanon, Cambodia, Central Africa, Kosovo, and East Timor, and was aiding the people of Iraq in their time of need. America joins you, his colleagues, in honoring the memory of Senor Vieira de Mello, and the memory of all who died with him in the service to the United Nations.

By the victims they choose, and by the means they use, the terrorists have clarified the struggle we are in. Those who target relief workers for death have set themselves against all humanity. Those who incite murder and celebrate suicide reveal their contempt for life, itself. They have no place in any religious faith; they have no claim on the world's sympathy; and they should have no friend in this chamber.

Events during the past two years have set before us the clearest of divides: between those who seek order, and those who spread chaos; between those who work for peaceful change, and those who adopt the methods of gangsters; between those who honor the rights of man, and those who deliberately take the lives of men and women and children without mercy or shame.

Between these alternatives there is no neutral ground. All governments that support terror are complicit in a war against civilization. No government should ignore the threat of terror, because to look the other way gives terrorists the chance to regroup and recruit and prepare. And all nations that fight terror, as if the lives of their own people depend on it, will earn the favorable judgment of history.

The former regimes of Afghanistan and Iraq knew these alternatives, and made their choices. The Taliban was a sponsor and servant of terrorism. When confronted, that regime chose defiance, and that regime is no more. Afghanistan's President, who is here today, now represents a free people who are building a decent and just society; they're building a nation fully joined in the war against terror.

The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction. It used those weapons in acts of mass murder, and refused to account for them when confronted by the world. The Security Council was right to be alarmed. The Security Council was right to demand that Iraq destroy its illegal weapons and prove that it had done so. The Security Council was right to vow serious consequences if Iraq refused to comply. And because there were consequences, because a coalition of nations acted to defend the peace, and the credibility of the United Nations, Iraq is free, and today we are joined by representatives of a liberated country.

Saddam Hussein's monuments have been removed and not only his statues. The true monuments of his rule and his character -- the torture chambers, and the rape rooms, and the prison cells for innocent children -- are closed. And as we discover the killing fields and mass graves of Iraq, the true scale of Saddam's cruelty is being revealed.

The Iraqi people are meeting hardships and challenges, like every nation that has set out on the path of democracy. Yet their future promises lives of dignity and freedom, and that is a world away from the squalid, vicious tyranny they have known. Across Iraq, life is being improved by liberty. Across the Middle East, people are safer because an unstable aggressor has been removed from power. Across the world, nations are more secure because an ally of terror has fallen.

Our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq were supported by many governments, and America is grateful to each one. I also recognize that some of the sovereign nations of this assembly disagreed with our actions. Yet there was, and there remains, unity among us on the fundamental principles and objectives of the United Nations. We are dedicated to the defense of our collective security, and to the advance of human rights. These permanent commitments call us to great work in the world, work we must do together. So let us move forward. [...]

As an original signer of the U.N. Charter, the United States of America is committed to the United Nations. And we show that commitment by working to fulfill the U.N.'s stated purposes, and give meaning to its ideals. The founding documents of the United Nations and the founding documents of America stand in the same tradition. Both assert that human beings should never be reduced to objects of power or commerce, because their dignity is inherent. Both require -- both recognize a moral law that stands above men and nations, which must be defended and enforced by men and nations. And both point the way to peace, the peace that comes when all are free. We secure that peace with our courage, and we must show that courage together.

May God bless you all.

From the way anti-Bush columnists were writing about this speech, you got the impression they thought he'd break down sobbing like Jimmy Swaggart and beg forgiveness for violating the UN Charter. Instead, predictably, he went in and told them how we're realizing the ideals of the UN on our own and questioned the seriousness of their commitment to same. One would guess they aren't serious.

Here's a representative instance of pundit chagrin, Bush to World: Drop Dead!: The president lays an egg at the U.N. (Fred Kaplan, September 23, 2003, Slate)

Has an American president ever delivered such a bafflingly impertinent speech before the General Assembly as the one George W. Bush gave this morning?

Here were the world's foreign ministers and heads of state, anxiously awaiting some sign of an American concession to realism—even the sketchiest outline of a plan to share not just the burden but the power of postwar occupation in Iraq. And Bush gave them nothing, in some ways less than nothing.

In the few seconds he devoted to that subject, he cited only three areas in which the role of the United Nations (or any other nations) should be expanded: writing an Iraqi constitution, training a new corps of civil servants, and supervising elections. None of these notions is new.

Otherwise, Bush's message can be summarized as follows: The U.S.-led occupation authority is doing good work in Iraq; you should come help us; if you don't, you're on the side of the terrorists.

And some symptomatic Democrat hysteria, Bush's U.N. Speech Gets Scathing Reviews on Capitol Hill (DAVID STOUT, 9/23/03, NY Times)
President Bush's speech to the United Nations received scathing reviews today from Capitol Hill Democrats, including some who would like to have Mr. Bush's job.

"I think the president lost an opportunity," Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the minority leader, told reporters. "He came before the international community and he could have made the case for more troops, for more resources. He didn't do that."

Mr. Daschle, who is not running for president, continued: "He has now asked for $87 billion more. And I wish he would have made a stronger case, a better case with more specificity about a plan. He hasn't presented a plan to the United Nations. He hasn't presented one to this country or to this Congress. It was a missed opportunity, and that's very disappointing."

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said Mr. Bush's rhetoric was becoming "more stirring."

"But once again he has failed to tell us exactly what role he expects the United Nations to play now and what timetable he envisions for the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people," said Mr. Kerry, who is running for president.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, another White House hopeful, called the speech an "11th-hour, half-hearted appeal" delivered in an "I told you so" tone that makes it more difficult to secure international help in Iraq.

And Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, another presidential candidate, said that Mr. Bush had "missed an opportunity" to expand international support for American policy in Iraq by not offering to broaden participation in decision making.

Another Democrat with his eye on the White House, Senator Bob Graham of Florida, accused Mr. Bush of taking a "my way or the highway" approach by trying to force other nations to comply with Washington's demands.

Do these guys really know their fellow citizens so little that they think it could ever hurt the President to be seen smacking the UN around?

-Bush holds line on Iraq: President appealed for UN support for reconstruction, but faced skeptics. (Howard LaFranchi, 9/24/03, CS Monitor)
-UN loses patience with the American way (Gary Younge, September 24, 2003, The Guardian)

Old transatlantic wounds within the United Nations security council were reopened yesterday, as France condemned American unilateralism and demanded a rapid transition to democracy and the United States defended the war and insisted the move to Iraqi sovereignty would not be rushed.

On the face of it their positions seem to have hardened. "In an open world, no one can isolate themselves, no one can act alone in the name of all, and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules," said the French president, Jacques Chirac, in one of his most explicit attacks to date. "There is no alternative to the United Nations."

Meanwhile the US president, George Bush, insisted it had been right to fight the war, even raising the issue of weapons of mass of destruction and linking the former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, to terrorism.

"The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction. It used those weapons in acts of mass murder, and refused to account for them when confronted by the world," he said.

But behind the rhetoric the battle lines were being drawn. The French were making it clear who was to blame for the mayhem in Iraq. The Americans wanted everyone to know that while they had returned to the UN for help, this was not an admission of guilt.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:52 PM


Return of Donations Ordered: Judge says Bustamante can't use millions from old campaign fund. An aide says it's been spent. (Dan Morain, September 23, 2003, LA Times)

A judge ruled Monday that Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante broke campaign laws by using about $4 million in donations to pay for an advertising blitz.

The judge ordered Bustamante to return the contributions. But, perhaps rendering the decision more political than practical, Bustamante's chief political consultant said all the money was gone.

In a 12-page order issued in response to a lawsuit by a Republican state senator, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster wrote that a fund-raising maneuver Bustamante had employed had violated the "plain and unambiguous language" of Proposition 34. That measure, passed by voters in 2000, caps political contributions at $21,200 in the recall race.

The lieutenant governor accepted donations far exceeding that sum — including a $1.5-million gift from an Indian tribe — in an old campaign fund established before Proposition 34 took effect. Then he shifted the money to a new fund, and used it for an ad campaign.

McMaster issued a preliminary injunction forbidding Bustamante to transfer any more of the disputed money to his current campaign.

But the judge also said Bustamante had probably "acted in good faith" and had not intentionally broken the law.

Bustamante initially planned to transfer millions from the old committee to his new "Bustamante for Governor" account.

But in the face of an outcry from other candidates, he changed strategy and moved the money to an even newer fund he set up to oppose Proposition 54, the measure that would restrict government's ability to gather racial and ethnic data. The measure shares the recall ballot and is the subject of the television ads paid for with the disputed cash.

Odd how everyone else understood that Mr. Bustamante was violating the law. His "good faith" would appear to depend on his being an imbecile.

Posted by David Cohen at 3:56 PM


Air Force Airman Charged with Espionage at Guantanamo Bay Prison (AP, 9/23/03)

An Air Force airman who worked as a translator at the U.S. prison camp for suspected terrorists has been charged with espionage and aiding the enemy, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi is being held at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said.

Al-Halabi worked as an Arabic language translator at the prison camp for al-Qaida and Taliban suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Shavers said. The Air Force enlisted man knew the Muslim chaplain at the prison arrested earlier this month, but it's unclear if the two arrests are linked, Shavers said. . . .

Pentagon officials said an investigation into possible security breaches at Guantanamo Bay continues.

So, should Muslims be assigned to Guantanamo?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:49 PM


Signs of Wisdom at UAW (Paul S. Kersey and Kent Davis, September 22, 2003, Mackinac Center for Public Policy)

Much remains to be learned about the deals the United Auto Workers (UAW) reached with Daimler/Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. But early indications are that UAW President Ron Gettelfinger has, at least for the time being, abandoned the usual procedure of negotiating with one company first, then forcing the other two to accept similar terms.

This was, no doubt, a difficult decision to make. But it was probably the right one for the long-term health of the UAW, as well as for all three of Detroit’s automakers. By simultaneously negotiating with all three companies, Gettelfinger demonstrated the sort of economic savvy the union movement desperately needs to develop if it is to regain its influence in American workplaces.

The old method of "pattern bargaining" evolved at a time when Detroit, for all intents and purposes, "owned" the domestic automobile market. Representing virtually every blue-collar worker in the entire American automobile industry, the UAW was in a position to protect those workers from competitive pressure by negotiating similar contracts with all automakers.

But new competitors have become a permanent part of the American automotive marketplace. These "foreign" competitors — BMW, Toyota, and Mazda — have in effect become domestic automakers now, producing cars in factories throughout the American South. Employees of these "transplant" facilities have declined UAW representation so far, and all signs are that this is unlikely to change. UAW officials are entitled to question the wisdom of workers who have shown little enthusiasm for union membership, but the loss of their near monopoly in automobile labor is a reality with which they must deal. As a result, workers at the Big Three have non-union competitors they did not have back in Detroit’s glory days in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Failure to anticipate the impact of new competitors led to costly contract terms that put the Big Three at a disadvantage. On average, labor costs are $1,000 per vehicle higher for the Big Three than their transplant competitors. By abandoning the usual bargaining procedure, Ron Gettelfinger gave himself and the companies whose labor forces he represents room to address each automaker’s individual weaknesses and narrow the labor-cost gap.

This can hardly be more than a holding action. The combination of technology removing the skill from manufacturing jobs and globalization making jobs mobile means that it makes no sense for developed nations to have a manufacturing sector, where essentially unskilled employees get paid far more than competing workforces in Third World countries demand just to assemble parts.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:28 PM


Oct. 7 election on schedule after judges' ruling (Sam Stanton, September 23, 2003, Sacramento Bee)

California's Oct. 7 recall election is back on, at least for now, following a decision Tuesday morning by an 11-judge panel of federal judges that said "this election has already begun" and should go forward.

The decision, which is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, rejects ACLU claims that the vote should have been put off until March, when six California counties representing 40 percent of the state's voters would have switched from punch-card voting machines to more modern equipment. [...]

The panel released its decision Tuesday morning in San Francisco, and said there was a legitimate concern "that use of the punch-card system will deny the right to vote to some voters who must use that system."

"At this time, it is merely a speculative possibility, however, that any such denial will influence the result of the election," the panel concluded.

The judges also noted that enormous preparations for the election two weeks from Tuesday have been made in California.

"Potential voters have given their attention to the candidates' messages and prepared themselves to vote," the panel said. "Hundreds of thousands of absentee voters have already cast their ballots in similar reliance upon the election going forward on the timetable announced by the state.

"These investments of time, money, and the exercise of citizenship rights cannot be returned.".

Like control of the US senate and stopping the Texas redistricting, the third great Democratic victory of the Bush era goes up in smoke.

Meanwhile, that means you need to make your picks in, THE 1ST ANNUAL BROTHERS JUDD CALIFORNIA RECALL PROGNOSTATHON:

Here's the deal:

You pick the %'s of the "Yes" and "No" votes; the % of the vote that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cruz Bustamante will each get; and, as a tie breaker, the % of eligible voters who will turn out on October 7th.

We'll award whoever comes closest a copy of the magnificent new Illustrated version of James M. McPherson's Pulitzer-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the runner-up a hot--off-the-presses paperback copy of Rick Atkinson's Pulitzer-winning Army at Dawn (both courtesy of our friends at FSB Associates).

Please go to this page to enter your picks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:11 PM


When women marry, Democrats lose (Dennis Prager, September 23, 2003,

Given women's primal desire to be protected, if a woman has no man to provide it, she will seek security elsewhere -- and elsewhere today can only mean the government. In effect, the state becomes her husband. This phenomenon has frequently been commented on with regard to the breakdown of many black families. The welfare state simply rendered many black men unnecessary and therefore undesirable as spouses: Why marry when you can get more benefits from the state while remaining single (and get even more money if you have children while remaining single)?

Once a woman does marry, however, her need for the state not only diminishes, she now begins to view the state as inimical to her interests. For the married woman, especially if she has children, two primal urges work against her having a pro-big government attitude. Her urge to be protected, which is now fulfilled by her husband, and her primal urge to protect her nest are now endangered by the government, which as it grows, takes away more and more of her family's money.

Once a woman marries and has children, therefore, her deepest desires -- to be protected and to protect her family -- work as strongly on behalf of conservative values and voting Republican as they did on behalf of liberalism and the Democratic Party when she was single.

The other reason married women are less likely to be liberal and vote Democratic relates to maturity and wisdom.

Just about everyone -- a man as much as a woman -- is rendered more mature and wiser after marrying. This is not an insult to singles. It was as true of me as of anyone else. If you're single, ask any married person -- happily or unhappily married -- whether or not marriage has matured them.

The single biggest change induced by marriage is that you can no longer think only about yourself. "I" becomes "we." Narcissism becomes far less possible in marriage than in the single state. And just as marriage decreases narcissism, it increases wisdom. Having to relate to another human being (especially of the opposite sex) to whom you have made a lifelong commitment (even if it ends in divorce) vastly increases your wisdom. And if you have children, your wisdom increases exponentially.

Which explains why the Left is trying to destroy and the Right to preserve the institution of marriage, which is in itself anti-statist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 AM


Puzzled by pluralism: Muslim visitors question the American way (Patricia M. Y. Chang, 9/22/03, Christian Century)

Since the 9-11 terrorist attacks the U.S. State Department has sponsored a number of study programs that bring Muslim scholars from around the world to the U.S. with the aim of showing off the American way of separating church and state, and demonstrating how American society is able to both nurture faith traditions and support religious diversity. The implied intent is to promote an American-style separation of mosque and state in Muslim countries.

After being an academic director for two of these programs, however, I am acutely aware of how appealing a religiously aligned state is for Muslims, especially for those who live in countries where Muslims are the majority. This may particularly be true in Iraq where Saddam Hussein's brutally repressive secular regime is viewed by some as a cautionary tale of what happens when religious influence is absent from government. [...]

A large portion of the seminar was devoted to showing off the religious diversity that flourishes in the U.S. and Americans' great tolerance of diverse faiths. Rather than appreciating the benefits that religious pluralism offers to the larger society, some of our guests were clearly puzzled. On the second day of the program, Munib Ur Rehman, a Pakistani cleric, asked me, "If you believe your religion to be true, and you believe it is your duty to share this truth with others, then why would you think that religious pluralism is a good thing?" I realized that the religious tolerance that we celebrate in the U.S. could be perceived by someone from a religiously homogeneous country as a lack of religious conviction or, worse, a shameful hypocrisy. [...]

In the days before the invasion of Iraq, U.S. officials spoke of a "democratic domino effect" by which the installation of a democratic government in Iraq would set off a wave of pro-democratic regime changes elsewhere in the Middle East. Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, argued that the transition of Iraq to the "first Arab democracy" would "cast a very large shadow, starting with Syria and Iran, across the whole Arab world."

My experience with Muslim scholars makes me skeptical that a "democratic domino effect" is about to unfold. And as I look at the current turmoil in Iraq and remember my conversations with Muslim scholars, I have a better understanding of the popular appeal of theocracy in Muslim-majority countries that have been ruled by brutal and repressive secular rulers. I can also better understand that in times of uncertainty it may be easier for people to trust a learned religious leader than a democratically elected elite put in place by dubiously motivated political constituencies.

One important point that this brings forth is how a much reviled aspect of Judaism and Christianity, their exclusivity, makes them uniquely suited to religious toleration. The faith that the many are doomed and only the few saved/Chosen makes it all the easier to put up with people whose beliefs are obviously wrong. In Islam, to the contrary, the entire community must adhere to Muslim beliefs or all are imperiled. The former lends itself to individualism, though responsibilities to one's fellow me is vital, while the latter lends itself to totalitarian structures.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:30 AM


Dean, Kerry trade barbs on baseball (KEN MAGUIRE, September 22, 2003, The Associated Press)

Presidential hopefuls John Kerry and Howard Dean have been playing hardball for months over who offers Democrats the best chance at unseating President Bush.

But now things are getting serious.

Kerry’s camp, reacting to news that Dean will hold a rally today in the senator’s hometown, brushed back the former Vermont governor by claiming he’s a New York Yankees fan.

Those are fightin’ words, especially within four months of the crucial primary in New Hampshire, a key state in Red Sox Nation. Dean, who grew up in New York, says he dumped pinstripes for Red Sox three years ago.

“When you move to New England, you put your old loyalties behind you,” said Dean campaign co-chairman Steve Grossman, a Massachusetts businessman. “You’ve got to have a sense of humor about this.”

The “flap” began when Kerry’s campaign said Dean’s Red Sox switch was just the latest in his quest for the presidency.

“Of all the flip-flops, this is the most inexplicable and indefensible,” Kerry spokeswoman Kelley Benander said Monday. “It’s like switching from the Redskins to the Cowboys or from Carolina to Duke.”

In the dark places of their hearts, you just know they both prefer soccer anyway.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:24 AM


How a regular guy gets homeless (Les Gapay, 9/21/03, USA TODAY)

I had no income at all in 2002 and have lived off savings, premature IRA withdrawals, credit cards and then food stamps. I wasn't eligible for unemployment compensation because I was self-employed. I didn't qualify for subsidized housing because I didn't have a steady income. I fell through the cracks of California welfare programs because they are aimed at families with children at home. To save money, I dropped my health insurance two years ago and reduced my vehicle insurance last year to the state minimum. I cook out at campgrounds or eat cheap meals at fast-food places to keep my expenses down. Most of the time I have been in California, but during the winter I camped some along the Colorado River in Arizona and also near Phoenix. This summer I headed north to what I thought would be cooler climes of Montana, but have been in a heat wave. My situation is finally starting to look up. This spring and summer my corporate freelance work picked up, with several small jobs. It's not enough to rent an apartment or room, but I have hope that the work will continue to increase as the economy rebounds, and my plight will end soon.

I am certainly not the only one in this predicament. About 8.9 million people in the USA were unemployed in August, 6.1% of the workforce, according to the Labor Department. More than 3 million people were homeless over the past year, about 30% of them chronically, according to the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty. They are not just the noticeable ones on the street but also families in shelters due to the current economic condition. And, 20% of the homeless have jobs, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. At California state campgrounds rangers told me there were many homeless families, moving up and down the coast to get around limits on stays. At one state park, I saw one woman each morning drive her son to a bus stop so he could get to school.

My biggest daily challenge: Finding a campsite, especially in the tourist season, and, when I am in towns, places to go to the bathroom. I am only at campsites at night — sleeping either in my truck or tent — and during the day spend much of the time in libraries surfing the Net for jobs and sending out résumés by e-mail. The corporate writing work that I have gotten I have done in libraries. Sometimes I relax in air-conditioned bookstores and read the papers, magazines and books. I also have used job service computers daily for months in California seeking work, to no avail. Luckily, I have always been able to stay at campgrounds, mostly county, state and federal ones, which range from $10 to $18 a night. Private ones are too expensive. I try to shower daily, and many of the campgrounds have coin-operated showers. I tried showering at friends' homes when I didn't have one at a campground, but they tired of that quickly. [...]

Many of my friends and acquaintances kept pressuring me to take any job and forget about my profession. I continued to press for jobs in my field, public relations or journalism, but postings were few. Some jobs I was told had 200 to 300 applicants, with many going to young workers. I will turn 60 this year and wondered if age was a factor.

At one point, I was down to my last $200. I borrowed some money from friends when relatives refused loans, with one saying he was out of work and another that he had been unemployed for several months and was still getting back on his feet. I was surprised which friends loaned me $200 or $300, different from the ones I had thought I could count on. My ex-wife and her husband surprised me by loaning me some money. One campground worker asked me: "Do you have any kids who can help you out?" I get little show of concern or contact from one adult daughter and haven't heard from the other at all, although I never asked them for any money. No one wants a homeless person for a father. When you are having troubles is when you need a supportive family. Even priests I know at churches I attended weren't sympathetic or helpful, with one refusing to meet with me, saying he was too busy. Most homeless are worse off than I am, not having a truck to live in and a cell phone to use, and some have mental problems. I never went to a shelter, figuring paying for campsites was more like being a snowbird.

So let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume this wasn't just an attempt to get a book contract and he's not quite as difficult a man as he seems; how then did the regular guy get homeless? Three ingredients appear to be key and make him irregular at best:

(1) No close relationships with family (including his own daughters) nor real friends.

(2) No close ties to the community and its social institutions: church (churches in his stated case), workplace, club, etc.

(3) Insistence on his right to pursue a chosen profession rather than obligation to support himself.

Yes, if you live a completely atomized life, cut off from everyone and everything that might help you and think there's no need for you to make changes, you are at risk of sneaking through the cracks. But why should we try to fill in such narrow cracks rather than you try to stand on the firm ground of a traditional kin and social network?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:55 AM


Rise of the anti-Islamist Muslims (Daniel Pipes, 9/23/03, Jewish World Review)

Anti-Islamist Muslims — who wish to live modern lives, unencumbered by burqas, fatwas, and jihad — are on the defensive and atomized. However eloquent, their individual voices cannot compete with the roar of militant Islam's determination, money, and violence. As a result, militant Islam, with its West-phobia and goal of world hegemony, dominates Islam in the West and appears to many to be the only kind of Islam.

But anti-Islamist Muslims not only exist; in the two years since 9/11, they have increasingly found their voice. They are a varied lot who share neither a single approach nor one agenda. Some are pious, some not, and others are freethinkers or atheists. Some are conservative, others liberal. They share only a hostility to the Wahhabi, Khomeini, and other forms of militant Islam. [...]

The weak standing of anti-Islamist Muslims has two major implications.

--For them to be heard over the Islamist din requires help from the outside — celebration by governments, grants from foundations, recognition by the media, and attention from the academy.

--Those same institutions must shun the now-dominant militant Islamic establishment. Moderates have a chance to be heard when Islamists are repudiated.

Promoting anti-Islamists and weakening Islamists is crucial if a moderate and modern form of Islam is to emerge in the West.

Such stories are less interesting to the media, but need to be told just as loudly as are the ones about radical Islam. And there need to be umbrella organizations--or preferably just one--to bring these voices together and amplify them. Such reform from within is far preferable to the other options available to us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 AM


Flame retardant found in breast milk (Elizabeth Weise, 9/23/03, USA TODAY)

A toxic chemical used to make furniture, foam and electronics fire resistant is turning up in high amounts in the breast milk of women in the USA.

Two studies, one out Tuesday, found that all of the women tested were contaminated with polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Their PBDE levels were the highest in the world: 10 to 20 times higher than those in Europe, where the chemicals are being phased out. (Related story: Breast milk can protect baby)

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit environmental research organization, tested the milk of 20 women. It found levels ranging from 9.5 to 1,078 parts per billion. The women were recruited via EWG's Web site.

It is not yet known how this chemical affects people; no studies have been done on what a safe level would be. But "this is another wake-up call," says Linda Birnbaum, director of the Environmental Protection Agency's experimental toxicology lab. Levels of PBDEs in humans are doubling every two to five years, she says. [...]

Though the USA has the world's toughest flame retardancy standards, 3,000 people die in fires each year. The Chemical Manufacturers Association estimates the number would be up to 960 higher without such flame retardants.

It would be ironic if the Left's insistence on putting these chemicals in everything were leading to them getting into us too, but is there any actual science in this story? A mere twenty subjects and recruited through a website? The chemical manufacturers' estimate of how many lives their chemicals save? Why not ask Similac if their formula is safer than mothers' milk?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 AM


Probe of 2 Groups That Train Muslim Chaplains Sought (John Mintz and Susan Schmidt, September 23, 2003, Washington Post)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday renewed his request for an investigation into two institutes that train Islamic chaplains for the military in light of the Sept. 10 arrest of Army Capt. James "Yousef" Yee, an imam who ministered to detainees held at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. [...]

When he was arrested, he had documents concerning some of the 660 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and their U.S. government interrogators, as well as sketches of facilities at the camp, officials said. A chaplain would not ordinarily have access to such documents, officials said. [...]

Yee is a 1990 graduate of West Point who commanded a Patriot missile unit before leaving the military, converting to Islam and studying for four years in Syria. He rejoined the military in the late 1990s and became a cleric at Fort Lewis in Washington state. Ten months ago he became the imam at Guantanamo Bay, where he counseled prisoners and kept prison officials advised of detainees' morale. [...]

Schumer previously raised questions about two institutes that train Islamic chaplains for the military: the Leesburg-based Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (GSISS); and the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veteran Affairs Council, which helped train Yee.

Despite Schumer's request, Pentagon and Army spokesmen said yesterday there is no review of the chaplain program being conducted.

GSISS was raided by federal agents in 2002 as part of a probe of a cluster of Northern Virginia companies and institutes that have alleged dealings with terrorists. The council is an affiliate of the Alexandria-based American Muslim Foundation, which is being investigated in the same probe.

Syria? Are we out of our minds? You can join our military fresh after four years training for anything in Syria? It's like letting guys join the U.S. Army in 1944 after training in Nazi Germany for a few years.

Muslim fifth column? (Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Sept. 23, 2003, Jewish World Review)

At this writing, it is not clear whether Captain Yee was one of those recruited, trained and certified by the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences. What is known about him, however, according to a profile that appeared in the New York Times shortly after the 9/11 attacks is that, at the time he was "The newest Muslim chaplain..., a Chinese-American and a West Point graduate who was born into a Lutheran family, took an interest in Islam in college and deepened his convictions while stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he was studying vehicle maintenance during the month of Ramadan alongside four visiting Egyptian army officers. In a telephone interview, Chaplain Yee said he left the military to attend a traditional Islamic school in Damascus, Syria, where he spent four years studying Arabic and religion. He is serving with the 29th Signal Battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington."

The article went on to quote Chaplain Yee as saying that, "Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, some of the 80 Muslims on his base have come to him with concerns about being deployed to fight Muslims overseas. He said he tells them, "'An act of terrorism, the taking of innocent civilian lives is prohibited by Islam, and whoever has done this needs to be brought to justice, whether he is Muslim or not.'" If true, this would be commendable and helpful to the war effort.

Unfortunately, subsequent to that interview, Capt. Yee was assigned to minister to Al Qaeda, Taliban and other enemy combatants incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to press accounts, he is suspected of performing while there a very different service for his co-religionists. When he was arrested, he was reportedly carrying classified documents, including diagrams of the facilities in which the prisoners are being held. He may also have been facilitating communications between the detainees and perhaps fellow terrorists still at large in ways that could undermine U.S. efforts to interrogate the former and counter the latter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:11 AM


Ashcroft Limiting Prosecutors' Use of Plea Bargains (ERIC LICHTBLAU, 9/23/03, NY Times)

Attorney General John Ashcroft today made it tougher for federal prosecutors to strike plea bargains with criminal defendants, requiring attorneys to seek the most serious charges possible in almost all cases.

The policy directive issued by Mr. Ashcroft is the latest in a series of steps the Justice Department has taken in recent months to combat what it sees as dangerously lenient practices by some federal prosecutors and judges.

The move also effectively expands to the entire gamut of federal crimes the attorney general's tough stance on the death penalty, which he has sought in numerous cases over the objections of federal prosecutors.

"The direction I am giving our U.S. attorneys today is direct and emphatic," Mr. Ashcroft said at a speech in Cincinnati. Except in "limited, narrow circumstances," he said, federal prosecutors must seek to bring charges for "the most serious, readily provable offense" that can be supported by the facts of the case.

But critics in the defense bar and some federal prosecutors said the new policy would serve only to further centralize authority in the hands of Washington policymakers, discourage prosecutors from seeking plea bargains and ratchet up sentences in criminal cases that may not warrant them.

"What is driving this," said Gerald D. Lefcourt, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, "is that a tough-on-crime attorney general is pandering to the public, and he knows that this will play well."

One wonders what Mr. Lefcourt means. If Mr. Ashcroft is tough-on-crime then how''s that pandering to mere popular opinion? Wouldn't the concern be more justified if he were soft on crime and suddenly started doing what the people want just to curry favor?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:05 AM


Iraq Council Head Shifts to Position at Odds With U.S. (PATRICK E. TYLER and FELICITY BARRINGER, Sept. 22, 2003, NY Times)

Ahmad Chalabi, the president of Iraq's interim government, is in New York this week to press alternatives to the Bush administration's occupation policy in postwar Iraq, he and his aides say. In the process, he may complete a personal transformation from protégé of Pentagon conservatives to Iraqi nationalist with a loud, independent voice.

In an interview today in New York, Mr. Chalabi professed gratitude to the Bush administration for toppling Saddam Hussein's government, but his specific proposals were directly at odds with the policies Washington is pursuing in Baghdad and at the United Nations. He demanded that the Iraqi Governing Council be given at least partial control of the powerful finance and security ministries, and rejected the idea of more foreign troops coming to Iraq.

Mr. Chalabi's strategy, he says, is to get from the United Nations General Assembly sovereign status for the unelected 25-member Governing Council. This move to lobby other nations for a swift transfer of some sovereignty is going down poorly in Washington, according to the Iraqi leader's aides. [...]

Throughout the summer, Iraqi leaders said they were being admonished repeatedly by their patrons in Washington to avoid a confrontation with Mr. Bremer. But guerrilla attacks, deteriorating security and, in August, the car bombings that killed more than 140 people have taken their toll on Mr. Bremer's strategy.

When France intervened this month with a proposal to turn over sovereignty within weeks to the Governing Council, one of Mr. Chalabi's aides gave voice to the opportunity.

"We don't want to come out in the open and pick a fight with Bremer," he said, "but the sovereignty issue is coming to a head, and it is pretty clear that a breach is coming pretty soon between the Governing Council and Bremer."

Another aide was more blunt: "We are going to find a place where we can pick a fight."

It seems unlikely that the Iraqi people will tolerate being ruled by Mr. Chalabi for any appreciable period of time, but it's good to see some leaders start to assert themselves.

September 22, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:55 PM


Epidemic exploding in Europe (Ed Susman, 9/22/2003, UPI)

Dr. Scott Hammer bit his lip and thought about how to describe the what is happening with AIDS in Eastern Europe and the regions that made up the former Soviet Union.

"Explosive," said the professor of infectious diseases at Columbia University in New York City. "Explosive."

Hammer is not the only one who has characterized the epidemic in that term. Almost all researchers who are studying infections with the human immunodeficiency virus -- the organism that causes AIDS -- in places such as Belarus, the Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, and use the same word.

The epidemic is roaring through populations of injecting-drug users and is evident among people with other sexually transmitted diseases. In the region, 1.2-million people already are infected. [...]

"We know from past experience," Hammer told United Press International, "that once HIV is in the injecting-drug population and among sex workers, the virus most likely is already widespread."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:40 PM


Gordon Jump of 'WKRP' and Maytag Ad Dies (LYNN ELBER, 9/23/03, AP)

Gordon Jump, who played a befuddled radio station manager on the sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati'' and made his mark in commercials as the lonely Maytag repairman, died Monday. He was 71. [...]

Jump played Arthur Carlson in "WKRP in Cincinnati,'' which aired on CBS from 1978-82 and featured Gary Sandy, Loni Anderson, Tim Reid, Howard Hesseman and Richard Sanders as the ragtag station's crew.

Mr. Jump was a capable and immensely likable character actor, never really a star, but he did get to deliver perhaps the best line in the funniest episode ever of a sitcom: "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:20 PM


U.S. Allowing Funds to Religious Groups (DEB RIECHMANN, 9/22/03, Associated Press)

Four government regulations completed Monday and a half-dozen more in the works will provide federal money for religion-oriented programs run by people President Bush has dubbed America's "neighborhood healers." [...]

"These six new regulations and the four finalized ones represent a continued march by the president in the faith-based initiative's effort to spread compassion in our country and make sure that the most effective programs are funded," said Jim Towey, the head of the White House faith-based office. [...]

The president has long pushed to let religious groups compete for government money, so long as their services are available to anybody in need. Opponents fear the government would wind up paying for religion. They also object to allowing taxpayer-funded groups to hire and fire based on religious persuasion.

When his initiative stalled in Congress amid this controversy, Bush sidestepped lawmakers with executive orders and regulations to give religious organizations equal footing with nonsectarian ones in competing for federal contracts.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which has opposed Bush's faith-based initiative, said the administration was bent on eroding the First Amendment, not on helping the nation's less fortunate.

"The only thing this administration wants to tear down is the wall separating church and state," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, director of the group. "The president has failed to convince Congress that his initiative is sound policy so he is creating policy through executive fiat."

You can't count the number of articles and essays that say Mr. Bush's FBI has failed...sort of like No Child Left Behind doesn't have vouchers...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 PM


Chirac ducks second UN battle with Bush over Iraq resolution (Anton La Guardia and David Rennie, 23/09/2003, Daily Telegraph)

Jacques Chirac caved in to American power yesterday when he promised not to veto a US-sponsored United Nations resolution on rebuilding Iraq, even if he disagreed with its contents.

The French president, who was instrumental in preventing America and Britain from securing UN authorisation for war, said the US should quickly cede power in Iraq.

But he made clear that he was not ready for another bruising fight with President George W Bush.

"We don't have the intention to oppose," he told The New York Times in an interview published yesterday. "If we oppose it, that would mean voting no, that is to say, using the veto. I am not in that mindset at all."

What? Did Colin Powell speak German to him?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 PM


STRONGMAN: Arnold Schwarzenegger and California’s recall race. (HENDRIK HERTZBERG, 2003-09-22, The New Yorker)

In the “Pumping Iron” series, which chronicles events leading up to and including the Mr. Olympia contest of 1975, there are intimations that Schwarzenegger’s ultimate goal, absurd as it would have seemed at the time, was power. “I was always dreaming about very powerful people—dictators and things like that,” he soliloquizes at one point in the original film. “I was just always impressed by people who could be remembered for hundreds of years or even, like Jesus, being for thousands of years remembered.” In “Raw Iron,” he recounts another dream: “Me being a king and standing on top of a mountain—and there was no room left for anybody else up there, O.K.? Just for me.” Later, a fellow-bodybuilder teases, “Arnold, when are you running for President?” He shoots back, “When Nixon gets impeached.” And in “A Portrait” Butler recounts a conversation he had in a taxi with the actress Candice Bergen a few months after the Whitney show. Bergen is insisting that bodybuilding, and Arnold, has peaked. “I disagree,” Butler replies. “It’s here to stay, and Arnold is going to be the Governor of California one day.” (Bergen, hooting with laughter, retorts, “And one day Ronald Reagan will be President.”)

What comes through above all, however, is a sense of Schwarzenegger’s indomitable will. That will is manifested not only in his spooky ability to sculpt his own body and in his outlandish (at the time) vision of himself as a man of destiny but also in his total, and apparently effortless, psychological domination of his fellow-musclemen—the way he intimidates and tames them with his charm, his confidence, his humor, and his obviously superior intelligence. And this domination is not simply instinctual. It is strategic. Everything Arnold does to advance himself (which is to say, everything Arnold does) is carefully thought through by an analytical mind that always looks many steps ahead and is acute and coldly realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of everybody in the game, himself included. Megalomania usually leads to hubris, but not in Arnold’s case. Not so far.

Even the fact that, “Arnold Strong” notwithstanding, he retained his name is a marker of his powerful will. By doing it his way, he made it thinkable for others with “funny” names to do it theirs: no Arnold Schwarzenegger, no Renée Zellweger. More important, Schwarzenegger has changed the way people look—in both senses. When “Pumping Iron” first came out, Schwarzenegger and his bodybuilder friends appeared not so much strong and healthy as grotesque and misshapen. Twenty-six years later, bodies like theirs no longer seem in the least monstrous, merely exaggerated. Schwarzenegger opened up our ideal image of the male body in his direction, as surely as the Beatles and their rock-and-roll colleagues opened up our ideas about the permissible range of men’s hair styles. Today, a pre-Arnold toga-and-sandals movie star like Victor Mature looks to our Arnold-conditioned eyes like someone in need of a workout. Free weights and weight machines are now part of the exercise regimen of tens of millions of people. People have become more relaxed and less fraught about the male body. Ideas of male beauty have broadened. There is room for the Charles Atlases, and also for the ninety-eight-pound weaklings. This is a kind of liberation, and it is partly Arnold’s doing.

In the now famous 1977 Oui magazine interview—the one in which, as the Sacramento Bee put it, he “bragged about group sex”—Schwarzenegger does indeed refer to homosexuals as “fags.” But “fag” was not then the automatic term of abuse it has since become. Whether it was an expression of conscious contempt or only a bit of insensitive slang depended on context, and here is the context in which Schwarzenegger used it:

Recently I posed for a gay magazine, which caused much comment. But it doesn’t bother me. Gay people are fighting the same kind of stereotyping that bodybuilders are. People have certain misconceptions about them just as they do about us. Well, I have absolutely no hangups about the fag business; though it may bother some bodybuilders, it doesn’t bother me at all.

Schwarzenegger certainly set out to break the association in the public mind between bodybuilding and homosexuality, and in that he succeeded. But he did it without pandering to the prejudice against gays. On the contrary, the net effect of his career has probably been to weaken that prejudice. In the recall election, his relatively liberal (for a Republican) attitudes on “social issues”—gay rights, abortion, gun control—impart to him both strength and protection. Those views are shared by a majority of the California electorate; as important, they shield him from the charge of hypocrisy. If Schwarzenegger were a moralist scold of the William Bennett type, then the fact that he has boasted about participating in a gang bang, has commented on the size of his penis, has had himself photographed with a bare-breasted young woman straddling his shoulders (as well as posing nude himself), and has been filmed drawing contentedly on a marijuana cigarette might have done him some serious political damage. As it is, he’s almost unscathed. It helps, of course, that the recall process sidesteps formal party primaries, and that the main issues this time are economic and budgetary. His colorful past isn’t likely to hurt him with Democrats, who have lately been reminded how he felt about the impeachment of President Clinton. (“We spent one year wasting time because there was a human failure,” Schwarzenegger said in an interview in George, in 1999. “I was ashamed to call myself a Republican during that period.”) For Arnold, politically, Hummers are a bigger threat than hummers.

This may be the only few paragraphs in this essay that you'll not have read countless other places countless other times. It's fine for The New Yorker to try to add a contemporary political edge but is hack work like this and Jane Mayer's drivel really the best they can do?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 PM


The Savior Complex: Can the real Wesley Clark match the fantasy version imagined by peacenik Democrats? (JOE KLEIN, 9/21/03, TIME)

Clark's precipitate tumble from his white horse was entirely predictable, as was the drumbeat from the cognoscenti and much of the media for him to enter the race and save the day. Those of us demented enough to follow electoral politics have been living with the nine Democrats for most of a year now. They've become pretty boring. They gather occasionally to debate one another and succeed only in diminishing themselves. Howard Dean's exciting candidacy was an exception for most of the summer, but he has spent much of September stepping on his epaulets, too. What's a pundit—or a despairing Democratic member of Congress—to do? I have covered eight presidential campaigns, and the answer is always the same: find a deus ex machina. In my time, these have ranged from Jerry Brown (1976) to Ralph Nader to Lee Iacocca to Mario Cuomo to Al Gore (1992, when Clinton seemed to be stumbling) to Ross Perot. Most were wise enough to stay away; those who jumped in failed.

This has been a boom season for would-be Democratic saviors. In addition to Wes Clark, there have been all sorts of inane rustling about Hillary Clinton and Al Gore. Former President Clinton—who really should go home and write his book—has been dropping Hillary hints for several weeks now; the Senator herself insisted on posting Run-Hill-Run e-mail on her website until last Friday. This is self-promotional cotton candy. The junior Senator from New York is, if nothing else, disciplined. She knows she needs to spend time bulking up her resume, especially on national security issues—it's no accident she lobbied for a place on the Senate Armed Services Committee. As for Gore, he is extremely smart, and he gave a terrific speech in August about the Bush Administration's foreign-policy fecklessness—but does anybody remember what a terrible candidate he was in 2000? [...]

Clark's entry should signal the end of the silly season. It is time for the Democrats to get down to business and choose a candidate. In an ideal world, it would be time to clear the stage. The three vanity candidates—Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley Braun—should repair immediately to the lecture circuit. John Edwards and Bob Graham should return to the Senate. That's not going to happen, but elections will be held soon enough, a winner will emerge and, given their antipathy toward George W. Bush, most Democrats will suddenly come to the conclusion that their new champion is Franklin Roosevelt on roller skates. But that's a delusion we'll deal with next spring.

Clark’s Charge: The Race: The general did what he always does—shot to the top of his class. But his skin is thin, and the climb is steep. What Wesley Clark’s arrival does to the Democratic field (Howard Fineman, 9/29/03, NEWSWEEK)
After Al Qaeda attacked America, retired Gen. Wes Clark thought the Bush administration would invite him to join its team. After all, he’d been NATO commander, he knew how to build military coalitions and the investment firm he now worked for had strong Bush ties. But when GOP friends inquired, they were told: forget it.

WORD WAS THAT Karl Rove, the president’s political mastermind, had blocked the idea. Clark was furious. Last January, at a conference in Switzerland, he happened to chat with two prominent Republicans, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and Marc Holtzman, now president of the University of Denver. “I would have been a Republican,” Clark told them, “if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls.” Soon thereafter, in fact, Clark quit his day job and began seriously planning to enter the presidential race--as a Democrat. Messaging NEWSWEEK by BlackBerry, Clark late last week insisted the remark was a “humorous tweak.” The two others said it was anything but. “He went into detail about his grievances,” Holtzman said. “Clark wasn’t joking. We were really shocked.”

They shouldn’t have been: when Clark wades into the battle, he expects to be taken seriously. Howard Dean knew to be careful when he and Clark held what was supposed to be a secret conference three weeks ago in L.A. Dean’s advisers had warned their boss not to even hint that Clark would be the running mate should Dean win the Democratic nomination. “That would have been both presumptuous and condescending,” said a Dean aide. Somehow, word of the meeting leaked—as did the notion (hotly denied by Dean insiders) that the VP slot indeed had been offered.

Once again Clark was furious; once again his response was to gear up. The day of the leak, Clark for the first time met his new senior PR adviser, Mark Fabiani. The general asked him to suggest a possible chief of staff. Fabiani nominated Ron Klain, who had filled that role for Al Gore. “What’s his number?” Clark asked—and called immediately. Klain said yes. Nine days later, Clark entered the race.

A Four-Star Candidate?: Wesley Clark announces for president. (Matthew Continetti, 09/29/2003, Weekly Standard)
As for Clark's real liabilities, there are three. First, he is prone to conspiracy theories. In June, he told Tim Russert that he had received a phone call on September 11, 2002, from "people around the White House" urging him to publicly link Saddam Hussein to the attacks. Only after his accusation was picked up by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman did Clark go on the record and say that no one had called him from the White House. He now says he received a call from a "man from a Middle East think tank in Canada, the man who's the brother of a very close friend of mine in Belgium." While it turns out that someone who more or less fits that bill did call Clark and discussed possible connections between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein, the call took place after September 11, wasn't in any way sinister, and in any case certainly didn't come from the White House.

More recently, Clark said the White House tried to have him fired from CNN during the Iraq war. He told an anchor on Phoenix Newsradio 620 KTAR, "The White House actually back in February apparently tried to get me knocked off CNN and they wanted to do this because they were afraid that I would raise issues with their conduct of the war." Once again, Clark has no proof. He concedes, "I've only heard rumors about it."

Another potential weakness is that Clark's background--Rhodes scholar, four star general, military theorist--is so attractive to educated liberals that they're tempted to oversell his chances of winning the presidency. Just look at "Future Star," an article in the September 15 Fortune magazine. The text is overshadowed by two full pages of photos of Clark's face. There's the general smiling. There's the general laughing. There's the general confused. There's the general with a "come hither" look. "The Clark candidacy is a crazily overblown thing," says former Clinton strategist Dick Morris, "probably coming from Western Europe via elite media circles. Clark will do very well with Democrats living in Paris. But he has no base in the United States."

Finally, there's Iraq. Last week, Clark muddied his stand when he told a group of reporters that he "probably" would have voted to authorize the Iraq war if he had been a member of Congress in the fall of 2002--though he "was against the war as it emerged because there was no reason to start it when we did. We could have waited." A day later he said he "would never have voted for this war." (It's impossible not to be reminded of the classic Clintonism on the use-of-force resolution preceding the first Gulf war, in January 1991: Said presidential candidate Bill Clinton, "I guess I would have voted with the majority if it was a close vote. But I agree with the arguments the minority made.")

That presents a target rich environment, but two favorites are: General Clark, who even the Clintonistas knew had to be fired, thought the Bush team would bring him back for the War on Terror; and, that Joe Klein thinks the entry of such a vainglorious neophyte marks the end of the silly season in Democratic presidential jockeying.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 PM


Best way to save Social Security: The Congressional Budget Office came very close to endorsing personal accounts. (Timothy J. Penny, 9/23/03, CS Monitor)

Last week two more Democrats joined the presidential race. With so many candidates in the mix, it might seem reasonable to expect a diversity of opinion on major issues. Yet when it comes to Social Security's future, there is little being said by these candidates aside from a promise to protect the status quo. Most private-sector economists and policy analysts, however, have long warned that the status quo is unsustainable.

Many of these same experts have advocated transforming America's insolvent, "pay-as-you-go" Social Security program into a fully funded system of personal accounts, where individuals could invest their payroll taxes in diversified market investments, protecting Social Security funds from political misuse and building assets to pass on to their families. In a recent analysis the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came as close as a government entity ever has to endorsing personal accounts as the best way to increase savings and build assets for the future.

The widely overlooked June 16 CBO report, "Acquiring Financial Assets to Fund Future Entitlements" examined the options available to fund Social Security in the future. [...]

The CBO agrees with many private analysts that personal accounts - where Social Security money would be held by individuals rather than the government - offer the best chance for success: Assets set aside to fund future obligations are most likely to be insulated by a system in which ownership and control rest with individuals. In that circumstance, each participant has property rights and legal recourse to guard against the diversion of resources. If the money didn't belong to individual participants, future policymakers could find alternative uses for it - to create a new benefit, fund a new program, or perhaps cover a budget gap. [...]

Unfortunately, a little-read government report isn't going to lead this debate forward. For that, we need candidates who are willing to help the public understand that when it comes to Social Security's future, doing nothing is no longer an option.

Strange, wasn't there a candidate in 2000 who was savaged for proposing a very tiny step towards a private account system?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM


In Iraq's northwest, an emerging model: Grassroots efforts have put this region ahead of the postwar curve. (Ann Scott Tyson, 9/23/03, CS Monitor)

Lt. Christopher Wood took charge in Mosul in May of a platoon of 30 Iraqi soldiers who he says had no concept of US military conduct. To them, detaining someone meant beating them. Weapons fire was often indiscriminate. "We'd show them how to target, and they'd say 'No, you just spray," Lieutenant Wood says.

On the other extreme, the Iraqis were "very sloppy with cleaning their weapons." On patrols, they quickly grew bored, and began talking and taking cigarette breaks.

Still, Wood learned he could not single out Iraqis for criticism as he would American soldiers. Upbraiding them provoked intense embarrassment and hurt pride. Instead, he started to make up "bedtime stories" - fictitious incidents about, say, a soldier killed while chatting during a night patrol - to drive home his points. "They caught on, and would draw the right conclusions."

Today, Wood says his platoon has gone from "a hodgepodge, rag-tag group to a fairly efficient team of soldiers." He trusts them enough to patrol with them alone. They also visit mosques incognito to gather intelligence.

Rakad, although a veteran officer, doesn't mind taking orders from a young US lieutenant. "Americans treat their soldiers well, and they respect our religious beliefs, also," he says. Despite death threats and accusations of betrayal from Iraqi citizens, he says he will continue to cooperate with Americans and defend them if necessary.

Still, doubts linger. US soldiers question to what extent Iraqis are buying into their own future. For their part, Iraqi soldiers wonder how committed the US will be in the long run to their nation's security.

"If it wasn't for the American Army, Iraq would be very bad. The strong would eat the weak," says Rakad. He hopes US forces will stay one or two years.

After that, he says, "the one to take their place should be me."

It does seem that the further you go from the Baghdad to Tikrit axis the more you can get done quicker.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 PM


22% of households struggling to save (The Japan Times, Sept. 23, 2003)

More than 20 percent of Japan's households have no savings, the highest level in 40 years, while those that are saving have put aside more than ever, according to the results of an annual survey released Monday by the Bank of Japan.

The percentage of such households rose 5.5 percentage points from a year earlier to 21.8 percent, the highest since 22.2 percent in 1963, the BOJ said, citing the results of the survey conducted by the Central Council for Financial Services Information.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 PM


The Ombudsman: Are Bee's standards for Web lower than for print? (Tony Marcano -- Bee Ombudsman, September 21, 2003, Sacramento Bee)

An obscure news item appeared on on Sept. 9. I doubt that more than a few people noticed it. But one reader who did notice it brought an ethical lapse to my attention.

The lead paragraph of the item read, "The Sacramento Municipal Utility District was given final approval by the California Energy Commission to build the first phase of the 500-megawatt Cosumnes Power Plant." There's nothing obviously wrong with that sentence -- until you read the press release distributed by the utility district. Its lead sentence?

"The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) was given final approval by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to build the first phase of the 500-megawatt Cosumnes Power Plant (CPP)." Much of the rest of the news item, which carried the byline "By Bee Metro Staff," was also taken verbatim from the press release.

It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote about the suspension of a Bee sportswriter for lifting directly from press releases and attempting to pass the work off as his own. In that case, The Bee's editing safeguards prevented the fraudulent work from getting into the newspaper.

So how was it that The Bee's editors didn't prevent a press release reprinted under the guise of "Bee Metro Staff" from getting on its Web site? It's because an editor in the newsroom responsible for making sure that kind of thing doesn't happen was the transgressor.

The problem here is that some editors at The Bee can unilaterally post items to the Web with no additional oversight. That's directly in conflict with standard editing practices. [...]

The Bee got a further lesson in the pitfalls of that recently when columnist Daniel Weintraub included a contentious statement in his Sept. 1 Weblog, which is posted on

Weintraub wrote that Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante "certainly owed his elevation to the job of Assembly speaker to his ethnic background and to the support he received from fellow Latinos. If his name had been Charles Bustmont rather than Cruz Bustamante, he would have finished his legislative career as an anonymous back-bencher."

Further, he alleged, "it's indisputably true that the Legislature's Latino Caucus advocates policies that are destructive to their own people and to greater California, in the name of ethnic unity." The caucus protested in a letter to Bee Publisher Janis Besler Heaphy.

Make what you will of Weintraub's statement, and of the caucus' protests. No matter what I or anyone else thinks, he has every right to analyze the political scene and reach those conclusions. But no newspaper should publish an analysis without an editor's review. That doesn't necessarily mean that Weintraub's blog should have been reworded, but an editor should at least have had the opportunity to question his conclusions.

Since these incidents came to light, The Bee has instituted some reforms.

Mr. Weintraub's ability to analyze Recall items as they come along and give us all informed opinions has been invaluable, but it does seem fair to hold his blog writing to at least the level that the op-ed page has to meet. His blog is after all a Sacramento Bee branded product.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:36 PM


Wynton Marsalis says nation is losing its cultural identity (JOE CAREY, September 22, 2003, Associated Press)

Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis has uncovered a new enemy working against Americans, and it's not Saddam Hussein or al-Qaida terrorists.

When it comes to America's cultural identity, "apathy is the enemy," he said Tuesday.

Marsalis said it's more important than ever to invest in arts education. "I'm increasingly worried about what I see around our country. ... I've seen an entire generation of Americans who are culturally ignorant," he said during an appearance at the National Press Club.

He said arts funding amounts to only $1 per child per year, and he called on the federal government to double that.

The diagnosis is right, but the cure's dubious. School's have done enough damage.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:21 PM


 CALIFORNIA RECALL ELECTION: Ninth Circuit Rehears Recall Case (C-SPAN)

The Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sits en banc to rehear oral arguments regarding postponing the CA governor recall election.

C-SPAN just showed the hearing live--apparently the first televised proceeding ever in a Federal Court?--and it ended on a deliciously Freudian note: the ACLU attorney had the final words and was giving a ringing plea for the Court to rule on the clearest evidence of voting machine disparity ever to come before this "Circus"... He started to correct himself but got tongue-tied and one of the judges laughingly told him to quit while he was ahead.

Expect the three judge ruling to be overturned by 5pm Pacific time. Supposedly, it was televised because the rest of the 9th Circuit wanted to rehabiltate its tattered reputation and one of the 26 judges apparently asked for an en banc vote overturning the decision before the case was even officially appealed.

Center Ring at the 9th Circus: Things get even weirder in the California recall litigation. (Dahlia Lithwick, September 22, 2003, Slate)

Oral argument just ended in the en banc hearing of the ACLU challenge to the California recall election. The panel of 11 judges, selected randomly, happens to consist of some of the most conservative judges on the court. They are faced with deciding whether the punch-card ballots used in certain predominantly minority districts in California violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.

As I mentioned last week, this en banc panel is the 9th Circuit's best chance at saving face and avoiding yet another blistering rebuke by the Supreme Court. What's clear from argument this afternoon is that the judges are also extremely concerned about fairness in the upcoming recall election. As the discussion unfolds, it's plain they are not terribly worried about the applicability of Bush v. Gore to the facts of this case or the political or ideological return they might get from sticking it to the Supreme Court. They are worried about balancing the harms to voters: the harm of having some votes counts less than others as a result of outdated equipment versus the harm of postponing an election that Californians have sought and prepared for. [...]

Judge Johnnie Rawlinson asks [Charles Diamond, who represents Ted Costa, the man who initiated the recall ballot initiative] the $40,000 question when she wonders whether Bush v. Gore doesn't stand for the proposition that votes need to be counted equally. Says Diamond, scornfully: "When you read Bush v. Gore at 30,000 feet, like the plaintiffs have, you can find support for anything." Ouch. Diamond concludes that while one man/one vote is "an honorable goal," realism and practicality must also hold some sway.

In the 30 seconds given to him for rebuttal, Rosenbaum offers a heroic attempt to consolidate the thousand firing synapses in his brain into three cogent points about election law. He gets as far as point three before the technology seems to backfire: "This is the strongest case," he points out, "that has ever been in this circus."

"Um, circuit." He tries to correct himself, but the bench is in stitches, and one of the justices laughingly suggests that he "quit while you're ahead." "Guess who's the biggest clown," Rosenbaum laughs back, packing his papers back into his briefcase. That issue isn't exactly before the 9th Circuit either, but they'll probably decide it this week.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:56 PM


Weapon of mass population (SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN, September 21, 2003, St. Petersburg Times)

In the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians, Thuraya Eshbear wields a powerful weapon.


At 35, this wisp of a woman has 13 children, from 20 years down to 10 months. Though she can't afford to school them all, though she rarely has a minute to herself, she would gladly bear more.

"I have many children so that the Palestinian people will have more than the Israelis," says Eshbear, a $37-a-week cleaner in the maternity ward of Gaza City's biggest hospital. Here, on any given day, dozens of other Palestinian women are doing their part to ensure ultimate victory over Israel.

It is a war fought not just with F-16s and suicide bombers, but with diapers and Similac.

Ever since Israel was created in 1948, starting a clash with the Arab world that has no end in sight, Jews have feared what Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat calls his "biological bomb." In Israel and the neighboring territories of Gaza and the West Bank, Arabs are reproducing at a rate double that of Jews.

Israel's 5.4-million Jews make up just more than half of the region's population, but Arabs will become a clear majority within 20 years, Haifa University professor Arnon Soffer says. By 2020, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea will be home to 8.5-million Arabs and just 6.4-million Jews.

Unless Palestinians get their own state, the soaring Arab population could mean one of two things: Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish nation or it would be forced into an apartheid-like system in which a Jewish minority ruled a Palestinian majority.

The American South in the Jim Crow era was freer than most countries and South Africa was a vital ally and in some senses a model Western nation, but at some point the apartheid contradiction overwhelms all else. You retain the physical capacity to impose the system, but the will falters. Given that Israel and Jews are almost universally despised anyway--with rare, though important, exceptions like the U.S.--how long could it realistically maintain its oppression, even if justified, in the face of global opprobrium?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:00 PM


Slate's Michael Kinsley: Future of the U.N. (Day to Day, 9/22/03, NPR/Slate)

NPR's Mike Shuster talks with Slate founding editor Michael Kinsley about the future of the United Nations in the wake of the war in Iraq. Today, President Bush addresses the U.N.'s General Assembly.

We're not entirely convinced yet that this show isn't some kind of brilliant self-parody, almost an Andy Kaufman style surreptitious meta-satire. It's hard to imagine any more absurdly conventional source of wisdom than this combination of NPR and Slate and today's "interview" with Michael Kinsley did nothing to clear things up. He's discussing George W. Bush's trip to the UN tomorrow and how intransigent the President has been about yielding control in Iraq to the UN. Mr. Kinsley and Mr. Shuster seem genuinely perplexed that US policy doesn't seem to have changed despite their having thought it did in Mr. Bush's speech to the nation and Mr. Kinsley is surprised that Mr. Bush spoke "patronizingly" about the UN's role this weekend. As anyone with half a brain could have told him, Mr. Kinsley's interpretation of the purpose of Mr. Bush's speech that night was ludicrous.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:46 PM


Dalai Lama Lite: The Dalai Lama has been appropriated by the American people
into a cuddly projection of our hopes and dreams. (PATRICK FRENCH, 9/19/03, NY Times)

The Dalai Lama has become whoever we want him to be, a cuddly projection of our hopes and dreams. This enthusiasm, though, has not translated into any tangible political benefit for Tibetans. He has been seen on advertisements for Apple computers and software; significantly, he was not paid for either of these uses of his image. Some of the books that purport to be written by the Dalai Lama are scarcely by him at all, but have his face on the cover to increase sales.

In reality, Tibetan Buddhism is not a values-free system oriented around smiles and a warm heart. It is a religion with tough ethical underpinnings that sometimes get lost in translation. For example, the Dalai Lama explicitly condemns homosexuality, as well as all oral and anal sex. His stand is close to that of Pope John Paul II, something his Western followers find embarrassing and prefer to ignore. His American publisher even asked him to remove the injunctions against homosexuality from his book, "Ethics for the New Millennium," for fear they would offend American readers, and the Dalai Lama acquiesced. [...]

American enthusiasm for the Dalai Lama is not the same as genuine political support for Tibet. No United States government will place sympathy for Tibetans above America's strategic and economic interests. China is too large a power to be pushed around, and has always been vociferous in its refusal to listen to advice about Tibet. It is hard to see how the People's Liberation Army could be persuaded to leave the Tibetan plateau without regime change in Beijing, which is something that even President Bush might be nervous to contemplate.

Passion for the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism is a great thing, but Americans keen to buy into that image should take care to understand the man and what he stands for, and above all the moral complexity of life for the Tibetans inside Tibet.

We may not choose to force it militarily, but there's no reason regime change shouldn't be our official policy for China.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:36 PM


With a Grain of Salt: The Kurds' fight for Kurdistan (Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta, September 19, 2003, Hindustan Times)

Three main factors lead to Kurdish Nationalism. First was the introduction of the concept of private property. For nomadic people, the fact that public rangeland was actually to be split up and "owned" would have been a deep shock, something akin to what the American-Indians felt after the arrival of the American settlers. Second was the rise in the concept of states. Late in the 1890s and early 1900s, states were being formed rapidly around that area, partially because of the dissolution and slow disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, and additionally because of the British/French colonial process. Since everybody was clamouring for their own state, the Kurds got into the act as well. Finally, all those years of having no land, not belonging anywhere specific, not being integrated into any society, being scattered in so many different states, being shoved around all the time and abused by the different governments made them desire their own homeland with a vengeance. [...]

The Kurds know that their single chance of a statelet is to prove that they can have a peaceful state and manage it, too. Coalition force soldiers are getting ambushed and shot at in the other regions, but nary a peep in the northern region. The de-facto Kurdish state, which has been in existence for the past 12 odd years in northern Iraq, is getting well established. If things pan out, the Kurds will have a place to call home. It has been a long time coming, after betrayal by everybody, to let them to make a state of their own. The United Nations should look at the Kurds and their desire for a state very carefully and try to help them get one, which the UN's predecessor, the League of Nations promised and miserably failed to deliver.

Unfortunately, this pious hope won't get anywhere given the opposition of the other countries. So if the Kurds want their own state, they have to work on it themselves. If they manage to carve out an autonomous statelet in northern Iraq, that would be a brilliant first step. The chances of Iraq imploding are high, and I will not be surprised if these statelets (Kurdistan, Shiastan, Sunnistan and some other bits and bobs) are all what is left of Iraq once it is left alone. See Bosnia and Serbia, for example. Anyway, good for the Iraqi Kurds, but what about the other 70 per cent of Kurds still living and being oppressed in other contiguous countries? What are their chances of having a nation-state of their own? What are the chances of further Kurdish rebellions breaking out in these countries? Now that there is an autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, still protected by the coalition troops, just what will Iran, Syria and Turkey do if their respective Kurd populations take up the sword for their rights and use Iraqi Kurdistan as a base? Hot pursuit, a la Israel? What will the world say to these people asking for their own state? Will it again forget these poor, benighted, oppressed people or make promises and not deliver or betray them again or finally allow them a land, even if only a crowded one, but one to call their own?

One of the best things to come of the Iraq War, besides getting rid of the Ba'athist regime, will be an independent Kurdistan, but one Kurdish state seems enough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:28 PM


Georgian speaker breaks macho mold (Robert Parsons, 9/22/03, CS Monitor)

Her role model is Margaret Thatcher. "I think she was one of the greatest people of the 20th century," says [Nino Burjanadze, a woman and the second most powerful politician in Georgia], whose office is hung with portraits of the former British prime minister. "She knew what she wanted and what her country needed. And when she knew she was right, she always stayed true to her convictions. I want to be like that."

As November's parliamentary elections near, Burjanadze's political enemies are lining up. Leaders of the government bloc fear that if she can forge a coalition among the opposition parties - which would be an uphill battle - she could sweep them away and set herself up for the 2005 presidential contest.

Among ideas Burjanadze advocates is a constitutional change to correct the concentration of power in the presidency. She favors the formation of a powerful cabinet of ministers, which may in turn create a post of prime minister. Ivliane Khaindrava, an analyst with the Republican Research Center and former member of parliament, says "the idea could catch on. It's popular with nearly all MPs because at the moment there are too many leaders chasing too few top jobs."

Burjanadze also reveals a populist streak. She wants the return of Georgia's provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both quasi-independent after interethnic fighting with the Georgians. Her platform also includes paying the backlog of salaries and pensions, improving the investment climate, protecting business against corruption and unwarranted government interference, and updating the Army to NATO standards. But, with government coffers already strained, it's unclear how these initiatives would be financed.

Be still our beating hearts...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 PM


The General Jumps In: Wes Clark has launched a presidential bid that has a four-star luster. But is the antiwar general prepared for this kind of battle? (KAREN TUMULTY, 9/21/03, TIME)

"He can save this goddam nation from self-destruction," declares New York Congressman Charles Rangel, who is arranging a meeting for Clark with the Congressional Black Caucus, possibly as early as this week. But Rangel acknowledges that he has never met Clark in person (they have talked on the phone) and didn't know a thing about Clark until he started catching the general's criticism of the Iraq war on cnn. The same was true of Sylvia Gillis, 57, an insurance broker who was among the 50 or so people who gathered to toast Clark's candidacy last Wednesday night at Frankie Z's Clark Bar in Chicago. "My mouth dropped open—a military man taking this antiwar position," she said. "He seemed honest, trustworthy, well versed and intellectual. My dream come true."

In fact, for Gillis and others like her who joined the draft-Clark movement that sprang up over the Internet this summer, there was something of a Field of Dreams quality to it all. They had built it; he had come. In that sense, the Clark blitz has less to do with the candidate than it does with the political landscape around him. Even as Democrats are beginning to believe for the first time that President Bush may actually be vulnerable, they are increasingly worried that they have not yet seen the Democrat who can beat him. Many are intrigued by the excitement and money that Dean has generated but are concerned that Dean is too dovish, too insubstantial, too cranky to survive the first presidential contest of the post-9/11 era. As for the rest of the field, it looks like a blur to most voters. "Frankly, none of them have gotten people very excited," says Eli Broad, a billionaire Los Angeles philanthropist who is one of the party's largest and most influential donors. "Wes Clark just might do it."

Adding luster to Clark's aura with dissatisfied Democrats is the perception that he is running with the benediction of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The former President has certainly stoked this impression; he has been talking up Clark's virtues in public and private for months, and a few weeks ago, he declared that his wife and Clark were the "two stars" of the Democratic Party. And no one could fail to notice that the Clark effort is salted with operatives from the campaigns of Clinton and Al Gore, like Mickey Kantor and Mark Fabiani.

Gen. Clark: Saddam Not a Criminal (Carl Limbacher and Staff, 09/21/2003,
In a little noticed interview with Fortune Magazine last week, presidential frontrunner Gen. Wesley Clark defended Saddam Hussein against charges that he was engaged in crimes against his own people at the time the Iraq war started, contending instead that the Iraqi dictator should have gotten a pass because his atrocities took place ten years ago.

Asked why it was right for President Clinton to use military force to halt Slobodan Milosevic's crimes against humanity in Kosovo, but not for President Bush to do the same thing against Saddam, Clark said that in Iraq, "The imminence of stopping a guy from committing a crime in progress - it wasn't there."

"In Kosovo you had ethnic cleansing actually unfolding, and we had intervened to stop it," the ex-NATO commander insisted, without commenting on the torture chambers, rape rooms and mass graves discovered in Iraq by coalition forces.

Instead, the Democratic frontrunner suggested that the Iraqi dictator deserved a pass by outlining what Fortune described as Clark's "Statute of Limitations for Genocidal Thugs."

"It was ten years ago that Saddam brutalized the Shiite Muslims in the south," he argued. "And he used chemical weapons 15 years ago."

It's getting harder and harder to choose which candidate would be the most catastrophic: Kerry, Dean, Clark...?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:36 PM


What is Elitism? (Butterflies and Wheels)

[A]nti-elitism, like many of the projects of the FN [Fashionable Nonsense] or 'politically correct' crowd, is a stance and a project with a great deal of merit. Egalitarianism is an idea which has much to be said in its favour. This is especially the case when it is applied with care and attention and fine discrimination; when there is careful, open, truthful thought and discussion about which areas egalitarianism is appropriate for and which it isn't, and about the ways it needs to be balanced by and take into account other important goods like accomplishment, ambition, inspiration, respect for achievement, talent, originality, learning, creativity. If it is kept firmly and honestly in mind both that it is good for all people to receive decent treatment, and that effort and discipline and talent and intellect are qualities to admire and encourage and respect.

And of course that's exactly where things get difficult, which is why politicians spend so much time talking anxiously about equality of opportunity not equality of outcome. It's all very well to say that, it's a nice formula, but when outcomes keep getting more and more unequal all the time, it's hard not to suspect that somebody has a thumb on the scale.

The late, lamented Wlliam Henry wrote a terrific book a few years ago called In Defense of Elitism. It was the anguished cry of a liberal who recognized that egalitarianism is the enemy of talent, beauty, and accomplishment, but he was unable to get past the critique and embrace the idea of true society of opportunity, one in which equality of opportunity is a prerequisite but which allows for differences in achievement. Because people are not just unequal but wildly unequal you would expect to get drastic inequalities in outcome, no thumbs required. In fact, it is egalitarianism which wields the thumb, trying to balance scales even when a Bach is on one side and a Vanilla Ice on the other.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:18 PM


Diversity loses in two polls: Narrow majority supports proposed Mich. constitutional ban on affirmative action (Joel Kurth, , September 22, 2003, The Detroit News)

A Detroit News/Local4/ Mitchell poll of 600 voters found 52 percent support a state constitutional amendment to outlaw the use of race as a consideration for university admissions and government hiring and contracts; 39 oppose it and 9 percent are undecided. [...]

The findings are echoed by a poll to be released today by Inside Michigan Politics, claiming voter support for a ban on affirmative action by 55 percent to 36 percent. The survey by Marketing Resource Group of Lansing for Inside Michigan Politics, a political and government newsletter, polled 600 statewide voters. [...]

The Detroit News/Local4/ Mitchell Poll also found that a majority opposes any attempt to legalize gay marriage or civil unions in Michigan. Voters favor banning gay marriage 51 percent to 38 percent and oppose civil unions, 53 percent to 39 percent.

Love that headline on a supposed news story. what these polls point up though is the extreme unlikelihood that the Democrats can win the Catholic states of the Rust Belt, which are naturally Red, not Blue.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:53 AM


Realism About Turkey: One in a series of excerpts adapted by Robert Locke from Dr. Serge Trifkovic’s new book The Sword of the Prophet: A Politically-Incorrect Guide to Islam. (Serge Trifkovic, February 13, 2003 ,

The lack of cultural rootedness of Turkey’s political elites remains as serious a problem today as it was in Ataturk’s times, and in many minds the question about the dormant Islamic volcano is not if, but when. The narrow stratum of the Kemalist ruling class rules Turkey by the grace of the West and the will of the Army, period. The same dynamics that have swept it away in Teheran may apply in Ankara in the next decade. The parallel with Iran is alarming. Backed by the United States, both the Shah and the Turkish generals have pursued a policy of militarization as a means of solving the tension between modernization dictated from above and religiously expressed resistance from below. Repression and militarism have provided fertile ground for Islam.

Inseparable from internal repression is Ankara’s external expansionism as a means of lessening political tensions and military threats in pursuit of territorial revisionism. In January of 1996, Ankara disputed Greek sovereignty over the Greek islet of Imia. Six months later Turkey claimed the Greek Island of Gavdos near Crete - 240 miles from the Turkish shore. And this is a country that wants to be allowed to join the European Union, further flooding the already-Islamized streets of Germany and other European nations with cheap Turkish labor?

With each passing year it is becoming more urgent for the U.S. government to break away from its unthinking Turkophilia. It is using its special status in Washington to develop itself as a regional power of considerable significance, and that position will not be subject to change if the Islamists take over. Turkey’s cultural and political influence is on the rise in its old holdings in the Balkans, as well as throughout the former Soviet Central Asia. Its proximity to the Caspian oil fields has fortified its position as a key U.S. ally in the area and a major recipient of American weapons and technology, whose air base at Incirlik is regularly used by the U.S. Air Force to bomb Iraq.

The Bush administration may yet discover that "democratization" of Turkey may mean its irreversible Islamization. The latest crisis should sound alarm bells in Washington that America needs alternative scenarios to cover such eventuality. We have seen former friends turn foe before in this part of the world, and it is time to plan for realistically-conceived possibilities. Above all, let’s stop lying to ourselves on the theory that flattering foreign nations can make them conform to our wishes for what they should be.

Though Mr. Trifkovic’s concerns about the Islamicization of Turkey are certainly legitimate, his predictions about what that would mean are just as senseless as the recurring Cold War predictions about the threat and power of Communism. No totalitarian system will ever function as well as liberal democracy does. We'll have the advantage so long as we maintain the health of our own system and will have the choice of either outlasting them while they crumble as a result of internal contradictions and inefficiencies (as Bolshevism) or going to war and terminating them more quickly (as Nazism). Nothing is more reversible than totalitarianism in all its many, though essentially identical, guises.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:48 AM


The trouble with Wes (Robert Novak, September 22, 2003,

The important Democrats eager to run retired Gen. Wesley Clark for president might exercise due diligence about a military career that was nearly terminated before he got his fourth star and then came to a premature end. The trouble with the general is pointed out by a bizarre incident in Bosnia nearly a decade ago.

Clark was a three-star (lieutenant general) who directed strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. On Aug. 26, 1994, in the northern Bosnian city of Banja Luka, he met and exchanged gifts with the notorious Bosnian Serb commander and indicted war criminal, Gen. Ratko Mladic. The meeting took place against the State Department's wishes and may have contributed to Clark's failure to be promoted until political pressure intervened. The shocking photo of Mladic and Clark wearing each other's military caps was distributed throughout Europe.

Last week on CNN's "Crossfire," I asked one of Clark's new supporters -- Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois -- about that indiscretion. "Well, I don't know about the photo," he replied. He and other Clark backers, led by Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, might want to dig more deeply into the general's turbulent military career before getting too deeply committed.

This does at least show that the notoriouisly ambitious General Clark wasn't yet planning on seeking the presidency as a Democrat. All Democrats have known since the Michael Dukkakis campaign that they should never be photographed in military headgear.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:42 AM


-REVIEW: of Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism by Paul C. Vitz (Brothers Judd, 9/19/03)

There seems to be a widespread assumption throughout much of the Western intellectual community that belief in God is based on all kinds of irrational immature needs and wishes, but atheism or skepticism is derived from a rational, no-nonsense appraisal of the way things really are.

    -Professor Paul C. Vitz, The Psychology of Atheism

Hostility towards God and religion has had a few voila moments over the centuries, points where disbelievers thought they'd found an argument that was so dispositive that when they whipped it out the religious would have no rejoinder. The first came with the development of reason as a tool of analysis, which they mistook as a complete system of thought in itself. They used reason to demonstrate to their own satisfaction that faith-based beliefs, those which are not provable by reason, must be inferior in quality. But along came David
to show that reason is actually capable of disproving itself and even our own existence, making it an inherently standard by which to judge other types of thought. Reason too proceeds from faith:

It seems to me, that the only objects of the abstract science or of demonstration are quantity and number, and that all attempts to extend this more perfect species of knowledge beyond these bounds are mere sophistry and illusion. As the component parts of quantity and number are entirely similar, their relations become intricate and involved; and nothing can be more curious, as well as useful, than to trace, by a variety of mediums, their equality or inequality, through their different appearances. But as all other ideas are clearly distinct and different from each other, we can never advance farther, by our utmost scrutiny, than to observe this diversity, and, by an obvious reflection, pronounce one thing not to be another. Or if there be any difficulty in these decisions, it proceeds entirely from the undeterminate meaning of words, which is corrected by juster definitions. That the square of the hypothenuse is equal to the squares of the other two sides, cannot be known, let the terms be ever so exactly defined, without a train of reasoning and enquiry. But to convince us of this proposition, that where there is no property, there can be no injustice, it is only necessary to define the terms, and explain injustice to be a violation of property. This proposition is, indeed, nothing but a more imperfect definition. It is the same case with all those pretended syllogistical reasonings, which may be found in every other branch of learning, except the sciences of quantity and number; and these may safely, I think, be pronounced the only proper objects of knowledge and demonstration.

All other enquiries of men regard only matter of fact and existence; and these are evidently incapable of demonstration. Whatever is may not be. No negation of a fact can involve a contradiction. The non-existence of any being, without exception, is as clear and distinct an idea as its existence. The proposition, which affirms it not to be, however false, is no less conceivable and intelligible, than that which affirms it to be. The case is different with the sciences, properly so called. Every proposition, which is not true, is there confused and unintelligible. That the cube root of 64 is equal to the half of 10, is a false proposition, and can never be distinctly conceived. But that Caesar, or the angel Gabriel, or any being never existed, may be a false proposition, but still is perfectly conceivable, and implies no contradiction.

The existence, therefore, of any being can only be proved by arguments from its cause or its effect; and these arguments are founded entirely on experience. If we reason a priori, anything may appear able to produce anything. The falling of a pebble may, for aught we know, extinguish the sun; or the wish of a man control the planets in their orbits. It is only experience, which teaches us the nature and bounds of cause and effect, and enables us to infer the existence of one object from that of another. Such is the foundation of moral reasoning, which forms the greater part of human knowledge, and is the source of all human action and behaviour.

So much for pure reason.

Next came Darwinism, which would at least obviate the need for God when we tried to explain how we got here. But Darwinism has not only been far harder to prove than they must have hoped, it has also been shown to be so circular in its reasoning as to href=> qualify as a religion in its own right and when pushed to its logical conclusions has proved so repellent that even its supposed champions have ended up attacking it as too grotesquely anti-human to be accepted.

The third great hope was that the argument from psychology would do the trick. This basically held that God and the belief in God merely filled a need for the scared, the superstitious, the irrational, etc.. That is to say, God is nothing more than a psychological construct. Professor Vitz
spends some time explaining why this thesis is weak, though there is certainly a psychological element to faith, but then does something truly devastating--he puts atheism on the couch too. And, unfortunately for proponents of this view, not just psychology but the king daddy of them all, Freudianism, offers fertile soil for the argument that it is really atheism that most clearly responds to a classic psychological need. We'll let Professor Vitz take over here:

The central concept in Freud's work, aside from the unconscious, is the now well-known Oedipus Complex. In the case of male personality development, the essential features of this complex are the following: Roughly in the age period of three to six the boy develops a strong sexual desire for the mother. At the same time the boy develops an intense hatred and fear of the father, and a desire to supplant him, a "craving for power." This hatred is based on the boy's knowledge that the father, with his greater size and strength, stands in the way of his desire. The child's fear of the father may explicitly be a fear of castration by the father, but more typically, it has a less specific character. The son does not really kill the father, of course, but patricide is assumed to be a common preoccupation of his fantasies and dreams. The "resolution" of the complex is supposed to occur through the boy's recognition that he cannot replace the father, and through fear of castration, which eventually leads the boy to identify with the father, to identify with the aggressor, and to repress the original frightening components of the complex.

It is important to keep in mind that, according to Freud, the Oedipus complex is never truly resolved, and is capable of activation at later periods-almost always, for example, at puberty. Thus the powerful ingredients of murderous hate and of incestuous sexual desire within a family context are never in fact removed. Instead, they are covered over and repressed. Freud expresses the neurotic potential of this situation:

The Oedipus-complex is the actual nucleus of neuroses . . . What remains of the complex in the unconscious represents the disposition to the later development of neuroses in the adult.

In short, all human neuroses derive from this complex. Obviously, in most cases, this potential is not expressed in any seriously neurotic manner. Instead it shows up in attitudes toward authority, in dreams, slips of the tongue, transient irrationalities, etc.

Now, in postulating a universal Oedipus complex as the origin of all our neuroses, Freud inadvertently developed a straightforward rationale for understanding the wish-fulfilling origin of rejecting God. After all, the Oedipus complex is unconscious, it is established in childhood and, above all, its dominant motive is hatred of the father and the desire for him not to exist, especially as represented by the desire to overthrow or kill the father. Freud regularly described God as a psychological equivalent to the father, and so a natural expression of Oedipal motivation would be powerful, unconscious desires for the nonexistence of God. Therefore, in the Freudian
framework, atheism is an illusion caused by the Oedipal desire to kill the father and replace him with oneself. To act as if God does not exist is an obvious, not so subtle disguise for a wish to kill Him, much the same way as in a dream, the image of a parent going away or disappearing can represent such a wish: "God is dead" is simply an undisguised Oedipal wish-fulfillment.

It would be an insanely brave or utterly foolish soul who ventured out again onto psychology's turf after that to argue for atheism and against God. As he says:
Since both believers and nonbelievers in God have psychological reasons for their positions, one important conclusion is that in any debate as to the truth of the existence of God, psychology should be irrelevant

So much for the anti-religionists third bite at the apple.

As if thoroughly disposing of the argument from psychology weren't enough though, Professor Vitz also marshals a series of short biographies of famous atheists, with a focus on their relationships to their fathers. It is a pitiable litany of "defective" fathers ("weak, dead, or abusive") and of the men (most are men) who rebelled against God as a way of getting back at them. After the first few, one realizes that this is really just shooting fish in a barrel, or, better yet, like one of those films that animal rights activists make with guys clubbing baby seals to death. The victims lie there inert and helpless as a superior intellect lays into them. Even Professor Vitz recognizes that this parade of woes is almost unfair--the formula by which their youthful unhappiness with their fathers leads to their future unhappiness with God is so precise as to diminish terribly our respect for their work--but, as he notes, since psychology is a weapon that atheists have chosen to wield against God, it is only fair that they be hoist on it.

Meanwhile, the corresponding profiles of renowned believers portray an almost embarrassingly blissful set of relations. In the interstices, Professor Vitz finds a couple characters who support the point further, men like Albert Camus, "more a reluctant than a militant atheist" whose letters reveal that he desired though never found faith in God, just as he early lost his father and perhaps looked for some kind of a substitute in Jean Grenier.

Where did the others look to find a father, if not to their own and not to God?:

For men, God seems to function primarily as a principle of justice and order in the world--and only secondarily as a person with whom one has a relationship. In other words, God's law and providential control seem to be the central aspects of belief for men. [...]

We would expect, therefore, that men who become atheists will find a new absolute principle with which to order the world. Thus, we expect male atheists to be quite explicitly atheistic and to have a new "divinity" that takes the intellectual place of God. As a consequence, atheistic men should be intense believers in such alternative principles as reason, science, progress, humanism, socialism, communism, or existentialism. And this is what we see in the lives of the atheists.

You don't even need to read about the famous examples to recognize that profile--no one is more evangelical for his view and more rigidly adherent to his substitute principles than an atheist.

This is a brief but brilliantly provocative book. Its main argument--that atheism is at least as much a product of personal psychology as theism--is undeniable. The extension of this argument--to correlate a particular kind of childhood relationship with the father to a subsequent and rather predictable kind of relationship with the Father--is quite compelling. Most of all, it is a great joy to see someone as skillful as Professor mount a counteroffensive in the war between faith and reason and see him carry the field so convincingly. Unless you're an atheist who had a defective father and had previously thought you were simply being driven by reason, you'll have great fun reading the book.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 AM


Can we Democrats be your next province? (PAUL LEWIS, Sep. 22, 2003, Globe & Mail)

Having endured the outrages of the 2000 presidential "election" and the 9/11-empowered Republicans' reactionary policies, progressive Democrats, Greens and Independents across the United States are smouldering. Especially in the 20 states that went for Al Gore in the Northeast, Midwest, and West, more and more of us are appalled by the combination of dishonest rhetoric, regressive tax giveaways, international adventurism, environmental degradation and unprecedented arrogance spewing from the President and his congressional cohorts. [...]

We're fed up and need to move on -- or out. But where to go?

A map of the state-by-state voting in 2000 suggests the obvious answer. With the anomalous and proud exception of New Mexico, Gore states are contiguous either to Canada or to other Gore states. In the most peaceful and democratic way, without invoking images of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, these states need to secede from the Union, reform into provinces and join Canada. [...]

Imagine the efficiencies of scale that will result from combining several states, with their redundant and quarrelsome governments, into single provinces. Through a process of state-by-state referendums, California, Oregon and Washington could reform into Naturia; New England (minus the odious New Hampshire) could reform into Nontario; Wisconsin, Minnesota,
Iowa, Michigan, and Illinois could become Coolcentria; while the eastern states between New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., could become Atlantica.

On purely aesthetic grounds, the benefits are enormous. We new Canadians will (shortly) acquire a national leader capable of producing coherent sentences in at least two languages. We will leave behind a U.S. composed of increasingly polluted semi-tropical and desert states inhabited by citizens hell-bent on posting the Ten Commandments in public washrooms, installing a Star Wars defence system around fast-food restaurants, and generally doing what they can to bring on the Apocalypse. Meanwhile, we new Canadians will look north to vast, undeveloped lands where animals roam and cool breezes waft down from the Arctic. Henceforth, our musically challenged children will sing not the incomprehensible and operatic Star Spangled Banner but the rousing anthem O Canada.

And just imagine what it will be like not to wake up every morning to the news that your federal government has subverted another international treaty, undermined another environmental protection, given another tax refund to the wealthy or invaded another defenceless country. To be citizens once more of a nation at peace with the world and committed to social justice and environmental conservation.

Ah, America.

O, Canada!

Canada's welcome to the Democrats, but we're keeping the territory--it's our Manifest Destiny, don't you know...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 AM


The failure that is the war against terrorism: Dr. Ivan Eland is a senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute and an outspoken critic of the Bush administration's war on terrorism. Dr. Eland recently issued a report card for administration and gave it an F "for failing to achieve its stated goals in its 'war on terrorism.'" (Steven Martinovich, September 22, 2003, Enter Stage Right)

ESR: Some of your grades have raised eyebrows because in most cases they are quite low. For example, for "Avoiding a quagmire in Afghanistan" you grade the administration a "C-". Given the number of Afghan refugees returning to Afghanistan and the low number of military and civilian causalities, isn't that a little low?

IE: No, we still have thousands of troops there and we have recently increased aid in a redoubled effort to socially engineer a society that has been at war for more than two decades. It's not
a quagmire yet, but the U.S. military presence is a lightning rod for a resurgence of the Taliban. The U.S. should withdraw and let a Coalition of the Willing do the peacekeeping. the return of refugees and the lower casualty figures than Iraq do not mean that it is not a quagmire. I gave the administration a C- because it still has time to reverse course. It should declare victory, withdraw and put any future Afghan government that it supports al-Qaida at its own risk.

ESR: For "Making Iraq better off by eliminating Saddam Hussein" you gave an F. Why? Couldn't one make the argument that we're only a few months into a process of rebuilding Iraq
and that problems are bound to a happen. The reconstruction of Germany after the Second World War was no less difficult

IE: Iraq is not Germany (or Japan). Before the war, those nations were industrialized nations with educated work forces. They also had a sense of national unity and some prior experience with democracy. Iraq has none of those things.

The decimated Iraqi military was no threat to anyone after the first Gulf War. Yet subsequent U.S. policy has probably killed more Iraqis than the tyrant Saddam Hussein ever did. U.S.-led sanctions killed 500,000 children (this doesn't include adults or war victims) and Saddam's killing probably doesn't equal that total. [...]

ESR: Several commentators have built strong cases that the U.S.-backed embargo was not responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children yet in the press release
announcing your grades it states you have preliminary data that suggests that more children were killed by the embargo at 500 000 than the total number of Iraqis -- including Kurds and Shiites -- killed by Hussein. How did you come up with that number and how would you answer critics who would dismiss your findings?

IE: Well, I am only going by what international organizations state. If they can provide better data, then I review it. Arguments over statistics aside, the purpose of the embargo was to squeeze
the Iraqi population (these were the most comprehensive and universal sanctions in world history, not surgical sanctions aimed to target Saddam and the pillars of his regime) in order to get them to pressure Saddam's regime. When groups target civilians to get them to pressure their governments to change policy, we call that terrorism. But when we do it, we call it sanctions fighting the dictator. U.S. policymakers knew the history of sanctions. The regime will merely redirect any pain to the poorest members of the society. Madeleine Albright admitted that children would be hurt but said it was worth it to hurt Saddam. Bush continued Clinton/Albright's policy.

Regardless of the number of civilians killed, intentionally aiming to hurt civilians with sanctions for a political end is much like blowing them up with bombs. [...]

ESR: You also take the Bush administration to task for treating different rogue nations in a manner that will only encourage some of them. For example, you mention that the United States
attacked non-nuclear Iraq but has left nuclear North Korea and soon-to-be nuclear Iran alone. What would you recommend the administration do with North Korea and Iran?

IE: A grand settlement with North Korea: We give them a non-aggression pact, end sanctions and normalize relations (no aid) and they give up (not freeze) their nuclear and missile programs,
submit to intrusive verification to ensure that this happens, and end the exports of WMD materials and missiles overseas.

I would try to normalize relations with the current Iranian government and therefore cut the inducements to build nukes to keep the U.S. from invading.

The United States may have to accept that less-than-friendly nations will get nukes and other WMD. We accepted and sheltered China's nuclear program when radical Mao was in power. We have nuclear dominance with thousands of warheads and the best nuclear arsenal on the planet. Countries like Iran, North Korea or even Saddam's Iraq would, have at most, a few warheads and would be extremely unlikely to give them to terrorists (as our own CIA said about Iraq). With home addresses, these nations have no incentive to give expensive technology to sometimes erratic terrorist groups. If such rogue-state/terrorist group links were exposed, the rogue states would be in trouble. Rogue states can be deterred from attacking the United States with our massive nuclear arsenal.

One needn't quarrel with Mr. Eland's version of the facts of the War on Terror in order to find his ideas about how to should be fought (well, actually, how it should be not fought) rather silly. The problem for such analysts is that in order to discredit this war they have to delegitimize all of WWII also, which may be worth doing but will never be accepted by people in the United States.

If having troops in Afghanistan and reengineering their society is the test of whether it's a quagmire, then, as Mr. Martinovich correctly points out, Germany and Japan were quagmires.

If embargoing Japan, bombing Germany and Japan and even nuking Japan was acceptable, then how can embargoing Iraq have been wrong? Have we not long ago determined--in part as a function of our being a democracy--that civilian populations are legitimate targets?

Subsequent points are merely dubious as regards moral reasoning and responsible behavior. We do have a moral duty to remove tyrants like Saddam, especially when it can be done as easily as it was here and when, to take Mr. Eland's own assertions at face value, it can bring an end to such a deadly embargo. Our failure to act in most cases (Castro, Kim Jong-Il, Chirac) speaks ill, not well, of us.

However, he even goes so far as to say that the embargo should never have been started in the first place, even if it meant Saddam remained in power developing nuclear weapons, and that we should largely ignore the WMD programs of other tyrannical anti-Western regimes. He says we can afford to do this because of our capacity to control their behavior with the threat of our own nuclear weapons. But, if they aren't cowed into abandoning such programs when we rattle our nuclear saber, what rational belief can we have that they be afraid to use them, especially in warfare with their most ancient and viscerally hated foes. North Korea probably can't nuke us, but what about S. Korea? Pakistan isn't going to lob missiles at the U.S., but it's easy to imagine any number of scenarios where they get into an exchange with India. And if Saddam wasn't deterred from attacking Kuwait by his knowledge that we had nukes, why would he be deterred from using nukes in such a war? Not only that, but if we'd followed Mr. Eland's counsel and left him in power without even sanctions against him, then why wouldn't he be justified in seeing the Kuwait war as an excellent risk on his part? He stood to gain vast oil reserves and to lose hardly anything,--except some ourtdated Soviet weaponry which he'd then have been free to replace with newer equipment that the French and Germans would have eagerly sold him. Ditto North Korea--if the price you pay for developing nuclear weapons is that we lift sanctions and agree not to attack you, why not get your program going? In effect, he's trying to incentivize proliferation.

Mr. Eland seem to have a bizarre longing for the bad old days of the Cold War, when liberals placed their faith in the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction. It's worth remembering that no political leader ever despised that theory more than Ronald Reagan and that by refusing to accept it he ended that war, a war being fought against what was erroneously believed at the time to be a capable superpower. Rather than using the threat of nuclear retaliation as a deterrent today against these obviously rinky-dink tin-pot dictators, we should use actual nuclear strikes as the deterrent. Irradiate the North Korean nuclear facilities and let's see if Iran still goes ahead with its program.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 AM

19/4 = ? :

Terrorist says 9/11 plot began in '96 (AP, 9/21/03)

A key event in the plot, Mohammed told his interrogators, was a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in January 2000, that included al-Mihdhar, al-Hazmi and other al-Qaeda operatives. The CIA learned of the meeting beforehand and had it monitored by Malaysian security, but it did not realize the significance of the two eventual hijackers until just before the attacks.

The interrogation reports state bin Laden further trimmed Mohammed's plans in spring 2000 when he canceled the idea for hijackings in East Asia, thus narrowing it to the United States. Bin Laden thought "it would be too difficult to synchronize" attacks in the United States and Asia, one
interrogation report quotes Mohammed as saying.

Mohammed said around that time he reached out to an al-Qaeda linked group in southeast Asia known as Jemaah Islamiyah. He began "recruiting JI operatives for inclusion in the hijacking plot as part of his second wave of hijacking attacks to occur after Sept. 11," one summary said.

Jemaah Islamiyah's operations chief, Riduan Isamuddin Hambali, had attended part of the January 2000 meeting in Kuala Lumpur but Mohammed said he was there at that time only because "as a rule had had to be informed" of events in his region. Later, Hambali's operative began training possible recruits for the second wave, according to the interrogation report.

One of those who received training in Malaysia before coming to the United States was Zacarias Moussaoui, the Frenchman accused of conspiring with the Sept. 11 attacks. Moussaoui has denied being part of the Sept. 11 plot, and U.S. and foreign intelligence officials have said he could have been set for hijacking a plane in a later wave of attacks.

At some point the string of "coincidences" involving Zaccarias Moussaoui has to convince even the most skeptical that, though he many not even have been aware of it, he was brought to the States to be the 20th hijacker.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:17 AM


Canada's conservatives shift right: Ontario's Tories hope to capitalize on a backlash against liberal court rulings before an Oct. 2 election. (Susan Bourette, 9/22/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

Increasingly, conservatives are trying to capitalize on a backlash by Canada's "silent majority" - those who think that the country has lurched too far to the left. If successful, it's a political calculus that could play out well beyond Ontario's borders.

"We're not a hippie nation," says Brian O'Riordan, an analyst with the independent political consulting firm, G.P. Murray Ltd. in Toronto. "Consistently, polls have shown that Canadians are deeply divided on social issues such as same-sex marriage. I think there's a recognition that there is some hay to be made on these issues on the campaign trail."

The shift to the right is a stunning departure for the Conservatives here, who have reigned over one of the most tumultuous political periods in Ontario's history - seven years of often violent protests and strikes in reaction to an agenda of deep tax cuts and smaller government. While the Conservatives, or Tories, have looked south to the Republicans in the United States for help in building their Common Sense Revolution, they have consistently governed as fiscal rather than social conservatives.

Since seizing the party leadership last year, Premier Ernie Eves portrayed himself as a centrist. However, with this election call, Mr. Eves has emerged as a born-again Anglican who can no longer countenance gay marriage.

Who'd a thunk it--a sign of intelligent life in a Tory party.

September 21, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 PM


Bible Track: a review of Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700 by Diarmid MacCulloch (George Rosie, 9/21/03, Sunday Herald)

In his latest book, [Oxford historian, Diarmaid MacCulloch] argues that the Reformation of the 16th century created a split that still lies under the surface of Western life.

“It is impossible to understand modern Europe without understanding these 16th century upheavals in Latin Christianity,” he writes. “They represented the greatest fault-line to appear in Christian culture since the Latin and Greek halves of the Roman Empire went their separate ways a thousand years before: they produced a house divided. The fault-line is the business of this book.” And fault lines beget fissures. Within 100 years of the renegade monk Martin Luther pinning his 95 “theses” to the door of the church at Wittemberg in 1517 Protestantism began to fracture. In late 17th century Scotland, for instance, Anglicans were hunting down and killing Presbyterians. By the year 1700, the Protestant world had splintered into many pieces: Lutherans, Calvinists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Quakers, Baptists, Anabaptists, Methodists, Congregationalists and dozens of minor denominations and sects. It’s a process that goes on. In Scotland there are five varieties of Presbyterianism.

As MacCulloch explains it, US presidents such as Ronald Reagan and George Bush owe their mind-sets to the Reformation. “In the USA, Protestantism, stemming from England and Scotland, set the original patterns of identity,” he writes. “American life is fired by a continuing energy of Protestant religious practice derived from the 16th century. So the Reformation … has created the ideology dominant in the world’s remaining superpower …”

And that ideology runs deep. Only one Roman Catholic has ever made it to the White House, and he was assassinated 40 years ago.

It is not clear from the context or the phrasing that Mr. Rosie realizes that JFK was not killed for his religious beliefs.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 PM


Chirac says ‘non’ to Blair’s plea to bury Iraq hatchet: French block Bush plan to send UN troops to restore peace (James Cusick, 9/21/03, Sunday Herald)

GEORGE W BUSH’S hopes of Tony Blair delivering a last-minute deal for a new United Nations resolution on Iraq were dashed by France yesterday.

The US president had hoped that Blair could persuade French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to back a new US-backed UN Security Council resolution on Iraq to “internationalise” the occupation of Iraq before he addresses the UN general assembly on Tuesday.

However, Blair failed to heal the gulf, with Chirac insisting that “we still do not agree on Iraq” and that he would only give his support if there was a swift return “within a few months” of sovereignty to the Iraqi people under UN auspices and not that of the US.

The White House is said to be furious with Chirac since France, as one of the five permanent members of the UN’s 15-strong Security Council, can veto any bid by the US to pass a new resolution on Iraq.

Maybe those ten thousand old folks this Summer didn't just die of neglect but of embarrassment at being French.

-Healing the wounds of war: Without UN help Blair and Bush face a long, expensive conflict. If the French have anything to do with it, that help will never arrive (James Cusick, 9/21/03, Sunday Herald)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:32 PM


Waiting for the Messiah of Eastern Parkway (JONATHAN MAHLER, September 21, 2003, NY Times Magazine)

In the center of the room, a group of about 25 men are dancing hypnotically in a circle. A few bounce little boys on their shoulders as they chant a single phrase over and over: Yechi adonenu morenu verabbenu melech hamoshiach leolam voed.

A middle-aged man standing near me catches my eye. Like everyone else here, he's wearing the Lubavitch uniform -- black wool suit, white shirt and black fedora. When he opens his mouth to speak, I expect his words to come out coated in Yiddish. Instead, they're pure Brooklyn.

''That's the No. 1 hit in Crown Heights,'' he says, stroking his big red beard and grinning.

It looks almost like a rain dance, only instead of precipitation, these Lubavitchers are trying to hasten the arrival of the messiah. There's just one problem. The words of the accompanying song -- ''May our master, teacher and rabbi, the king messiah, live forever'' -- refer specifically to a man who died nine years ago: Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the grand rabbi and spiritual leader of the Lubavitch movement from 1951 until 1994. The Yechi, as it is known, is sung as a demonstration of faith that their beloved rebbe will be back soon -- rising from the great beyond in a manner more befitting Jesus Christ than the savior of the Jewish people.

So if Yechi -- ''May he live'' -- is a demonstration of faith to some, it borders on a profane outburst to others. A swath of Lubavitchers are not only unwilling to utter the Yechi; they also refuse to be present in synagogues or at gatherings where it is chanted. To understand the concern of these so-called anti-messianists, consider that only a few men in Jewish history have been revered as the messiah after their deaths. One was Jesus. Another was Sabbatai Zevi, who won hundreds of thousands of followers across Palestine and Eastern Europe after publicly declaring himself the messiah in 1665. (Zevi's death was, relatively speaking, a small challenge to his adherents, who had already chosen to stick by him after his conversion to Islam.)

For the anti-messianists, their messianic brethren present a public-relations disaster of epic proportions. They worry that their Hasidic movement, which is 300 years old and has survived pogroms, Communism and the Holocaust, will become confused with a cult. What's more, they can hardly ignore the obvious Christian overtones of messianism: what kind of Jews believe in a second coming?

Why's it any more cult-like to be a Lubavitcher waiting for the second coming than to be a standard issue Jew waiting for the first?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:26 PM

A STAR IN THE MAKING (via Mike Daley)

AUDIO: Major Issues Lecture Series: Topic: Religious Liberty: The Most Precious of our Liberties (J. Kenneth Blackwell: Ohio Secretary of State,

Terrific speech by a man whose name you'll be hearing a lot in the not too distant future.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:24 PM


The Fight for the Democratic Party (ROBIN TONER, September 21, 2003, NY Times)

It is an old struggle in the Democratic Party, resurfacing with each new generation of activists and strategists since the old New Deal coalition came unstuck in the 1960's. Does the party need to move to the center, muting its liberal edge on cultural issues, economics and foreign policy in order to win? Promise to roll back just part of the tax cut, for example, not the whole thing?

Or does that lead to a watery "me-tooism," too careful, too calibrated, too uncertain of what it believes to rouse voters or to make a difference if its proponents actually win office?

Let Democrats be Democrats, is the thrust of one argument. Speak to the great American middle, not to each other, is the counter. Hearts and heads at war. [...]

In the end, many liberals cling to an old dream, of finding a candidate who appeals to both the base and the majority, and rebuilding the old coalition that seemed to shatter 35 years ago, argued Michael Kazin, a political historian at Georgetown University.

"They think that Americans, in their heart of hearts, really agree with them on education, on the environment, on some kind of national health insurance," Professor Kazin said. "And they feel they're completely right about the war in Iraq."

Those liberals are quite wrong. In fact, since the aberrational, Goldwater loss (he might well have beaten JFK), it is conservatives who win on the national level when they run explicitly on ideology. Republicans lose when they run on me-tooism, because it allows the Democrats to run to the center. Meanwhile, the Democrats haven't won a presidential election with a non-incumbent candidate running as a liberal since FDR in 1932 (and even he at least pretended to some considerable conservatism).

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:13 PM


As California Goes, So Goes the Country? (TODD S. PURDUM, September 21, 2003, NY Times)

MORE than 60 years ago, the columnist Westbrook Pegler, noting California's penchant for political experimentation and social turmoil, proposed that a guardian should be appointed and the state declared incompetent to manage its own affairs. Last week, California's recall election drama led the columnist George F. Will to call it "the sick man of the Republic."

It has always been easy for the rest of the country to bash California, and to dismiss its self-conscious Left Coast exceptionalism as just that. In fact, California has a state constitution and a long cultural tradition that allow for an unusual degree of political volatility, through citizen referendums, ballot initiatives and, yes, electoral recall. [...]

But with its particularly broad powers of referendum, California provides the rest of the country with examples of what can happen when voters get their way, unfiltered by politicians or legislators.

If Gray Davis did nothing else worthwhile in his political career--a strong possibility--he's at least gotten even the Left to admitting that too much democracy is a singularly bad idea.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:05 PM


The Perils of Bling-Bling (LOLA OGUNNAIKE, September 21, 2003, NY Times Magazine)

DRESSED in army green cargo pants and a flouncy white poet's shirt, Derek Khan stood in the study of his modest one-bedroom apartment in West Harlem, showing off a wall of framed photographs, a celebrity-studded monument to the fabled life that was once his.

"Oh, look at me and Pink," he exclaimed, pointing to a picture of himself with the fuchsia-haired rock star. The two were dressed in matching denim Dolce & Gabbana outfits. "That's me with Carlos Santana," he said, "and me with Chelsea Clinton." Pictures of Mr. Khan posed cheek to cheek with Bill and Hillary Clinton rested on two end tables in the living room. "I adore them," he gushed.

And so it went until Mr. Khan was asked about a photo of him presenting a diamond necklace to Aretha Franklin. It was then that his wide grin faded. After a long, heavy pause he said, "It kills me to look at this picture."

That visit took place just days before Sept. 3, when Mr. Khan, a fashion stylist, was sentenced to one and a half to three years in prison on charges of defrauding eight of New York's most prestigious jewelers, including Harry Winston, Graff and Piaget. He had borrowed more than $1.5 million worth of diamond earrings, necklaces and watches on behalf of hip-hop stars and other celebrities to wear to photo shoots and awards shows. Instead, he pawned the gems for cash, he admitted, which he used to support an extravagant lifestyle that included dinners at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurant 66 and $1,000 jars of Creme de la Mer skin moisturizer.

Reports of his arrest in March and his guilty plea in June ricocheted through the urban fashion world, where Mr. Khan was one of the chief architects of the look known as ghetto fabulous -- the marriage of street-savvy stars with luxury European fashion labels and diamonds big as gumballs. [...]

Beginning in the mid-90's, he convinced rappers to shed their Timberlands and baggy jeans for Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Harry Winston. "He was instrumental in introducing high fashion to the hip-hop community," said Anne Fahey, director of public relations for Chanel.

"Everybody's talking about bling-bling now," Mr. Khan said, riffling through a Prada shoe box filled with mementos. "Darling, please, I had Salt-N-Pepa in Van Cleef & Arpels in 1996."

So, the Miss America Pageant now has a multiple-choice quiz, kind of like Who Wants to be a Beauty Queen? The questions were so painfully obvious as to border on self-parody, though the Wife was stumped by the bling-bling one. We don't get much bling-blingage in New Hampshire.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:55 PM


Army Cleric Who Ministered to Detainees Is Arrested (ERIC LICHTBLAU, September 21, 2003, NY Times)

An Islamic chaplain in the United States Army who ministered to detainees at the camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the military holds captured militants and suspected terrorists is now himself under arrest while the Army investigates his activities, military and law enforcement officials said today. [...]

Investigators are looking into the possibility that he was sympathetic to prisoners there and was preparing to aid them in some undetermined way.

"That's the fear and the suspicion that the Army is pursuing," the second law enforcement official said.

Add that to the American Muslim soldier who rolled a grenade into a tent and you've gotta have some tense G.I.'s.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:11 PM


Monkeys strike for justice: Capuchin umbrage suggests sense of fairness extends beyond humans. (JOHN WHITFIELD, 18 September 2003, Nature)

Monkeys strike for equal pay. They down tools if they see another monkey get a bigger reward for doing the same job, US researchers have found.

The experiments show that notions of justice extend beyond humans, says Sarah Brosnan of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. This is probably an innate ability that evolved in our primate ancestor, she believes: "You need a sense of fairness to live in large, complex groups."

Brosnan and her colleague Frans de Waal taught brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) to swap plastic tokens for food. Normally, monkeys were happy to exchange a token for some cucumber.

But the monkeys took offence if they saw a neighbour getting a grape for a token. In about half of such trials, the short-changed capuchin either refused to hand over its token, or rejected the reward. Some threw the token or cucumber clean out of their cage.

The animals' umbrage was even greater if another monkey got a grape for nothing. About 80% rebelled in some way in this situation. [...]

Only female monkeys show this pique, the researchers found. Males were much less sensitive to inequality. Their minds may have been on other things, says Janson: "Males care about sex, and females care about food. The males might not consider the food differences worth worrying about."

Thanks to Bob Hawkins, for pointing out that the story quoted below had left out the vital fact of gender differences in behavior. We particularly like that twist because it tends to confirm our Grand Unified Theory, that everything just comes down to the eternal war between security and freedom, with females being generally (though not exclusively) more inclined towards security, for obvious reasons.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:31 PM


Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt's America by Eric Rauchway (C-SPAN, September 21, 2003, 8 & 11 pm)

How an assassin, a dead President, and Theodore Roosevelt defined the Progressive Era.

When President McKinley was murdered at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York on September 6, 1901, Americans were bereaved and frightened. Rumor ran rampant: A wild-eyed foreign anarchist with an unpronounceable name had killed the Commander-in-Chief. Eric Rauchway's brilliant Murdering McKinley re-creates Leon Czolgosz's hastily conducted trial and then traverses America as Dr. Vernon Briggs, a Boston alienist, sets out to discover why Czolgosz rose up to kill his President. While uncovering the answer that eluded Briggs and setting the historical record straight about Czolgosz, Rauchway also provides the finest portrait yet of Theodore Roosevelt at the moment of his sudden ascension to the White House.

For Czolgosz was neither a foreigner nor much of an anarchist. Born in Detroit, he was an American-made assassin of such inchoate political beliefs that Emma Goldman dismissed him as a police informant. Indeed, Brigg's search for answers---in the records of the Auburn New York State penitentiary where Czolgosz was electrocuted, in Cleveland where Leon's remaining family lived---only increased the mystery. Roosevelt, however, cared most for the meanings he could fix to this "crime against free government all over the world." For Roosevelt was every inch the calculating politician, his supposed boyish impulsiveness more feint than fact. At one moment encouraging the belief that Czolgosz's was a political crime, at the next that it was a deranged one, Roosevelt used the specter of McKinley's death to usher in Progressive Era America.

So why did Czolgosz do it? Only Rauchway's careful sifting of long-ignored evidence provides an answer: heart-broken, recently radicalized, and thinking he had only months to live, Leon decided to take the most powerful man in America with him.

September 20, 2003

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:23 PM


In His Final Days, Forgiveness (Newsday, 9/17/2003)

... in the life and death of a good man. Via Eve Tushnet.

Posted by John Resnick at 10:49 AM


America's rich get richer thanks to tax-cutting Bush (Andrew Gumbel, 9/20/2003, Independent News UK)

Forbes ascribed the fattening portfolios of the super-rich to the recovery of internet and other tech stocks after the dot-com meltdown of 2000-2001.

[...]The improving fortunes of those on the list also reflected the largesse being shown to the richest Americans by the Bush administration.

They are the main beneficiaries of tax cuts that will pump $100bn into the economy - most of it into the pockets of the top 1 per cent - this year alone. They have also benefited from measures such as the repeal of estate taxes and the lifting of various government regulations on industry and large businesses.

Such economic benefits are being enjoyed on a highly unequal basis, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think-tank.

So, despite what the authors of the study conclude, Mr. Gumbel chants the liberal mantra of class envy and inequality. Then he buttresses his argument with nonsensical conclusions: the estate tax? Um...everybody on the list was ALIVE last year and had already received whatever inheritance under prior tax law. Of course, according to liberal tax guidelines, it's only "fair" when we're taxing the money away from the richest 1% on a "highly unequal basis" - the reverse could never be true. But, for those whose fortunes are almost entirely pegged to the market value of their equity holdings, it might stand to reason that when the price of MSFT goes up 10% year over year, Mr. Gates' net worth would be likely to increase accordingly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM


Experts Say Court Panel Is Less Likely to Delay California Vote (ADAM LIPTAK, September 20, 2003, NY Times)

The 11-judge panel that will reconsider the California recall case includes eight appointed by Democratic presidents and just three appointed by Republicans, which at first blush might hearten the civil rights groups that had persuaded three judges, all appointed by Democrats, to delay the election in a decision issued Monday.

But the consensus among legal experts yesterday was that most of the judges on the larger panel of the court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, are either aligned with the circuit's more conservative wing or are moderate in the sense of avoiding drastic actions like calling off elections.

"As favorable as the original panel was for the A.C.L.U.," said Vikram Amar, a professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, "this is as favorable a panel as you can get for the other side." The A.C.L.U. Foundation of Southern California represents the civil rights groups in their challenge over punch-card voting.

Howard J. Bashman, a specialist in appellate law in Philadelphia, agreed, calling the panel about as conservative as one is likely to find on the Ninth Circuit.

"The panel seems to be much better than the recall proponents could have hoped for," Mr. Bashman said.

So, you know what it's time to to do:


It seems only fitting to top off the electoral festivities in the Golden State with a contest, to see who can best predict the outcome.

Here's the deal:

You pick the %'s of the "Yes" and "No" votes; the % of the vote that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cruz Bustamante will each get; and, as a tie breaker, the % of eligible voters who will turn out on October 7th.

We'll award whoever comes closest a copy of the magnificent new Illustrated version of James M. McPherson's Pulitzer-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the runner-up a hot--off-the-presses paperback copy of Rick Atkinson's Pulitzer-winning Army at Dawn (both courtesy of our friends at FSB Associates).

Please go to this page to enter your picks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 AM


Another Day, Another Fight (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris and Clothilde Ewing, Sept. 18, 2003, CBS News)

John Kerry and Howard Dean were at it again on Wednesday over whether to repeal all of Bush’s tax cuts. The latest row came after Howard Dean told a New Hampshire college student that he favored rolling back all of Bush’s tax cuts, saying the cuts left little money for grants and loans to pay tuition costs, according to the AP.

Enter the Kerry camp. “The problem with this economy is not that the middle class is making out like bandits,” the Kerry camp responded. “What George Bush has done to the middle class is wrong. And, unfortunately, what Howard Dean wants to do is wrong for our middle class families as well.”

Kerry has called for repealing tax cuts for people making more than $200,000 a year while maintaining the child tax credit and marriage tax penalty. Howard Dean on the other hand has called for repealing all of the Bush tax cuts to pay for health care, homeland security and jobs. (Dean said earlier this month that his campaign is taking a look at re-vamping their approach
on the middle class tax cut issue, but no new plan has to date been released.)

Apparently if you say something often enough you make yourself believe it. So, Democrats, after twenty-five years criticizing the Reagan tax cuts and three years criticizing George Bush's, have convinced themselves that being pro-taxes is good turf on which to fight out an election. That's certainly true in their primaries, but it's going to be deadly in the general.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:11 AM

MO' CASH (via Mike Daley):

Alone with the Man in Black: I went to do an interview with Johnny Cash - he so moved me that I gave up my job and became a novelist (Louisa Young, September 17, 2003, The Guardian)

So there I was, sitting in Johnny Cash's front room in Hendersonville, Tennessee, about 10 or 12 years ago. He'd been with journalists most of the day and I was the last. A couple, I knew from chatting to them, were hacks with less than no interest in country music. I was worse - I was a fan.

He's looking a little tired, and a little fed up, in a polite way. The room is dim, lots of furniture, glass-fronted cabinets full of June's crystal and cut-glass collection. [...]

We get to talking about the evils of the world. I mention a song he recorded: Here Comes That Rainbow Again, by Kris Kristofferson. It's a small drama. A pair of Okie kids, a waitress and some truckers are in a roadside cafe. The kids ask: how much are the candies? "How much have you got?" the waitress replies. "We've only a penny between us". "Them's two for a penny," she lies.

A trucker notices. "Them candies ain't two for a penny," he says, and "So what's it to you?' she replied. Then when the truckers leave "She called 'Hey, you left too much money!' 'So what's it to you?' they replied."

It sounds hokey - but it's not, not the way Cash sang it, and certainly not in its first incarnation - the song is based on an intensely touching scene from Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

I mention this.

"You know that book?" he says, his face lighting up.

"I love that book," I say. "And you know that book!" Why am I surprised that Johnny Cash has read Steinbeck?

"Know that book?" he says. "I was that book." He smiles at me. It's kind of like being smiled at by Monument Valley, or the Hoover Dam. He pronounces it "Grapesawrath", like Rose of Sharon is pronounced Rosasharn.

It's remarkable how many people, professional journalists in particular, are claiming a bot of Johnny Cash's life for their own. He's become Zelig-like in death.

-Hello. I'm Johnny Cash: The grand old man of country music died last week after a long illness. Before his death, Sylvie Simmons spent five extraordinary days with him at his home near Nashville. She is the last journalist to have talked to him (Sylvie Simmons, September 19, 2003, The Guardian)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 AM


Craving God's Attention (Graham Plaster, Relevant)

In the beginning, God created everything, and He saw that it was good. As the centerpiece to His creation, Adam and Eve enjoyed God’s intimate company, walking and talking with Him in the Garden of Eden. They were naked and unashamed. But in a moment they thought God wasn’t looking, they sinned against Him.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord

God called to the man, *Where are you?’ He answered, *I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’ And he said, *Who told you that you were naked?’” (Genesis 3:8-11).

Suddenly God’s gaze was more painful than pleasurable. On one hand, they were created to be with Him. On the other hand, they suddenly felt naked and inadequate. His attention became a double-edged sword.

After Cain killed his brother, God asked him, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain replied that he didn’t know. God asked, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse *” (Genesis 4:9-11).

Despite the fact that God seems far away at times, I can always feel the heat of His eyes on me when I sin intentionally. Like Cain, I am often tempted to cover my faults when His attention is on me. The light He shines in my darkness is penetrating and painful, but perhaps even harder to accept than His discipline is the great mercy He showers.

In the end, mightn't we see atheism as nothing more than the attempt to cover our faults by denying His gaze?

Belief in the Divine when being surrounded by evil (Abraham J. Twerski, M.D., Sept. 19, 2003, Jewish World Review)

A mother had brought her infant to the doctor for the second or third of a series of injections to immunize him against whooping cough, lockjaw, and diphtheria. When the baby saw the doctor clad in white, he began screaming, remembering only too well what had transpired on his last encounter. The baby clung to the mother, and when the mother tried to restrain the infant so the doctor could administer the injection, the baby began clawing, kicking, and biting the mother. She was now the enemy, collaborating with the vicious assailant who was about to stab him with the needle. Once the injection was over and the doctor left, the baby once again clung to the mother for dear life.

This scene was very revealing to me.

The infant, totally incapable of understanding anything about being protected from devastating diseases, perceived the process as an assault against him. The mother's collaboration with the assailant left no question but that she had turned against him, and he therefore attacked her. Once the painful episode was over and the mother released her restraint, the baby recognized her as his protector, as his life's source, and he turned to her for relief.

This is how we may sometimes relate to the Divine. When we are in distress, our anger at the Divine may be aroused, and we may express ourselves harshly toward the Divine we may rest assured that the Divine understands this very well, and does not love us any less for our attitude than the mother who is the recipient of the infant's hostility when she restrains him for the doctor. But after the particular incident is over, we turn back to the Divine for support and protection,

Being angry at the Divine is not at all blasphemous. Reflect for a moment. You cannot be angry at something that does not exist. Anger at the Divine is a very positive statement of one's conviction that the Divine exists, and is merely an expression of sharp disagreement brought on by distress. As one wise man said, "You can be for G-d or you can be against G-d. You just cannot be without G-d."

The acid test of faith is primarily the weathering of adversity without losing trust in The Divine, and the ability to accomplish this is a major step in spiritual progress.

And no one expresses more anger at God than atheists.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 AM


Out of the Ashes: Investigators find a suspect in a vicious arson fire that killed five dallas kids 15 years ago (JULIE LYONS, Sep 18, 2003, Dallas Observer)

He stood on lush grass that was soft as fleece and storybook green. The sun shone a brilliant white, sending waves of gentle warmth through his body, penetrating all the way to his bones. Someone was talking to him, reciting the names of his brothers and sisters and little niece: Demetra, Bernard, Ericka, Jamaal, Jasmas.

Ketrick Jordan knew he'd gone to see Jesus.

He rested there a moment, soaking up the light.

Then he woke up in hell.

He felt a jab of pain. Someone had stepped on his little finger, snapping a bone. He let out a holler.

The boot that broke his pinkie belonged to a fireman. "We have one alive," the man said.

The boy felt pain so excruciating that it saturated his nerve endings from head to toe. He was lying on his back in the grass; it was dark. He saw his aunt's legs walking by. He passed out.

He drifted back to consciousness in the ambulance and fixed his eyes on his underwear. They were pitch-black, like charred newspaper. Then he saw his legs. They were hideously burned, right down to the bone; he could actually see the bone poking out.

One of the paramedics started smearing some kind of ointment on Ketrick's raw limbs and torso. "This cream is gonna ease the pain," he said.

He saw his little brother Jamaal lying on his side on a stretcher, back turned, dressed in Ketrick's pajamas. He didn't stir, not a twitch. He seemed almost peaceful there.

"Is he alive?" Ketrick asked in a croaking voice.

The paramedics didn't say a word. They didn't even look at him.

The sirens hurt his ears, he remembered. He was extremely thirsty. At the hospital he saw his mother, Beverly Jordan, and begged her for water. She scrambled around until she found some. A doctor smacked the cup out of her hand.

"You'll kill him if you give him that water," Ketrick heard.

Later, he vaguely remembered someone saying they had to amputate his legs. Ketrick was barely hanging onto life; his heart had stopped more than once during those critical first hours. He'd suffered severe burns on more than half of his body, including his back, buttocks, arms and legs; if he were to survive, some of him would have to go.

When he woke up days later--after the first of some 30 surgeries over the years--he couldn't have cared less about his legs. He just wanted to know what happened to his family. He was in the burn unit at Parkland Memorial Hospital, and every now and then he'd hear someone shrieking in the room next door. He thought it was one of his brothers or sisters, though he'd later realize, through an abundance of firsthand experience, that it was just another patient going through the horribly painful process of getting his burns scrubbed.

"I was calling out their names," Ketrick recalls. "I'd ask the nurse, 'Is that my brother that I hear hollering? Is he all right?' She would never say nothing."

He figured it out pretty soon afterward--suspicions confirmed one day by the television in his hospital room, where he saw the grainy pictures of his two brothers, two sisters and niece, who ranged in age from 2 to 18. They were all dead, victims of one of the most heinous crimes in Dallas history.

It would come to be known as the Strawberry Trail fire, for the street in South Oak Cliff's Highland Hills neighborhood where it took place on September 28, 1988. It remains the city's deadliest arson/murder case on record and went unsolved for 13 years, even though police and fire investigators quickly assembled a list of street names for suspects.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 AM


David vs. Cash Flow: Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber are in a pickle. (JONATHAN EIG, September 19, 2003 , Wall Street Journal)

Last November, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber were big Hollywood stars. Now they're in a pickle.

"Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie" was one of the season's surprise hits, grossing more than $24 million at the box office, though its success was no surprise to longtime fans of Bob, Larry and the rest of the cartoon evangelical vegetables.

VeggieTales have dominated the Christian video market for the better part of a decade. The stories are silly and cute, with pop-culture references sprinkled throughout. Their messages are decidedly uncomplicated. If a child is unsure what to make of "Josh and the Big Wall," in which salad greens fight the battle of Jericho, the answer is right there on the front of the box. "A Lesson in Obedience," it says.

After its triumphant transition to the big screen, the company responsible for the VeggieTales franchise, Big Idea Productions, seemed a step closer to one of the goals stated on its Web site: "To become one of the top five family media brands in the country [rivaling Disney, Time Warner and other giants], and the most trusted of the family media brands."

Anybody seen The Ballad of Little Joe yet?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:54 AM


Breast Implants Linked to Suicides (Sid  Kirchheimer, Sept. 12, 2003, WebMD Medical News)

A second study in only seven months shows that women who get breast implants commit suicide three times more often than women who don't - but at least one expert cautions that the findings could be misleading.

Both of these studies, done in Europe and together involving nearly 6,000 women who had the popular cosmetic surgery, follow a 2001 report on American women suggesting that those who get breast implants for augmentation face a nine-fold increased risk of suicide compared to women who don't get the procedure, and that they commit suicide four times more often than those who have other types of plastic surgery.

"All three studies suggest the need for surgeons who are doing these procedures to conduct thorough pre-operative psychological screening of patients," says David B. Sarwer, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry and surgery at the Center for Human Appearances at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "But very few are doing that."

Gosh, it seems like they'd be so well-adjusted and have such terrific self-images...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:50 AM


Eric Rudolph Slept Here: The most wanted man in America survived five years in the North Carolina woods, eating salamanders, sleeping on the cold ground, and stalking deer. Or so he says. Spend a night in his secret mountain hideaway and you get the feeling there's more to this story. (Bruce Barcott, September 2003, Outside Magazine)

"MAN COULD LIVE A LONG TIME IN THESE WOODS." Richard Farner says, pausing to lean against a red oak and light a cigarette. "If he knew what he was doing."

Deep in the foggy mountains of western North Carolina, Farner and I are picking our way up a steep, wooded slope marked off with police tape. "It's no big deal, surviving out here," Farner tells me. "There's plenty to eat. Bear, boar, deer, coon, possum, turkey, squirrel. Look there," he says, pointing to a spot where some critter has dug up the leafy forest floor. "There's some old hog roots."

Farner is a wire-thin hunting guide who's stalked game in these woods since he was seven. He's 52 now, but doesn't look a day over 90. He keeps his salt-and-pepper hair bunched in a ponytail, chain-smokes GT One Lights, and views the world through ghostly blue eyes. A tattoo on his right forearm reads tennessee. On his left: HILL BILLY.

It's early June, a little over a week since the capture of Eric Robert Rudolph, the 36-year-old accused serial bomber who, from January 1998 to May 2003, eluded one of the most intense manhunts in United States history by disappearing into the southern Appalachian wilderness. Farner and I are clawing up this muddy hollow to find Rudolph's last known hideout and explore the question of the moment: How did he do it?

After his capture, Rudolph told the authorities about two of his forest sanctuaries. His so-called summer camp sat in a beech stand on a hill a couple of hundred yards off Interstate 74, on the edge of the small mountain town of Murphy, in Cherokee County. His more remote winter camp was secreted in the steep, laurel-covered mountains nine miles east of Murphy, in the 530,000-acre Nantahala National Forest. After his arrest, Rudolph reportedly told his jailers that he'd survived on his own, eating salamanders and acorns, and that life on the lam was like a rugged five-year camping trip. The FBI isn't so sure. Following Rudolph's capture, federal agents continued combing the hills and grilling the locals, looking for more camps and evidence that might implicate an accomplice-or accomplices-who aided and abetted the fugitive's flight from justice.

Farner and I didn't even try to get to the off-limits summer camp, where evidence is still being processed. But the feds have finished their search of Rudolph's winter camp-on Tarkiln Ridge, a little-used cut of national forest in the Fire's Creek recreation area-which is where we've headed.

With a little snow, Tarkiln Ridge would qualify as a black-diamond run: It's relentlessly steep. After locating the FBI's trail and hiking about a half-mile and 700 vertical feet up the ridge, we reach a slight break in the slope. Here lie the remains of Rudolph's winter camp, a collection of small living stations scattered over an acre of terrain, camouflaged by patches of hemlock and laurel. At the camp's lowest point, a small rock outcropping serves as a storm shelter and sentry post. (An assault rifle was recovered here-a Belgian .223 FN/FAL, according to one report.) Two pits, which apparently served as food caches, are dug into the hillside; one is two feet deep, the other goes more than five feet down. Federal investigators emptied both but left behind an enormous spill of the grain that Rudolph allegedly stole from a farming operation near the Andrews-Murphy airfield.

Farner scoops some up. "Feed corn," he says. "Rye. Clay peas."

A boulder the size of a tractor-trailer marks the upper limit of the camp. Just below it sits Rudolph's fireplace. The fugitive had dug a bench into the hillside and inlaid it with 20 pieces of flat, blue-gray slate. The bench was constructed with painstaking care. I've seen sloppier inlay work done at $75 an hour.

I sit on the fireplace and sketch the camp. Farner lights a smoke and joins me. He nudges a pebble of coal out of Rudolph's small fire pit and looks puzzled.

"Five years," he says, "and that's all the ashes they is?"

The scene around us throws doubt on Rudolph's contention that he spent half a decade alone in the woods-or at least that he spent most of it here. There's no latrine, no animal bones. I've read that Rudolph's pit caches held 50 to 100 pounds of grain, which itself raises a question.

"That feed comes in 50-pound sacks," says Farner. "Can you figure him carrying a 50-pound sack up that ridge?"

Well, maybe. It's only a six-mile hike from the airfield to here, and nothing says Rudolph couldn't have dumped half the sack before making the trip. Other things don't add up, though. At one point, while I circle the remains of Rudolph's fire, a low-hanging branch slaps me in the throat. The branch would have nailed Rudolph-who at five foot eleven is five inches shorter than me-square in the eyes.

"If you stayed here, how many times would that branch hit you before you cut it off?" Farner asks. And what about that bench, which is just right for two people: Did Rudolph have guests? Farner draws on his cigarette, exhales, and spits. "He didn't do this alone," he says. "That man had help."

You know, you can make a coherent case for using violence to stop abortion--taking guilty life to save the innocent--but it never fails that the folks who resort to it are nutjobs. It would seem that the same ethos that leads one to value life in the first place must act as a restraint on those who are not deranged when it comes to even seemingly justifiable killing. Those who do end up killing do not have the courage of their convictions but are unstable.

In somewhat the same vein, this story comes as no surprise, Relatives at risk of suicide (Sarah Boseley, September 9, 2003, The Guardian)

Nearly a third of those who are investigated for the "mercy killing" of a friend or relative with a terminal illness end up committing suicide because of the trauma of what they have done and the strain of society's reaction, it was revealed yesterday.
People who proactively kill people, for whatever reason, appear to have a problem. Thus, the euthanasia movement ended up with the demented Dr. Kevorkian as its poster boy.

The question then is why so many want to turn this into a culture of death.

-The Violent Anti-Abortionist's Handbook: Executed for kiling an abortion-clinic doctor, Paul Hill leaves a book he hopes will inspire others to follow in his stead  (BROWARD LISTON , 9/05/03, TIME)
-The Executioner's Hill (Steve Kellmeyer, 9/06/03, Catholic Exchange)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:22 AM


The Sound and the Fury: Lester Bangs and the relevance of rock criticism (David L. Ulin, 9/05/03, LA Weekly)

For anyone who grew up reading Creem and Crawdaddy in the 1970s, when rock & roll still seemed like it could change everything, Lester Bangs was an unofficial avatar, the rock critic's rock critic, his ability to make connections (who else would open a piece on the roots of punk by referencing literary critic Leslie Fiedler?) surpassed only by his honesty, his willingness to change his mind in public, as well as his own odd strand of empathy, his tendency to examine every nuance of an issue until he often ended up identifying with the very people he was arguing against. What you got from Bangs, in other words, was integrity, a sense that this stuff mattered, that anything could be the subject of serious consideration if you were willing to engage with it deeply enough.

Bangs died in 1982 at 33, the victim of an accidental Darvon overdose. In the generation since, he has come to occupy his own corner of the pop-culture pantheon, been mentioned in songs by R.E.M. and the Ramones, and even portrayed, in a bit of fact-meets-fiction reinvention, by Philip Seymour Hoffman in the film Almost Famous. The more iconified he's become, the greater the distance between his image and his writing, between the myth of Bangs as gonzo genius and the reality of what he had to say. It was at least in part to set the record straight that Greil Marcus compiled Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, a 1987 collection of Bangs' writing, and it's for the same reason that John Morthland has now edited Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste, a companion volume that gathers more than 50 pieces on, among others, Jimi Hendrix, Sid Vicious, David Johansen, Captain Beefheart and Patti Smith. Reading them again, you can't help but revel in Bangsí vitality as a writer, the acuity of his thoughts on music and American life. "Given that one of his pet themes concerns romanticizing," Morthland points out, "or reducing to their most colorful caricature, pop figures (especially those who die young) rather than looking harder at the totality of their lives and the work that brought them to prominence in the first place, it's the very least a book such as this should do."

Like Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste is an attempt to show Bangs at his most incisive, as skeptical and idealistic, committed and disillusioned, at once. If that sounds contradictory, it is, and unapologetically so -- a stance that emerges most profoundly when he takes on his heroes, who include Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones and Lou Reed. Some of the pleasure here comes from hindsight; you have to laugh as Bangs asserts that, in a 1973 poll "asking who would be the next rock person to die, Keith [Richards] came in first. Lou Reed was second" (or when he comments, "The Rolling Stones lasting twenty, thirty years -- what a stupid idea that would be"). More to the point is his understanding that in an art as commercial as rock music, the acts we love are destined to disappoint and move us at the same time. Here is Bangs on the Stones' Sucking in the Seventies: "The Stones confess they sucked for most of the decade, but we sucked too, hey just one big happy family, except guess who sucked the bigger one?" Or Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music (64 minutes of electronic screeching): "Most of the people who buy Metal Machine Music are going to be pretty mad at Lou, but it's an even bigger joke on RCA, and the ultimate fall guy is the artist himself." What Bangs is getting at is complicity ó between the artist and the system, and both of them and the audience. ì[L]ook around you," he demands. "Do those look like people? Hell, they ain't even good enough to be animals. Androids is more like it, mutants at best. They have become the machines they worship, successfully post-human. Now go look in the mirror. Like what you see? Think you're pretty cool, eh? Well, reflect on the fact that they all think the same thing when they look in their mirrors. And you look just as grotesque to them as they do to you."

Psychotic Reactions is an excellent guide to how godawful and pretentious mainstream rock music had become by the 70's and how enjoyable that made punk rock when it came along to humble it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 AM


Anger over adultery stoning case (CNN.Com, September 19, 2003)

Pressure is mounting on the Nigerian government to spare the life of a Muslim woman condemned to death by stoning for adultery.

An Islamic court in the northern Nigerian city of Katsina will next week rule on whether to acquit 31-year-old single mother Amina Lawal on charges of adultery, or uphold the sentence of death by stoning.

Protesters in South Africa and Nigeria have demanded a reversal of the decision first handed down in March last year and unsuccessfully appealed in August.

Lawal gave birth on January 6 last year, more than two years after her divorce but only six-and-a-half months after Katsina formally reinstituted Islamic Shariah law. [...]

South African protester Nomsa Makhaye echoed the sentiment of her president when she said to CNN, "It takes two to the tango, so why is it that just the woman must suffer?"

Nomsa Makhaye has it right. Stone the lover too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 AM


'As Long as It Takes' Iraqis are on the road to democratic self-government. (COLIN POWELL, September 19, 2003, Wall Street Journal)

I have just returned from Iraq. What I saw there convinced me, more than ever, that our liberation of Iraq was in the best interests of the Iraqi people, the American people and the world. [...]

Streets are lined with shops selling newspapers and books with opinions of every stripe. Schools and universities are open, teaching young Iraqis the skills to live in freedom and compete in our globalizing world. Parents are forming PTAs to support these schools, and to make sure that
they have a voice in their children's future. The hospitals are operating, and 95% of the health clinics are open to provide critical medical services to Iraqis of all ages.

Most important of all, Iraqis are on the road to democratic self-government. All the major cities and over 85% of the towns have councils. In Baghdad, I attended a city council meeting that was remarkable for its normalcy. I saw its members spend their time talking about what most city councils are concerned with--jobs, education and the environment. At the national level I
met with an Iraqi Governing Council that has appointed ministers and is taking responsibility for national policy. In fact, while I was there, the new minister of justice announced the legal framework for a truly independent judiciary.

The Governing Council has appointed a central bank governor who will be in charge of introducing Iraq's new, unified currency next month. It also recently endorsed new tariffs and is now discussing world-class reforms to open the country to productive foreign investment. Now, the Governing Council is turning its attention to the process for drawing up a democratic constitution for a democratic Iraq.

I was truly moved when I met with my counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, free Iraq's first foreign minister. He will soon be off to New York as part of the Iraqi delegation to the opening of the United Nations General Assembly.

Iraq has come very far, but serious problems remain, starting with security. [...]

How long will we stay in Iraq? We will stay as long as it takes to turn full responsibility for governing Iraq over to a capable and democratically elected Iraqi administration. Only a government elected under a democratic constitution can take full responsibility and enjoy full legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people and the world.

Boy, you can't tell the hard-headed realists from the starry-eyed neocons in this administration without a program.

September 19, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 PM


Wes Clark's bad day (Joan Walsh, September 19, 2003, Salon)

It's not time for panic about the Clark campaign, or rage about the top-down groundswell behind him, only questions: What was the retired general spending his time on in the last three months, while the world knew he was only his wife's blessing away from declaring his candidacy? Wasn't there a minute to catch up on the Brady Bill, to figure out whether he'd have voted for the Iraq war declaration in Congress last October and exactly why, to research whether or not he voted in 1972 -- "I hope I voted then," he said, "and I would have voted for [Richard] Nixon." And why are party big shots so enamored of this politically untested general who admittedly performed well in CNN studios but doesn't seem ready for the rough and tumble of campaign trail journalism?

It wasn't the political positions Clark stated that were disturbing as much as the apparent lack of thought behind them. His confessing that despite his doubts about the Iraq war he "probably" would have supported the resolution in Congress isn't indefensible -- John Kerry made the same decision for much the same reason (although he's finding the nuances of his choice tough to defend politically). What's disturbing is Clark's appearing to have hardly thought about it much until now, and the vacillating way he defended his position once he took it.

A moment after saying he'd probably have voted for the resolution, he added, "I don't know if I would have or not. I've said it both ways because when you get into this, what happens is you have to put yourself in a position -- on balance, I probably would have voted for it." But later, talking about Howard Dean's opposition to the resolution, Clark said, "I think he's right. That in retrospect we should never have gone in there. I didn't want to go in there either."

The most surreal moment came when the Iraq questions were getting tougher, and Clark called for his press aide Mary Jacoby. "Mary, help!" the retired general cried, in a moment that could define him, and not as the tough military leader his supporters tout him as. The soothing Jacoby reminded Clark, "You said you would have voted for the resolution as leverage for a U.N.-based solution."

"Right," Clark responded. "Exactly."

The problem for the General is that the Left has already gotten in bed with Howard Dean, so their press minions aren't going to let him slide on this stuff.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 PM


'I do get rattled': Paul Krugman is a mild-mannered university economist. He is also a New York Times columnist and President Bush's most scathing critic. Hence the death threats. (Oliver Burkeman, September 19, 2003, The Guardian)

The letters that Paul Krugman receives these days have to be picked up with tongs, and his employer pays someone to delete the death threats from his email inbox. This isn't something that can be said of most academics, and emphatically not of economic theorists, but Krugman isn't a typical don. Intercepting him in London on his way back home to New Jersey after a holiday in France, I half expect to find a couple of burly minders keeping a close eye on him, although they would probably have to be minders with a sound grasp of Keynesian macroeconomics. "I can't say I never get rattled," the gnomish, bearded 50-year-old Princeton University professor says a little hesitantly, looking every inch the ivory-tower thinker he might once have expected to be. "When it gets personal, I do get rattled."

What drives his critics hysterical is not, it ought to be clarified, his PhD thesis on flexible exchange rates, or his well-regarded textbook on the principles of economics, co-written with his wife, the economist Robin Wells; nor the fact that he is probably the world authority on currency crises. For the past five years, Krugman - a lifelong academic with the exception of a brief stint as an economics staffer under Reagan - has been moonlighting as a columnist on the New York Times op ed page, a position so influential in the US that it has no real British parallel. And though that paper's editors seem to have believed that they were hiring him to ponder abstruse matters of economic policy, it didn't work out that way.

Accustomed to the vigorous ivy league tradition of calling a stupid argument a stupid argument (and isolated, at home in New Jersey, from the Washington dinner-party circuit frequented by so many other political columnists) he has become pretty much the only voice in the mainstream US media to openly and repeatedly accuse George Bush of lying to the American people: first to sell a calamitous tax cut, and then to sell a war.

Given our druthers, which we aren't, wouldn't you prefer that the Left call conservatives fascists that that they wallow in this kind of self-pity. Sure, the Nazi comparisons are fatuous, but they're less embarrassing to read than this frivel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 PM


Time for action (Date: 18 September 2003)
Sir - Earlier this year, Fidel Castro's regime imprisoned 75 representatives of the Cuban opposition. More than 40 co-ordinators of the Varela project - which draws on the current Cuban constitution and calls for the holding of a referendum on the freedom of speech and assembly, the release of political prisoners, free enterprise and free elections - and more than 20 journalists, together with other representatives of various pro-democracy movements, were sentenced in mock trials to prison terms ranging from six to 28 years, merely for daring to express an opinion other than the official one.

Yet the voice of free-thinking Cubans is growing louder, and that is precisely what Castro and his government are justifiably worried about. Despite the omnipresent secret police and government propaganda, thousands of Cubans have already demonstrated their courage by signing project Varela. The regime's response to project Varela, and similar initiatives, is at best disregard and at worst persecution.

The latest wave of confrontations, accompanied by anti-European diatribes from the Cuban political leadership, is an expression of weakness and desperation. The regime is running short of breath, just as the party rulers in the Iron Curtain countries did at the end of the 1980s.

Internal opposition is growing in strength; even the police raids in March failed to bring it to its knees. The times are changing, the revolution is ageing with its leaders, the regime is nervous. Castro knows only too well that there will come a day when his revolution will perish with himself.

No one knows exactly what will happen then, but it is clear in Brussels, Washington, Mexico, among the exiles as well as Cuban residents themselves, that freedom, democracy and prosperity in Cuba depend on support for Cuban dissidents, and that such support will increase the chances of Cuba's peaceful transition to democracy.

Today, it is the responsibility of the democratic world to support representatives of the Cuban opposition, irrespective of how long the Cuban Stalinists manage to cling to power. The Cuban opposition must enjoy the same international support as political dissidents did in divided Europe.

Vaclav Havel, Former President of the Czech Republic,
Arpad Göncz, Former President of Hungary,
Lech Walesa, Former President of Poland

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:19 PM


Court To Review Recall Delay (AP)

Without commenting on the merits, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it would convene an 11-member panel to consider the timing of the vote on whether to recall Gov. Gray Davis. For the moment, Friday's action delays a likely appeal to the Supreme Court.

A date for the rehearing was not immediately announced.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:57 PM


Single-sex classes found to cut failure rate: Indiana school expands program (DICK KAUKAS, 9/16/03, The Courier-Journal

One year ago, Clarksville (Ind.) Middle School began a quiet experiment with its seventh-graders, separating boys and girls during math, English, science and other core courses. Genders were mixed only in classes like music and art, and they could socialize in the halls and at lunch.

By the end of the first semester, most teachers and staff were sold: 78 percent of girls and 60 percent of boys passed all subjects for that semester, compared to 69 percent of girls and 46 percent of boys when they were sixth-graders.

"I don't think you can argue with those kinds of numbers," said Tammy Haub, the English teacher who suggested the change. [...]

Interest in classes separated by gender has been encouraged by the federal "No Child Left Behind Act," which was pushed by President Bush. One section of the law encourages school districts to be "innovative" and set up same-gender classes as they try to improve student achievement and expand parental choice.

Critics from organizations such as the ACLU and the National Organization for Women contend that single-sex classes are a step backward, and probably violate current federal laws and regulations that prohibit such programs in all but the most limited situations, such as physical education classes involving body contact.

Better to provide an inferior education that to offend liberal sensibilities, eh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:43 PM


A Deceptive Abortion Ban (NY Times, September 19, 2003)

It now looks likely that in the coming weeks, President Bush will sign into law a ban on so-called partial birth abortion, thereby culminating a long campaign of deception. The measure, which has been constantly misrepresented as limited to late-term abortions, would in fact ban common abortion procedures used after the first trimester of pregnancy but well before fetal viability.

This will be a substantial blow against women's reproductive freedom, a clear contradiction of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

Even though Harry Blackmun was typically confused, the language of the decision states the opposite of what the Times asserts:
[W[e do not agree that, by adopting one theory of life, Texas may override the rights of the pregnant woman that are at stake. We repeat, however, that the State does have an important and legitimate interest in preserving and protecting the health of the pregnant woman, whether she be a resident of the State or a nonresident who seeks medical consultation and treatment there, and that it has still another important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life. These interests are separate and distinct. Each grows in substantiality as the woman approaches term and, at a point during pregnancy, each becomes "compelling."

With respect to the State's important and legitimate interest in the health of the mother, the "compelling" point, in the light of present medical knowledge, is at approximately the end of the first trimester. This is so because of the now-established medical fact, referred to above at 149, that until the end of the first trimester mortality in abortion may be less than mortality in normal childbirth. It follows that, from and after this point, a State may regulate the abortion procedure to the extent that the regulation reasonably relates to the preservation and protection of maternal health. Examples of permissible state regulation in this area are requirements as to the qualifications of the person who is to perform the abortion; as to the licensure of that person; as to the facility in which the procedure is to be performed, that is, whether it must be a hospital or may be a clinic or some other place of less-than-hospital status; as to the licensing of the facility; and the like.

This means, on the other hand, that, for the period of pregnancy prior to this "compelling" point, the attending physician, in consultation with his patient, is free to determine, without regulation by the State, that, in his medical judgment, the patient's pregnancy should be terminated. If that decision is reached, the judgment may be effectuated by an abortion free of interference by the State.

With respect to the State's important and legitimate interest in potential life, the "compelling" point is at viability. This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother's womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications. If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.

Obviously banning late term abortions is explicitly allowed by Roe.

Posted by John Resnick at 2:43 PM

SAFE AND LEGAL: (via Brian Boys)

Pregnant teen's death under investigation; East Bay woman had taken RU-486, according to father (Julian Guthrie, 9/19/2003, SF Chronicle)

"On Sunday, she was crying and crying, and she told me she was having cramps, that she had a bad period," said Patterson, a home builder who said he had learned of the pregnancy only hours before his daughter died.

Between Sunday and Wednesday, Holly Patterson was bleeding severely, in acute pain and unable to walk, her father said. Her boyfriend rushed her late Sunday to Valley Care Medical Center in Pleasanton, Patterson said. She was given painkillers and released, Patterson said.

"She went back into the hospital in the middle of the night Wednesday, and she died at 2 p.m.," Patterson said. "The doctor told me that she hadn't aborted all of the fetus, and she had fragments left in her, and she had a massive systemic infection and went into septic shock."

A pit bull attorney should be able to help these folks sue Planned Parenthood out of existence but, odds are, it will be the hospital that takes the rap for this horrible tragedy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:14 PM


Government Says It Has Yet to Use New Power to Check Library Records (ERIC LICHTBLAU, September 19, 2003, NY Times)

After months of increasingly noisy protests, fears of Big Brother run amok and government warnings about needless "hysteria," the Justice Department gave its first public accounting today of how many times it had used its newfound counterterrorism powers to demand records from libraries and elsewhere.

The answer is zero.

This illustrates the degree to which Ashcroft the jack-booted Ahab is a figment of the fevered imaginations of the Left and libertarian Right. Where they see a repressed and repressive weirdo, eager to comb through their personal lives, is in fact a career civil libertarian reluctantly requesting extraordinary powers for use exclusively to protect the national security.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:37 PM


A radical idea (Tom Purcell, Sept. 19, 2003, Jewish World Review)

This story involves free speech, a lawsuit, a lobster, conservative college students, and some very radical ideas.

Maybe I better explain. [...]

In 1991, a resident assistant at Carnegie Mellon University was required to attend a "Gay and Lesbian Sensitivity Training Session." Pat Mooney participated in the lectures until his supervisor began passing out pink triangles. All resident assistants were told to wear the triangles as a sign of solidarity with gay students.

Mooney, a devout Catholic, declined to wear the pin. He told his supervisor he would not wear it because of his religious-based opposition to the homosexual lifestyle. He was immediately suspended, then terminated the next day.

Mooney's lawyer, Peter Blume, filed a federal lawsuit against the university for violating Mooney's constitutionally-protected right of free speech and religion in the workplace (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act). After five months of negative publicity, the university settled the case in Mooney's favor.

That brings us to the lobster.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:31 PM


Ariel Sharon and the Geometry of Occupation: Israel’s ‘barrier’, ‘wall’, or ‘separation fence’ across the West Bank is the latest architectural expression of a twenty-year old political strategy. In a mind-opening three-part series that extends his renowned “The Politics of Verticality” into a new dimension, Eyal Weizman offers a penetrating analysis of how ideas about power, security and planning intersect with politics to shape the spaces in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict develops. (Eyal Weizman, 9 - 9 - 2003, Open Democracy)

This essay extends and connects with the general thesis set out in my 2002 openDemocracy project, “The Politics of Verticality”. It examines the process by which, after the expansion of Israel’s borders following the 1967 war, these borders have been dissolved and transformed: from being fixed fortified lines, laid out at the edges of the occupied territories, to fragmented and scattered inner frontiers across both horizontal and vertical dimensions.

In this process, the transformation of the territories occupied by Israel since 1967 became a parallel conflict, carried out with pencil lines on the drafting tables of military and civilian planners and architects. The West Bank as we know it today has come to be, not as a result of a collection of accumulated haphazard decisions of incremental politics, but as the spatial outcome of a strategic planning.

The design and construction of the “security barrier” through and around the West Bank is to complete the last stage in the Israeli project of territorial control.

It may appear that with the construction of such a border-like apparatus, Israel has finally surrendered to military contingencies and political pressures, thus transforming its entrenched territorial policies (how else could Ariel Sharon, the person who epitomises Israel’s settlement project, be the one finally to set a border through the “heart of the land of Israel”?).

But beneath the apparent change lies the same stubborn and implacable ideological regularity – the use of apparently temporary security-architecture to create permanent facts on the ground, the rejection of borderlines as the limits of state territory, the preference for ever-flexible internal frontiers. This is, in short, the spatial legacy of Ariel Sharon.

Ariel Sharon thus guides the progress of the “roadmap” and the barrier’s path as two complementary processes: the former is the process of bringing forth a Palestinian state in temporary borders, the latter is in the process by which these borders will solidify unilaterally in both space and time.

The analysis is right; the conclusion wrong. The only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is for Israel to dictate terms to the Palestinians, recognize their state, and face them as a rival nation. It is, however, in Israel's own best interest to cede more rather than less territory to that Palestine and to make it a contiguous whole, both for reasons of fairness and so that internal travel in Palestine will not require contact with Israelis.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:35 PM


Capuchins prove we are brothers under the skin (Roger Highfield, 18/09/2003, Daily Telegraph)

The idea of fair play and justice was probably invented by monkeys 40 million years ago, says a study today. [...]

The research is published in Nature by a team led by Ms Sarah Brosnan and Dr Frans de Waal at the Yerkes National Primate Research Centre of Emory University, and the Living Links Centre, Atlanta.

The team taught brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) to swap tokens for food. Normally, capuchins were happy to exchange their tokens for cucumber. But if they saw their partner getting a grape - which is more coveted by capuchins - they took offence.

Some refused to pay, others took the cucumber but refused to eat it. The animal's umbrage was even greater if the other monkey was rewarded for doing nothing. They did more than sulk, sometimes throwing the food out of their cage.

These emotional reactions are akin to those which underpin economics. "The sense of fairness underpins co-operation and other economic decisions in humans," she said.

Previous experiments with humans have shown that they become less co-operative if treated unfairly, and punish the unco-operative - even if their own pay-off declines as a result. "People often forgo an available reward because it is not what they expect or think is fair," said Ms Brosnan.

This has baffled scientists and economists, who traditionally have argued all economic decisions are rational - in other words, it is better to eat cucumber than nothing at all.

However, the capuchin study reveals an emotional sense of fairness plays a key role in such decision-making, said Ms Brosnan. This sense of equality may be common among social primates.

The most interesting thing about the study is not how similar their reactions are to ours, but how different. Under the same circumstances Cain slew Abel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:31 PM


Russia Tests Juries By Trial and Error: Courts Slowly Shedding Soviet Model (Peter Baker, September 2, 2003, Washington Post )

The first time the jurors came back with their verdict, the judge told them they hadn't done it right. They forgot to rule on one of the charges and made a mess trying to alter the language of one of the others. So he sent them out to try again.

A few minutes later, the jurors came back. The judge looked at their decision, shook his head and pronounced it incomplete again. He sent them back a second time.

And then a third.

And a fourth.

And a fifth.

The rueful jury foreman shrugged his apologies. "It's the first time," he called out. "The first pancake is always messed up."

So it went as the Moscow City Court concluded its first trial by jury since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, finally adopting a concept that only slowly has been reintroduced in Russia over the last decade in a halting effort to transform a judicial system still dominated by a Soviet mentality. Plenty of pancakes have been messed up in Russia's troubled attempt to build civil society, a relationship between rulers and the ruled based on democracy and law. The murder trial of Igor Bortnikov offered a glimpse into why.

Over the course of eight days in Courtroom 331 last month, a retired air force officer, a pipe fitter, an unemployed cook, a few homemakers, several pensioners and an engineer-turned-astrologer struggled with what it meant to be jurors at a time when the Russian state has only reluctantly begun surrendering authority to its people.

They heard the case in a country where historically under czars and communists the rights of the individual were subordinated to the state. Even now, in Russia's incomplete experiment with court reform, the judge still wields considerable influence, juries are permitted to consider only the most serious crimes and their acquittals often are overturned on appeal.

Yet somehow, sometimes, juries filled with men and women who grew up in the Soviet era are pushing back by questioning evidence, forcing the state to justify its conclusions and even reaching their own independent judgments.

"For a person who's never been involved in a court before, of course it's very difficult," conceded the foreman, Alexander Abramov, 61, who was born when the country was run by dictator Joseph Stalin. "There were some bumps. . . . This court reform, this participation of jurors, it seems to me, needs to be perfected."

For more than eight decades, Russians charged with a crime in Moscow were brought shackled into cramped courtrooms, where Communist Party-appointed judges and citizen assessors almost invariably convicted them -- that is, if they received that much due process.

The right to a trial by a jury of one's peers was enshrined in the new Russian constitution in 1993, but in most courts, power has remained in the hands of judges -- who convict defendants 99.5 percent of the time, according to annual Justice Ministry statistics. It has taken 10 years to put the jury concept into practice in the aging headquarters of the Moscow City Court.

The introduction of such notions as the presumption of the defendant's innocence and the prosecutor's burden of proof might give the system a measure of credibility with the Russian people.

Yet change does not come easily.

This is a long, fascinating, somewhat frightening, account of one of Russia's first trials by jury, a right which we take for granted, but which Mr. Baker amply demonstrates is no easy thing to create out of whole cloth.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:48 AM


Poorer nations celebrate trade talks failure (Anil Netto, 9/19/03, Asia Times)

The failure of the talks is regarded by the developing nations in Africa and Asia as a signal of their arrival as a new force to be reckoned with in the global economic stakes. The collapse of the talks follows a similar breakdown in 1999 in Seattle, Washington and of a later meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Bangkok.

But there is a growing danger that the WTO will recede into the background, regarded by the developed nations as an irrelevant talking-shop for protesters, even as they negotiate the real business of international trade under divide-and-rule tactics to cut even more lopsided bilateral deals than in the past. There is already serious and growing concern about the tendency of developed nations to negotiate bilateral trade treaties with poorer countries of their choosing, at the time of their choosing, to their advantage.

The Cancun meetings collapsed when the world's poorer countries closed ranks and refused to discuss new issues until some basic issues such as agricultural reforms had been tackled. They refused to accept a proposal that would have meant only small cuts in developed nations' agricultural subsidies and that too only if developing nations agreed to open up on the new issues to allow foreign firms easier access into developing markets.

For now, the developing nations are celebrating their ability to stop the powerful European Union-United States-Japan juggernaut in its tracks. Countries such as Brazil, China and India flexed their muscle to draw impressive support from other developing nations, which represent more than half the world's population. Backed by vociferous campaigners and protestors outside, delegates argued that stalling the talks was a far better option for developing nations than reaching a lopsided agreement stacked in favor of developed nations.

It isn't easy, living at the End of History, to keep a country impoverished. We know after all just how to create a functional government, a dynamic economy, and a healthy society--the only thing standing between any nation and such a future is its own poor decisions. Like, for instance, trying to teach wealthy nations a lesson by refusing to liberalize trade. Even such leftist whackos as Paul Krugman recognize that free trade is beneficial to poor countries.And where does their "victory" leave them? Instead of using the power they had in these multilateral negotiations, they're now left on their own to negotiate bilateral agreements with far more powerful states like the US. What's to celebrate?

-No Can Do (Mother Jones)
-'THE CANCUN COLLAPSE: GOOD OR BAD FOR THE WORLDS POOR?: KATHARINE AINGER's reports from Cancun spark a vigorous discussion in our Globolog forum among the WTO's critics: PAUL KINGSNORTH, KEVIN WATKINS, and GEORGE MONBIOT (Open Democracy)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM


MESSAGE FROM JWR'S PUBLISHER (JWR TODAY, Weekend of Sept. 19-21, 2003)

Hi, folks:

I've always asserted that in order to develop a belief system, one has to understand an issue or subject from all sides. The truly intellectual person is not afraid to challenge his presumptions and
confront his ideological opposite. The result is often a clearer understanding - and reinforcing - of one's own position. It's why JWR publishes writers we don't always agree with.

The New Republic is a nearly century-old magazine that takes aim at all sides of the political aisle. Whether you agree with its articles - and I often don't - it is a read that is intellectually stimulating. I've arranged for JWR readers to receive a free two-month subscription to their "digital edition." With no strings attached. Basically, it is the entire magazine, exactly as it appears in print plus access to their "subscriber-only" content. (They ordinarily offer a 4-week trial.)

If you are interested, just go to Please feel free to spread the word.

Happy Weekend,
Binyamin L. Jolkovsky

The magazine has tumbled a long way since its heyday in the 80's, when conservatives too read it with pleasure, but you can't beat free and the book reviews remain helpful.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:18 AM


Judicial Throwback (Washington Post, 9/18/2003)

The Bush administration's decision to nominate Janice Rogers Brown to the nation's second most important court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, raises a seemingly paradoxical question: Where is the conservative outrage?

After all, Brown, a California Supreme Court justice, openly supports a return to the era of Lochner v. New York, the 1905 case in which a state statute that attempted to impose a maximum-hours limitation on bakers was struck down ...

Deemed an "abomination" by Robert Bork, Lochner often is described as the most widely reviled decision of the past 100 years. The reason conservatives hate Lochner is not its results; many conservatives support the free-market social Darwinism advanced by the Lochner-era court. Rather, conservatives reject Lochner because it epitomizes the worst type of judging. As explained by former attorney general Edwin Meese III, "the Court in the Lochner era ignored the limitations of the Constitution and blatantly usurped legislative authority." Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), in describing the perils of an activist judiciary, has placed Lochner in the company of the infamous Dred Scott ruling, which legitimized the spread of slavery and helped provoke the Civil War....

Justice Brown ... has written that she "initially accepted the conventional wisdom" that the doctrine used in Lochner was "a myth invented by judicial activists that were up to no good," and that "Lochnerism is the strongest pejorative known to American law." Brown now rejects that conventional wisdom, however, and she chides conservatives for their "dread" of judicial activism. In her words, it "dawned on me that the problem may not be judicial activism. The problem may be the world view -- amounting to altered political and social consciousness -- out of which judges now fashion their judicial decisions."

The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 10, says: "No State shall ... pass any ... Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts." Whether or not the federal government had the power to enforce this provision prior to passage of the 14th Amendment, it surely acquired it with that passage, for Article I here declares freedom of contract to be a privilege or immunity of citizens of the United States.

Lochner applied this constitutional law to strike down a New York law that impaired the obligation of contracts calling for long workweeks. The hatred toward Lochner is simply hatred toward economic freedom and toward the notion that the federal government should protect economic freedom. Shame on Bork, Meese, and Hatch for pandering to leftist prejudices by criticizing Supreme Court Justices who were doing no more than their sworn duty.

Let us hope Janice Brown is soon a nominee to the Supreme Court. We need more conscientious judges, who look not to fashionable prejudice but to the text of the Constitution and statutes to discern their duty.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:14 AM


Liberty Quotes (9/19/03)

To govern according to the sense and agreement of the interests of the people is a great and glorious object of governance. This object cannot be obtained but through the medium of popular election, and popular election is a mighty evil.
-- Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

September 18, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:32 PM


'Bible as hate speech' bill passes: Sponsor: 'It's been a good week for equality in Canada' (Art Moore, September 18, 2003,

Canada's House of Commons passed a controversial bill yesterday opposed by religious believers and free-speech advocates who say it will criminalize public expression against homosexual behavior.

The bill, passed 141-110, adds sexual orientation as a protected category in Canada's genocide and hate-crimes legislation, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

"It's been a good week for equality in Canada," said the bill's sponsor, Svend Robinson, an openly homosexual member of Parliament.

The vote came just a day after MPs narrowly defeated a nonbinding motion reaffirming marriage is between a man and woman only.

Here's an idea that works for everybody: why don't Canada's Christians move South and our atheists move North?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:24 PM


Medical Downside of Homosexual Behavior: A Political Agenda Is Trumping Science, Says Rick Fitzgibbons (SEPT. 18, 2003,

Amid the push for same-sex unions in Canada and the recent overturning of Texas' sodomy law, an aspect of the underlying issue is sometimes overlooked: the medical consequences of homosexual behavior.

To shed light on the medical and scientific research into same-sex attraction and homosexual behavior, ZENIT approached Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons. Fitzgibbons is a principal contributor to the Catholic Medical Association's statement on "Homosexuality and Hope." [...]

Q: What are the medical illnesses associated with homosexuality?

Fitzgibbons: The list of medical diseases found with extraordinary frequency among male homosexual practitioners as a result of abnormal homosexual behavior is alarming: anal cancer, chlamydia trachomatis, cryptosporidium, giardia lamblia, herpes simplex virus, human immunodeficiency virus or HIV, human papilloma virus -- HPV or genital warts -- isospora belli, microsporidia, gonorrhea, viral hepatitis types B and C, and syphilis.

Sexual transmission of some of these diseases is so rare in the exclusively heterosexual population as to be virtually unknown. Others, while found among heterosexual and homosexual practitioners, are clearly predominated by those involved in homosexual activity.

Men who have sex with men account for the lion's share of the increasing number of cases in America of sexually transmitted infections that are not generally spread through sexual contact.

These diseases, with consequences that range from severe and even life-threatening to mere annoyances, include hepatitis A, giardia lamblia, entamoeba histolytica, Epstein-Barr virus, neisseria meningitides, shigellosis, salmonellosis, pediculosis, scabies and campylobacter.

Yeah, but other than that it's just a perfectly natural lifestyle choice, right?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:04 PM


A new stage in Israeli-Moroccan relations? (Daniel Zisenwine, September 12, 2003, Israel Insiders)

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's visit to Morocco last week marked a new development in Israeli-Moroccan relations. Shalom, who met with his Moroccan counterpart, Muhammad Ben Assa, and with King Muhammad VI, was the first senior Israeli to visit Morocco since diplomatic relations with Israel were severed in October 2000. Israeli officials view the visit as an important diplomatic achievement in the current context of Arab-Israeli relations and have expressed the hope that it will lead to renewed diplomatic relations between the two countries.

On the Moroccan side, the visit signaled the possibility of reviving Morocco's role in Arab-Israeli negotiations but also highlighted bilateral relations. Although Israeli-Moroccan ties stand out in the general context of Arab-Israeli relations, they are not without their own constraints and limitations, which are often overlooked. As the two countries prepare to embark on a new diplomatic course, a closer look at this unique relationship seems very much in order.

Morocco remains one of the great hopes for a genuinely Western-oriented, gradually liberalizing Arab state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 PM


Inherent dangers in an 'Asian NATO' (Stephen Blank, 9/18/03, Asia Times)

During the summer it was revealed that India and the United States were conducting discussions about a potential "Asian NATO", along the lines of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Presumably, Washington also was conducting discussions with its other allies in Asia: Japan, Australia and South Korea. But surprisingly little has been reported about what would clearly be a major development in Asian security. We may surmise that this alliance is publicly intended to be against terrorism on a global scale. But the effort to build such an alliance system is bound to raise serious issues, and difficult problems.

For example, India is a strategic partner of the US, but clearly not an ally, at least in any formal sense. If India were to join this Asian NATO, it would mark a sea change in its foreign and defense policies as India has always espoused self-reliance and non-alignment. Nevertheless, major changes may be in the offing. In the "war on terrorism", American forces have access to Indian bases as needed and India has strongly supported the use of Diego Garcia and the base at Trincomalee in Sri Lanka as US bases.

Moreover, India and the US are conducting an expanding number of joint exercises involving all of each nation's military services. These military exercises are part of a larger program of regular high-level contacts and strategic dialogues that also include high-level discussions on missile defenses. Likewise, there are growing indications of US support for substantially greater technology transfer and arms sales to India. These also take the form of support for third party sales, like the imminent formal Israeli announcement of the sale of the Phalcon radar - that resembles AWACS - to India. India also clearly is interested in buying the
jointly produced US-Israeli Arrow missile defense system and the accompanying Green Pine radar system.

Similarly, we still do not know what is meant by the term "Asian NATO". While logic tells us that it goes beyond strategic partnership to a more formalized relationship, there is no clarity about what its target is. It could be international terrorism, the containment of Chinese power, or a cover for an expanding American military presence in Northeast, Southeast and South Asia. [...]

While the overt enemies of this alliance would surely be Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, it would also constitute a potential threat to Pakistan, Iran and China, certainly it could be seen as a new form of containment of China. Thus, any such alliance would have enormous strategic repercussions for the Gulf, Central, South, Southeast and East Asia.

Not only is Mr. Blank just noticing the Axis of Good at this late date, but he seems to have completely missed the point that when you add in Israel, Russia, and a few other US allies, it is the Arab Middle East as much as China that's surrounded. The two remaining evil universalist -isms--Islamicism and Communism--would be contained, just in case push comes to shove.

Posted by David Cohen at 9:52 PM


The Ninth Circuit Got It Right It's wrong to hold an election if some voters will be disfranchised (Laurence H. Tribe,, 9/18/03)

There is palpable hypocrisy in the complaints one hears about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in the California gubernatorial recall. People moaned and groaned about a hanging chad here and a dimpled chad there in Florida in the election of 2000 and succeeded in getting the federal judiciary to throw away thousands of ballots still uncounted as of an arbitrary date (Dec. 12, 2000). Their complaint was with the randomly distributed risk that similar-looking ballots would be read differently at different times or places given that Florida law refused to impose any uniform and objective formula for translating ambiguously punched ballots into definite votes.

But these same people now treat as trivial or as merely speculative the far clearer and greater disparities between the parts of California where votes will be counted with precision and those parts of California where they'll be counted by an antiquated punch-card method that the secretary of state has already decertified as "archaic," "obsolete, defective, or otherwise unacceptable." The state itself has documented the defects in the punch-card voting machinery that is to be phased out by next March.

The evidence assembled by the state in support of its plan to eliminate punch cards by the next election--only to have the recall unexpectedly arise before then--shows that tens of thousands of votes will not be counted at all in the places still stuck with punch-card systems and that these denials will fall disproportionately on poor and minority counties. And, unlike the situation in 2000, when Congress was poised under Article II and the 12th Amendment to the Constitution to decide the winner of Florida's electoral votes if necessary, only the federal courts can prevent the massive disenfranchisement that California proposes to allow in October.

Accusations of palpable political hypocrisy are almost always palpably hypocritical. Liberals who have smugly pointed out the contradiction they see between being antiabortion but pro-execution tend to stammer a little and change the subject when asked why, if life is so precious that the state can't, after a trial, execute murderers, private citizens must be allowed the unfettered right to kill the most innocent. And Professor Tribe, of course, did not previously seem to understand the important rights being vindicated by Gore v. Bush.

But Professor Tribe does adhere to a higher consistency: he may be a Democrat, but he places no value on representative democracy. This comes through nowhere more clearly than his unique use of "arbitrary" to mean, "as set forth in statute." The people of California have decided to allow for recalls and they provided that the recall be held within a certain period, an obviously sensible precaution given the tendency of politicians to stiff the people. Professor Tribe couldn't care less.

In Gore v. Bush, the Supreme Court at least waited for trouble to come about. Here the Ninth Circuit is anticipating tha might not happen (that is, the "problem" of variously weighted votes might not make any difference at all, depending on the actual vote totals). Professor Tribe, though, weighed in again as if representative democracy was of no value at all. The Florida statutes were to be ignored in the face of the greater justice of electing his chosen candidate. It will be obvious to the readers of this blog how these positions are consistent with those "great" liberal court decisions Professor Tribe celebrates.

There is, however, at least one issue on which Professor Tribe is just being disingenous. He claims that the Ninth Circuit's precedent is limited because "the court . . . made clear that it wasn't ruling on differences that flow from, and may be justifiable in light of, local autonomy and home rule." Tribe is clear that, in his opinion, it is unconstitutional to hold an election if "everyone in any given state [doesn't] have the same chance to cast a vote that gets counted when it's the state that's running the entire election." But what about a national election. The federal government, no less than the states (ok, a lot more than the states) owes its citizens the equal protection of the laws. So how can a national election be held in which everyone doesn't have that same chance. And because it is, as a practical matter, impossible to assure every voter across the nation of that chance, how can we hold any elections at all?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 PM


One Step Backward Taken (Robert Frost)

Not only sands and gravels
Were once more on their travels,
But gulping muddy gallons
Great boulders off their balance
Bumped heads together dully
And started down the gully.
Whole capes caked off in slices.
I felt my standpoint shaken
In the universal crisis.
But with one step backward taken
I saved myself from going.
A world torn loose went by me.
Then the rain stopped and the blowing
And the sun came out to dry me.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 PM

GENERALITIES (via Kevin Whited):

Force Multiplier: Wesley Clark is not Haig and not Eisenhower. And some Democrats are hoping he won't be Cuomo (Joshua Green, October 2003, The Atlantic Monthly)

Clark believes that working with allies is more than a diplomatic necessity -- it makes a military power stronger; he calls an alliance a "force multiplier." Even though other candidates take similar positions, Clark can explain his in commonsense terms that elude them, and with the authority of someone who won a war. He is likely to find an increasingly receptive audience if the news from Iraq gets worse.

"I would have first aligned the United Nations and NATO against al-Qaeda," he told me in December. "Then, when it comes time to work against Iraq or Iran or North Korea, you've got a strong, committed group of allies." The order of threat, he believed, was al-Qaeda, North Korea, and Iran—and then Iraq. Clark did not oppose intervening in Iraq; he simply thought the Bush Administration's military decision was premature, and reckless in its unilateralism. [...]

Clark exhibits another characteristic common to white-knight outsiders: difficulty making up his mind about whether to run. For all Clark's appeal, the recent record of generals who have run for office is not encouraging. "The most difficult part of the transition from military to public life is going from a system where you basically give and receive orders to one where you're constantly asking -- asking for money, votes, and support," says the Democratic senator Jack Reed, of Rhode Island, a West Point graduate and a former Army captain. This difficulty was exemplified by General Alexander Haig, a former NATO commander himself, who sought the Republican nomination in 1988. Early one morning Haig stationed himself outside a factory in New Hampshire to shake hands with arriving workers. When one rebuffed his advance, Haig, stung by the indignity, turned to the assembled media and snapped, "Every once in a while you meet an a**hole." Soon afterward he withdrew from the race.

Clark is no Al Haig, but during our time together I began to suspect that he might have difficulty switching from general to candidate. When discussing whether he would run, he spoke often of "seeing if people want me"; he seemed to have in mind the candidacy of another former general and NATO commander, Dwight Eisenhower, whom the Republicans drafted in 1951. Although Clark has fans in the Democratic establishment, he has nothing like Eisenhower's stature in his party, and there is no chance that a similar draft movement will arise from the Democratic leadership. His hope that there might be one hints at a certain lack of political acuity, which could become evident if he runs. Though he is a talented, even inspirational, speaker on issues dear to him, Clark's manner when he's probed about subjects he'd rather not discuss is very much like that of a general at a military briefing—he's curt, sure of himself, and not overly concerned about the impression he leaves.

Clark is particularly thin-skinned, still bridling at slights from Republicans and fellow military officers during the Clinton Administration. A polarizing figure in the military who often drew the ire of the brass, Clark was forced to retire early when Secretary of Defense William Cohen and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff organized a coup to replace him. One night, over drinks in a Capitol Hill bar, he told me that he believed himself to be "the most maligned general since William Westmoreland." Perhaps imagining the criticism he would have to endure as a candidate, many of Clark's admiring friends with whom I spoke confessed in protective tones that they hoped he wouldn't run.

Never mind that he doesn't seem to have many opinions on domestic affairs, let us grant his his "order of threat"--al Qaeda, North Korea, Iran, Iraq--the last is no longer a threat thanks to unilateral military action. How does he propose to deal with the three more dire threats? Would he send troops into the Pakistan/Afghanistan border region? Would he change regimes in North Korea? Would he take out Iran's nuclear facilities before they have weapons?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 PM


NOW and then (Jennifer Harper, 9/18/03, Washington Times)

Feminists are peeved over a New York Times editorial that called the National Organization for Women (NOW) decision to support Carol Moseley Braun in her quest for the presidency "silly," adding that NOW "trivialized the important role women will play in the coming election."

"We have become a target," Roselyn O'Connell of the National Women's Political Caucus told the Associated Press yesterday.

"There is a movement coming from a number of different places to marginalize and discredit the feminist movement," she said. "The parties and candidates want women's votes, but they expect us to capitulate on the things that are important to us."

It's not possible to top this assessment:
Republican consultant Bill McInturff said, "NOW is a marginal political organization with no impact or clout, that no one takes seriously, and now they endorse a candidate that no one takes seriously, so they're perfect together."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 PM


As redistricting tale ends, fight echoes beyond Texas: Renegade Democrats went back to work in Lone Star state. But they are symbols in a nationwide battle. (Kris Axtman, 9/18/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

The pitched battle here over redistricting also reflects deepening concerns by Democrats nationwide surrounding what they see as GOP efforts to circumvent the electoral process.

"In the minds of Democrats, Republicans are trying to systematically reverse elections around the country: from the impeachment of Bill Clinton to the recount in Florida to the recall in California to redistricting in Colorado and Texas," says Harvey Kronberg, editor of Quorum Report, a political newsletter based in Austin. "That's one of the things that made this Texas battle rise to such extreme showmanship on the part of the Democrats."

Indeed, Democrats across the country openly supported the Texas revolt, sending money and encouragement. They see the redrawing of congressional districts as a pivotal issue, which could tilt the balance in favor of Republicans for years to come.

Democrats undoubetdly needs some new symbols, but is it wise to choose these sore losers?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:47 PM


Can foreigners fix Bosnia?: Building a pluralistic democracy from scratch is a daunting proposition. (Russ Baker, 9/19/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

As Paul Bremer and his team of administrators are now learning in Iraq, building a pluralistic democracy from scratch is a daunting proposition. It's even more challenging when resources and patience are limited - and ethnic and religious differences unlimited. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Paddy Ashdown, the international High Representative there, knows this all too well.

By now, the Balkan state, long-aborning, should have had a single customs service - along with one army and one intelligence service. Instead, despite years of international unification efforts, there are still two of each, one in the Sarajevo-headquartered Muslim-Croat Federation, the other in the Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb entity next door. The customs merger has been approved, but foot-dragging by nationalist elements has prevented its implementation.

Meanwhile, long-discussed centralizations of military command and spy services, crucial to reducing hostility and mistrust in this fractured land, are still no more than topics of international commissions.

Hobbled by the Dayton Peace Accord of 1995, which confirmed the existence of a country of Bosnia and Herzegovina but also allowed it to be split into the two ethnic "entities," Mr. Ashdown is like a conductor directing two competing orchestras at once.

An Englishman serving his second year as the fourth international High Representative, Ashdown is under increasing pressure either to show results or to give up, and let Bosnians (the common shorthand for all residents of the state) fend for themselves.

Peacekeeping troop strength is down to 12,000 (1,800 of them Americans, all National Guard) from a high of 60,000 after the war. And having spent $17 billion here already, the international community has been dramatically downscaling its physical presence and cash outlays. The UN has largely withdrawn. Ashdown's own mandate ends next May, and no one can say whether his stint will be extended, or if another High Representative will replace him.

Of course, because a Democrat undertook the Bosnia adventure, it's considered a worthy use of U.S. power and a success.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:42 PM


Free in L.A.: John R. Cash, 1932–2003 (Jonny Whiteside, SEPTEMBER 19 - 25, 2003, LA Weekly)

While Cash’s stunning Sun Records output stands nearly unrivaled, his most adventurous artistic bloom coincided with his move from Memphis to Los Angeles in early 1959. First living in a rented home on Coldwater Canyon Avenue, then buying a house from Johnny Carson in Encino, he enjoyed more freedom than he’d ever been afforded; at Sun, Sam Philips hadn’t even let him cut gospel (the very first thing Cash did at his new label, Columbia), and during his five years in Southern California he attained a series of highly unorthodox musical peaks, even as he belly-flopped through a course of doped-up fiascos on the road.

The liberated atmosphere created by Cash’s departure from Tennessee bore fruit: the sweeping high-concept narrative-and-music albums >Ride This Train and Ballads of the True West; the smoldering protest of 1960’s “Old Apache Squaw” on Songs of Our Soil (which Columbia was loath to release); and Bitter Tears, his definitive examination of the injustice suffered by Native Americans. Much of the inspiration sprang from a hell-raising collaboration with Kentucky fingerpicker Merle Travis, another longtime Hollywood habitué. Beyond music, the pair worked together in an offbeat hillbilly-noir-exploitation flick, Five Minutes To Live (a.k.a. Door-to-Door Maniac), each giving an intense performance — Cash as the menacing hostage taker, Travis the unctuous underworld toady. Even the title song was a gasser, and Cash rarely sounded as badass as when he growled, “Come on, babe, let’s get primitive/You’ve got five minutes to live.”

Man, it's awfully hard to believe that B-movie fanatic Quentin Tarantino didn't swipe that line for Marselles Wallace in Pulp Fiction: I'm gonna git Medieval...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:11 PM


Playing by the Rules: A Houston softball team accuses Atlanta of being too straight (Michael Serazio, Sep 18, 2003, Houston Press)

At the Gay Softball World Series in Washington, D.C., last month, a Houston team filed a protest with tournament officials alleging that another team wasn't gay enough. The Houston Force, of the Montrose Softball League, sought to disqualify the Atlanta Power for having two more straight players than the rules allowed. After a rigorous inquisition -- they brought players in one by one and asked which side of the plate they swing from -- the Atlanta club was exonerated and allowed to play.

Their coach, however, complained to a local paper: "The only reason that they brought the protest was that they had never seen the guys at a gay establishment and they don't talk gay…It was a bogus protest basically."

There's a complaint you'll never hear about a soccer team: that they aren't gay enough.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 5:42 PM


Reform the BBC, don’t kill it (Peter Hitchens, The Spectator, 20 Sept 2003)

The BBC is biased, and much of its programming is coarse and crude, but, says Peter Hitchens, it would be profoundly unconservative to privatise it ...

I would rather that Britain had a public-service broadcaster than that the airwaves were sold to the fattest cheque book....

The BBC — as it still proclaims in the entrance of Broadcasting House — stands for whatsoever things are true, pure, lovely and of good report....

It will not reform itself until it understands its faults. And it will never recognise those failings if its critics mill around Broadcasting House with pitchforks, seeking to tear down the whole edifice.

Mr. Hitchens is mistaken: people never change until their old habits lead to trouble, and many won't change until catastrophe strikes. It is precisely when critics with pitchforks are tearing down the edifice that residents begin to consider changing, or at least increasing their homeowner's insurance.

Nor should a genuine conservative give credence to an institution's motto while neglecting what it is -- especially when the motto is a disrespected holdover from times long past.

Nor is there anything conservative -- in an American sense -- to conserving a socialist monopoly. If this is what British conservatism is, then British conservatism isn't worth a brass farthing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:32 PM


Letting the Troops Through the School Door (Bob Keeler, September 15, 2003, Newsday)

For sharp-eyed parents eager to monitor everything that could hurt their kids in high school, here are two things to watch closely right now: In Iraq, young Americans are dying daily. In America, parents face a life-or-death decision about exposing their kids to military service. If parents don't act, quota-driven recruiters will soon be calling.

The recruitment situation is the result of the federal No Child Left Behind law, which promises better education - without adequate funding. As the bill evolved, a Republican member of Congress from Louisiana, David Vitter, fought to include this provision: If a school refuses to give Uncle Sam the addresses and phone numbers of its students, it can lose federal aid.
"We had heard through various sources that there were an alarming number of instances where high schools banned military recruiters from contact with their students," Vitter said. That vexed him. [...]

Ultimately, Vitter got his way, and the No Child Left Behind law contains Section 9528, which I call the No Child Left Alone provision.

To be sporting, Vitter left a loophole: If parents sign an "opt-out" form, saying they do not want their kids' names on the list, the school does not have to send the names to recruiters. But this form sometimes arrives home in a blizzard of paperwork or buried in a student handbook. If parents don't see it or neglect to sign it, they are deemed to have consented to the inclusion of their kids on the list. [...]

If someone wants to enlist out of patriotism, fine. But no one should join the military thinking it is a jobs program. It's a killing machine.

Set aside for the nonce Mr. Keeler's despicable description of his fellow citizens as mere cogs in a "killing machine". There's a far larger loophole, a much easier way to opt out of the federal recruiting requirement: schools can turn down the federal money. But if you take money the feds offer, you have to take the strings they attach. Pretty basic really.

Oh, and about the killing machine; check out what we now know to be Mr. Keeler's crocodile tears when he used the troops in a prior column, Lost in Iraq (and Washington): U.S. Troops (Bob Keeler, July 21, 2003, Newsday)

So it turns out that the Bush administration's real definition of "Support Our Troops" is this:

Send the troops to war, promise them a quick return, then keep them in the dark, with no idea of when they can see their families again, if they survive a mission for which they have no training and no appetite - and while they're away, pinch pennies rather than increase their benefits.

Americans on both sides of the Iraq invasion debate can agree: This administration must do better at preserving troop morale. As war began, the troops kept hearing from commanders that the way home was through Baghdad. Well, Baghdad fell - at least, the statue did - and they found themselves not at home, but stuck in Iraq, policing America's increasingly dangerous "victory."

It has been particularly tough on the 3rd Infantry Division, which led the charge into Baghdad. These soldiers have suffered from a dizzying series of contradictory statements: First, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the division would go home in August and September. Then Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, the division commander, said they'd be staying indefinitely. Then the U.S. Central Command said it was still committed to a September return. Also, Rumsfeld said this is not a guerrilla war, but Gen. John Abizaid, the new head of Central Command, said it is.

"It's obvious they can't believe anything they're told at this point," said Charles Sheehan-Miles, who served in the first Gulf War with a tank battalion now in Iraq. "At least in '91, we had a very clear objective: If we get there and live through it, then we can get on a plane and go home, and that's what we did."

Some certainty about coming home is crucial to morale. Even in the horror of Vietnam, troops knew they'd be coming home after 13 months - if they survived. But those in Iraq have no clue.

"These guys have done their share," said Marcus Corbin of the Center for Defense Information, a Washington think tank. "If they had an end point, you can put up with a whole lot, but if it's sort of indefinite, then it makes it much tougher." [...]

All this adds up to an administration that gives its troops, in the words of the Army Times headline, "Nothing but lip service." So the commander in chief should stop using the troops as stage props for his photo opportunities and start paying attention to the welfare of those he commands.

Talk about lip service.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:26 PM


Daily Update: Foes, supporters of WMD claims take their lumps (Tom Regan, September 18, 2003, CS Monitor)

The issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq refuses to do quietly into that good night. And those on both sides of the issue are taking their lumps.

In an interview with the BBC, former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix blasted both the US and Britain. Mr. Blix accused British PM Tony Blair's government of using spin in its controversial dossier on Iraq's WMD. On Sunday he had told the Independent that Mr. Blair's claim that Iraq could deploy WMD in 45 minutes seemed "pretty far off the mark" to him. And he compared the way the two allies were sure Iraq had weapons of mass destruction program to the way people in the Middle Ages were convinced witches existed and so found them when they looked.

He accused the British and American governments of "over-interpreting" intelligence. "They were convinced that Saddam [Hussein] was going in this direction and I think it is understandable against the background of the man," he said. "But in the Middle Ages people were convinced there were witches. They looked for them and they certainly found them. This is a bit risky. I think we [the UN inspectors] were more judicious, saying we want to have real evidence."

On Wednesday, Blix said Iraq had probably destroyed its WMD 10 years ago, but Mr. Hussein pretended otherwise to deter any attack.

The comparison is apt. We now know that witches couldn't actually turn folks into newts, but they didn't. They pursued withcraft for nefarious reasons. Moreover, their failure to conform to required societal norms made it permissible, even obligatory, for society to punish them.

Saddam too, as it turns out, may have been engaged in a futile search for destructive power; but he was serious about it and he transgressed the boundaries of the behavior we can afford to let other nations follow. As a result, we punished him. And even if all he was doing was "pretending", you don't get to walk up to a cop, pull out a gun, and threaten him, with impunity. He's likely to shoot you and entirely justified.

Posted by John Resnick at 12:57 PM


Senate Votes to Rescind New Media Ownership Rules (, 9/16/2003)

WASHINGTON — The Senate employed a rare device Wednesday, voting to rescind new media ownership rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission (search) that would make it easier for corporations to expand their markets and cross ownership of print and broadcast outlets.

The Senate voted 55-40 to support a "resolution of disapproval" of new rules approved by the FCC in June. While Democrats lost a couple votes — Sens. Zell Miller of Georgia and John Breaux of Louisiana — and Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina were on the campaign trail rather than the Senate floor, they managed to pick up 12 Republican votes.

Wow! What a compelling issue this must be for Republican Senators. The ingenuity is inspiring. Now, about those Federal Judge confirmations.....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:26 PM


A Cure for California (George Will, Sept. 18, 2003, Jewish World Review)

California resembles Britain in 1975, when bad government by both parties — meaning bad decisions by British voters — had brought that nation to the brink of bankruptcy. Britain was then described, as the Ottoman Empire was in its dotage, as "the sick man of Europe." California is the sick man of the Republic.

But Britain's revival was one choice away. In 1979 voters elected someone who lacked warmth but possessed a plan as radical as Britain's condition required — Margaret Thatcher, who, it was said, could not see an institution without swatting it with her handbag.

Only one California candidate, State Sen. Tom McClintock, is, like Thatcher, a "conviction politician" prepared to discipline the nanny state. He has a Thatcherite charm deficit but — perhaps these attributes are related — determination to summon California, as Thatcher summoned Britain, up from infantilism.

He has her determination to revive what she called "the vigorous virtues" — entrepreneurship, deferral of gratification, individual initiative, personal responsibility in making appetites conform to resources. Together these aptitudes can be called adulthood.

Neither Davis, a proven failure, nor the blazingly undistinguished Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, nor Arnold Schwarzenegger, an already stale novelty, seems to have a clue about how to attack California's problems. McClintock, lacking both money for ample paid media and charisma to attract sufficient unpaid media, is nevertheless as buoyant as an incurably unflamboyant person can be.

Mr. Will is an eminently erudite man, so it seems hard to believe that he doesn't realize how ineffectual a Governor McClintock would be with the combination of a Democrat-controlled legislature and his own inability to utilize the media to his own ends. Margaret Thatcher, it's helpful to remember, was chosen by her party to lead a government they controlled. All a McClintock governorship would do is humiliate him and suggest to Californians that without a Democratic governor nothing can get done.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:08 PM


The Case for Smaller Schools: The Gates Foundation's gift of $51.2 million will give a significant boost to the small-schools movement. (NY Times, 9/18/03)

National data on small schools shows that they tend to be quieter and safer, with fewer dropouts and higher graduation rates. This trend held true last year in poor areas of the Bronx, where ordinary high schools, some with enrollments of 3,000 or more, had lower success rates on state exams -- and drastically higher dropout rates -- than the New Visions schools, which have enrollments ranging from roughly 75 to 150 students.

The Gates grant has given new momentum to this promising movement.

Canada finishes well ahead of U.S. as OECD tests teenage students (Sarah Schmidt, September 16, 2003, CanWest News Service)
Canadian teenagers scored in the top five on international tests in reading, math and science, even though their class sizes are the largest in the Western world.

In fact, it's not too much to say that the evidence suggests the exact opposite of what the Times asserts: NYC schools could be improved by taking away money and increasing classroom size.

MORE (via Mike Daley):
Class size overrated, research suggests (Heather Sokoloff, 9/18/03, National Post)

Newer international studies by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have added to the evidence that class size is less important than other factors when it comes to learning. Reducing class size from 28 to 20 students was found to have a minimal impact on student achievement.

"I know it seems counter-intuitive," said Douglas Willms, director of the University of New Brunswick's Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy, who led the OECD project.

"Class size makes a small difference, but doesn't have a substantial effect. There are other kinds of interventions that can have much more powerful effects."

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Willms thought differently. But after analyzing the effects of reducing class size in more than a dozen countries in a massive project for OECD, he now says other measures have a more significant impact. These include improving relations between teachers and students, hiring literacy specialists, intervening earlier than Grade 2 when a child is having trouble learning to read, teaching educators better classroom management, encouraging parents to read to their children in the evenings, and offering early childhood education programs.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:06 AM


Senate Makes a Curb on Abortion Likely (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, September 18, 2003, NY Times)

The first federal law that would restrict a woman's right to abortion moved a step closer to President Bush's signature today when the Senate, which had refused to send the bill to conference with the House, agreed unanimously to do so.

Backers of the measure, which would outlaw the late-term procedure that opponents call partial-birth abortion, say they hope to have it on Mr. Bush's desk later this fall. [...]

The move to ban the late-term procedure has been a centerpiece of the anti-abortion movement for eight years. If President Bush signs the measure, advocates for abortion rights say, it will be the first time that Congress has banned a safe medical procedure.

This is the kind of seachange that the neocons can't grasp.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:48 AM


'Dogging' brings sex disease rise (Rebecca Allison, September 18, 2003, The Guardian)

A growing craze for al fresco sex with strangers has led to a serious rise in sexually transmitted diseases, a health chief warned yesterday.

The practice, known as "dogging", where strangers gather to watch each other have sex outdoors, is causing so much concern for health officials in Kent that they have posted messages on the internet urging those involved to take better precautions.

Hundreds of semi-secluded sites around the country are advertised on websites as meeting places for Britain's doggers, who are understood to have more than doubled in number over the past two years.

One website, which lists dogging hotspots as well as providing a chat forum for aficionados, describes the practice as a combination of exhibitionism and voyeurism.

"Dogging is a broad term used to cover all the sexual outdoor activities that go on. This can be anything from putting on a show from your car, to a gangbang on a picnic table.

"The voyeurs are mainly men and the exhibitionists are mainly couples or women who love to attract attention and often invite people to join in," the host, Melanie, informs readers.

The physical diseases contracted are meaningless beside the moral disease afflicting a society where such things go on.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:04 AM


Our War With France (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, September 18, 2003, NY Times)

It's time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy.

If you add up how France behaved in the run-up to the Iraq war (making it impossible for the Security Council to put a real ultimatum to Saddam Hussein that might have avoided a war), and if you look at how France behaved during the war (when its foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, refused to answer the question of whether he wanted Saddam or America to win in Iraq), and if you watch how France is behaving today (demanding some kind of loopy symbolic transfer of Iraqi sovereignty to some kind of hastily thrown together Iraqi provisional government, with the rest of Iraq's transition to democracy to be overseen more by a divided U.N. than by America), then there is only one conclusion one can draw: France wants America to fail in Iraq.

France wants America to sink in a quagmire there in the crazy hope that a weakened U.S. will pave the way for France to assume its "rightful" place as America's equal, if not superior, in shaping world affairs.

Mr. Friedman--who as the Times voice on foreign affairs is the avatar of liberal establishment thought on such matters--comes late to the recognition of something that's been obvious for two hundred-plus years--that France (whose Revolution is predicated on State-imposed equality) and America (whose Revolution is predicated on personal freedom) must be enemies--but perhaps not too late. Never mind collaborating with the Nazis, the Libya bombing incident, and the troop withdrawal affrontery, it's long past time to settle the score with France for Le Ballon Rouge.

Posted by David Cohen at 10:01 AM


The Deadline To Register To Vote

In California, the deadline to register to vote for an election is 15 days before each local and statewide election day, so please register early!
There is not going to be a contested Republican presidential primary next year. Ordinarily, that would mean a low Republican turn out. But now let's assume that the California recall is postponed to March. Suddenly you have a big Republican turnout in the most populous state with no primary to vote in. So, why shouldn't California's Republicans reregister as Democrats and vote in the Democratic primary? No reason I can think of.

Now, where would Republican votes be best spent? Dean is a good candidate, of course, but giving Al Sharpton 162 Democratic delegates (I think that's the number) and thus a prime time spot at the convention is pretty attractive.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:26 AM


Europe must hold firm : There is a dangerous temptation for Europe to sign up to the US security agenda, with its focus on rogue states and WMD. That was wrong after September 11 2001 and it is wrong now. (Quentin Peel, 9/18/03, Financial Times)

This is only available to subscribers, which we aren't, but do you really even need to read it? Reasonable people can disagree about whether deposing Saddam was necessary and/or wise, but what sensible argument can there be that the West shouldn't confront "rogue states and WMD"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:03 AM


Prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah nearing agreement (Ellis Shuman, September 18, 2003, Israeli Insider)

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom confirmed that negotiations with Hizbullah on a possible prisoner exchange agreement were at an advanced stage and could possibly be concluded by the High Holidays. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told family members of captive IAF navigator Ron Arad that Israel's "bargaining chips" might be released soon, although Israel would not receive information on Arad's fate in return.

"We are all hopeful that during the holidays we will be able to relate good news; there is hope," Shalom said on Wednesday.

Security sources confirmed that negotiations with Hizbullah for the release of kidnapped Israeli citizen Elchanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of the three IDF soldiers captured by the organization in October 2000 were at an advanced stage.

Earlier on Wednesday, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said, "The exchange operation that we are working to achieve will include Lebanese, Jordanians and Syrians regardless of numbers, and definitely Palestinians." Nasrallah said the sides were "about to finish the stage of numbers to get into the names and criteria."

Contrary to the hysteria of the chattering classes, the recent unpleasantness has predictably had no impact on the Road Map. Negotiations have a logic (or illogic) of their own, which is why Israel should skip to the final step and get out.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 AM


Al-Qaeda turns against Pakistan, Saudi Arabia (Syed Saleem Shahzad, 9/18/03, Asia Times)

Asia Times Online investigations, based on interviews with intelligence sources of various backgrounds, police experts and decisionmakers, reveal that in the two years since September 11, when the US vowed to eliminate bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the terror organization has suffered numerous setbacks, but it has been forced to redefine its operations, tactics and targets.

Bin Laden's International Islamic Front, an umbrella organization for jihadi terrorist organizations of which al-Qaeda is an element, has focused its attention primarily on attacking US and Western interests in a number of countries, and this will continue.

For al-Qaeda in particular, though, it has been badly affected by a change of fortunes in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where it had enjoyed what amounted to a truce, if not active support from some quarters. A number of al-Qaeda suspects are now believed to be in Saudi jails, while in Pakistan, which has come under intense US pressure, the blind eye that once gazed on al-Qaeda is now looking with 20-20 vision.

As a direct result of this, al-Qaeda will open a new front in these two countries. Indeed, the "ceasefire" that it followed in Saudi Arabia - bin Laden's country of birth - has already been broken.

Among the 14,000 male members of the Saudi royal family there is a strong but sidelined lobby of princes who support bin Laden. They do not necessarily agree with his strict Wahhabi agenda, rather, they seek to use him as a means of getting at the ruling elite. In terms of its new mission,
al-Qaeda will actively play along with this. After all, if nothing else, it still needs the funds that apparently flow from its supporters in the kingdom. In Pakistan, too, the knives, literally, are going to be drawn. From the early stages of the "war on terror", al-Qaeda and the Taliban were assured by Pakistan that the country would wear two faces - one acceptable to the US, the other friendly towards al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the latter, especially, having enjoyed long-time support from Pakistan. As a result, President General Pervez Musharraf made much of his alliance with counterpart George W Bush on the international stage, while on the domestic front the crackdown on terror was token, at best.

This changed, though, and in time, whether through US insistence or for another agenda, Musharraf's crackdown has begun to bite. And it hurts. In the past, Pakistan has figured only as a transitory port for al-Qaeda, and its members have not been involved in any operations in the country - neither the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl nor the Sheraton bomb blast in which a number of French civilian workers were killed. These and other missions were carried out by local groups. Indeed, only one Pakistani is known to have entered into the ranks of al-Qaeda. [...]

At present, according to the contacts that Asia Times Online spoke to, there is a realization in al-Qaeda that Musharraf is their only enemy in the country as he is the one now orchestrating the crackdown. Remove him, they argue, and the environment will once again be favorable to them. As a result, according to these same well-placed sources, Musharraf has been pencilled in at the top of al-Qaeda's hit list, and attempts on his life can be
expected in the near future.

There's no downside for us in al Qaeda turning the two countries whose cooperation we need most in the War on Terror --help we've had the most trouble gaining--into their main targets. The enemy is providing the incentive for Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to finally crack down and that's all to the good. It could be argued that there's a worst case scenario, where General Musharraf falls and is replaced by an extremist government, but this may well be the best case scenario. Pakistan which now has Kashmiri, Chechen, and Taliban terrorists operating from within its borders has India to its East and South, Russia to its North, Afghanistan to its West, and the US overhead, off its coast, and on land to its West and North. Let an Islamicist government take control there and you'd have a completely encircled free-fire zone. Al Qaeda is
turning its own safe haven into a Dien Bien Phu.

Memo to Osamaists: if you're preparing for the final glorious apocalyptic battle against the infidel, you may not want to choose terrain where you're surrounded by three different hostile nuclear powers.

  Israel and India: An alliance forged by terror (Stephen Brown, September 17, 2003,

Terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem last Tuesday that cost 15 people their lives served to emphasize the importance of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's historic, four-day state visit to India last week. Sharon, the first Israeli prime minister ever to visit the South Asian giant, was in New Delhi to strengthen the strategic ties between the two countries in the War on Terror, his visit symbolizing the close relations India and Israel have been developing over the past few years.

For both countries, it is a natural alliance; they see themselves facing some of the same problems vis-a-vis Islamic terrorism, such as cross-border infiltration, disputed territory and threatened annihilation. Like with the West Bank, Islamic extremists in South Asia have made it clear they will not stop with the "liberation" of Kashmir, the Muslim-majority Indian state they want to sever from India. Thereafter, their stated goal is to set up two more Islamic states in northern and southern India for the Muslims living there, having in store for India and Hinduism the same fate they intend for Israel and Judaism in the Middle East - total eradication.

For this reason, a major topic of Sharon's visit concerned Israeli aid for the insurgency war India is fighting in Kashmir. As a result, it is reported India will now buy sophisticated Israeli surveillance equipment to monitor cross-border infiltration from Pakistan as well as new assault rifles for the "lethal platoons" it is planning for its army. These measures are in addition to the 3,000 soldiers that, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post last February, India is sending to Israel for special counter-insurgency training. The report added these troops will serve in Kashmir upon their return.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:13 AM


Leni and Eddie:NPR lumps a nuclear scientist and a Nazi aggrandizer into the same afterlife. (Katherine Mangu-Ward, 09/16/2003, Weekly Standard)

"MY GUESS IS that Edward and Leni are together in the next world. They have eternity to work out the implications of their work," said Andrei Codrescu in a segment titled "Leni and Eddie" on NPR's "All Things Considered" last Friday.

Codrescu's vision of "Eddie" (Teller) and "Leni" (Riefenstahl) sitting side by side as the flames tickle their toes is clever imagery, but the musings that lead up to this snapshot of the afterlife are jumbled at best and, at worst, declare a moral equivalency.

Here's a more detailed account of the despicable commentary we mentioned.

September 17, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 PM


Nearly 400,000 have voted in election that may be delayed (JIM WASSERMAN, September 17, 2003, Associated Press)

With fewer than three weeks until a scheduled Oct. 7 election, state elections officials report nearly 400,000 Californians have already voted, although the election may be put off until March.

That growing mountain of absentee ballots could be tossed out if the election is delayed, and waste $30 million in printing and postage costs, says Contra Costa County Clerk Stephen Weir, a spokesman for county elections officials. Or the absentees may have already helped determine the outcome of the Oct. 7 race by locking in votes that might have been changed later.

Along with the thousands of ballots already in, voter registrars say each of the state's 58 counties are receiving requests for more each day. It's happening even as a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered a delay in the election the full court may reconsider this week.

"As a matter of fact, I think we've had even more requests," said Alma Rosas, spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County elections department. "We haven't seen a slowdown of it."

"We're swamped," added Tehama County Registrar of Voters Mary Alice George, where one in every 27 voters have already spoken through absentee ballots.

The courts are not going to let three judges in the 9th Circuit stop an election in progress.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 PM


National veto must go, says Prodi (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, 18/09/2003, Daily Telegraph)

The European Commission called yesterday for the abolition of the national veto in all constitutional matters.

The demand was in proposed changes to the draft European constitution unveiled yesterday by Romano Prodi, the commission's president, supposedly in the name of the entire body.

Dismissing the current text drafted by Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the former French president, as "unworkable" and "absurd", Mr Prodi said member states retained far too much power to block decisions. It would inevitably lead to gridlock once the European Union expanded to 25 next year.

Mr Prodi said the veto must be eliminated on all future changes to the constitution, saying it was unreasonable to let any one country block future amendments in perpetuity.

Mr. Prodi is obviously right here--the Union would be unworkable if each state could veto what it didn't like. Imagine trying to govern America if each state had veto power. For there to be a functional Union they're going to have to trust one another and assume that what's good for France and Germany is good for everyone.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 PM


Flavored condoms for Canadian cons in bad taste (Reuters, 9/17/2003)

A plan to provide prison inmates with a bulk order of fruit-flavored condoms was in bad taste and has been canceled, the cabinet minister in charge of prisons in the Canadian prairie province of Manitoba told the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper.

Prison bureaucrats issued a tender for C$8,400 ($6,130) in strawberry, banana and vanilla condoms for 10 jails -- but withdrew the offer when a reporter asked about it, the article in Tuesday's Free Press said. [...]

Manitoba prisons have distributed condoms to inmates since 1998 to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, but do not encourage "at-risk behavior," Mackintosh was quoted as saying, noting that senior government officials did not know about the flavored-condom order.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 PM


What Makes The Bush Haters So Mad?: First, it was how he got the job. Now it's how much he's doing with it (CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, Sep. 22, 2003, TIME)

Whence the anger? It begins of course with the "stolen" election of 2000 and the perception of Bush's illegitimacy. But that is only half the story. An illegitimate President winning a stolen election would be tolerable if he were just a figurehead, a placeholder, the kind of weak, moderate Republican that Democrats (and indeed many Republicans) thought George Bush would be, judging from his undistinguished record and tepid 2000 campaign. Bush's great crime is that he is the illegitimate President who became consequential -- revolutionizing American foreign policy, reshaping economic policy and dominating the political scene ever since his emergence as the post-9/11 war President.

Before that, Bush could be written off as an accident, a transitional figure, a kind of four-year Gerald Ford. And then came 9/11. Bush took charge, declared war, and sent the country into battle twice, each time bringing down enemy regimes with stunning swiftness. In Afghanistan, Bush rode a popular tide; Iraq, however, was a singular act of presidential will.

This is the necessary read of events as the neocons see it, frozen in amber by David Frum's insta-memoir: The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush
. However, it is complete nonsense. The bitter truth for neocons and liberals alike is that George W. Bush was a revolutionary prior to 9/11, that, in fact, 9/11 has basically been a distraction from the revolution.

Mr. Krauthammer does mention the tax cut, which we should recall it was widely assumed George Bush would not have the temerity top push for given the closeness of the election and the narrowness of his majority in the Senate (don't forget Jim Jeffords, in a truly bizarre manuever, voted for the cut then switched parties, or else it would have been killed). But he doesn't mention things like No Child Left Behind, which has has created a public school voucher program and put us on a course for eventual universal vouchers. He doesn't mention the ideology-driven recasting of the federal judiciary, which will bear conservative fruit for decades to come. He doesn't mention the Faith-Based Initiative, which has been implemented by executive order even as it flounders in Congress. He doesn't mention the privatizing of the civil service. He doesn't mention the stem-cell decision. He doiesn't mention killing Kyoto or building Missile Defense. Etc., etc., etc.

Perhaps the two best assessments of President Bush thus far are by Jonathan Rauch, The Accidental Radical, and Bill Keller, Reagan's Son--you'll notice that they share the thesis that George W. Bush is a revolutionary and that neither bases his case on the war.

Posted by David Cohen at 9:00 PM






1. The plaintiff David G. Cohen is a natural person residing in Northampton, Massachusetts. Cohen is a citizen of the United States by virtue of his birth in the Commonwealth of Massachusets. Cohen is a registered voter who intends to vote in the next general election for the office of President of the United States.

2. The defendant George W. Bush is President of the United States and responsible for the faithful execution of the laws of the United States and for preserving and defending the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic.

3. This Court has jurisdiction over this matter as it arises under the Constitution of the United States.

4. The government of the United States, acting by and through Bush and his appointees and designees, has scheduled a general election for the Presidency on the first Tuesday following the first Monday of November, 2004. All citizens of the United States registered to vote and otherwise qualifying are entitled to vote in this election.

5. The preservation of an effective franchise is guaranteed to the citizens of the United States by the Constitution and is incumbent upon Bush.

6. All citizens of the United States have the right to due process of law and to the equal protection of the laws of the United States, regardless of race, religion, sex and economic status.

7. The provision of voting machinery is left to the several states and to their subordinate municipal and county governments. The several states use different voting machinery in different geographic locations. The differing voting machinery have different error rates, meaning that the chance of a vote being miscounted or missed entirely vary depending upon the voting machinery used and thus upon the voter's geographic area.

8. Members of minority groups and the ecnomically deprived are more often than other Americans required to use voting machinery that is less reliable than the average.

9. As a result, the vote of certain Americans, because it is more likely to be registered accurately, weighs more heavily towards the election of public officials than the vote of other Americans. Minority citizens are more likely to suffer disparately from other Americans in having their vote underweighted.

10. The foregoing subverts the Constitutional requirement of "one man, one vote," which the Supreme Court has held guarantees that every person's vote should count equally towards the final result of an election as every other person's vote.

11. The federal government, acting by and through Bush and his appointees and designees, has failed to provide voting opportunities to guaranteeing one man, one vote to the extent practicable, and thus to the extent required by the Constitution.

12. As a result, any attempt to hold a general election for the Presidency would violate the Constitutional rights of many American citizens, including he Plaintiff, because no citizen would be ensured that his or her vote would have the same effective weight as every other vote.

13. This failure threatens the plaintiff with immediate, irreparable harm for which there is no adequate remedy at law.

WHEREFORE, the plaintiff respectfully demands that this Court:

(a) enter an injunction prohibiting the government of the United States, acting by and through its President, Bush, and his appointees and designees, from holding an election for President in November 2004 and thereafter, until such time as the government of the United States can guarantee the absolute equality of each person's vote;

(b) further require Bush to continue in the office of the Presidency until such time as he is reelected or his successor is elected after an election held in compliance with the relief requested above;

(c) order the government to pay the sum of TEN BILLION DOLLARS AND NO CENTS ($10,000,000,000.00) to plaintiff and others similarly situated as reperations for 214 years of imperfect ballot counting; and

(d) order such other and just relief as this Court in its discretion deems proper, including the award of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:21 PM


When Bonds Sends One Out, Hoynes Often Reels It In (Wall Street Journal, 9/17/2003)

Plenty of Giants fans bring a glove to Pacific Bell Park, hoping to catch a home-run ball in the stands. Tom Hoynes has a better idea. He shows up regularly with a 14-foot kayak and a salmon-landing net.

There's no way Mr. Hoynes can slip through the turnstiles, but that's fine with him. He and a few other zealots savor major-league baseball from the waters of McCovey Cove, an old shipping channel just beyond the right-field fence. Every few weeks, some slugger -- most likely Giants outfielder Barry Bonds -- belts a home run into the water. Then whoever paddles fastest can seize a piece of baseball history.

The 54-year-old Mr. Hoynes has beaten everyone else to the ball nine times so far. That puts him in the record books with a league-leading 29% of all "splash hits," as balls hit into the water are called hereabouts.

The Red Sox should cover Lansdowne Street with a water park, so we can put the Red Sox atop the American League in this new statistical category. With luck, Theo Epstein will persuade the Giants to swap Hoynes for Ramiro Mendoza.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 PM


MEDIA ADVISORY: Wesley Clark: The New Anti-War Candidate? Record Shows Clark Cheered Iraq War as "Right Call" (, September 16, 2003)

As time wore on, Clark's reservations seemed to give way. Clark explained on CNN (1/21/03) that if he had been in charge, "I probably wouldn't have made the moves that got us to this point. But just assuming that we're here at this point, then I think that the president is going to have to move ahead, despite the fact that the allies have reservations." As he later elaborated (CNN, 2/5/03): "The credibility of the United States is on the line, and Saddam Hussein has these weapons and so, you know, we're going to go ahead and do this and the rest of the world's got to get with us.... The U.N. has got to come in and belly up to the bar on this. But the president of the United States has put his credibility on the line, too. And so this is the time that these nations around the world, and the United Nations, are going to have to look at this evidence and decide who they line up with."

On the question of Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, Clark seemed remarkably confident of their existence. Clark told CNN's Miles O'Brien that Saddam Hussein "does have weapons of mass destruction." When O'Brien asked, "And you could say that categorically?" Clark was resolute: "Absolutely" (1/18/03). When CNN's Zahn (4/2/03) asked if he had any doubts about finding the weapons, Clark responded: "I think they will be found. There's so much intelligence on this."

After the fall of Baghdad, any remaining qualms Clark had about the wisdom of the war seemed to evaporate. "Liberation is at hand. Liberation-- the powerful balm that justifies painful sacrifice, erases lingering doubt and reinforces bold actions," Clark wrote in a London Times column (4/10/03). "Already the scent of victory is in the air." Though he had been critical of Pentagon tactics, Clark was exuberant about the results of "a lean plan, using only about a third of the ground combat power of the Gulf War. If the alternative to attacking in March with the equivalent of four divisions was to wait until late April to attack with five, they certainly made the right call."

Clark made bold predictions about the effect the war would have on the region: "Many Gulf states will hustle to praise their liberation from a sense of insecurity they were previously loath even to express. Egypt and Saudi Arabia will move slightly but perceptibly towards Western standards of human rights." George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair "should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt," Clark explained. "Their opponents, those who questioned the necessity or wisdom of the operation, are temporarily silent, but probably unconvinced." The way Clark speaks of the "opponents" having been silenced is instructive, since he presumably does not include himself-- obviously not "temporarily silent"-- in that category. Clark closed the piece with visions of victory celebrations here at home: "Let's have those parades on the Mall and down Constitution Avenue."

In another column the next day (London Times, 4/11/03), Clark summed up the lessons of the war this way: "The campaign in Iraq illustrates the continuing progress of military technology and tactics, but if there is a single overriding lesson it must be this: American military power, especially when buttressed by Britain's, is virtually unchallengeable today. Take us on? Don't try! And that's not hubris, it's just plain fact."

How many 30-second ads can you make out of his own words?

A Fast Climber Who Has Made Some Enemies (Vernon Loeb, September 17, 2003, Washington Post)

[H]aving risen to command the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as supreme allied commander Europe, Clark held the fractious, 19-member military alliance together through 78 days of bombing and led NATO to victory, driving Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his Serb forces from the province of Kosovo.

But Clark's hard-charging style, his penchant for dealing directly with the White House and his ceaseless agitation for ground forces during the Kosovo conflict -- over the wishes of Defense Secretary William S. Cohen -- caught up with him a month after the end of the war. In July 2000, while dining with the president of Lithuania in London, Clark was called by Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who curtly informed him that Cohen had decided to ease him out of his NATO command. The call stunned Clark. It meant he would have to leave his NATO post three months earlier than scheduled and without a year's extension, which he had expected.

Clark had clashes outside the administration as well. In the war's immediate aftermath, when a contingent of Russian troops moved quickly into Kosovo and occupied the airfield at Pristina, the provincial capital, a British officer, Lt. Gen. Michael Jackson, refused a direct order from Clark to block the runway so the Russians could not fly in reinforcements.

Clark, who believed additional Russian troops could have led to a confrontation with NATO and possibly jeopardized the nascent allied peacekeeping mission, insisted. But Jackson stood firm, believing the Russians were isolated at the airfield and did not represent a threat. "Sir, I'm not starting World War III for you," Jackson replied.

Though Mr. Clark deserves every bit of what's about to hit him, just think of how it's going to look when the other Democratic contenders--whose chief task is to convince voters that they can handle national security in these troubled times--start chewing up and spitting out a four-star general. All it will do is confirm their image as the anti-military party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 PM


Blacks Forget How to Political Horse Trade with Democrats and Republicans (Earl Ofari Hutchinson, September 15, 2003, AlterNet)

Embattled California Governor Gray Davis makes appearances at selected black churches and handpicked black groups. Davis's wanna-be gubernatorial recall election replacements, Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, Tom McClintock, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, have made no appearances before black groups. But they have appeared at countless rallies, forums, town halls, and confabs of women's, Latino, environmental, and labor groups, and before Indian casino gambling owners, pro gun and anti-abortion, and taxpayer association groups, and business groups. They have carefully spelled out to these groups what they will do for their vote should the recall vote ever occur. This is astute, political horse-trading that all interest and advocacy groups engage in with politicians, and that politicians want and expect.

There are two recent textbook examples of this. One is the driver's license law for illegal immigrants. Davis vetoed the bill twice. But this time Latino Democrats bluntly told him sign the bill or you can kiss the Latino vote, and your job, goodbye. Davis got the message, quickly signed the bill, and then scurried over to the annual Mexican Independence Day parade in Los Angeles to soak up the cheers from Latino Democrats and the crowd. The other example is Bustamante's deep, and embarrassing, flirt with Indian gambling casino interests. They heavily bankroll his campaign and in return he lobbies hard for them to expand their gambling operations.

But why won't Davis, Bustamante, McClintock and Schwarzenegger appear at a serious open policy issues forum with black voters and spell out what they'll do for them in return for their vote? Because they feel they don't have too. The Democrats and Republicans assume that blacks are blind-faith Democrats and will blindly pull the lever for them again. They are and they aren't. Blacks make up about 8 percent of the California's voters. In 2000, nearly 85 percent of blacks voted for the Democrats. But despite the myth that blacks are monolithic Democrats, nearly 15 percent of blacks in California voted for Bush in 2000.

Exactly what is the GOP supposed to trade for "nearly 15%" of 8%?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 PM


Saddam Proposes Negotiations With U.S. On Pullout: "I tell Bush, in the name of the Iraqi people, 'you lied to yourself, to your people and the whole world'" (, 9/17/03)

In a new tape aired Wednesday, September 17, ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein called on the U.S.-led occupying forces to leave the country.

"I ask you to withdraw your army, as soon as possible and without any conditions," said the voice in a recording broadcast by the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television.

"Your withdrawal from our country is unavoidable, if not today then tomorrow… Our aim is not to kill more children of the peoples of America, Britain or elsewhere," said the more than 20-minute message.

It also offered withdrawal negotiations with members of the previous government who are in U.S. custody, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"If you want to negotiate the modalities of the pullout ... you can open a dialogue with officials from the Iraqi leadership who are held by your army as prisoners of war," the voice said.

The speaker, who signed off with "mid-September", urged Iraqis to continue to fight against the U.S.-led occupation.

Why not offer Saddam direct negotiations through a neutral intermediary, even the UN, and then put a pill in him or whoever shows up in his place?

If anyone's been watching MI-5, there was a delightfully incorrect episode last week. An Islamic cleric in Birmingham is learned to have ties to terror organizations and to be preparing to bring suicide-bombing tactics to the streets of Britain. MI-5 recruits a former Algerian agent whose family was killed by an extremist bombing and he penetrates the mosque. when he learns that the cleric has trained several teenage boys and there is indeed about to be a bombing he asks: "Why not just kill him?" The MI-5 guy looks pained, but says nothing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:01 PM


Clark and Vietnam II (Col. David H. Hackworth, APRIL 23, 1999,

NATO's Wesley Clark is not the Iron Duke, nor is he Stormin' Norman. Unlike Wellington and Schwarzkopf, Clark's not a muddy boots soldier. He's a military politician, without the right stuff to produce victory over Serbia.

Known by those who've served with him as the "Ultimate Perfumed Prince," he's far more comfortable in a drawing room discussing political theories than hunkering down in the trenches where bullets fly and soldiers die. An intellectual in warrior's gear.

A saying attributed to General George Patton was that it took 10 years with troops alone before an officer knew how to empty a bucket of spit. As a serving soldier with 33 years of active duty under his pistol belt, Clark's commanded combat units -- rifle platoon to tank division -- for only seven years. The rest of his career's been spent as an aide, an executive, a student and teacher and a staff weenie.

Very much like generals Maxwell Taylor and William Westmoreland, the architect and carpenter of the Vietnam disaster, Clark was earmarked and then groomed early in his career for big things. At West Point he graduated No. 1 in his class, and even though the Vietnam War was raging and chewing up lieutenants faster than a machine gun can spit death, he was seconded to Oxford for two years of contemplating instead of to the trenches to lead a platoon.

A year after graduating Oxford, he was sent to Vietnam, where, as a combat leader for several months, he was bloodied and muddied. Unlike most of his classmates, who did multiple combat tours in the killing fields of Southeast Asia, he spent the rest of the war sheltered in the ivy towers of West Point or learning power games first hand as a White House fellow.

Tell us what you really think, Colonel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:55 PM


Bill: Hillary Could Break 2004 Promise (Carl Limbacher, 09/17/2003,

Ex-President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that New Yorkers would forgive his wife if she broke her promise to serve out a full six year term in the U.S. Senate and instead decided to run for president next year.

"I was impressed at the state fair in New York, which is in Republican country in upstate New York, at how many New Yorkers came up and said they would release her from her commitment if she wanted to do it," Mr. Clinton told an audience in Monterey California.

He added, however, that Hillary "just doesn't understand how to walk away from that [promise]. So I just have to take her for where she is right now." Clinton's comments were reported by the New York Sun on Wednesday.

In 1990, Mr. Clinton made a similar promise to Arkansans to serve out his full four-year term as governor, which would have prevented him from running for president in 1992.

At the time, he organized a series of town hall meetings where he explained that he should be released from his pledge because he could do more for the people of Arkansas as president.

Addressing fundraisers and party strategists gathered in Chappaqua ten days ago, Mr. Clinton called his wife and General Wesley Clark the Democratic Party's two brightest stars, then predicted, "We might have another candidate or two jumping into the race."

Either General Clark or Ms Clinton, whichever is in the running come the primaries, will certainly announce that the ex-President has agreed to serve as their Secretary of State.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:43 PM


Shiites[shE´Itz] Pronunciation Key [Arab., shiat Ali,=the party of Ali] (1upInfo)

the second largest branch of Islam, Shiites currently account for 10–15% of all Muslims. Shiite Islam originated as a political movement supporting Ali (cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam) as the rightful leader of the Islamic state. The legitimacy of this claim, as initially envisioned by Ali's supporters, was based on Muhammad's alleged designation of Ali as his successor, Ali's righteousness, and tribal customs, given his close relation to the Prophet. Ali's right passed with his death in 661 to his son Hasan, who chose not to claim it, and after Hasan's death, to Husayn, Ali's younger son. The evolution into a religious formulation is believed to have been initiated with the martyrdom of Husayn in 680 at Karbala (today in Iraq), a traumatic event still observed with fervor in today's Shiite world on the 10th of the month of Muharram of the Muslim lunar year.

The Shiite focus on the person of the Imam made the community susceptible to division on the issue of succession. The early Shiites, a recognized, if often persecuted, opposition to the central government, soon divided into several factions. The majority of the Shiites today are Twelve-Imam Shiites (notably in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, India, and Pakistan). Others are Zaydis (in Yemen), and the Ismailis (in India, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen). The central belief of Twelve-Imam Shiites is the occultation (or disappearance from view) of the 12th Imam. The 12th Imam is considered to be the only legitimate and just ruler, and therefore no political action taken in his absence can be fruitful. While this position has provided Shiite clerics with the means to survive an often hostile environment, the need for an alternative formulation capable of framing political militancy has fostered activist movements within the Shiite tradition, occasionally leading to dissidence: see Babism.

Obviously the great unanswerable in the Middle East right now is whether Islam offers any coherent basis for liberal secular democratic government. It would seem that Shi'ism, at least based on the above, does provide such a basis, though we and they would need to cultivate some of these ideas.

Two elements here are key:

(1) That Shi'ites have not historically run states: when Christ said to render unto Caesar, it made clear that there is no theological imperative that the State in which a Christian resides be Christian itself. In fact, Christianity was a religion of slaves, not of masters. Judaism likewise was a slave religion and, for thousands of years, until the founding of Israel, had control of no State. No religion which has so little experience of governance is likely to craft a doctrine that requires theocracy or religious totalitarianism.

This contrasts sharply with Islam, which in the Prophet's own life time became not merely a faith but a politics, as it took control of government. This allowed Islam to stray into a very destructive error, the adoption of the view that religion, politics, economics, etc., are all part of one seamless whole. It is by nature totalitarian, a statist religion.

However, the Shi'ites background, not entirely dissimilar to that of Christians and Jews, suggests that they could be susceptible to the same ideology of separation. Indeed, many analysts argue that the Khomeinism of Iran was an aberration--the seizure of state power by the clerisy--and, with the Republic tottering after just 25 years, they'd appear to be right. That so many in Iran--the great white hope of Islamicism--are now demanding liberalization and closer ties to the West, holds out the possibility that this experiment in Islamic rule could evolve into a state that, though it would certainly retain a distinctly Islamic identity, more closely resembles what we think of as a liberal constitutional democracy, with consensual government tempered by restrictions on government power and protections for the rights of citizens, including non-Muslims.

(2) The imperfection of the State, until the Hidden Imam returns: this closely parallels the Christian belief in the Second Coming and the Jewish faith in a Messiah. Added together with the defining sinfulness of human nature, you get a politics that assumes that Man is incapable of perfecting his own society. By way of contrast, the secular/humanist/rationalist creeds--Nazism, Communism, socialism, etc.--tend towards Utopianism (but achieve dystopias) precisely because they believe in the perfectibility of human affairs.

Eric Hoffer explained well the importance of believing that politics won't render perfection, in his True Believer

Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.

It is the very disdain for Man that makes Judeo-Christianity the perfect growth medium for decent societies of free men. expecting less of us, they are happy with as much as we manage to achieve. Rationalists, believing that problems have solutions and that their own minds can render them, tend to an absolutism that justifies making men mere parts of social experiments.

We see this same tendency in classical Islam, as Karen Armstrong explains it:

In Islam, Muslims have looked for God in history. Their sacred scripture, the Koran, gave them a historical mission. Their chief duty was to create a just community in which all members, even the most weak and vulnerable, were treated with absolute respect. The experience of building such a society and living in it would give them intimations of the divine, because they would be living in accordance with God's will. A Muslim had to redeem history, and that meant that state affairs were not a distraction from spirituality but the stuff of religion itself. The political wellbeing of the Muslim community was a matter of supreme importance. Like any religious ideal, it was almost impossibly difficult to implement in the flawed and tragic conditions of history, but after each failure Muslims had to get up and begin again.

Muslims developed their own rituals, mysticism, philosophy, doctrines, sacred texts, laws and shrines like everybody else. But all these religious pursuits sprang directly from the Muslims' frequently anguished contemplation of the political current affairs of Islamic society. If state institutions did not measure up to the Quranic ideal, if their political leaders were cruel or exploitative, or if their community was humiliated by apparently irreligious enemies, a Muslim could feel that his or her faith in life's ultimate purpose and value was in jeopardy. Every effort had to be expended to put Islamic history back on track, or the whole religious enterprise would fall, and life would be drained of meaning. Politics was, therefore, what Christians would call a sacrament: it was the arena in which Muslims experienced God and which enabled the divine to function effectively in the world. Consequently, the historical trials and tribulations of the Muslim community--political assassinations, civil wars, invasions, and the rise and fall of the ruling dynasties-were not divorced from the interior religious quest, but were of the essence of the Islamic vision. A Muslim would meditate upon the current events of their time and upon past history as a Christian would contemplate an icon, using the creative imagination to discover the hidden divine kernel. An account of the external history of the Muslim people cannot, therefore be of mere secondary interest, since one of the chief characteristics of Islam has been its sacralization of history.

This belief that Man is capable of living in accordance with God's will probably has to be broken before Islam generally can support liberalized politics. It creates the preconditions where any divergence from societal norms and beliefs must be seen as endangering the souls of all. This can never be compatible with broad freedoms.

However, if, as the Shi'a believe, society can not be perfected until the Hidden Imam reveals himself--if all of our efforts to create perfect government are doomed--then the kind of compromise and tolerance that free men require for the decent life can be achieved consistent with Shi'ism. Let the Shi'ite state start from the premise that the best it can hope to achieve is "half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect" and you have a healthy basis for liberal democracy. This is not to say that will happen, but it must be our hope and our efforts must be directed toward spreading this message, that the political system we're urging on them is implicit in their own faith.

-ESSAY: The Shiite Factor: How Will Iraq’s Persecuted Majority Behave When the Saddam Era Is Over? (Mark LeVine, ABC News)
-ESSAY: The Shiite Choice: Will they learn the lessons of their history? (Amir Taheri, July 11, 2003, National Review)

Are the Shiites about to commit the mistake they made in 1920, when they excluded themselves from the government of the newly created state of Iraq? The question is not fanciful. At that time, Shiite religious and social leaders divided the community in two camps: one favoring negotiations with Britain, then the mandate power in Mesopotamia, and the other preaching a boycott of the "crusading power."

The latter won the day after being endorsed by senior Shiite clerics in both Najaf and Qom.

The British, determined to transform the mandate territory into a new state, ignored the Shiites and shaped the Iraqi state as they pleased. They imported a king from the Peninsula and set up a bureaucracy based on a few wealthy Sunni families and clans, many with Ottoman antecedents.

The Iraqi Shiites found themselves in a strange situation. Their leaders told them that they owed no loyalty to the new state because the Hidden Imam did not create it. When the British set up the new Iraqi army, the Shiites again decided to stay away.

Those early errors meant that the Shiites, though they accounted for more than 60 percent of the population, never received the share of political power they deserved. Of the 24 men who served as prime minister in successive Iraqi governments between 1921 and 2003, only seven were Shiites (and their total period of service did not exceed six years).

The few Shiites who attained major positions in government often got hostile receptions from their own community. More importantly, none of the six men who became heads of state in Iraq was Shiite. The Shiites were also excluded from many key positions in the state apparatus and its decision-making organs.

The decision to stay out of the army was equally disastrous. While the bulk of the army consisted of Shiite recruits, Sunni Muslim Arabs and other minorities dominated the officers' corps.

Under the monarchy, Shiites were able to pretty much live their own lives, at least as far as religious rites were concerned. After the 1958 coup d'état, however, successive military regimes tried to control all aspects of Shiite life. In the final years of Saddam Hussein, the Shiite community experienced its darkest days.

Millions of its members had been expelled from Iraq by Saddam or had fled into exile. Inside Iraq, most senior Shiite clerics were either in prison or under house arrest, many of their seminaries disrupted or permanently shut by the Baathist party. It is important for Iraqi Shiites to remember their tragic experience before they are plunged into another historic mistake by shortsighted and selfish leaders.

-ARCHIVES: Middle East Article and Report Archive (Center for Security Policy)
-DISCUSSION: Islam and Democracy: Possibilities, Challenges, and Risks of Bringing Democracy to Islamic Nations, Government, and People (Presentation at the Secretary's Open Forum, Washington, DC, June 16, 2003)
-REVIEW: of The Arab Shia: The Forgotten Muslims, by Graham E. Fuller and Rend Rahim Francke (Robert Brenton Betts, Middle East Policy Council)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:25 PM


It seems only fitting to top off the electoral festivities in the Golden State with a contest, to see who can best predict the outcome.

Here's the deal:

You pick the %'s of the "Yes" and "No" votes; the % of the vote that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cruz Bustamante will each get; and, as a tie breaker, the % of eligible voters who will turn out on October 7th.

We'll award whoever comes closest a copy of the magnificent new Illustrated version of James M. McPherson's Pulitzer-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the runner-up a hot--off-the-presses paperback copy of Rick Atkinson's Pulitzer-winning Army at Dawn (both courtesy of our friends at FSB Associates).

Please go to this page to enter your picks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:54 AM


WESLEY WHO? (David Frum,  SEP. 16, 2003, National Review)

If any one figure sums up the illusions and errors of the 1990s, it is Clark. Clark was the general who led the U.S. into a purely humanitarian war in Kosovo – at exactly the moment that the Clinton administration was disregarding the gathering threat to the United States from Middle Eastern terrorism. Clark has criticized the supposed and alleged errors of U.S. planning in Iraq – notwithstanding that his campaign in Kosovo was based on an unending series of errors, above all his claim that his air campaigns could destroy Serbian military capabilities without harming the Serbian civilian population.

Beyond that, though, Clark epitomizes the great Democratic miscalculation of 2004. The miscalculation is that they can win the election by running against President Bush on national security – and that their anti-security agenda will be enhanced by finding a man in striped pants to promote it.

They’d have done better, though, to keep security off the agenda and to concentrate instead on bread-and-butter issues: ironically, the hard left’s anger at the war is preventing the left from offering a populist economic agenda at a time when an agenda like that could gain a hearing. Instead, the top Democrats are going way to the country’s left on patriotic issues – and are showing themselves not nearly left enough for this year’s electorate on healthcare, jobs, and the rest.

I heard Jeff Greenfield say on CNN today that every general to seek the presidency since Andrew Jackson has been a Republican. That’s not quite right: Think of Lewis Cass (the Democratic nominee for president in 1848) or George McClellan (Democratic nominee 1864) or Winfield Scott Hancock (Democratic nominee, 1880). What Greenfield probably meant to say was that all the successful generals were Republicans. Indeed so, and for good reasons – the reasons Wesley Clark will drill home in ’04 one more time.

General Clark has no accomplishment in life that he doesn't share with Al Haig, from Nato commander to disciple of an impeached president. On the other hand, when he ran in 1988, General Haig had already effectively been President when he served as Chief of Staff in Richard Nixon's final demented days (and, in his own mind, for several hours after Ronald Reagan was shot), and as Secretary of State.

Besides this obvious imbalance in their qualifications, the only other difference between the two appears to be that General Haig at least had an entertaining personality to compensate for his megalomania, while General Clark exudes the banality of a TV newsanchor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 AM


Vancouver injection clinic opens for addicts (JANE ARMSTRONG, Sep. 16, 2003, Globe and Mail)

With the kind of hype normally reserved for a Hollywood movie premiere, Vancouver has opened North America's first legal shooting gallery for drug addicts.

Politicians from every level joined police and civic activists yesterday morning at a tastefully restored storefront on Vancouver's seamy East Hastings Street. The turn-of-the century building has been transformed into a clinic where addicts can use illegal intravenous drugs in a medically supervised setting.

And it is quite a setting. Airy and modern, with individual cubicles discreetly divided for privacy, the clinic seems worlds away from the grimy streets just outside its front door.

Were it not for trays of needles and tourniquets at each seat, the spacious clinic, complete with snack bar and original artwork, could pass for an upscale salon or spa. [...]

The clinic is a significant victory for Mayor Larry Campbell, who promised to reform Vancouver's drug policies in his mayoral campaign last year. After winning the election, he lobbied federal health officials and a reluctant local police department to support the pilot project.

Yesterday's opening was also a vindication for former mayor Philip Owen, whose party turned on him when he warmed to the plan.

Both men attended the opening.

Mr. Campbell, a former coroner, promised that the clinic, over time, will improve the lives of addicts in the troubled neighbourhood.

"You're not going to see a magical change in the Downtown Eastside," he told the crowd. "But over a period of time you will see a change. And over a period of time you will see health start to return."

He said the clinic alone will not solve the drug problems in the Downtown Eastside, but it gives medical staff a chance to talk to addicts one-on-one.

"We are never, ever going to cure drug addiction. Never. But what we can do is help those who have that addiction to stay alive and stay healthy until we can help them get into some sort of treatment," Mr. Campbell said.

Plenty, especially libertarians and leftists, would like to do the same thing here. You've got to marvel at folks who believe that saying "under God" in the Pledge represents a dangerous endorsement of religion by the State but that having the government set up shooting galleries and legalize drugs is a way to get folks to stop using them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:20 AM


Teaching With Documents: Observing Constitution Day (U.S. National Archives & Records Administration)

To a disturbing degree the Constitution today has come to be seen as exclusively a technical document, rather than an aspirational statement. Because of this, various provisions have been cut free of theit purposes, as if they existed in a vacuum, meant only to vindicate themselves. Even Schoolhouse Rock understood the issue better than the average Constitutional expert when they drew our attention to what matters most in their great tune, The Preamble:

Hey, do you know about the U.S.A.?
Do you know about the government?
Can you tell me about the Constitution?
Hey, learn about the U.S.A.

In 1787 I'm told
Our founding fathers did agree
To write a list of principles
For keepin' people free.

The U.S.A. was just startin' out.
A whole brand-new country.
And so our people spelled it out
The things that we should be.

And they put those principles down on
paper and called it the Constitution, and
it's been helping us run our country ever
since then. The first part of the
]Constitution is called the preamble and tells
what those founding fathers set out to do.

We the people
In order to form a more perfect union,
Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
Provide for the common defense,
Promote the general welfare and
Secure the blessings of liberty
To ourselves and our posterity
Do ordain and establish this Constitution
for the United States of America.

In 1787 I'm told
Our founding fathers all sat down
And wrote a list of principles
That's known the world around.

The U.S.A. was just starting out
A whole brand-new country.
And so our people spelled it out
They wanted a land of liberty.
And the preamble goes like this:

We the people
In order to form a more perfect union,
Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
Provide for the common defense,
Promote the general welfare and
Secure the blessings of liberty
To ourselves and our posterity,
Do ordain and establish this Constitution
for the United States of America.

For the United States of America...

Any reading of any of the discrete provisions which does not serve to advance these overarching purposes--for example granting free speech rights to pornography or creating privacy "rights"--does a disservice to the Constitution and the Founders.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 AM


Free-range bowling is right up my alley (Todd R. Nelson, 9/17/03, CS Monitor)

It all started on my weekly trip to the town transfer station, formerly known as the dump. There, languishing by the caretaker's shed, were two perfectly good full-size bowling balls. One was a shiny black, and the other had a red-and-black swirl like 1930s linoleum.

Since I cannot resist the allure of a useful item that someone has put up for grabs, even if I have no present use for it, I loaded the bowling balls into my van, alongside the other treasures: a roll of house wrap, several pressure-treated two-by-sixes, an empty gas can, and an old electric fan.

When I pulled into the driveway, I couldn't wait to give the bowling balls a test spin. The finger holes were a mite tight, but workable. I swung my arm back, aimed, and let 'er roll. Across the gravel and into the clover it went, bumping over sticks and through divots and mini-swales. The dogs tried to chase and fetch it, like curling sweepers guiding a stone to the icy bull's-eye. What fun. Free-range bowling!

This oughta be a sport, I thought.

Little did I know that it already was, complete with an association and a devoted, if quiet, league of players. In fact, at their summer meeting, the Castine Off-neck Free-Range Bowling Association (COFRBA) decided it was time to petition the International Olympic Committee to include their sport in the 2004 Athens Olympiad. I concur. Being the association's newest member, I am not its best spokesman. But I now consider myself an Olympic hopeful. I'm in serious training, thanks to my coach, Tom Curry, the game's master.

Anyone can bowl on a flat floor with perfectly contoured gutters to contain errant rolls. Where's the challenge in that? But try bowling on something called "a course," instead of "an alley," with topography and unpredictable wildlife hazards. I'm talking about a woodland floor with stumps, rotten logs, mole tunnels, and red squirrels scolding from high in the treetops. Try targeting the pins (10 spruce logs arranged in the customary flying-V formation - but that's all that's customary) by planning a banked shot off a fieldstone wall, hoping you've put enough "mojo" on the ball to come out of the pine-needled crater in the lee of a tamarack stump. And try swinging the big free-range ball while swatting the swarming mosquitoes of late-summer Maine. Until then, you just don't know the true meaning of bowling.

It's fair to call free-range bowling a hybrid sport.

Not quite Human Frisbee Golf, but it'll do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:26 AM


The Vote Must Go On (BRUCE ACKERMAN, September 17, 2003, NY Times)

The federal appeals court order delaying the recall election in California cites the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore more than a dozen times. It is undeniable that California's recall election, which will use punch-card voting systems, has the potential to become another voting fiasco replete with hanging chads and changing standards. But this is not nearly enough to make it a legal rerun of Bush v. Gore.

For starters, in 2000 the Supreme Court intervened only after the election. [...]

Worse yet, the decision disrupts the First Amendment interests of the millions of Californians who have participated in the recall effort. State law promised them a quick election if they completed their petitions by an August deadline. [...]

The decision departs from Bush v. Gore in a second way. When the Supreme Court stopped the recount, Florida's time was running out. Continuing the recount increased the risk that its electoral vote would be challenged in Washington when Congress counted all the electoral ballots. Whatever its other merits or demerits, the court's intervention protected the right of each state to make its voice heard in selecting the president.

In contrast, the present decision attacks states' rights at their very core.

The aforementioned Mr. Ackerman.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 AM


Seattle voters reject espresso tax (AP, 9/17/03)

Voters in this caffeine capital have rejected a proposed 10-cent tax on espresso drinks after the initiative jolted an otherwise sleepy, off-year primary with a double shot of controversy.

With 58% of precincts and all the mail-in ballots counted late Tuesday, the tax was opposed by 68% of voters.

The Democratic presidential contenders are being driven by four key beliefs that resonate with the party faithful:

(1) George W. Bush stole the 2000 election.

(2) The projection of US. cultural beliefs, particularly by way of war, is inherently wrong.

(3) Moral standards need to be more permissive, allowing for things like gay marriage and abortion on demand.

(4) Taxes are too low.

There's fairly little evidence that the American people agree with them on any one of these Democrat fundamentals.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:59 AM


Adam Smith Institute: Blog

Greg Easterbrook: Blog

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 AM


US vetoes UN resolution on Arafat (Mark Turner and Roula Khalaf, September 17 2003, Financial Times)

The US on Tuesday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution which would have told Israel not to threaten or harm the Palestinian Authority president Yassir Arafat, drawing criticism from the Palestinians and eliciting several expressions of regret from other Security Council members.

Nasser al-Kidwa, the Palestinian envoy to the Security Council, said the US position cast a "long dark shadow on the entire process, that does not enable the United States to play an honest role as a mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict". [...]

John Negroponte, US ambassador to the UN, said he voted against the resolution because it did not sufficiently address the need to end terrorism. Specifically, he said the text did not explicitly condemn Hamas, Palestinian Jihad and Al-Ansa Martyrs Brigades, and did not call for the dismantling of the infrastructure which supported them.

The US move will nonetheless undermine efforts to improve its image in the Middle East, where it has long been seen as one-sided, and will also frustrate Arab allies whose help Washington is now seeking to try and revive the collapsed Palestinian-Israeli road map.

Ever since Israel's horribly botched announcement that they were going to exile Arafat, at some future date, the Israeli press has been whining about George Bush's double standard: "How come he gets to hunt doen Osama and Sadam, but we can't even exile Arafat?"

This is a healthy reminder that not only is the U.S. the only friend Israel has, but that, at least under George Bush (would Dr. Dean have vetoed the resolution?), we're even willing to harm our own national interests and endanger national security, in order to cover for Israel's mistakes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 AM


Fed reaffirms commitment to low rates (Alan Beattie, September 16 2003, Financial Times)

In a statement released with the decision, the Fed said that rates would remain low "for a considerable period". The statement was almost identical to that issued in August, saying that the risk that inflation would fall further outweighed the risk it would rise. But it was slightly more pessimistic about the labour market, saying it was weakening rather than that indicators were mixed.

The use of almost identical wording suggests that the Fed's review of its communications policy, which followed turbulence in the financial markets after the June meeting, has yet to feed into FOMC decisions.

Stocks rose immediately after the announcement, probably reflecting relief that the Fed had maintained its commitment to keep rates low.

In the run-up to the meeting, investors had priced in a chance of less than 5 per cent that the Fed would raise rates rather than leaving them on hold, following clear signals from Fed officials.

The Fed has consistently argued that while the US economic recovery is gathering strength, there is as yet scant evidence that this is translating into higher inflationary pressure.

With most estimates showing a substantial degree of slack in the US economy, companies have continued to struggle to make price rises stick. "Business pricing power and increases in core consumer prices remain muted," the Fed's statement said yesterday.

The lack of pricing power was underlined on Tuesday by the release of figures showing that underlying inflation had fallen to its lowest level in nearly 40 years. The consumer price index excluding food and energy rose just 1.3 per cent in the 12 months to August, its lowest rate since 1966.

The failure, in the 90's, to recognize that a globalized/technologized economy would create significant deflationary pressures continues to haunt the Fed. The failure to cut rates suggests they haven't totally learned the lesson.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:24 AM


>God Help the Democrats (John H. Bunzel, September 14, 2003, LA Times)

Millions of Americans do not believe in God. They do not invest moral authority in a transcendent source such as the Bible, or deal in absolutes of right and wrong, or divide the world into simplistic categories of good and evil.

Such people, and I include myself among them, have tended to find themselves more comfortable in the Democratic Party than in the Republican Party, where a marked strain of Christian fundamentalism runs strong.

I sometimes wonder, though, whether we nonbelievers are good for the party.

As political analyst Michael Barone has noted, Americans "increasingly vote as they pray, or don't pray." By a wide margin (87% in a 2002 survey), U.S. voters say religion is important to them.

The Democrats, therefore, cannot afford to be perceived as the party of irreligion or as inhospitable to committed persons of faith. We should remember that the only Democrats who became president in the last 35 years were Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both of whom spoke openly about their strong religious beliefs without compromising the principle of church-state separation. [...]

Secularist Democrats and even many religious voters are particularly hot and bothered by President Bush's regular religious references. But presidents have always talked about God. In speaking about the interrelatedness of all humans, President Clinton said in 1997: "It is not enough to say we are all equal in the eyes of God. We are also all connected in the eyes of God." Secularist Democrats are much more annoyed by Bush's invocation of the Almighty (with its undertone of "America has God on its side") because they feel his religious convictions do not influence his policies on such issues as health care, the needs of the poor and the environment. But they attack his religious views at their peril.

Fully aware that the Republicans have become the party of religious conservatives and seeking to put Democrats on the defensive, the president understands that if religion becomes a wedge issue in the U.S., it's the Republicans who will benefit.

Don't people who don't believe in morality or good and evil deserve a party too? And isn't that the Democratic Party?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:18 AM


Gee, Davey, you're making a comeback
(MATT WEITZ, September 12, 2003, The Dallas Morning News)

It took Mountain Dew to wake up the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

An ad agency wanted to use Davey and Goliath, from the animation series owned by the church, for a soda commercial. And they wanted to pay cash.

"They called us up and said 'How much do you want in order to allow us to use Davey and Goliath in a commercial?' " said the Rev. Eric Shafer, ELCA director of communications. "We gave them a number we thought was high, and three weeks later we had a check."

The lesson-oriented series about the misadventures of Davey, a young boy, and his dog, Goliath – who speaks to only Davey – had pretty much lain dormant since its heyday in the '60s and early '70s. The award-winning Mountain Dew commercial is one of a handful of recent pop culture references to the show, including mentions on The Simpsons and MADtv.

Although there were initially some misgivings about commercializing Davey and Goliath, Mr. Shafer said, the money from the commercial primed an ambitious revival of the show, which was originally made by Gumby creators Art and Ruth Clokey in the same labor-intensive, stop-action style.

A Sunday morning staple of our childhood--now if they'd just bring back Roller Derby...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


The hawks fall out (Jim Lobe, 9/16/03, Asia Times)

Faced with the rising costs and complications of occupying Iraq, the hardline coalition around US President George W Bush that led the drive to war with Iraq appears to be suffering serious internal strains.

On the one hand, neo-conservatives, who were the most optimistic about postwar Iraq before the US-led invasion, are insisting that Washington cannot afford either to pull out or to surrender the slightest control over the occupation to the United Nations or anyone else.

To a rising chorus of calls by Democrats for Washington to invite the world body to take over at least political control of the transition to Iraqi rule in exchange for a commitment of money and peacekeepers, the neo-cons are urging the administration to send more US troops instead.

Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, on the other hand, is dead-set against deploying yet more troops to join the 180,000 now in Iraq and Kuwait. And while he, like the neo-cons, opposes conceding any substantial political role for the UN or anyone else, his preferred option is to transfer power directly to the Iraqis as quickly as possible, even at the risk that reconstituted security forces would be insufficiently cleansed of elements of the former regime's Ba'ath Party. [...]

he divide burst into the open recently when neo-cons outside the administration, seconded by Republican Senator John McCain, launched a concerted attack, centered in the Rupert Murdoch-owned Weekly Standard and other sympathetic media, on Rumsfeld's opposition to increasing US troops in Iraq.

"The choices are stark," wrote Standard editor William Kristol (a former top McCain adviser) and his frequent collaborator, Robert Kagan. "Either the United States does what it takes to succeed in Iraq, or we lose in Iraq."

Mr. Lobe writes a great deal of nonsense and is seemingly obsessed with the neocons, but this essay is more right than wrong and a far better analysis than most of what's going on with Mr. Rumsfeld. The one major piece of the puzzle he misses is that to the Secretary these wars have been more or less a sideshow, though an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that his theories work. His real mission at Defense from day one, and the final legacy he wants to leave behind as he comes to the close of a brilliant career, is the fundamental reorientation of the military, away from the heavy Cold War configuration it still labors under, towards a lighter, more mobile, more intelligent force structure.

September 16, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:05 PM


First, let me concede right off the bat that this isn't a great movie, nor even a really good one, but it is a good enough one. And it has a couple of redeeming features: (1) Chow Yun-Fat; (2) a series of surprisingly conservative themes. As for Chow Yun-Fat, suffice it to say that he perennially finishes in the Top 5 on our "Men Who We'd Not Have To Kill Ourselves If We Were Sent to Prison and They Made Us Their Bitch" List. Here he plays the monk of the title, a Tibetan Buddhist who is anointed, in 1942, by his master as the new defender of the Scroll of the Ultimate, a text of secret wisdom, which were it ever to be read would provide ultimate power to its reader. As the figurative torch is passed and the master rapidly ages 60 years, the scroll having kept him young while he guarded it, their Temple of Sublime Truth is attacked by Nazis, led by the vile Strucker (Karel Roden), and the monk--his character renounces his former identity and becomes nameless--discovers he has become bulletproof.

The story now flashes forward sixty years, to modern America, where the monk--who is still being pursued by Strucker and now by his granddaughter Nina (Victoria Smurfit)--almost immediately loses the scroll to a pickpocket named Kar (Seann William Scott). When he retrieves the scroll, the monk is disconcerted to find that Kar appears to fulfill certain prophecies about who will be the next guardian. Add in a love interest for Kar, in the form of an armed and dangerous Russian mobster's daughter (Jaime King), and you can pretty much write the rest of the movie yourself.

Chow Yun-Fat easily dominates the screen in a role that sort of does a cockamamie take on his character from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He's sly, even sardonic, and though he's a spiritual soul his faith isn't heavy-handed. When Kar becomes his disciple the zen koan he has him ponder is: "Why do hot dogs come in packages of 10 while hot dog buns come in packages of eight?" Meanwhile, Seann William Scott has a goofy charm and at least holds his own as Kar. Together the two have the easy chemistry that makes or breaks any buddy picture, which this essentially is. If this were all there were to the movie it would be watchable, but nothing more. It's elevated though by the ideas that underlie the story.

Begin with the fact that the scroll is considered to contain knowledge that mankind is too immature to deal with yet. This goes against the grain of an age where every kind of scientific horror is justified in the name of the quest for knowledge. Next, we have the mystical powers of the monks, which are deliciously anti-rational. Then too, the monk is able to appeal to Kar to give up his life of crime because it does not represent his true nature, is violative of the good within him. This treatment of good and evil as real things would be rejected as absurd by secular intellectuals. There's more, but one especially nice touch is that Strucker uses a Human Rights organization as a front for his neo-Nazi schemes. How very un-PC of the moviemakers.

So, there's an awful lot here to like, but, in truth, it never quite gels. The whole is truly less than the sum of its parts. Still, I liked the parts well enough to enjoy the film and if you approach it on its own terms, you're likely to enjoy it too.

-INFO: Bulletproof Monk (2003) (
-FILMOGRAPHY: Paul Hunter (
-FILMOGRAPHY: Chow Yun-Fat (
-FILMOGRAPHY: Seann William Scott (
-REVIEW ARCHIVES: Bulletproof Monk (
-REVIEW ARCHIVES: Bulletproof Monk (
-REVIEW ARCHIVES: Bulletproof Monk (MetaCritic)
-REVIEW ARCHIVES: Bulletproof Monk (Film Forum)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (James Berardinelli)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Michael Elliot, Movie Parables)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Plugged In: Focus on the Family)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (David DiCerto, Catholic News Service)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Health)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Holly McLure, Crosswalk)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (A.O. Scott, NY Times)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Stephen Hunter, Washington Post)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Mick LaSalle, SF Chronicle)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Kenneth Turan, LA Times)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (David Edelstein, Slate)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Charles Taylor, Salon)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Clint Morris, FilmThreat)
-REVIEW: of Bulletproof Monk (Ed Park, Village Voice)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 PM


Two incomes, more debt?: A new study offers a controversial theory of why today's families are having a tough time staying afloat. (Marilyn Gardner, 9/17/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

As a bankruptcy expert, Elizabeth Warren has seen the devastating effects on families when their finances collapse. She has also watched the number of bankruptcies escalate, rising 400 percent in the past 25 years. By the end of the decade, she says, an estimated 6 million families with children - 1 in every 7 such families - may declare bankruptcy. This year, more children are going through their parents' bankruptcies than their parents' divorces.

But Ms. Warren, a law professor at Harvard, rejects the conventional theory that overconsumption - squandering money on big-screen TVs, McMansions, restaurant meals, oversized cars, and luxury vacations - is to blame for insolvency and all those maxed-out credit cards. Instead, she points to the high cost of housing and education - fixed expenses that can quickly create a sea of red ink when families face layoffs, illness, or divorce. Skyrocketing healthcare costs add to the problem.

Ironically, Warren sees Mom's paycheck - a family's second income, the very asset meant to provide more financial stability - as a potential culprit rather than an economic cure. When middle-class mothers began entering the workforce en masse, she explains, their incomes gave parents more money to spend on housing. This created "frenzied bidding wars" for homes in desirable school districts. A deregulated mortgage industry compounded the peril by allowing homeowners to assume larger mortgages.

As a result, Warren says, dual-income families have less discretionary income and are more vulnerable economically than their single-breadwinner counterparts in the past.

She spells out her unusual theories in >The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke, written with her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi.

Even if sympathetic to the argument that only one parent should work, one has to wonder why such families wouldn't use their extra discretionary income for similar moves to more expensive houses, etc.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:33 PM


Women's Soccer Timeout (CS Monitor, 9/17/03)

Just as fans were getting used to the idea of women and professional sports for good, the Women's United Soccer Association has announced it is sidelining - for now - its eight professional teams after only three seasons. [...]

It's been a tough year for women's sports in general. First Title IX came under criticism from male coaches who felt their teams were getting short shrift. The Women's National Basketball Association stumbled over salary disputes. Then, Annika Sorenstam teed up with the guys on the PGA tour only to say she's going back to "where I belong."

Is this some kind of foreshadowing? Are women's sports doomed to a short-lived chapter?

There are two reassuring aspects of this story:

(1) Title IX is one of the most radical social experiments in our history, an explicit attempt to use the power of government and the almighty dollar to cripple men's sports and to turn women's sports into a central part of society. It has failed on an epic scale.

(2) No matter how far downhill the country's gone, we haven't reached the kind of nadir where folks will watch soccer. We still have some standards and a modicum of pride.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:24 PM


Study Finds Handwashing Disparities (Reuters, 9/16/03)

Rack one up for Canada: A survey of travelers at North American airports released on Monday found that nearly everyone washed their hands at the Toronto airport after using the restroom, in contrast to habits at some U.S. airports.

Here's the only thing I ever learned in a science class (an assertion the Darwinists will certainly believe): wash your hands before you go to the bathroom, not after--you presumably know where your plumbing's been and it should be reasonably clean, but who knows what kind of random gunk your hands have been coming in contact with over the course of the day.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:15 PM


Swedish 'no' vote on euro reverberates in Britain: Polls show 60 percent of Britons favor keeping the pound. (Mark Rice-Oxley, 9/17/03, CS Monitor)

"The lack of growth in France and Germany is the biggest barrier to people being enthusiastic about joining the euro," says one pro-euro government source here, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "And as long as Britain has good growth with full employment, and the other big countries in Europe are in the doldrums, then we won't be voting 'yes' either."

The euro debate is one of the most divisive in Britain, cutting across cabinet and government, political parties and businesses, boardrooms, classrooms, and living rooms. Polls consistently show about 60 percent who do not want to ditch the pound, with barely 30 percent in favor.

In some ways, the euro issue is a microcosm of the love-hate relationship between Britain and Europe. One school of thought, embodied by trenchant euroskeptic and former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, sees Europe as essentially alien to the Anglo-Saxon way of life - statist, indolent, bureaucratic, and polyglot.

The counterview embraces the history and vision of the "European project," which has assured unprecedented peace and prosperity across the western half of the continent for almost 60 years.

Nowhere is the euro rift more obvious than at the top end of the cabinet, where Prime Minister Tony Blair is a starry-eyed enthusiast while his finance chief Gordon Brown is far more doubtful.

Mr. Brown held sway in June when the government said it was too soon to hold a vote on joining the euro because Britain's economy was not yet convergent with mainland Europe in key areas like inflation, interest rates, growth, and business cycles.

Another assessment is scheduled for early next year, but few now expect a vote on the matter in the next five years.

"We are nowhere near to going to the polls in the UK now," says Adrian Hughes, a currency expert at international banking giant HSBC. "Until the [economy] is reasonably convergent with Europe's, we won't actually see a vote."

That's the ticket...wait until the French and German economies are healthy...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:10 PM


How Wahhabis fan Iraq insurgency: A sheikh's case offers a rare window into postwar resistance in Iraq. (Scott Peterson, 9/17/03, CS Monitor)

To his followers, Sheikh Tahma Aboud Khalif is a loving father of four; a poor and harmless Islamic ideologue whose only fault is his "temper."

But for the American soldiers who caught the sheikh red-handed attempting to ambush their convoy, early one June morning south of Baghdad, the sheikh is a Wahhabi terrorist - and deserves to be sent to Guantánamo Bay.

"We very literally dodged a bullet that day," says a US military intelligence officer, who asked not to be named. "That group has a lot of influence and conducts a lot of attacks, but they are not the only ones. When this is over, you will see that this was a hotbed."

Sheikh Tahma's case offers a rare window, say US officers and local clerics, into the way some adherents of the Wahhabi faith - a puritanical branch of Sunni Islam that calls for the expulsion of foreign infidels - figure in anti-US violence in Iraq. [...]

The information gleaned from the sheikh illustrated for these US units that violent resistance was not limited to pro-Saddam loyalists - but included Sunni religious elements also.

"He led us down the Wahhabi path," says Colonel Haight. "He got our foot in the door, into anti-Coalition attacks" [...]

"These guys, you can't change their minds - you have to kill them, and squash them like an ant," says a senior US officer familiar with Tahma's case. "He's a terrorist."

Given that Baathism and Wahhabism are enemies of Shiism, there would seem to be obvious advantages to turning power over to the Shi'ites sooner rather than later, no?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:14 PM


One More Round For Bush v. Gore (Charles Lane, September 16, 2003, Washington Post)

For the liberal interest groups and lawyers who have been fighting California's recall, Bush v. Gore has mutated from reviled electoral coup to legitimate legal weapon. [...]

But others say both the recall's opponents and the 9th Circuit panel -- made up of three of that left-leaning court's most liberal members -- have misinterpreted Bush v. Gore.

For all its conclusive impact on the Florida recount, the Supreme Court's majority opinion ended on a note of ambivalence.

Protesting that their involvement was an "unsought responsibility," the majority -- made up of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas -- said the decision was "limited to the present circumstances."

The 9th Circuit panel just blew by that admonition, some legal analysts say.

"It over-read Bush v. Gore a little bit," said Vikram Amar, a professor of law at the University of California Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. "You can't say it's quite identical, because Bush v. Gore involved manual recounts, not machine mistakes. In 2000, the Supreme Court was worried that standardless criteria allowed individuals to manipulate results, and that may be worse constitutionally than machine errors skewing the result."

Bruce Ackerman, of all people, was on NPR and was just withering in his contempt for the ruling, despite having argued for Gore in 2000. One thing seems certain, the Supreme Court majority from that earlier case will be eager to rule that it has no bearing on this or any other case. It was a one-off.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:56 PM


Gehring's lawyers object to van search (David Tirrell-Wysocki, 9/16/2003, Associated Press)

Manuel Gehring's lawyer raised the possibility Tuesday that she will try to prevent a jury from hearing that he admitted he killed his two children and buried them somewhere in the Midwest.

Speaking in Hillsborough County Superior Court, public defender Jackie Colburn said she believes a search of Gehring's van in California was illegal and that she may ask a judge to block any evidence found in it as well as any statements Gehring has made to police.

Gehring has pleaded innocent and is being held without bail in the deaths of his 11-year-old son, Philip, and 14-year-old daughter, Sarah, who were last seen at a July Fourth fireworks show with him in Concord.

Gehring was arrested in California in early July after a cross-country drive from Concord. He began the drive with his children and ended it alone. Court documents say he told investigators he shot his children in the van in southern New Hampshire and buried them somewhere off Interstate 80 in the Midwest. The bodies have not been found.

It's one thing to expend every effort to defend a man who may be innocent, but if the end of the legal system is to achieve justice, how does someone like Ms Colburn justify this to herself?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:50 PM


Clark Gets In (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris and Clothilde Ewing, Sept. 16, 2003, CBS News)

Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark will make an official announcement of his plans to run for president in Little Rock, Ark., on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

General Mike Jackson might want to have someone else start his car in the morning and hire a food taster, The can-do general for war and peace: The Army's new chief talks to Alice Thomson about its Gulf role, his hero Wellington, and why he's happy to settle for this century (Daily Telegraph, 5/26/03)
General Sir Mike Jackson's forehead is scarred, his cheeks are pitted, his nose sunburnt and the pouches under his eyes could carry his entire mess kit. His face could be a road map through the last 40 years of British military adventures: the Cold War, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq.

Today, the new whisky-drinking, cheroot-smoking Chief of the General Staff is surrounded by men in suits and women in short skirts from the MoD press office. Gold braid drips from his mountainous shoulders as he stretches out on a leather sofa in the old War Office. [...]

Gen Jackson is not renowned for his love of Americans. When commanding the Nato troops in Kosovo, he refused an order from Nato's supreme commander, Gen Wesley Clark. The American wanted him to assault Pristina airport, which had just been taken by some Russians. Gen Jackson evidently told him: "I'm not going to start World War Three for you."

He smiles at the story. "I might have said something like that," he admits.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:34 PM


Same Old Clintons (DOUG THOMPSON, Sep 16, 2003, Capitol Hill Blue)

Bill Clinton is back on the campaign trail, stumping for Democratic Presidential candidates in Iowa.

Looks like he’s back up to a few of his other tricks too.

Commenting on the Bush tax-cut package, Clinton told a campaign crowd “I never had a nickel until I left the White House.”

Same Bill Clinton. Same pack of lies.

All you have to do is look at the last financial disclosure statement Clinton filed before leaving the White House on January 20, 2001. It shows Bubba left 1600 Pennsylvania a rich man, with a net worth somwhere between $1 million and $5 million (financial disclosures are not precise. They only require a range of values).

During his last year in office, Clinton and his wife accepted $191,027 in gifts and Hillary signed an $8 million book deal while still First Lady. Plus the 200 grand a year that Clinton made as President ain’t exactly small change, especially when he didn’t pay rent for eight years and lived on other people’s money (namely, the taxpayers).

Can he open his mouth without self-pity spewing out?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:25 PM


Canada finishes well ahead of U.S. as OECD tests teenage students (Sarah Schmidt, September 16, 2003, CanWest News Service)

Canadian teenagers scored in the top five on international tests in reading, math and science, even though their class sizes are the largest in the Western world.

Posted by John Resnick at 3:59 PM


Calif. Pensions Call on Grasso to Resign (Reuters, 9/16/2003)

In their letter, the California pension funds, which together trade some $100 billion with broker-dealers each year, said it was wrong that Grasso had been so highly paid for his stewardship of the NYSE at a time when the markets "were being pummeled by the worst string of corporate scandals since the market crash of 1929."

California State Treasurer Phil Angelides, a Democrat who sits on the boards of both pension funds, told reporters in a televised news conference from Sacramento, California that Grasso's pay package had been too large given his role as a regulator with influence over listing standards.

"This pay package is out of line and it's part of a sickness in this country that too many at the very top have forgotten what's right and fair in the American economy," Angelides said.

[....]"Today we are trying to pull the pig away from the trough," Harrigan said. "The next step is figuring out who filled up the trough."

I'll risk sounding like an outright defender of Grasso's compensation to say that I'm at a complete loss to connect the dots here. Surely these gentlemen understand that the NYSE, just like Mr. Grasso's compensation, is a function of market supply and demand. According to their statistics, the NYSE turns over about 8 times the yearly volume of California Pensions on a monthly basis. What's Grasso's pay package got to do with stock prices? Stock prices tend to go down when less dollars are chasing more shares. Stock prices tend to go up when more dollars are chasing less shares. I don't suppose these pension funds did any SELLING in the last three years? Furthermore, a large part of the compensation related to YEARS of oversight during which pensions, such as those in California, took advantage of billions in profits thanks to an orderly market maintained through the NYSE.

And what on earth is the "pig and trough" analogy supposed to mean?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:48 AM

OVER CLEAR (via Paul Cella:

War in the Absence of Strategic Clarity: More than merely winning the war in Iraq, we needed to stun the Arab World. (Mark Helprin, August 26, 2003, The Claremont Institute)

America has approached the war on terrorism as if from two dreamworlds. The liberal, in which an absurd understanding of cause and effect, the habit of capitulation to foreign influence, a mild and perpetual anti-Americanism, reflex allergies to military spending, and a theological aversion to self-defense all lead to policies that are hard to differentiate from surrender. And the conservative, in which everything must be all right as long as a self-declared conservative is in the White House—no matter how badly the war is run; no matter that a Republican administration in electoral fear leans left and breaks its promise to restore the military; and no matter that because the Secretary of Defense decided that he need not be able to fight two wars at once, an adequate reserve does not exist to deal with, for example, North Korea. And in between these dreamworlds of paralysis and incompetence lies the seam, in French military terminology la soudure, through which al-Qaeda, uninterested in our parochialisms, will make its next attack.

The war is waged as if accidentally, and no wonder. For domestic political reasons and to preserve its marginal relations with the Arab World, the United States has declined to identify the enemy precisely. He is so formless, opportunistic, and shadowy that apparently we cannot conceive of him accurately enough to declare war against him, although he has declared war against us. Attribute this to Karl Rove's sensitivity to the electoral calculus in key states with heavy Arab-American voting, to a contemporary aversion to ethnic generalities, to the desire not to offend the Arab World lest it attack us even more ferociously, to the fear of speaking truth to oil, to apprehension about the taking of hostages and attacks upon embassies, and to a certain muddledness of mind that is the result both of submitting to polite and obsequious blackmail and of having been throughout the course of one's life a stranger to rigorous thought. Reluctance to identify the enemy makes it rather difficult to assess his weaknesses and strengths. Thus, for want of a minimum of political courage, our soldiers are dispatched to far-flung battlefields to fight an ad hoc, disorganized war, and, just as it did in the Vietnam War, Washington explains its lack of a lucid strategy by referring to the supposed incoherence of its opponent. From the beginning, America has been told that this is a new kind of war that cannot be waged with strategic clarity, that strategy and its attendant metaphysics no longer apply. And because we cannot sufficiently study the nature of an insufficiently defined enemy, our actions are mechanistic, ill-conceived, and a function of conflicting philosophies within our bureaucracies, which proceed as if their war plans were modeled on a to-do list magnetized to some suburban refrigerator.

The enemy must and can be defined. That he is the terrorist himself almost everyone agrees, but in the same way that the United States extended blame beyond the pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor, it must now reach far back into the structures of enablement for the sake of deciding who and what must be fought. And given the enormity of a war against civilians, and the attacks upon our warships, embassies, economy, capital, government, and most populous city, this determination must be liberal and free-flowing rather than cautious and constrained, both by necessity and by right. The enemy has embarked upon a particular form of warfare with the intent of shielding his center of mass from counterattack, but he must not be allowed such a baseless privilege. For as much as he is the terrorist who executes the strategy, he is the intelligence service in aid of it, the nation that harbors his training camps, the country that finances him, the press filled with adulation, the people who dance in the streets when there is a slaughter, and the regime that turns a blind eye.

Not surprisingly, militant Islam arises from and makes its base in the Arab Middle East. The first objective of the war, therefore, must be to offer every state in the area this choice: eradicate all support for terrorism within your borders or forfeit existence as a state. That individual terrorists will subsequently flee to the periphery is certain, but the first step must be to deny them their heartland and their citadels.

Recognizing that the enemy is militant Islam with its center the Arab Middle East, it is possible to devise a coherent strategy.

It speaks volumes about Mark Helprin's clarity of vision and his eloquence that the only time Bob Dole ever let us peer into his soul it was Mr. Helprin who provided the lens, Remarks by Senator Bob Dole: Dole Accepts Nomination (San Diego, California, August 15, 1996):
Ladies and gentlemen, delegates to the convention, and fellow citizens, I cannot say it more clearly than in plain speaking. I accept your nomination to lead our party once again to the Presidency of the United States.

And I am profoundly moved by your confidence and trust, and I look forward to leading America into the next century. But this is not my moment, it is yours. It is yours, Elizabeth. It is yours, Robin. It is yours, Jack and Joanne Kemp.

And do not think I have forgotten whose moment this is above all. It is for the people of America that I stand here tonight, and by their generous leave. And as my voice echoes across darkness and desert, as it is heard over car radios on coastal roads, and as it travels above farmland and suburb, deep into the heart of cities that, from space, look tonight like strings of sparkling diamonds, I can tell you that I know whose moment this is: It is yours. It is yours entirely.

And who am I that stands before you tonight?

I was born in Russell, Kansas, a small town in the middle of the prairie surrounded by wheat and oil wells. As my neighbors and friends from Russell, who tonight sit in front of this hall, know well, Russell, though not the West, looks out upon the West.

And like most small towns on the plains, it is a place where no one grows up without an intimate knowledge of distance.

And the first thing you learn on the prairie is the relative size of a man compared to the lay of the land. And under the immense sky where I was born and raised, a man is very small, and if he thinks otherwise, he is wrong.
I come from good people, very good people, and I'm proud of it. My father's name was Doran and my mother's name was Bina. I loved them and there's no moment when my memory of them and my love for them does not overshadow anything I do -- even this, even here -- and there is no height to which I have risen that is high enough to allow me to allow me to forget them -- to allow me to forget where I came from, and where I stand and how I stand -- with my feet on the ground, just a man at the mercy of God.

And this perspective has been strengthened and solidified by a certain wisdom that I owe not to any achievement of my own, but to the gracious compensations of age.

Now I know that in some quarters I may not -- may be expected to run from this, the truth of this, but I was born in 1923, and facts are better than dreams and good presidents and good candidates don't run from the truth.

I do not need the presidency to make or refresh my soul. That false hope I will gladly leave to others. For greatness lies not in what office you hold, but on how honest you are in how you face adversity and in your willingness to stand fast in hard places.

Age has its advantages.

Let me be the bridge to an America than only the unknowing call myth. Let me be the bridge to a time of tranquility, faith and confidence in action.

And to those who say it was never so, that America's not been better, I say you're wrong. And I know because I was there. And I have seen it. And I remember.

And our nation, though wounded and scathed, has outlasted revolutions, civil war, world war, racial oppression and economic catastrophe. We have fought and prevailed on almost every continent. And in almost every sea.

We have even lost. But we have lasted, and we have always come through.

And what enabled us to accomplish this has little to do with the values of the present. After decades of assault upon what made America great, upon supposedly obsolete values, what have we reaped? What have we created? What do we have?

What we have in the opinions of millions of Americans is crime and drugs, illegitimacy, abortion, the abdication of duty, and the abandonment of children.

And after the virtual devastation of the American family, the rock upon which this country was founded, we are told that it takes a village, that is collective, and thus the state, to raise a child.

The state is now more involved than it ever has been in the raising of children. And children are now more neglected, more abused and more mistreated than they have been in our time.

This is not a coincidence. This is not a coincidence. And with all due respect, I am here to tell you it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.

If I could by magic restore to every child who lacks a father or a mother that father or that mother, I would. And though I cannot, I would never turn my back on them. And I shall as President vote measures that keep families whole.

And I'm here to tell you that permissive and destructive behavior must be opposed. That honor and liberty must be restored and that individual accountability must replace collective excuse.

And I'm here to say I am here to say to America, do not abandon the great traditions that stretch to the dawn of our history. Do not topple the pillars of those beliefs -- God, family, honor, duty, country -- that have brought us through time, and time, and time, and time again.

And to those who believe that I am too combative, I say if I am combative, it is for love of country. It is to uphold a standard that I was I was born and bread to defend. And to those who believe that I live and breathe compromise, I say that in politics honorable compromise is no sin. It is what protects us from absolutism and intolerance.

But one must never compromise in regard to God and family and honor and duty and country. And I'm here to set a marker, that all may know that it is possible to rise in politics, with these things firmly in mind, not compromised and never abandoned, never abandoned.

For the old values endure and though they may sleep and though they may falter, they endure. I know this is true. And to anyone who believes that restraint honor and trust in the people cannot be returned to government, I say follow me, follow me.

Only right conduct, only right conduct distinguishes a great nation from one that cannot rise above itself. It has never been otherwise.

Right conduct every day, at every level, in all facets of life. The decision of a child not to use drugs; of a student not to cheat; of a young woman or a young man to serve when called; of a screenwriter to refuse to add to mountains of trash; of a businessman not to bribe; of a politician to cast a vote or take action that will put his office or his chances of victory at risk, but which is right.

And why have so many of us -- and I do not exclude myself, for I am not the model of perfection -- why have so many of us been failing these tests for so long? The answer is not a mystery. It is to the contrary quite simple and can be given quite simply.

It is because for too long we have had a leadership that has been unwilling to risk the truth, to speak without calculation, to sacrifice itself.

An administration, in its very existence, communicates this day by day until it flows down like rain and the rain becomes a river and the river becomes a flood.

Which is more important, wealth or honor?

It is not as was said by the victors four years ago, the economy stupid. It's a kind of nation we are. It's whether we still possess the wit and determination to deal with many questions including economic questions, but certainly not limited to them. All things do not flow from wealth or poverty. I know this firsthand and so do you.

All things flow from doing what is right.

The cry of this nation lies not in its material wealth but in courage, and sacrifice and honor. We tend to forget when leaders forget. And we tend to remember it when they remember it.

The high office of the presidency requires not a continuous four year campaign for re-election, but rather broad oversight and attention to three essential areas: the material, the moral and the nation's survival in that ascending order of importance.

In the last presidential election, you the people were gravely insulted. You were told that the material was not only the most important of these three, but in fact, really the only one that mattered.

I don't hold to that for a moment. No one can deny the importance of material well-being. And in this regard, it is time to recognize we have surrendered too much of our economic liberty. I do not appreciate the value of economic liberty nearly as much for what it has done in keeping us fed, as to what it's done in keeping us free.

The freedom of the marketplace is not merely the best guarantor of our prosperity. It is the chief guarantor of our rights, and a government that seizes control of the economy for the good of the people ends up seizing control of the people for the good of the economy.

And our opponents portray the right to enjoy the fruits of one's own time and labor as a kind selfishness against which they must fight for the good of the nation. But they are deeply mistaken, for when they gather to themselves the authority to take the earnings and direct the activities of the people, they are fighting not for our sake but for the power to tell us what to do.

And you now work from the first of January to May just to pay your taxes so that the party of government can satisfy its priorities with the sweat of your brow because they think that what you would do with your own money would be morally and practically less admirable than what they would do with it.

And that simply has got to stop. It's got to stop in America.

It is demeaning to the nation that within the Clinton administration, a core of the elite who never grew up, never did anything real, never sacrificed, never suffered and never learned, should have the power to fund with your earnings their dubious and self-serving schemes. [...]

[I] have learned in my own life, from my own experience that not every man, woman or child can make it on their own. And that in time of need, the bridge between failure and success can be the government itself. And given all that I have experienced, I shall always remember those in need. That is why I helped to save Social Security in 1983 and that is why I will be, I will be the president who preserves and strengthens and protects Medicare for America's senior citizens.

For I will never forget the man who rode on a train from Kansas to Michigan to see his son who was thought to be dying in an Army hospital. When he arrived, his feet were swollen and he could hardly walk because he had to make the trip from Kansas to Michigan standing up most of the way.

Who was that man? He was my father. My father was poor and I love my father. Do you imagine for one minute that as I sign the bills that will set the economy free, I will not be faithful to Americans in need? You can be certain that I will.

For to do otherwise would be to betray those whom I love and honor most. And I will betray nothing. [...]

The Republican Party is broad and inclusive. It represents -- The Republican Party is broad and inclusive. It represents many streams of opinion and many points of view.

But if there's anyone who has mistakenly attached themselves to our party in the belief that we are not open to citizens of every race and religion, then let me remind you, tonight this hall belongs to the Party of Lincoln. And the exits which are clearly marked are for you to walk out of as I stand this ground without compromise.

And though, I can only look up -- and though I can look up, and at a very steep angle, to Washington and Lincoln, let me remind you of their concern for the sometimes delicate unity of the people.

The notion that we are and should be one people rather than "peoples" of the United States seems so self-evident and obvious that it's hard for me to imagine that I must defend it. When I was growing up in Russell, Kansas, it was clear to me that my pride and my home were in America, not in any faction, and not in any division.

In this I was heeding, even as I do unto this day, Washington's eloquent rejection of factionalism. I was honoring, even as I do unto this day, Lincoln's word, his life and his sacrifice. The principle of unity has been with us in all our successes.

The 10th Mountain Division, in which I served in Italy, and the Black troops of the 92ndm Division who fought nearby were the proof for me once again of the truth I'm here trying to convey.

The war was fought just a generation after America's greatest and most intense period of immigration. And yet when the blood of the sons of immigrants and the grandsons of slaves fell on foreign fields, it was American blood. In it you could not read the ethnic particulars of the soldier who died next to you. He was an American.

And when I think how we learned this lesson I wonder how we could have unlearned it. Is the principle of unity, so hard-fought and at the cost of so many lives, having been contested again and again in our history, and at such a terrible price, to be casually abandoned to the urge to divide?
The answer is no.

Must we give in to the senseless drive to break apart that which is beautiful and whole and good?

And so tonight I call on every American to rise above all that may divide us, and to defend the unity of the nation for the honor of generations past, and the sake of those to come. [...]

[O]n my first day in office, I will put America on a course that will end our vulnerability to missile attack and rebuild our armed forces.

It is a course President Clinton has refused to take. And on my first day in office, I will put terrorists on notice. If you harm one American, you harm all Americans. And America will pursue you to the ends of the earth.

In short, don't mess with us if you're not prepared to suffer the consequences.

And furthermore, the lesson has always been clear, if we are prepared to defend, if we are prepared to fight many wars and greater wars than any wars that come, we will have to fight fewer wars and lesser wars and perhaps no wars at all.

It has always been so and will ever be so. And I'm not the first to say that the long gray line has never failed us, and it never has.

For those who might be sharply taken aback and thinking of Vietnam, think again. For in Vietnam the long gray line did not fail us, we failed it in Vietnam.

The American soldier -- the American soldier was not made for the casual and arrogant treatment that he suffered there, where he was committed without clear purpose or resolve, bound by rules that prevented victory, and kept waiting in the valley of the shadow of death for 10 years while the nation invaded the undebatable question of his honor.

No, the American soldier was not to be thrown into battle without a clear purpose or resolve, not made to be abandoned in the field of battle, not made to give his life for indifference or lack of respect. And I will never commit the American soldier to an ordeal without the prospect of victory.

And when I am president, and when I am president every man, and every women in our armed forces will know the president is Commander-in-Chief, not Boutros Boutros-Ghali or any other UN Secretary General.

This I owe not only to the living, but to the dead, to every patriot, to every patriot grave, to the ghosts of Valley Forge, of Flanders Field, of Bataan, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh, and the Gulf.

This I owe to the men who died on the streets of Mogadishu not three year ago, to the shadows on the bluffs of Normandy, to the foot soldiers who never came home, to the airmen who fell to earth, and the sailors who rest perpetually at sea.

This is not an issue of politics, but far graver than that. Like the bond of trust between parent and child, it is the lifeblood of the nation. It commands not only sacrifice but a grace in leadership embodying both caution and daring at the same time. And this we owe not only to ourselves. Our Allies demand consistency and resolve, which they deserve from us as we deserve it from them. But even if they falter, we cannot, for history has made us the leader, and we are obliged by history to keep the highest standard possible.

And in this regard may I remind you of the nation's debt to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush. President Nixon engaged China and the Soviet Union with diplomatic genius. President Ford, who gave me my start in 1976, stood fast in a time of great difficulty, and with the greatest of dignity. Were it not for President Reagan, the Soviet Union would still be standing today.

He brought the Cold War to an end, not, as some demanded, through compromise and surrender -- but by winning it. That's how he brought the Cold War to an end.

And President Bush, with a mastery that words fail to convey, guided the Gulf War coalition and its military forces to victory. A war that might have lasted years and taken the lives of tens of thousands of Americans passed so swiftly and passed so smoothly that history has yet to catch its breath and give him the credit he is due.

History is like that. History is like that. Whenever we forget its singular presence, it gives us a lesson in grace and awe.

And when I look back on my life, I see less and less of myself and more and more a history of this civilization that we have made that is called America.

And I am content and always will be content to see my own story subsumed in great events, the greatest of which is the simple onward procession of the American people. What a high privilege it is to be at the center in these times -- and this I owe to you, the American people.

I owe everything to you. And to make things right, and to close the circle, I will return to you as much as I possibly can. It is incumbent upon me to do so. It is my duty and my deepest desire. And so tonight, I respectfully -- I respectfully ask for your blessing and your support. [...]

My friends, a presidential campaign is more than a contest of candidates, more than a clash of opposing philosophies.

It is a mirror held up to America. It is a measurement of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. For as much inspiration as we may draw from a glorious past, we recognize American preeminently as a country of tomorrow. For we were placed here for a purpose, by a higher power. There's no doubt about it.

Every soldier in uniform, every school child who recites the Pledge of Allegiance, every citizen who places her hand on her heart when the flag goes by, recognizes and responds to our American destiny.

Optimism is in our blood. I know this as few others can. There once was a time when I doubted the future. But I have learned as many of you have learned that obstacles can be overcome.

And I have unlimited confidence in the wisdom of our people and the future of our country.

Tonight, I stand before you tested by adversity, made sensitive by hardship, a fighter by principle, and the most optimistic man in America.

Not only did this present us a Bob Dole who was, maybe for the first time in his public career, a sympathetic and comprehensible character, but it provided a profound metaphor for conservatism: a bridge that can connect us to the best of our past. This provoked Bill Clinton into adopting a profoundly appropriate, because inane, metaphor for liberalism: a bridge to the 21st Century, leaving the past behind, trying to skip over the present on an artificial construction, and barging blindly ahead into who knows what as a result.

But it also speaks volumes about Mr. Helprin's aptitude for politics that he was so upset by the addition of the usual boilerplate to the speech he'd penned that he stopped working with the Dole campaign. Sure, it would have been a better speech without, but political speeches aren't just supposed to be lovely--they serve multiple purposes. What was remarkable was that they kept so much of what he wrote, not that they draped it in dreck.

In the essay above we see Mr. Helprin's strengths and weaknesses on display. It's no surprise that someone who served in the Israeli defense forces should seize on 9-11 as an opportunity to go to war with the entire Arab Middle East, but that was neither politically tenable nor justified even by so horrific an event as the 9-11 attacks. These after all were not the actions of Arabs generally, but of men disaffected from even Arab society. You can't punish a group for the crimes of its most dysfunctional members, only for the crimes of which the society generally approves, especially through its government.

Now, it may well be that the War on Terror will eventually descend into a ferocious free-for-all between America/Israel/Britain on one side and the Arab Middle East on the other, but it's incumbent on us as a great nation to see if the pathologies plaguing Islam can't be healed more peacefully first. To try and do so does not represent moral opacity, but reasonable compromise between the extremes of appeasement and exterminationist war. It is well to have men whose moral clarity requires them always to push the extreme, but dangerous for a nation to succumb to such extremism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 AM


Recall postponement frustrates election officials (Sam Stanton, Mary Lynne Vellinga and Gary Delsohn, September 15, 2003, Sacramento Bee)

Monday’s court ruling postponing the Oct. 7 recall vote left elections officials confused and frustrated as they suggested they may have to throw away tens of thousands of absentee ballots already cast by voters.

Barring a legal decision that restores the Oct. 7 election date, voting officials said they likely will end up throwing away the thousands of absentee ballots that already have been returned by voters.

“I think it’s going to create tremendous confusion with our voters,” said Yolo County Clerk-Recorder Freddie Oakley. “We’re already getting calls from people saying, ‘I already voted; what are you going to do with my ballot?’”

As of Monday, voters had returned about 31,000 absentee ballots in Placer, El Dorado, Sacramento and Yolo Counties, officials said, out of 234,107 that had been mailed out.

If the election is postponed, those ballots will be stored for awhile, as required by law, and then will be “pulped,” Oakley said.

But wait, it gets better, Isn't this a story in itself? (Daniel Weintraub, 9/16/03, California Insider)
Bombshell deep in the LA Times story on the court decision:

And voting officials, already struggling to produce an election on a short deadline, were handed a new problem to consider: whether combining the lengthy recall ballot with the primary in March would produce a behemoth too large for the newer voting machines to handle.

"It's more than a wrinkle," said Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Conny McCormack. "No one even asked the largest county in the state if we had the capacity to run it in March. The answer is no."

The tragic thing about this is that it just feeds the Anti-American beast abroad. The BBC was leading with the story of the decrepit voting machines last night and you can just see the spokesmen for vile regimes around the world saying: "Who are the Amerricans to lecture us on democracy and voting?"

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 AM


Flags of convenience: a review of Act of Creation, The Founding of the United Nations: A Story of Super Powers, Secret Agents, Wartime Allies & Enemies and Their Quest for a Peaceful World. By Stephen Schlesinger (The Economist, Sep 11th 2003)

The UN was above all an American creation. Following the League of Nations fiasco after the first world war, no other country had much enthusiasm for a second attempt at a world body. Both Stalin and Churchill were openly sceptical. But for America's president, Franklin Roosevelt, establishing the United Nations was a top priority. Even while America continued to fight a world war on two fronts, Roosevelt devoted large amounts of time, and political capital, to his pet project.

After years of planning in Washington, Roosevelt, seriously ill, travelled to Yalta in early 1945 to win Stalin's agreement on post-war arrangements. The centrepiece of these would be the UN. Many of the people close to Roosevelt believed that the trip hastened his death, which came two months later, only 13 days before the UN's founding conference in San Francisco was scheduled to begin. Stepping into his shoes, an inexperienced and somewhat shaken Harry Truman promptly announced that the UN conference would go ahead, and committed himself to its success. The American delegation arrived in San Francisco armed with detailed blueprints and negotiating strategies, and then spent two intense months hammering out a final agreement with 46 other countries. In the United States, the result was hailed as a triumph of American diplomacy. [...]

At the peak of America's powers, in other words, its leaders were determined to create a multilateral institution involving as many nations as possible as a primary mechanism for ensuring American, as well as global, security. In his speech before the San Francisco conference, Truman was explicit about the price of doing so. “We all have to recognise—no matter how great our strength—that we must deny ourselves the licence to do always as we please.” For America itself, Truman argued, this was a price well worth paying. The contrast with the attitude of most subsequent American governments, and especially the current one, could not be more stark. Many Bush administration officials seem to view the UN either as an irrelevance or as a dangerous constraint.

Mr Schlesinger's account, based on new information from American government archives and the diaries of key participants, also puts to rest the idea that the UN was a misconceived Utopian project, founded in a burst of post-war idealism. Roosevelt was one of the savviest and most hard-headed politicians ever to occupy the White House. He had no intention of repeating the mistakes of Woodrow Wilson, whose League of Nations was repudiated by the American Senate and then became an impotent talking shop as the world slid towards another world war. Roosevelt's new organisation was to include as many nations, large and small, as possible, but it was to be dominated by the great powers and, when they were able to agree, it was meant to have real muscle.

This is silly, of course. FDR was always pretty muddle-headed in the realm of international affairs, as witness his absurd belief that he could coax Joe Stalin into behaving himself. You don't get to hand over Eastern Europe to the USSR at Yalta and still be called savvy and hard-headed.

What folks have forgotten by now though is that even Robert Taft, the quintessential isolationalist, favored the U.N. project, so long as it was an institution with real teeth, that could enforce international uniformly and rigorously. It was only after FDR and company turned it into a farce--with the USSR on the Security Council and every two-bit dictatorship eligible to be a member in good standing--that Taft's support weakened:

Taft was far from hostile to the idea of an international organization to maintain the peace after the war. Indeed, he became a strong supporter of such a plan after Pearl Harbor, an event which did a great deal to convince the senator that U.S. security required world peace and stability. Yet after the framing of the United Nations Charter in 1944, Taft began to question whether the proposed organization might not be more likely to provoke war than to ensure peace. His main concern was that his cherished idea of international law was conspicuously absent from the charter. In May 1945 he wrote: "We are not abolishing the causes of war. We are not abolishing militarism. We are enthroning it on a higher seat. We are not abolishing imperialism..., for we are recognizing the domination of Russia over Finland, Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and to a large extent over Poland and the Balkans. We are recognizing the dominion of England over India and of the Dutch over the East Indies, without any agreement on their part that they will work toward self-government.... Any structure which departs so far from the freedom of peoples that desire freedom and the right of peoples to run their own affairs is handicapped from the start."

Taft’s fundamental problem with the United Nations was the underlying presumption that international law and justice would develop during a period of enforced world peace. The Ohio Senator believed that this amounted to putting the cart before the horse; law and justice, he claimed, were not consequences of but rather prerequisites for lasting world peace. The veto power granted to permanent members of the U.N. Security Council was for him ample proof that there was no will among the great powers to establish a code of law. How could such a code exist, he asked, "if five of the largest nations can automatically exempt themselves from its application?" Thus finding fault with the charter, he then suggested renewed isolation from world affairs, this time on the grounds of international justice, not national interest. "The extending of justice throughout the beyond our powers," he concluded, "but certainly we need not join in the process by which force and national policy is permitted to dominate the world."

Yet Taft in the end grudgingly gave his support to the charter, calling it "an essential feature of any peace hope or peace policy." But his commitment was never more than lukewarm.

It was not the idea of an international body capable of enforcing international law that was Utopian; it was FDR and Truman's specific belief that you could constitute such a body out of nations that were themselves violating international law. Similarly, criminal courts are a good idea, but you wouldn't make Jack the Ripper a judge and put Al Capone on the jury.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 AM


THE POLITICS OF PANDER (Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., 9/16/03, Jewish World Review)

Every once in a while a highly visible political gambit comes completely a cropper. Particularly when it involves -- to say nothing of embarrasses -- the President of the United States, it generally gets considerable public notice . Often the proverbial head rolls. At the very least, a course-correction is usually quickly effected.

What are we to make, then, of the astonishing silence, the utter lack of accountability and the absence of any apparent shift in electoral strategy that has accompanied the meltdown of the one of Bush political team's major initiatives: Its effort to recruit Muslim -- and Arab-American voters (and donors) by pandering to foreign-funded organizations led by radical Leftists and even pro-"Islamists" -- despite the fact that most members of those communities neither are radical nor subscribe to the virulently intolerant, and often violently anti-American, tenets of those who promote Islamism.

Are you supposed to advertise your own failed initiatives? It was a sensible effort; it failed; move on.

Shouldn't Mr. Gaffney be happy that the President is pressing ahead with the War on Terror even though it is costing the GOP the potential support of Muslim Americans and not helping at all among American Jews?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 AM


Republicans for Dean (DAVID BROOKS, 9/16/03, NY Times)

The results of the highly prestigious Poll of the Pollsters are in! I called eight of the best G.O.P. pollsters and strategists and asked them, on a not-for-attribution basis, if they thought Howard Dean would be easier to beat than the other major Democratic presidential candidates. Here, and I'm paraphrasing, are the results:

"Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

You would have thought I had asked them if Danny DeVito would be easier to beat in a one-on-one basketball game than Shaquille O'Neal. They all thought Dean would be easier to beat, notwithstanding his impressive rise. Some feared John Kerry, others John Edwards, because his personality wears well over time, and others even Bob Graham, because he can carry Florida, more than Dean. As their colleague Bill McInturff put it atop a memo on the Dean surge: "Happy Days Are Here Again (for Republicans)."

The increasingly partisan voting patterns that Mr. Brooks goes on to ponder are authoritatively discussed in Terror, Terrain, and Turnout: Explaining the 2002 Midterm Elections (GARY C. JACOBSON, Spring 2003, Political Science Quarterly).

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:17 AM



CNN news chief Jim Walton had a "private converation" with reporter Christiane Amanpour after she accused her own network of being "intimidated" in its coverage of the Iraqi war. [...]

"I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled," she said. "I'm sorry to say that, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station, was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News." [...]

A Fox News spokeswonman said: "It's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than spokeswoman for al-Qaeda."

She loses that exchange, eh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:11 AM

60-40 FILES:

Burr leads Bowles, Blue in U.S. Senate race, poll finds (ROB CHRISTENSEN, 9/16/03, Charlotte Observer)

Republican Rep. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem holds an early lead in next year's race to replace Democratic Sen. John Edwards, according to a new statewide poll.

Burr leads two prospective Democratic opponents, Charlotte investment banker Erskine Bowles and Raleigh attorney Dan Blue, the survey found.

Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Mike Easley, who plans to seek a second term next year, continues to show resilience despite a battered economy and 2 1/2 years of budget crisis, according to the survey of 600 likely voters conducted last week by Research 2000 and commissioned by The News & Observer.

Burr showed strength in the first public poll taken since Edwards announced Sept. 7 he would not seek re-election and would instead concentrate on his White House run.

When asked whom they preferred in the 2004 Senate race, likely voters said they preferred Burr over Bowles by a 43 percent to 37 percent margin with 20 percent undecided. They said they liked Burr over Blue by a 45 percent to 33 percent margin, with 22 percent undecided.

You know a seat's in trouble when a not unpopular incumbent determines he probably couldn't hold it and launches a delusional presidential bid instead.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:48 AM


Herman Cain for United States Senate

September 15, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:31 PM


Gassed town has no doubts on US arms claims (AFP, 9/15/03)

If sceptics doubt US claims that Saddam Hussein was a ticking bomb with weapons of mass destruction, this Kurdish town showed it had 5,000 reasons to believe.

Halabja gave a hero's welcome to US Secretary of State Colin Powell as he flew in trumpeting the US victory in ousting Saddam, accused by Washington of developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons

No stocks have been found but Esmail Abdulrahim Saleh and others here needed no convincing: they remember the 5,000 Halabja residents gassed to death in 1988 by Saddam's troops suppressing a Kurdish revolt. [...]

On Sunday Powell flew into Iraq preaching patience in a process of political and economic reform he said was threatened by "terrorists." On Monday, Halabja provided the perfect backdrop for his defense of the US-led invasion.

"This town is marked in history forever," Powell told the crowd. "The world should have acted sooner. What happened here in 1988 is never to happen again."

We will stand by again in the future as some other people are brutalized, but at least we finally acted here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:23 PM


Whitmire gives Senate a quorum for third special session (R.G. RATCLIFFE, Sept. 15, 2003, Houston Chronicle)

The third special session on redistricting opened at noon with Sen. John Whitmire of Houston giving Republicans something they have lacked since July 28 -- a Senate quorum.

The presence of Whitmire, D-Houston, cleared the path for Republicans to push a redistricting bill through the Senate. Eleven Democrats, including Whitmire, had blocked the bill through two special sessions by breaking the quorum.

Senate Secretary Patsy Spaw called the roll with Whitmire present. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst immediately announced: "A quorum is present."

The Senate atmosphere was highly charged as about 350 supporters of the Democratic boycott filled the gallery. They planned to cheer when the other boycotting senators returned. [...]

The crowd in the gallery burst into boos and jeers of: "Nazis. You're acting like Nazis!"

As long as the GOP is going to be considered Nazi, can't we start the trains running to the East?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 PM


Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died (Tom Wolfe)

The unspoken and largely unconscious premise of the wrangling over neuroscience's strategic high ground is: We now live in an age in which science is a court from which there is no appeal. And the issue this time around, at the end of the twentieth century, is not the evolution of the species, which can seem a remote business, but the nature of our own precious inner selves.

The elders of the field, such as Wilson, are well aware of all this and are cautious, or cautious compared to the new generation. Wilson still holds out the possibility--I think he doubts it, but he still holds out the possibility--that at some point in evolutionary history, culture began to influence the development of the human brain in ways that cannot be explained by strict Darwinian theory. But the new generation of neuroscientists are not cautious for a second. In private conversations, the bull sessions, as it were, that create the mental atmosphere of any hot new science--and I love talking to these people--they express an uncompromising determinism.

They start with the most famous statement in all of modern philosophy, Descartes's "Cogito ergo sum," "I think, therefore I am," which they regard as the essence of "dualism," the old-fashioned notion that the mind is something distinct from its mechanism, the brain and the body. (I will get to the second most famous statement in a moment.) This is also known as the "ghost in the machine" fallacy, the quaint belief that there is a ghostly "self" somewhere inside the brain that interprets and directs its operations. Neuroscientists involved in three-dimensional electroencephalography will tell you that there is not even any one place in the brain where consciousness or self-consciousness ( Cogito ergo sum ) is located. This is merely an illusion created by a medley of neurological systems acting in concert. The young generation takes this yet one step further. Since consciousness and thought are entirely physical products of your brain and nervous system--and since your brain arrived fully imprinted at birth--what makes you think you have free will? Where is it going to come from? What "ghost," what "mind," what "self," what "soul," what anything that will not be immediately grabbed by those scornful quotation marks, is going to bubble up your brain stem to give it to you? I have heard neuroscientists theorize that, given computers of sufficient power and sophistication, it would be possible to predict the course of any human being's life moment by moment, including the fact that the poor devil was about to shake his head over the very idea. I doubt that any Calvinist of the sixteenth century ever believed so completely in predestination as these, the hottest and most intensely rational young scientists in the United States at the end of the twentieth.

Since the late 1970s, in the Age of Wilson, college students have been heading into neuroscience in job lots. The Society for Neuroscience was founded in 1970 with 1,100 members. Today, one generation later, its membership exceeds 26,000. The Society's latest convention, in San Diego, drew 23,052 souls, making it one of the biggest professional conventions in the country. In the venerable field of academic philosophy, young faculty members are jumping ship in embarrassing numbers and shifting into neuroscience. They are heading for the laboratories. Why wrestle with Kant's God, Freedom, and Immortality when it is only a matter of time before neuroscience, probably through brain imaging, reveals the actual physical mechanism that sends these mental constructs, these illusions, synapsing up into the Broca's and Wernicke's areas of the brain?

Which brings us to the second most famous statement in all of modern philosophy: Nietzsche's "God is dead." The year was 1882. (The book was Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft [ The Gay Science ].) Nietzsche said this was not a declaration of atheism, although he was in fact an atheist, but simply the news of an event. He called the death of God a "tremendous event," the greatest event of modern history. The news was that educated people no longer believed in God, as a result of the rise of rationalism and scientific thought, including Darwinism, over the preceding 250 years. But before you atheists run up your flags of triumph, he said, think of the implications. "The story I have to tell," wrote Nietzsche, "is the history of the next two centuries." He predicted (in Ecce Homo ) that the twentieth century would be a century of "wars such as have never happened on earth," wars catastrophic beyond all imagining. And why? Because human beings would no longer have a god to turn to, to absolve them of their guilt; but they would still be racked by guilt, since guilt is an impulse instilled in children when they are very young, before the age of reason. As a result, people would loathe not only one another but themselves. The blind and reassuring faith they formerly poured into their belief in God, said Nietzsche, they would now pour into a belief in barbaric nationalistic brotherhoods: "If the doctrines...of the lack of any cardinal distinction between man and animal, doctrines I consider true but deadly"--he says in an allusion to Darwinism in Untimely Meditations --"are hurled into the people for another generation...then nobody should be surprised when...brotherhoods with the aim of the robbery and exploitation of the non-brothers...will appear in the arena of the future."

Nietzsche's view of guilt, incidentally, is also that of neuro-scientists a century later. They regard guilt as one of those tendencies imprinted in the brain at birth. In some people the genetic work is not complete, and they engage in criminal behavior without a twinge of remorse--thereby intriguing criminologists, who then want to create Violence Initiatives and hold conferences on the subject.

Nietzsche said that mankind would limp on through the twentieth century "on the mere pittance" of the old decaying God-based moral codes. But then, in the twenty-first, would come a period more dreadful than the great wars, a time of "the total eclipse of all values" (in The Will to Power ). This would also be a frantic period of "revaluation," in which people would try to find new systems of values to replace the osteoporotic skeletons of the old. But you will fail, he warned, because you cannot believe in moral codes without simultaneously believing in a god who points at you with his fearsome forefinger and says "Thou shalt" or "Thou shalt not."

Why should we bother ourselves with a dire prediction that seems so far-fetched as "the total eclipse of all values"? Because of man's track record, I should think. After all, in Europe, in the peaceful decade of the 1880s, it must have seemed even more far-fetched to predict the world wars of the twentieth century and the barbaric brotherhoods of Nazism and Communism. Ecce vates! Ecce vates! Behold the prophet! How much more proof can one demand of a man's powers of prediction?

A hundred years ago those who worried about the death of God could console one another with the fact that they still had their own bright selves and their own inviolable souls for moral ballast and the marvels of modern science to chart the way. But what if, as seems likely, the greatest marvel of modern science turns out to be brain imaging? And what if, ten years from now, brain imaging has proved, beyond any doubt, that not only Edward O. Wilson but also the young generation are, in fact, correct?

The elders, such as Wilson himself and Daniel C. Dennett, the author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life , and Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker , insist that there is nothing to fear from the truth, from the ultimate extension of Darwin's dangerous idea. They present elegant arguments as to why neuroscience should in no way diminish the richness of life, the magic of art, or the righteousness of political causes, including, if one need edit, political correctness at Harvard or Tufts, where Dennett is Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, or Oxford, where Dawkins is something called Professor of Public Understanding of Science. (Dennett and Dawkins, every bit as much as Wilson, are earnestly, feverishly, politically correct.) Despite their best efforts, however, neuroscience is not rippling out into the public on waves of scholarly reassurance. But rippling out it is, rapidly. The conclusion people out beyond the laboratory walls are drawing is: The fix is in! We're all hardwired! That, and: Don't blame me! I'm wired wrong! [...]

If I were a college student today, I don't think I could resist going into neuroscience. Here we have the two most fascinating riddles of the twenty-first century: the riddle of the human mind and the riddle of what happens to the human mind when it comes to know itself absolutely. In any case, we live in an age in which it is impossible and pointless to avert your eyes from the truth.

Ironically, said Nietzsche, this unflinching eye for truth, this zest for skepticism, is the legacy of Christianity (for complicated reasons that needn't detain us here). Then he added one final and perhaps ultimate piece of irony in a fragmentary passage in a notebook shortly before he lost his mind (to the late-nineteenth-century's great venereal scourge, syphilis). He predicted that eventually modern science would turn its juggernaut of skepticism upon itself, question the validity of its own foundations, tear them apart, and self-destruct. I thought about that in the summer of 1994 when a group of mathematicians and computer scientists held a conference at the Santa Fe Institute on "Limits to Scientific Knowledge." The consensus was that since the human mind is, after all, an entirely physical apparatus, a form of computer, the product of a particular genetic history, it is finite in its capabilities. Being finite, hardwired, it will probably never have the power to comprehend human existence in any complete way. It would be as if a group of dogs were to call a conference to try to understand The Dog. They could try as hard as they wanted, but they wouldn't get very far. Dogs can communicate only about forty notions, all of them primitive, and they can't record anything. The project would be doomed from the start. The human brain is far superior to the dog's, but it is limited nonetheless. So any hope of human beings arriving at some final, complete, self-enclosed theory of human existence is doomed, too.

This, science's Ultimate Skepticism, has been spreading ever since then. Over the past two years even Darwinism, a sacred tenet among American scientists for the past seventy years, has been beset by...doubts. Scientists--not religiosi--notably the mathematician David Berlinski ("The Deniable Darwin," Commentary , June 1996) and the biochemist Michael Behe (Darwin's Black Box , 1996), have begun attacking Darwinism as a mere theory, not a scientific discovery, a theory woefully unsupported by fossil evidence and featuring, at the core of its logic, sheer mush. (Dennett and Dawkins, for whom Darwin is the Only Begotten, the Messiah, are already screaming. They're beside themselves, utterly apoplectic. Wilson, the giant, keeping his cool, has remained above the battle.) By 1990 the physicist Petr Beckmann of the University of Colorado had already begun going after Einstein. He greatly admired Einstein for his famous equation of matter and energy, E=mc2 , but called his theory of relativity mostly absurd and grotesquely untestable. Beckmann died in 1993. His Fool Killer's cudgel has been taken up by Howard Hayden of the University of Connecticut, who has many admirers among the upcoming generation of Ultimately Skeptical young physicists. The scorn the new breed heaps upon quantum mechanics ("has no real-world applications"..."depends entirely on fairies sprinkling goofball equations in your eyes"), Unified Field Theory ("Nobel worm bait"), and the Big Bang Theory ("creationism for nerds") has become withering. If only Nietzsche were alive! He would have relished every minute of it!

Recently I happened to be talking to a prominent California geologist, and she told me: "When I first went into geology, we all thought that in science you create a solid layer of findings, through experiment and careful investigation, and then you add a second layer, like a second layer of bricks, all very carefully, and so on. Occasionally some adventurous scientist stacks the bricks up in towers, and these towers turn out to be insubstantial and they get torn down, and you proceed again with the careful layers. But we now realize that the very first layers aren't even resting on solid ground. They are balanced on bubbles, on concepts that are full of air, and those bubbles are being burst today, one after the other."

I suddenly had a picture of the entire astonishing edifice collapsing and modern man plunging headlong back into the primordial ooze. He's floundering, sloshing about, gulping for air, frantically treading ooze, when he feels something huge and smooth swim beneath him and boost him up, like some almighty dolphin. He can't see it, but he's much impressed. He names it God.

There is, of course, a skepticism beyond this, which Descartes was trying to get around: since even my belief that I think may be an illusion, I may not be. But when we reach these final points of skepticism, we have to begin over again with some expression of faith, don't we? There may be neuroscientists and sociobiologists who will say, purely for effect, that we can't know that we exist, but none live their lives as if they don't know. We all make an expression of faith every day when we get up and brush our teeth and we move forward from there, on the back of the almighty dolphin.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 PM


Fascism In The Name Of Security (Jimmy Breslin, September 14, 2003, Newsday)

To the Justice Department of John Ashcroft, John McNicholl is a lifelong criminal. He also is a Catholic, and I almost never waste my time pointing this out, but in matters with John Ashcroft, I believe that his psalm-singing, right-wing, country-road religion leaves him somewhat suspicious of Catholics, if not more. [...]

John McNicholl, 51, lived with his wife, Frances, and three children, in peace since 1984 in Upper Darby, Pa. He has applied for citizenship and has gone to the immigration office every three months to renew a work permit. His wife is a naturalized citizen and his children are citizens.

The immigration people read British reports that McNicholl, in Northern Ireland in 1972, had been involved in shooting a policeman. Someone else was convicted, but the British said he must have been guilty. Any young man in those Northern Irish towns who wasn't arrested by the British or Protestant police isn't worth talking about. The British threw him into the Maze prison. Don't worry about McNicholl. He busted out of the place and got to Philadelphia. As he was not guilty in Northern Ireland, he wrote on a visa application that he never had been arrested. Immigration people here say he lied. [...]

And in the middle of July, at 5:30 a.m., McNicholl left his house as he always did for his union job as a sprinkler fitter.

He gets outside his house and he is jumped by four men in plain clothes who came out of a car. He begins to holler. Inside this house, his oldest son, Sean, 18, wakes up to the shouts.

"I thought he was in pain," he said. He ran onto the street in time to see the car driving away with his father in back.

McNicholl was allowed to call his wife at 6:30 a.m. He was in a York, Pa., detention center. He was allowed to see her for a half-hour.

"I got talking to him," she was saying on Friday night. "They had him in chains. Here is a man who worked for eight years and used his own name and lived in the same place with his family. He worked every hour they gave him. And they have him in chains."

When she left, they took McNicholl out of the place and deported him to Ireland without telling her. [...]

That this American government of bigots from the Low IQ states can run over our Bill of Rights, grabbing somebody with no warning in the dark hours, is a terrorist act by psalm-singers. The only way to defend yourself is to vote them out. Those who don't are fans of fascism.

It is no exaggeration to say that this column is incoherent--a couple sentences are truly indecipherable. But as a general matter, just because you are an Irish-Catholic doesn't mean that the IRA aren't terrorists. And if you're an alien who lies to U.S. immigratioon authorities, you're a criminal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 PM


French block airlift of British troops to Basra (Henry Samuel and Michael Smith, 16/09/2003, Daily Telegraph)

The French government has told an airline that it is not to ferry British troops to Basra, a ban that will be seen as reflecting Paris's opposition to the occupation of Iraq.

Corsair, which has been chartered numerous times to transport UK forces around the world, pulled out of a contract to fly reinforcements to Basra at the weekend.

About 1,400 more troops are being sent to Basra as part of an attempt to prevent the "strategic failure" predicted by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, with a similar number expected to be announced within weeks.

A Corsair Airbus A330 was chartered to fly troops of the Royal Green Jackets from Brize Norton, Oxon, but at the last moment the French transport ministry grounded the aircraft citing safety concerns.

What do you expect from an "ally" that fought us on the beaches of North Africa when we were trying to take on the Nazis, ordered our troops off their soil during the Cold War and quit NATO, and refused overflight rights when we bombed Qaddafi?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 PM


The Tojo Doctrine (Pat Buchanan, September 8, 2003, The American Conservative)

[E]ven as Bush and Tony Blair today face charges of having “lied us into war,” so, too, did FDR. Even more so.

Indeed, why did Japan, an island nation smaller than Montana, attack the most powerful nation on earth? How did Hirohito and Tojo expect to win a war to the death with America that they must have known a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor would ignite? [...]

In July 1941, FDR froze Japan’s assets, shutting off her oil. Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner warned FDR it meant war.

Indeed, when Israel’s oil supply was imperiled by Nasser’s threat to close the Straits of Tiran to ships docking in Israel, the Israelis launched their own Pearl Harbor, destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground before invading the Sinai and ending the oil threat to Israel’s survival.

Nevertheless, knowing it meant war, FDR cut off Japan’s oil. Thus was the Japanese empire and national economy, entirely dependent on imported oil, put under a sentence of death. [...]

Was America’s war on Japan a just war? Assuredly. Were U.S. vital interests threatened by Japan? No. Provoking war with Japan was FDR’s back door to the war he wanted—with Hitler in Europe.

After a meeting with FDR, Nov. 25, Secretary of War Henry Stimson wrote in his diary that the main question is “how we maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.” That is the American way to war.

For a more extensive version of these events and what was certainly FDR's determination to provoke a war, see the opening chapters of Thomas Fleming's The New Dealer's War.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 PM


AIDS: Catastrophe builds in Asia (Ed Susman, 9/15/2003, UPI)

China, the largest nation in Asia and the most populous in the world, also is in the midst of an HIV/AIDS crisis.

"The epidemic in China shows no signs of abating," a UNAIDS report published in December 2002 stated. "Official estimates put the number of people living with HIV in China at 1 million in mid-2002. Unless effective responses rapidly take hold, a total of 10 million Chinese will have acquired HIV by the end of the decade." Put another way, 10 million people is equivalent to the entire population of Belgium.

The more you know about China the less plausible is the notion of them as an eventual superpower rival of the United States.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 PM


Shiite cleric's killer held (P. MITCHELL PROTHERO, 9/15/2003, UPI)

A former Baath Party official arrested in connection with the killing of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim last month has confessed to planning the operation that killed the senior Shiite cleric, United Press International has learned.

Hakim, the head of the Supreme Council for Revolution in Iraq, was killed by a car bomb in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Aug. 29. The incident has threatened to further divide Iraqi Shiites oppressed by former President Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, which was primarily Sunni.

The Shiite Badr Brigade, SCIRI's militia wing, which is now controlled by Hakim's brother Abdul Aziz, arrested the official, the former head of security for Najaf, after a gunfight in the days after the car bombing. Identified as former Security Director Kareem Ghatheeth, the official had been removed from that position by U.S. military forces on charges of corruption and ties to the Baath regime, an Iraqi Police source said.

Abu Zualfakar al-Hussan, a top Badr Brigade official, who was involved in the raid, told UPI that Ghatheeth had confessed to his role in planning and executing the car bombing outside the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf that killed Hakim. The shrine is one of the holiest in Shiite Islam.

Al-Hussan said the confession proved that the remnants of Saddam's regime killed Hakim, a longtime Saddam opponent. However, the confession could not be verified outside of officials from SCIRI and it is unclear if the suspect has been or will be turned over to U.S. military authorities.

It doesn't make the murder any less tragic, but it's a big plus that it was a Baathist operation. Anything that gets the Shi'ites motivated to go after the Baath remnants is helpful.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 PM


John Burns: 'There Is Corruption in Our Business': 'NY Times' Writer on the Terror of Baghdad (John F. Burns, SEPTEMBER 15, 2003, Editor & Publisher)

The following are the words of New York Times correspondent John F. Burns, on his experiences reporting from Baghdad during the war. Excerpted from the book Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq, an Oral History by Bill Katovsky and Timothy Carlson, published this week by The Lyons Press, used with permission.

From the point of view of my being in Baghdad, I had more authority than anybody else. Without contest, I was the most closely watched and unfavored of all the correspondents there because of what I wrote about terror whilst Saddam Hussein was still in power.

Terror, totalitarian states, and their ways are nothing new to me, but I felt from the start that this was in a category by itself, with the possible exception in the present world of North Korea. I felt that that was the central truth that has to be told about this place. It was also the essential truth that was untold by the vast majority of correspondents here. Why? Because they judged that the only way they could keep themselves in play here was to pretend that it was okay.

There were correspondents who thought it appropriate to seek the approbation of the people who governed their lives. This was the ministry of information, and particularly the director of the ministry. By taking him out for long candlelit dinners, plying him with sweet cakes, plying him with mobile phones at $600 each for members of his family, and giving bribes of thousands of dollars. Senior members of the information ministry took hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from these television correspondents who then behaved as if they were in Belgium. They never mentioned the function of minders. Never mentioned terror.

In one case, a correspondent actually went to the Internet Center at the Al-Rashid Hotel and printed out copies of his and other people's stories -- mine included -- specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others. He wanted to show what a good boy he was compared to this enemy of the state. He was with a major American newspaper.

Yeah, it was an absolutely disgraceful performance. CNN's Eason Jordan's op-ed piece in The New York Times missed that point completely. The point is not whether we protect the people who work for us by not disclosing the terrible things they tell us. Of course we do. But the people who work for us are only one thousandth of one percent of the people of Iraq. So why not tell the story of the other people of Iraq? It doesn't preclude you from telling about terror. Of murder on a mass scale just because you won't talk about how your driver's brother was murdered.

An appropriately savage denunciation, by one of its honored own, of media behavior that borders at times on collaboration.

Posted by John Resnick at 8:16 PM


When Linguists Attack: Fed up with the PC domination of the academic linguistics, one professor fights back against the establishment. (David Skinner, 09/12/2003)

Sometimes the efforts to ward off stereotypes become just nonsensical, as when the authors complain that men appear too often with cars and that they are always the ones fixing them. "No females fix cars in any of the ten textbooks, while 53 males do so." According to the Department of Labor, this is not only true of language textbooks: Less than two percent of automobile mechanics are women. Also laughable is the authors' complaint that "males far outnumber females (by a 6-to-1 ratio) as the perpetrators of violence." Indeed, this is another stereotype that happens to be true. Men are responsible for several times more violent felonies than women are. It really is no wonder they should be responsible for more violence in example sentences.

Furthermore, making a practice of having women fixing cars and committing assault in example sentences would only single an author out as tendentious. (Ex: "Ms. Macauley hotwired the car and ran over her assailant, screaming 'Take that you linguistic chauvinist! Who's getting tenure now?'") With academics like Macauley and Brice making the case for expanded vigilance regarding gender bias and sexual stereotypes in example sentences, no wonder this fantastical policy has come in for a beating. Now the beating--the real beating, from a fellow linguist.

[....] WRITING IN THE Spring 2003 issue of Language, Paul Postal of New York University questions every possible rationale for the LSA's policy and visits many an argument offered by Macauley and Brice. Stating the obvious, Postal begins by noting that political considerations are not central to the mission of LSA or to that of linguists generally.

Then with the most withering sarcasm, Postal attacks the LSA policy for its exclusive focus on one type of offense. "There are many possible sources of offense, for example, those involving personal hygiene or dress habits (both potentially relevant to LSA meetings). Military organization and children's summer camps have codes about such matters. Should the LSA develop recommended lists of soaps and suggestions about how often to use them? Should shorts be banned or ties and brassieres required?"

Next the respected linguist asks why the guidelines don't address obscenity, racial epithets, "characterizations of people in drastically unkind ways," and so on. Good question. "As a consequence of the limitations, for no stated or justified reason, it accords perfectly with LSA policy to fill one's examples with . . . the most vicious hate-spewing, racially, ethnically, religiously, etc., demeaning remarks, but use of 'waitress,' 'chairman,' or generic 'man' puts one beyond the pale."

If I weren't such an emotionally-repressed male, there would tears of laughter streaming down my face. . . . .

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:15 PM


Bush v. Gore Redux?: The recall gets recalled. (Arnold Steinberg, September 15, 2003, National Review)

[T]his three-judge panel decision has a good chance of being overruled by the full Ninth Circuit by as early as Tuesday or Wednesday. Remember, a panel from this court threw out the infamous flag opinion, and that embarrassing decision was quickly overruled by the full Ninth Circuit.

Even if the Ninth Circuit does not act, this will go to the circuit Supreme Court justice. That's Sandra Day O'Connor, and she's not around. Word is that Antonin Scalia could take her place.

Albeit temporary, here's the third in the glorious trifecta of Democratic victories--joining Jim Jeffords switching parties months after his re-election; the brief hold up in TX redistricting; and now momentarily thwarting the Recall. Why are they called Democrats if they refuse to abide by the will of the people?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 PM


9/11? It Never Happened: Across Europe, conspiracy theories are all the rage. Germany is the latest to be swept up by the craze (Stefan Theil, 9/22/03, NEWSWEEK)

To get a sense of how deep mistrust of the United States runs in Germany, take a look at the bookshelves. Two years after September 11, German bookstores are flooded with such works as “The CIA and September 11,” in which a former government minister of Research and Technology, Andreas von Bulow, insinuates that the U.S. and Israeli intelligence services blew up the World Trade Center from the inside. The two Boeings, he claims, were flown in by remote control as a cover-up. The whole thing was a cynical plot by America’s neoconservatives to take over the world.

PUBLISHED LAST MONTH by the otherwise reputable Piper Verlag, the minister’s book has already jumped to number three on the nonfiction best-seller list. The only books more popular are two works by Michael Moore, an American left-wing documentarian who has, over the past year, become celebrated for his eloquent rants against the Bush administration, accusing it of using 9/11 as an excuse to curtail civil liberties while pursuing its own corporate interests. Recently, more crackpot 9/11 theorists have gotten a kind of official blessing. In June, German government-run WDR television broadcast a “documentary” claiming that no airplane ever crashed in Pennsylvania.

You would expect this sort of thing in some quarters of the world, where hatred of the West is so common and intense that theories of America (and Israel) as a wellspring of sinister forces easily flourish.

If the lesson of the story were any more obvious it would bite Mr. Theil on the nose--Europe is just another one of the quarters of the world where hatred of the West and its values is common and intense.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM


Administration Calls for Unprecedented Subpoena Powers: Bush's proposal to bypass grand juries to fight terrorism is likely to meet with resistance. (David G. Savage and Richard B. Schmitt, September 14, 2003, LA Times)

Last week, President Bush proposed to make administrative subpoenas a key tool in the war on terrorism - and not just to obtain records.

The president said Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft should have the legal authority to order any person who might have information that is "relevant in any investigation" related to terrorism to submit in secret to being questioned and to turn over "any books, papers, documents or electronic data" that the government seeks.

Unlike in ordinary criminal investigations, Ashcroft would not need the approval of a grand jury or a judge to order witnesses to appear for questioning.

"The attendance of witnesses and the production of records may be required from any place in any state or in any territory or other place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States at any designated place of hearing," the administration's bill says.

President Bush unveiled his plan for broader investigative authority at the FBI's national training academy on the eve of the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

"Under current law, there are unreasonable obstacles to investigating and prosecuting terrorism," Bush said. "The House and Senate have a responsibility to act quickly on these matters. Untie the hands of our law enforcement officials so they can fight and win the war against terror," he said to applause.

Administration officials say the new authority is needed so agents can quickly check hotel or bank records when they are pursuing a terrorist.

"Suppose we find out that a terrorist has gone to a chemical plant and made a purchase. And it's a Saturday afternoon, and there's no grand jury sitting. You need to move quickly because lives could be at stake. Any reasonable person would say that kind of authority should be available in the fight against terrorism," said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the Justice Department.

Most hotels or banks - or in this example, the chemical plant - are glad to turn over the records, he said. The subpoena, or legal order, ensures they will not be held liable for doing so, Corallo said.

Although Bush administration officials say their proposal would simply update the law to apply to terrorism cases, civil libertarians and defense lawyers say it would mark a fundamental change if it were adopted by Congress. Administrative subpoenas are now limited to civil and regulatory matters, and cannot be used in criminal probes.

The 4th Amendment protects "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches." Rather than allow random searches by the police or federal agents, it says "no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation."

For much of its history, the Supreme Court interpreted this provision as barring the government from seeking a person's papers and records without a search warrant. In one famous opinion, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1924 said Congress was not free to authorize a "fishing expedition" into the private affairs of citizens in hope of finding evidence of a crime.

But the New Deal and the growth of the federal regulatory state made it clear that officials needed broad powers to check business records. The tax laws could not be enforced, for example, if agents were not able to obtain financial records.

By 1940, the courts had made it easier for agencies to gain access to information. Since they were enforcing the law, not prosecuting criminals, courts lowered the standards set by the 4th Amendment.

These days, administrative subpoenas are routine. In 2001, for example, federal prosecutors issued 2,102 of these orders in investigations of health-care frauds, according to Justice Department figures. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Election Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission also make regular use of subpoenas.

But the Bush-Ashcroft proposal breaks through a new barrier by authorizing these orders in strictly criminal probes, critics say.

"It is unprecedented to apply administrative subpoenas for use in a wholly criminal investigation. They want to eliminate the traditional check on overzealous prosecutors, which is the grand jury," said Georgetown University law professor David Cole, a frequent foe of the administration's legal tactics.

A power that is absolutely necessary and even routine for the government to have when investigating business regulatory matters, but can not have when it comes to imminent violent criminal acts? Here's a deal: either grant it in these cases or do away with it entirely.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:22 PM


87 Billion Apologies: Take your money, Mr. President, but at least say you're sorry. (Michael Kinsley, September 11, 2003, Slate)

Bush needs some truth-telling points, because another aspect of this $87 billion request is driving him to dishonesty that he can't abandon so blithely. That issue is: If he gets the $87 billion, where will it have come from? Bush is sending Colin Powell around the world with a begging cup. But whatever can't be raised from foreigners apparently can be conjured out of thin air.

Raising taxes to pay the $87 billion would be a bad mistake, Bush says: Economic growth—fed by tax cuts—will cover the $87 billion and then some. But however miraculous Bush's tax cuts turn out to be, economic growth will not be $87 billion more miraculous just because that much more is suddenly needed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor does Bush plan, or even concede the necessity, to harvest this $87 billion at some point by raising taxes (or not cutting them) by that amount. And although he talks vaguely about spending restraint, he and the Congress controlled by his party have shown very little of it. He certainly has not pinpointed $87 billion in other spending that the new $87 billion can replace.

So, spending $87 billion costs nothing, apparently. This makes it even sillier to deny being blindsided. What difference does it make?

Mr. Kinsley doesn't make the point as directly as some others have, but one of the more spurious arguments floating around is that this war is especially irresponsible because we're funding it out of the deficit. This argument is often accompanied by lyrical flights of fancy that recall how prior generations made sacrifices in their wars, while we are not doing so. This is a crock. Suppose a $500 billion deficit this year. That's about 5% of our $10 Trillion GDP. By comparison, in 1945, the Greatest Generation ran a deficit that was between a fifth and a quarter of GDP. Did their failure to balance the budget through responsible tax increases delegitimize the war or the Roosevelt/Truman administration? Hardly. Did these massive deficits end up crippling our economy? Well, we embarked on a historic economic expansion after a brief period of immediate post-war adjustment. Would anyone have any strong objections to the rest of the 00s resembling the 50s, in economic terms? It seems unlikely.

Sue, it would have been great if the President had used 9-11 to sell a program of sacrifice. For instance, farm subsidies and a whole host of government programs could have been done away with. But the same folks berating him for not asking us to sacrifice would be moaning about how partisan he was. What sensible leader would want to divide his nation on the way into war?

The reality is that $87 billion just isn't a whole lot of money for the United States and if we follow through on the handover of power as quickly as we're saying we will, the total will drop precipitously for next year. Of course, by then we'll need another $100 billion to help rebuild Korea, but we can afford that too.

-Bush’s bloated defense budget: Military spending could be highest since height of Korean War (Fred Kaplan, 9/12/03, SLATE.COM)
Tax wealthy to pay for Iraq war Test patriotism's deeper meaning (Robert Reich, 9/15/03, USA Today)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:47 PM


Appeals court postpones Oct. 7 recall vote (The Associated Press, September 15, 2003)

A federal appeals court postponed California's Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election, ruling the historic vote cannot proceed as scheduled because some votes would be cast using outmoded punch-card ballot machines.

In what was the last of about a dozen legal challenges trying to delay or thwart the recall to unseat Gov. Gray Davis, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday it is unacceptable that six counties would be using outdated punch-card ballots, the type that sparked the "hanging chads" litigation in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. [...]

It was not immediately clear how the decision, if it survives, would impact the campaign in California's first voter-driven election to unseat its chief executive. The court stayed imposition of its decision for a week to allow time for appeals to the Supreme Court.

One possibility is that the nation's largest and most liberal federal appeals court might move the election to the next regularly scheduled primary on March 2.

Okay, for the contest below, you also have to predict when the election will be...

Posted by John Resnick at 1:04 PM


Show U.S. The Money: There Are 87 Billion Reasons to Revisit Those Tax Cuts, Mr. President (Steven Mufson, 9/14/2003, Washington Post)

The president's request last week for another $87 billion for the occupation in Iraq is chump change in the context of what has been given away in the Bush tax cuts. It comes to about 5 percent of the cost of the president's tax cuts over 10 years. In the mountain of U.S. borrowing, it amounts to a hill of beans. It will add only a little more than 2 percent to the national debt.

[....]Perhaps Democrats will find a way to frame the issue of fiscal priorities differently from the way Mondale did. Bush is asking for money for national security. This isn't some liberal Democratic social program. This isn't waste. (Certainly those contractors in Iraq aren't wasting any money. Perish the thought.) This is essential. So if Bush wants agreement and it's important, shouldn't he show the toughness to make choices? Even raise taxes in post-recovery years.

It's tough to change habits, though. American Heritage magazine writer John Steele Gordon, in his book "Hamilton's Blessing," compared lawmakers to alcoholics, constantly reaching for deficit spending while in denial about their need to do so and the long-term self-destructive effects they create.

In the 1980s, the Gramm-Rudman legislation adopted spending targets that served as a device to force lawmakers and the president to make responsible choices and trade-offs. Most states have laws that require them to balance their budgets. If Karl Rove wants some good reasons to continue to advise the president on a course of denial and avoidance, he only needs to look at states such as Maryland, Alabama or California, where tough budget decisions are making life miserable for their governors.

Our presidential political cycle does not correspond to our economic cycle. Reagan did not pay the full consequences of his tax cutting and big military spending. The first Bush did not get the full benefits of signing a tough 1990 budget deal. Clinton got the benefits of tough choices made in 1993 at the outset of his presidency. But he didn't face the economic downturn that followed him closely out the White House door.

Bush seems to be counting on this delay. He isn't betting his ranch, but he's wagering that some other administration will have to clean up the fiscal mess he's left behind.

Conspicuously absent from Mr. Mufson's assessment are answers to a few questions: 1. Instead of comparing it to the "cost" of tax cuts, what's the $87B as a percentage of so-called "liberal Democrat social spending" or even the entire budget? 2. How many tax cuts in U.S. history have resulted in increased revenue to the U.S. Treasury in the ensuing years? [hint: all of them] 3. Why is it that we both agree lawmakers' spend like drunken sailors, but, when it comes to solutions, you want to trust them with one more drink and I want to take away the bottle? 4. How is it that "Tax Cuts" are "give aways" again?


So when the Democrats today uncork their whines about the Iraq money, understand that the issue is not Iraq – the issue is their still uncontrollable fury at President Bush for snatching all that lovely surplus money away from them in 2001 and sending it back home beyond their reach. And their fondest dream since 9/11 has been to use the war on terror as a justification for rescinding the tax cut and grabbing the money back so they can spend it – not on the war (for which no tax increase is needed), but on their domestic spending agenda.

When the day comes that higher taxes are needed to pay the costs of war, of course we should have them. But that’s not what this argument is about. The tax cuts that the Democrats are most eager to repeal are the tax cuts that go into effect in 2005, 2006, and later – tax cuts that have no relevance to the war today, but that cramp and constrain their spending ambitions of tomorrow.

As usual, David Frum's Diary puts it much better than I could. Amazingly, for Democrats, raising taxes is always the lesser of two politically expedient evils. In fact, it may not be an evil at all.

One obvious alternative is simply reducing the latest $400B entitlement program by 25% - after all, the ink is barely dry on that one. But who's got the guts to go through that proposal with the same fine-toothed comb as the naysayers would apply to spending in Iraq?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:53 PM


Seeing as how we've all spent September hanging on the every word of Gary Coleman, studying the nuances of Mary Carey's policy proposals, dissecting the grassroots strategy of Angelique, and seeking in vain for a tax that Arianna Huffington didn't duck, it seems only fitting to top off the electoral festivities in the Golden State with a contest, to see who can best predict the outcome.

Here's the deal:

You pick the %'s of the "Yes" and "No" votes; the % of the vote that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cruz Bustamante will each get; and, as a tie breaker, the % of eligible voters who will turn out on October 7th.

We'll award whoever comes closest a copy of the magnificent new Illustrated version of James M. McPherson's Pulitzer-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the runner-up a hot--off-the-presses paperback copy of Rick Atkinson's Pulitzer-winning Army at Dawn (both courtesy of our friends at FSB Associates).

The Other Brother is setting up a page where we'll post some good information sources for the Recall (see below), as well as info about the books (to follow), and there'll be a form for you to enter your predictions.

Stay tuned...

-California Recall Election (Real Clear Politics)
-October 7, 2003 Statewide Special Election Information (California Secretary of State)
-Recall Election (Sacramento Bee)
-WEBLOG: California Insider (Daniel Weintraub, Sacramento Bee)
-The Recall (Orange County Register)
-Sign On San Diego: California's Recall Election (San Diego Union-Tribune)
-SF Gate: Politics (San Francisco Chronicle)
-THE ISSUES: California Recall (Washington Post)
-National Special: California's Recall Election (NY Times)
-2003 Gubernatorial Recall Candidates - California (NY Times)
-LA Times: The Recall Campaign
- (San Jose Mercury News)
-FAQ: How Will the Recall Work?: Your nagging questions answered. (Ed Finn, August 7, 2003, Slate)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:50 PM


Does Rep. Ford have a better idea? (ROBERT NOVAK, September 15, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)

Rep. Jim DeMint, a conservative Republican running for the Senate in South Carolina, will this week introduce a Social Security reform bill permitting private investment by younger workers. That's not unusual. What's unusual is his intended co-sponsor: Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee, a rising Democrat superstar and Congressional Black Caucus member.

DeMint told me Ford shook his hand, looked him in the eye and said he was on board. Press releases prepared by the Republican refer to the ''DeMint-Ford Social Security Savings Act.'' But two days of my telephone calls to the normally easily accessible Ford proved futile. Is Ford backing out? Or, is he just nervous about abandoning his party's opposition to Social Security remedies that they condemn as privatization?

If Ford goes through with his collaboration when DeMint's bill is unveiled this week, it will constitute a major breakthrough in efforts to save the Social Security system while transforming the lowest-income Americans into investors. Such reforms came under withering attack from Democrats in the 2002 campaign, and all of the party's 2004 presidential candidates oppose them. Ford would show the way to fellow Democrats to abandon partisanship on Social Security.

If he were to switch parties, Mr. Ford wouldn't have to be so concerned about following his instincts and doing what's right, rather than politically expediant. He'd also be President one day.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:19 AM


The importance of being wrong: Nicholas Lezard is driven to making an anti-recommendation after reading John Gray's Straw Dogs, an aphoristic blow to humankind's self-importance (Nicholas Lezard, September 13, 2003, The Guardian)

The important subject is this: man is not important. He is no more in charge of his destiny than a whale or a gorilla. Man is an animal, not like an angel in apprehension. Free will is an illusion, self-consciousness a dangerous distraction, humanity is inclined to genocide as it has always been. Humans do not just believe in progress, they "cling to the hope of progress... not so much from genuine belief as from fear of what may come if they gave it up". Meanwhile, mankind is getting on with the business of turning the Earth barren; sooner or later, but more likely sooner, Gaia will shrug us off and the Earth will carry on as if we had never been. All this and more, in 200-odd pages of aphoristic prose.

Very bracing, agrees everyone. And so should I. I have absolutely no trouble at all with the idea that humans are worthless, or at least in no better an ethical position than elephants. But to pound away at the issue demands a consistency and rigour which is strangely absent from Straw Dogs. At one point he quotes the far more consistent EM Cioran, comparing the Buddhist idea of the end of selfhood after several incarnations with the idea of suicide after one: "What is there to put an end to? To this unique and infinitesimal duration? It is obviously too brief to deserve the exertion of withdrawing from it." (I think Cioran puts it even better in The Trouble with Being Born: "It's not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late.") [...]

Your view of humanity's lack of specialness, or otherwise, may also be tinged by your awareness that you are reading Gray's misgivings in a book. One strains to think of any animal, besides Roy Hattersley's dog Buster, which has written, let alone published, a book at all.

The one great saving grace of the intellectual/rational/secular/scientific/materialists--and the feature that makes them so endlessly amusing--is their steadfast refusal to follow where their faith leads. So we get a Mr. Lezard who begins by saying that he has no problem accepting Man's cosmic unimportance but ends by essentially dismissing every species and thing in that universe that can't read and write, leaving only us. The hostile reaction of the Lezard's to John Gray's book--a book, after all, which merely extends what they claim to believe to its logical conclusion--is a heartening example of the inconsistency that some might call hypocrisy but that we find charming.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:37 AM


Bush's vision and the Democratic abyss (Diana West, September 15, 2003,

Something my brother said to me long ago about the ebb and flow of the war on Islamic terrorism -- not before 9/11, but well before a coalition of willing American and British forces liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein -- comes back to me from time to time. To be precise, his comment comes back to me not so much on the "ebb" of our military and political progress -- which, with patience and forbearance, will prevail -- as on the "flow" of the forces arrayed against that progress.

The United States' war on barbarism (for what else are terrorists, but barbarians?), which George W. Bush is determined to win, is not only a military and intelligence effort against desperate Ba'athist remnants in Iraq, mad jihadist terror cells the world over, and the hostile nation-states that support them. It is also a great political struggle against international and domestic forces -- from the United Nations, where plans are afloat to expand the Security Council, to the Democratic Party, which finally found in the president's $87 billion budget for Iraq a federal spending program too rich for its blood -- that act to restrain and limit America's execution of and, therefore, victory in that war.

In some ways, this political battle may be trickier than the military campaign. It may even be more costly in terms of loss of life -- if, that is, we are defeated, or if we defeat ourselves.

Which brings me back to what my brother said one crummy day, maybe when the humanitarians of Europe were giving then-dictator Saddam Hussein something to cheer about by marching behind banners proclaiming "Bush=Hitler" and the like. Or maybe it was during one of those periodic Democratic jabs at the president's credibility -- for instance, Sen. Hillary Clinton's short-lived "what did the president know about 9/11 and when did he know it?" campaign. Or maybe his remark came during a day (or a week, or a month, or two months) of political purgatory at the United Nations Security Council. Whenever it was exactly, the pressure was mounting on the president to be "moderate": to falter, that is, to pull back to a supposedly safer, more sensible position. Only he didn't. So my brother was moved to note, somewhat dramatically but strictly on the level, "All that stands between us and the abyss is George W. Bush."

Just finished reading the Correspondence of Albert Camus and Jean Grenier, a great review of which you'll find here.
There's been some attempt over the years to claim Camus as a conservative or even an incipient Christian--see here for example: Camus as Conservative: A post 9/11 reassessment of the work of Albert Camus (Murray Soupcoffm, Iconoclast)--a task made easier because his later anti-Communism made him reviled by old friends on the French Left. But what comes across most in these letters is that he--and his mentor, Grenier--were lost men. They recognized that something had gone seriously wrong in their culture, that it was no longer decent and had no basis from which its decency could be restored, but the possibility of returning to a religious basis was further than they were willing to go. So Camus must be seen as a devastating critic of modernity, rather than as someone who offered an alternative. Here he is though on Europe in 1958:
The direction the world is taking distresses me at this time. In the long run, every continent (yellow, black, and brown) will topple onto the old Europe. They are hundreds and hundreds of millions. They are hungry and they are not afraid of dying. As for us, we no longer know how to die or to kill. We need not preach, but Europe does not believe in anything. So we must wait for the millennium, or the miracle. As for me, I am finding it more and more difficult to live facing a wall. And difficult for artists to work, alone, without being supported by anything.

That sense of being unsupported in a culture that no longer believes in anything, is the product of lurching towards the abyss. Thus far, the West has been stopped from falling completely into the abyss by the residual effects of a culture that did believe in something and by leaders like George W. Bush and Tony Blair whose faith remains rooted in that culture. Fortunately, this faith has proven a pretty durable bulwark, but too many choose to either face the wall or even court the abyss for us to be complacent about the future.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn – Nobel Lecture (Nobel Lecture in Literature 1970)

Our Twentieth Century has proved to be more cruel than preceding centuries, and the first fifty years have not erased all its horrors. Our world is rent asunder by those same old cave-age emotions of greed, envy, lack of control, mutual hostility which have picked up in passing respectable pseudonyms like class struggle, racial conflict, struggle of the masses, trade-union disputes. The primeval refusal to accept a compromise has been turned into a theoretical principle and is considered the virtue of orthodoxy. It demands millions of sacrifices in ceaseless civil wars, it drums into our souls that there is no such thing as unchanging, universal concepts of goodness and justice, that they are all fluctuating and inconstant. Therefore the rule - always do what's most profitable to your party. Any professional group no sooner sees a convenient opportunity to BREAK OFF A PIECE, even if it be unearned, even if it be superfluous, than it breaks it off there and then and no matter if the whole of society comes tumbling down. As seen from the outside, the amplitude of the tossings of western society is approaching that point beyond which the system becomes metastable and must fall. Violence, less and less embarrassed by the limits imposed by centuries of lawfulness, is brazenly and victoriously striding across the whole world, unconcerned that its infertility has been demonstrated and proved many times in history. What is more, it is not simply crude power that triumphs abroad, but its exultant justification. The world is being inundated by the brazen conviction that power can do anything, justice nothing. Dostoevsky's DEVILS - apparently a provincial nightmare fantasy of the last century - are crawling across the whole world in front of our very eyes, infesting countries where they could not have been dreamed of; and by means of the hijackings, kidnappings, explosions and fires of recent years they are announcing their determination to shake and destroy civilization! And they may well succeed. The young, at an age when they have not yet any experience other than sexual, when they do not yet have years of personal suffering and personal understanding behind them, are jubilantly repeating our depraved Russian blunders of the Nineteenth Century, under the impression that they are discovering something new. They acclaim the latest wretched degradation on the part of the Chinese Red Guards as a joyous example. In shallow lack of understanding of the age-old essence of mankind, in the naive confidence of inexperienced hearts they cry: let us drive away THOSE cruel, greedy oppressors, governments, and the new ones (we!), having laid aside grenades and rifles, will be just and understanding. Far from it! . . . But of those who have lived more and understand, those who could oppose these young - many do not dare oppose, they even suck up, anything not to appear "conservative". Another Russian phenomenon of the Nineteenth Century which Dostoevsky called SLAVERY TO PROGRESSIVE QUIRKS.

The spirit of Munich has by no means retreated into the past; it was not merely a brief episode. I even venture to say that the spirit of Munich prevails in the Twentieth Century. The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles. The spirit of Munich is a sickness of the will of successful people, it is the daily condition of those who have given themselves up to the thirst after prosperity at any price, to material well-being as the chief goal of earthly existence. Such people - and there are many in today's world - elect passivity and retreat, just so as their accustomed life might drag on a bit longer, just so as not to step over the threshold of hardship today - and tomorrow, you'll see, it will all be all right. (But it will never be all right! The price of cowardice will only be evil; we shall reap courage and victory only when we dare to make sacrifices.)

And on top of this we are threatened by destruction in the fact that the physically compressed, strained world is not allowed to blend spiritually; the molecules of knowledge and sympathy are not allowed to jump over from one half to the other. This presents a rampant danger: THE SUPPRESSION OF INFORMATION between the parts of the planet. Contemporary science knows that suppression of information leads to entropy and total destruction. Suppression of information renders international signatures and agreements illusory; within a muffled zone it costs nothing to reinterpret any agreement, even simpler - to forget it, as though it had never really existed. (Orwell understood this supremely.) A muffled zone is, as it were, populated not by inhabitants of the Earth, but by an expeditionary corps from Mars; the people know nothing intelligent about the rest of the Earth and are prepared to go and trample it down in the holy conviction that they come as "liberators".

A quarter of a century ago, in the great hopes of mankind, the United Nations Organization was born. Alas, in an immoral world, this too grew up to be immoral. It is not a United Nations Organization but a United Governments Organization where all governments stand equal; those which are freely elected, those imposed forcibly, and those which have seized power with weapons. Relying on the mercenary partiality of the majority UNO jealously guards the freedom of some nations and neglects the freedom of others. As a result of an obedient vote it declined to undertake the investigation of private appeals - the groans, screams and beseechings of humble individual PLAIN PEOPLE - not large enough a catch for such a great organization. UNO made no effort to make the Declaration of Human Rights, its best document in twenty-five years, into an OBLIGATORY condition of membership confronting the governments. Thus it betrayed those humble people into the will of the governments which they had not chosen.

It would seem that the appearance of the contemporary world rests solely in the hands of the scientists; all mankind's technical steps are determined by them. It would seem that it is precisely on the international goodwill of scientists, and not of politicians, that the direction of the world should depend. All the more so since the example of the few shows how much could be achieved were they all to pull together. But no; scientists have not manifested any clear attempt to become an important, independently active force of mankind. They spend entire congresses in renouncing the sufferings of others; better to stay safely within the precincts of science. That same spirit of Munich has spread above them its enfeebling wings.

What then is the place and role of the writer in this cruel, dynamic, split world on the brink of its ten destructions? After all we have nothing to do with letting off rockets, we do not even push the lowliest of hand-carts, we are quite scorned by those who respect only material power. Is it not natural for us too to step back, to lose faith in the steadfastness of goodness, in the indivisibility of truth, and to just impart to the world our bitter, detached observations: how mankind has become hopelessly corrupt, how men have degenerated, and how difficult it is for the few beautiful and refined souls to live amongst them?

But we have not even recourse to this flight. Anyone who has once taken up the WORD can never again evade it; a writer is not the detached judge of his compatriots and contemporaries, he is an accomplice to all the evil committed in his native land or by his countrymen. And if the tanks of his fatherland have flooded the asphalt of a foreign capital with blood, then the brown spots have slapped against the face of the writer forever. And if one fatal night they suffocated his sleeping, trusting Friend, then the palms of the writer bear the bruises from that rope. And if his young fellow citizens breezily declare the superiority of depravity over honest work, if they give themselves over to drugs or seize hostages, then their stink mingles with the breath of the writer.

Shall we have the temerity to declare that we are not responsible for the sores of the present-day world?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:03 AM


Who'll help us? We ourselves, mostly (The Economist, Sep 11th 2003)

Much of the continuing bad feeling is of the Americans' own making. Suspected Baathists are still being expelled from their jobs, creating a fertile ground from which the resistance can recruit. In Kirkuk, 500 civil servants were dismissed from the education department; another 1,300 were fired from the oil ministry. None has been put on trial -- the promised tribunal has yet to open -- and some sackings appear motivated at least in part by revenge.

The Americans say that their widespread public works are soaking up excess labour, and will reduce unemployment from 60% to 20% by the end of next year. But technocrats do not want broomsticks, says an oil ministry clerk, they want responsibility. Some of his colleagues were so angered, he said, that they were directing the resistance to key junctions on the pipeline.

The current security problems, however, could pale compared with those that loom. The carving of Iraq's political map according to its matrix of sects (Sunni, Shia and Christian) and ethnicities (Arab, Kurd and Turkomen) seemed a relief after years of Sunni supremacy. But for many Iraqis, America has sown the seeds of future sectarianism, much as the French did in Lebanon after the first world war. For the first time that most Iraqis can remember, the term ta'ifi, or sectarian, is no longer taboo. Iraqis who want to climb the political ladder now expect to do it through their sect or ethnic grouping.

There is of course no such thing as an average Iraqi, and Iraq's bumpy assumption of its Arab League seat this week awakened conflicting emotions. Sunnis saw the readiness of that supposed bastion of Arabism to accept a “quisling” foreign minister appointed by the American occupier as a sell-out (all the more so, since the foreign minister, Hoshyar Zabari, is a Kurd), while Shias said that the Arab League's dithering showed contempt for the Shia majority in Iraq. But where differences were repressed under Saddam, they are now becoming official.

Sometimes it's most helpful to read a column by imagining that whoever is being criticized did everything they were being asked to do instead. In this case that would mean leaving Ba'athists in control of the bureaucracy, giving them authority to spend the rebuilding funds, and setting up a political system where one of the three major "sects" would be in charge of the other two. Does that sound like a recipe for less or more sectarianism? Iraq isn't a real country and nothing we can do will make it one. The sooner we recognize Kurdistan the better and then the Sunni can decide whether to leave Shiastan or be governed by the majority Shi'a who they long oppressed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:42 AM


Heart of darkness: As a young backpacker Luke Harding found India charming and eccentric. Fifteen years later he returned as the Guardian's correspondent. Now, after finishing his time there, he recalls how one terrible incident of secular violence in Gujarat brought his love affair with the country to an end (Luke Harding, September 15, 2003, The Guardian)

I can identify the moment I fell out of love with India quite precisely. It happened at the end of last February. Riots had just broken out in the western state of Gujarat, after a group of Muslims attacked a train full of Hindu pilgrims, killing 59 of them. In Gujarat's main city, Ahmedabad, trouble was brewing. Hindu mobs had begun taking revenge on their Muslim neighbours - there were stories of murder, looting and arson. Arriving in Ahmedabad from Delhi, I found it impossible to hire a car or driver: nobody wanted to drive into the riots.

But the trouble was not difficult to find: smoke billowed from above Ahmedabad's old city; and I set off towards it on foot. There were rumours that a mob had hacked to death Ahsan Jafri - a distinguished Indian former MP, and a Muslim - whose Muslim housing estate was surrounded by a sea of Hindu houses. A team from Reuters gave me a lift. Driving through streets full of burned-out shops and broken glass we arrived half an hour later outside his compound, surrounded by thousands of people. Jafri had been dead for several hours, it emerged. A Hindu mob had tipped kerosene through his front door; a few hours later they had dragged him out into the street, chopped off his fingers, and set him on fire. They also set light to several other members of his family, including two small boys. There wasn't much left of Jafri's Gulbarg Housing Society by the time we got there: at the bottom of his stairs I discovered a pyre of human remains - hair and the tiny blackened arm of a child, its fist clenched.

Two police officers in khaki told us the situation was dangerous, and that we should leave; they seemed resigned or indifferent to the horror around them, an emotion I had encountered before during what would turn out to be more than three years of reporting on India for the Guardian. Later that afternoon, in the suburb of Naroda Patiya, we watched as a Hindu crowd armed with machetes and iron bars attacked their Muslim neighbours on the other side of the street. All of the shops on the Muslim side of the road were ablaze; smoke blotted out the sky; gas cylinders exploded and boomed; we were, it seemed, in some part of hell. "We are being killed. Please get us out," one Muslim resident, Dishu Banashek, told me. "They are firing at us. Several of our women have been raped. You must help."

When we asked a senior policeman to intervene he merely smirked. "Don't worry, madam. Everything will be done," he told a colleague from the Times mendaciously. We left. It was too dangerous to stay.

The causes of the rioting - India's worst communal violence for a decade - became clearer the next morning, when I returned to Naroda Patiya - now a ruin of abandoned homes and smouldering rickshaws. Virtually all of the Muslims had fled: I found only a solitary survivor, Narinder Bhai, standing by the charred interior of his home. "Everything is finished," he said, showing off his ruined fridge. "Many people have been killed here. My wife and children have disappeared."

Just round the corner, down an alley, I spotted a neat bungalow that had apparently escaped the chaos. It was only on closer inspection that I saw its owner: the charred and mutilated remains of a Muslim woman had been laid out in the front garden and framed by a charpoy. Round the back I found an address book - which identified the woman as Mrs Rochomal; next to it, the Nokia phone she had used in a doomed attempt to summon help. Her son's washing was hanging on the line, in the morning sunshine; inside there was a neat kitchen and black-and-white family photos. Mrs Rochomal's flip-flops were still by the front door, next to a swing-seat.

Five minutes later, her mobile phone rang. I didn't answer it. Her body was less than 60 metres away from the local police station. The police had not, it was obvious, bothered to rescue her: they had, I was forced to conclude, been complicit in her death.

Mr. Harding better be careful where he travels in Europe. India is a little further down the fascist road because almost 15% of its population is Muslim, but the Le Pen victory occurred in a France that has less than 10% and Pim Fortuyn in a Netherlands with less than 5%. As the numbers rise, as Europe becomes increasingly dependent on a young Muslim workforce to fund the Welfare State for aging natives, and as those Muslims begin to demand political power, Europe is quite likely to see exactly the same kind of violence and the continuing rise of the politics of hate.

-India's Muslim Time Bomb: The Hindu nationalist leaders who are responsible for the recent public massacres of Muslims and the destruction of mosques are unwittingly aiding Al Qaeda. (PANKAJ MISHRA, 9/15/03, NY Times)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 AM


America cannot keep to its spendthrift ways - here's a way to increase saving. (Michael Calabrese and Maya MacGuineas, September 15, 2003, Online Opinion)

At $8 trillion, household debt in the United States exceeds Americans' annual disposable income for the first time. Debt-service burdens for both mortgages and consumer credit are at near record levels - a striking fact, considering that interest rates are close to a 40-year low. Personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures hit all-time highs last year. Despite the fact that Baby Boomers should be in their prime saving years, the household saving rate for Americans plummeted during the 1990s, dropping almost to zero in the fall of 2001 - a level not seen since the Depression. Even though the personal saving rate has risen slightly since 2001, Americans are still saving less than half the post-World War II annual average of 8.6 per cent of their after-tax income. [...]

In many respects America's private pension system is the envy of the world. With nearly $7 trillion in assets, traditional and 401(k)-style pension plans account for the vast majority of financial assets accumulated by households in recent years.

Sometimes you wonder if these people even read what they just wrote. Or, if they at least know that 8 minus 7 equals. And that's before counting the cumulative equity we have in our homes. Factor that into the equation and we likely have the highest savings rates in the world.

September 14, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 PM


One in five Japanese 65 or older (The Japan Times, Sept. 15, 2003)

The number of Japanese aged 65 or older has reached a record 24.31 million, or roughly one out of every five people in the country. [...]

It is also the highest among industrialized nations. The latest comparable data puts the corresponding percentage at 18.2 percent in Italy for 2001, 17.1 percent in Germany for 2001 and 16.1 percent in France for 2003. [...]

The number of people in Japan aged 65 or older is expected to total 32.77 million in 2015, 26 percent of the total population, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, an organization under the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Looming specter of tax hikes (Japan Times, 9/15/03)
Simply put, the government is living far beyond its means. It may be likened to a family that is spending twice as much as its income from all sources and then covering the deficit by borrowing. Moreover, the family has a cumulative debt exceeding 10 times its annual income. Clearly, it cannot afford to continue such a reckless "borrow and spend" way of life. Sooner or later, it will go bankrupt.

The message for the government is equally clear: It cannot continue to run such a massive deficit. What is more, the nation's public debt -- the total amount of long-term debt owed by the central and local governments -- now equals between 130 and 140 percent of its gross domestic product. That is the highest ratio among the Group of Seven leading industrialized countries.

It can be said, indeed, that the government of the world's second-largest economy faces a fiscal crisis. The danger exists that its ballooning deficit will someday become unsustainable. It seems naive to think that the danger will disappear once the economy gets out of its slump. The debt crunch is Japan's economic Achilles' heel. It is here to stay for some time even if the problem of deflation is fixed.

It's quite remarkable to watch these industrialized nations commit suicide before your very eyes.

N.B.: By way of comparison, our total debt is less than 70% of annual GDP and if it were 10 times GDP would be $100 trillion, or as much as the entire world's current debt.

-Japan's Gray Tsunami (RYUTARO HASHIMOTO, NPQ)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 PM


I bought the John the Baptist one but it keeps coming apart.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:02 PM


The Truth About the Hollywood Ten: "Trumbo" Doesn't Tell The Full Story (Spencer Warren, September 12, 2003, The Claremont Institute)

New York Times drama critic Bruce Weber writes, near the beginning of his review of a new off-Broadway show based on the letters of the late Hollywood screenwriter and author Dalton Trumbo, that Trumbo was "a leading member of the Hollywood 10, a group of writers, producers and directors who, after appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington in 1947, were branded as Communist sympathizers and blacklisted by the studios." Rather than answer the question whether these career-crippling accusations were justified or not, Weber ends his notice: "The theater makes you hungry for the whole truth, no matter how eloquent one side of the story is." Let us review the films and the facts about Communism and Hollywood to see what is merely eloquent and what is the truth.

Trumbo and eight of the other "Ten" not only were Communist sympathizers, they were or had been card-carrying members of the Communist Party USA. Which means, as scholars John E. Haynes and Harvey Klehr have documented using the archives of the Soviet Communist Party, that Trumbo and company were participants -- witting or unwitting -- in a secret conspiracy, directed and financed by the Kremlin, to overthrow the United States government. (See The Secret World of American Communism and, with Kyrill M. Anderson, The Soviet World of American Communism, both published by Yale University Press.)

Now, the blacklist should be condemned insofar as it caused much pain and injustice to innocent people.

That last bit is just a politically-correct platitude. No one who went in, testified honestly, and repudiated Communism was blacklisted and no one who failed to do so should have gone unpunished. For a good look at just how extensive and systematic Communist penetration of Hollywood was, try Kenneth Billingsley's Hollywood Party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:50 PM


GOP math: 2 minus 1 = victory? (Daniel B. Wood, 9/14/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

Officially, two strong Republicans are vying for governor in California's historic recall.

Unofficially, based on the response of rank-and-file GOP members after Saturday's state-party convention, it is only a matter of time until conservative state Sen. Tom McClintock decides - for the good of the party and himself - to no longer be an active candidate. [...]

"This is the most charged ... bunch of Republicans I've seen in 20 years," says analyst Allan Hoffenblum. "There is a segment of very fervent supporters for Tom McClintock that will remain so, but the party is so starved for victory that come Oct. 7 they will not jeopardize victory." [...]

Yet to many prominent Republicans, the enduring question of the race comes down to simple math. "We just can't win with two Republicans in the race," said Rep. Darrell Issa in the convention's keynote address. He is the millionaire businessman who bankrolled the petition effort that led to the recall. Two recent polls give Bustamante roughly 30 percent of likely votes, Schwarzenegger about 25 percent, and McClintock 13 to 18 percent.

Yeah, but, as the return of massive budget deficits shows, math isn't the conservatives' strong suit, principle is.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:42 PM


GOP unity in Congress frays: Some lawmakers break ranks with the White House over FCC rules and overtime. (Gail Russell Chaddock, 9/14/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

For most of the 108th Congress, Republicans have held ranks with President Bush, especially on the issues he cared most about: tax cuts and the war.

But suddenly, Democrats are finding unexpected openings in that GOP line on issues that usually don't usually engage members of Congress: new administration regulations.

In a vote expected Tuesday, the Senate - with GOP help - is expected to brave a presidential veto to block new FCC rules on broadcast ownership. Last week, six Republicans voted with Democrats to block a change in how the Department of Labor regulates overtime, also in the face of a presidential veto threat. Justice Department proposals to extend the reach of the USA Patriot Act could prompt similar defections.

"As election day gets closer, the firm control that the White House has exerted over Republicans in Congress is going to slacken," says Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

These contested rules cut to daily-life issues that voters readily understand: Is a worker to be paid for overtime? Is the "local" news really local or just piped in from big media conglomerates in New York or Atlanta?

Significantly, such votes are also cost free--the GOP guys who think they need cover can vote against the rules, knowing that there aren't enough votes to override a presidential veto.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:21 PM


Bush's big gamble: Bet: In seeking $87 billion to sustain U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the president is staking his re-election on those wars. (Michael Hill, September 14, 2003, Baltimore Sun)

In his prime time speech to the nation a week ago, President Bush essentially made official what already had become clear over the past few months - the fate of his presidency depends on what happens in Iraq. By coming clean on the cost for the next year - $87 billion - Bush basically ruled out the possibility of his administration taking major policy initiatives in other areas. There can be tinkering around the edges of issues such as education and health care, but it will be impossible to find the money to spend on big domestic projects or to find support for more tax cuts.

"This is it, it's make or break," says Nicholas Brown, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Politics Center at Goucher College. "The fact that he would publicly come out and announce that we need this substantial amount of money on top of huge deficits shows that he's making a commitment to this policy issue and, I would say, staking his presidency on it." [...]

"In politics, as in life - and certainly as in casino gambling - when you take a high risk, there is the opportunity for a high payoff," says Tom Schaller, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. "But there is also the potential for high losses. The president gets credit for taking a bold gamble. The question now is if it is a smart gamble."

One thing you have to concede about George W. Bush, even if you inexplicably loathe him, is that he is not afraid to stake his future on the success or failure of the things he believes in and his judgment that they are achievable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:02 PM


That sinking feeling: The view that America is on the skids is on the rise. But does the new declinism tell us anything about how we live? (Laura Secor, 9/14/2003, Boston Globe)

Over the last two years, many commentators have accepted the premise that Al Qaeda attacked the United States because it believed the country was weak. Where they disagree is over the accuracy of the terrorists' presumed perception. Was the United States, as the president implied, merely a sleeping giant which, once roused, would demonstrate a fearsome power? Or was the United States in fact tired, decadent, adrift -- its military might only a hollow shell, inside of which its vaunted economy, culture, and political system were rotting?

Even during the booming `90s, doubts about America's future were widespread. Cultural critics as far flung as right-wing presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, neo-Victorian moralist Gertrude Himmelfarb, Cold War strategist Edward Luttwak, and Nixon aide turned populist author Kevin Phillips argued that the United States had entered a decadent phase. Whether it was multiculturalism, consumerism, or economic inequality, some kind of centrifugal force was weakening American power and American values from within. After Sept. 11, 2001, talk of decline turned definitively to the arena of foreign affairs. The United States might look like an overweening superpower with an expanding empire, the declinists admonish, but actually its star is fading even now.

The declinists, we might say, will always be with us. Wherever anyone believes in progress, someone, possibly the same one, believes in decline. Declinism emerges today from the triumphalism of the right: In our greatness, conservatives say, there is much to lose, and many who threaten us. So, too, does it emerge from the pessimism of the left: Power corrupts, and the corrupt will get their comeuppance. At present, both impulses -- triumphalist and pessimistic, chest-beating and self-lacerating -- are on the upsurge. So too, then, declinism.

It is impossible to know for how long American power will endure. But whatever today's declinists have to tell us about the real state of American might, it's worth recalling that they draw on a bank of metaphors, and a mode of thought, as old as history itself.

. . .Many of those who argue that US power is currently ebbing draw on the pathbreaking work of Yale historian Paul Kennedy. In his 1987 classic, "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," Kennedy analyzed former great powers such as the Netherlands, Austria-Hungary, and Spain. He observed that historically, wars were won and empires sustained by those who possessed superior economic, rather than simply military, strength, and that an excess of foreign commitments left great powers particularly vulnerable.

The trouble was that military and economic priorities ended up clashing. Kennedy wrote: "A low investment in armaments may, for a globally overstretched Power like the United States, leave it feeling vulnerable everywhere; but a very heavy investment in armaments, while bringing greater security in the short term, may so erode the commercial competitiveness of the American economy that the nation will be less secure in the long term."

There's another possibility that Mr. Kennedy somewhat understandably didn't consider because it so staggers the conventional imagination. That is that we are become such a hyperpower that we can exert global military dominance on the cheap, as we are now. Amidst all the hysterical reports about Iraq costing as much per month as Vietnam did the most significant fact was largely ignored:
Then, war costs amounted to about 12% of the size of the economy, while now, the costs are equal to only about 0.5% of the economy, according to Steve Kosiak, a budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

In purely monetary terms, we'd need to be fighting 24 Iraq wars before we matched our Vietnam expenditures. Astonishing really.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:41 PM


Bin Laden's tapes - curiouser and curiouser: (A tentative assessment) (B Raman, 9/13/03, Asia Times)

The recorded message of al-Zawahiri broadcast on Wednesday contains a strong attack on President General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's military dictator, calling him a traitor. It is also partly directed at India and the Hindus. This is the first time there has been such a direct reference to India in a tape purported to be emanating from al-Qaeda leaders.

There was a criticism of Pakistan, but not of Musharraf personally, in a message purported to be of bin Laden broadcast by al-Jazeera on February 11. That message included Pakistan on a list of so-called anti-Muslim, apostate states that have to be liberated by Muslims by waging a jihad against them. This week's message makes a much more direct and virulent attack on Musharraf and his policies vis-a-vis the United States as well as India.

I had commented as follows on bin Laden's purported message of February 11, "This is the first time that he has spoken against Pakistan and called for its 'liberation' from the control of the apostates. This shows that he and his dregs, who now enjoy the protection of the governments of the NWFP [North-West Frontier Province ] and Balochistan and of a large number of retired officers of the Pakistani army and Inter-Services Intelligence, no longer feel the need to avoid rubbing Musharraf on the wrong side" (see Now, bin Laden takes aim at Pakistan, February 14).

While those comments remain valid, the resurgent Taliban, which has launched an offensive in Afghanistan from its sanctuaries in Pakistan since the middle of August, needs the continued complicity of the Pakistani army and its intelligence establishment. It would not be in the interest of al-Qaeda's Taliban associates to antagonize the Musharraf regime for the present, when the Taliban offensive is on in Afghanistan.

The strong anti-Musharraf phrases and characterizations with regard to Musharraf as well as India used in the al-Zawahiri tape bring to mind those of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET). Is the LET, which is now coordinating the activities of bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF), getting these tapes fabricated through its branch in Saudi Arabia and having them disseminated in order to keep up the morale of al-Qaeda and other components of the IIF?

Or is it the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment that has had these tapes fabricated and disseminated in order to convey a signal to the United States, at a time when there is growing criticism of Pakistani support to the Taliban in Afghanistan, that if the US continues to exercise pressure on him, there is a danger of his being overthrown by al-Qaeda and its Pakistani associates?

These are questions that need careful examination.

We should announce our belief that the tapes are authentic just to sow the seeds of confrontation between Musharraf and the al Qaeda sympathizers in his own armed forces. We can't destroy the Taliban and al Qaeda until Pakistan helps clean out its border regions.

Bin Laden's hideout in wilds of Pakistan: Authorities have pinpointed a 20-square-mile zone, but many obstacles to bringing in Al Qaeda chief remain. (Gretchen Peters, 9/14/03, CS Monitor)
-US report brings out Pak complicity in propping up Al-Qaeda (S Rajagopalan, September 14, 2003, Hindustan Times)
-Why Can’t We Get Him?: Two years after the horror of 9/11, Osama bin Laden appears to be alive, well—and still a master of media manipulation (Michael Hirsh, Mark Hosenball and Sami Yousafzai, 9/22/03, NEWSWEEK)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:34 PM


Swedes reject euro in national referendum (MATT MOORE, September 14, 2003, Associated Press)

Swedes rejected adopting the euro by a wide margin, dashing government hopes the nation would take up the common currency in a Sunday referendum overshadowed by the killing of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.

With 97 percent of the Scandinavian country's 5,967 precincts counted, 56.3 percent of the more than 5.4 million ballots cast were against replacing the krona with the euro, while 41.7 percent voted in favor of it. Two percent cast undecided ballots.

If there was a sympathy "Yes" vote then this is really ugly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:26 PM


Arab Rulers Leery of New Iraq Role ModelHAMZA HENDAWI, 9/14/03, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

For an Arab world resistant to political reform, the new Iraq taking shape under U.S. tutelage is a troubling harbinger.

In the five months since U.S. forces rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein's rule, the country's ethnically and religiously diverse people have, in one giant leap, overturned decades of social and political injustice, replaced a brutal one-party system with a multitude of groups advocating a rich range of ideologies and created a free press.

Shiite Muslims, a majority in Iraq oppressed for decades by a Sunni minority favored by past colonial masters and later by Saddam, are now free to worship in public and visit their holy shrines. Kurds, non-Arabs whom Saddam killed by the thousands to suppress their struggle for self-rule, are now main players in the new Iraq - their voices strong, their ideas sought.

Already Iraq's interim leadership is the only Arab government with a Shiite Muslim majority, and its foreign minister isn't even Arab.

But the path to democracy in this nation of 25 million people must get over some big hurdles - political bickering, terrorism and growing attempts to stoke ancient sectarian rivalries - for it to become a viable role model in a region ruled by change-resistant, authoritarian leaders and absolute monarchs.

"Diversity is the most distinct feature of the new Iraq," said Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite who last month became the first president of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council. "We raise our heads high and tell the world that, from now on, we will show a multitude of faces, offer you many voices and that's the new Iraq," he said in a recent interview.

The hardest part of having a child is letting him go out into the world on his own. Time to let ours go.

-Don’t Rush to Disaster: It is touching to learn of French faith in the Iraqi Governing Council. When the council was set up, the French refused to endorse it (Fareed Zakaria, 9/22/03, NEWSWEEK)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:22 PM


10 Questions For Madeleine Albright: The former secretary of state speaks out on current world affairs (J.F.O. MCALLISTER AND MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, Sep. 22, 2003, TIME)

When Madeleine Albright became Secretary of State, the Czech-born exile was the first woman to serve in that post. On the eve of the publication of her memoir, Madame Secretary (Miramax; 592 pages)—which covers everything from discovering belatedly that her family was Jewish to her years in the Clinton Administration—she spoke with TIME's J.F.O. McAllister. [...]

[Q:] What should the U.S. do next?

[A:] Frankly, if there was a President Gore, we wouldn't be in this particular mess. But we are, and we cannot fail. I very much hope there will be a U.N. resolution that makes clear the U.S. has military command but that would set up a U.N. high representative to coordinate the political and humanitarian things the U.N. does very well.

So, if Al Gore were president, Saddam Hussein would still be in power too?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:18 PM


Carolinians' views on gay unions: Two-third oppose legal recognition (DIANE SUCHETKA, 9/14/03, Charlotte Observer)

Carolinas Poll Residents of North and South Carolina object to the legal recognition of same-sex unions nearly 3-to-1, according to this year's Carolinas Poll.

Of the 908 people surveyed for The Charlotte Observer/NBC6 poll, 24 percent said they favor legal status for same-sex unions. Sixty-six percent said they're opposed. Eleven percent didn't answer or said they didn't know.

The results indicate that the Carolinas are more conservative on the issue than the nation as a whole.

In a June Gallup Poll, 39 percent of Americans said the law should recognize marriage between homosexuals. Fifty-five percent said the law should not.

In case you were wondering why running for president requires Senators Graham and Edwards to give up their seats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:48 AM


Gattaca: A Must-See Movie: Great Fiction Dealing With BioEthics (Nigel Cameron, September 12, 2003, Breakpoint)

The two great masterpieces that have powerfully helped shape our understanding of the biotech revolution—Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World—have now been joined by a third. Appropriately enough for our generation, it is not a book but a movie. It isn’t even a new movie; it’s been out for several years, and when it hit the box offices it was not a conspicuous success. But that is often the way with prophets, even, as it were, secular prophets. (Note to Christians: All three of these wake-up calls are secular products. That should give us serious pause for thought, as well as gratitude and a fresh openness to work side by side with perceptive and humane unbelievers in the days to come.)

The movie, is Gattaca.

Writer/Director Andrew Niccol is responsible for a trio of thoughtful films--The Truman Show; Gattaca; and S1m0ne--that raise troubling questions about how far we're willing to go in our dissatisfaction with the human condition.

Also, be sure to check out Leon Kass's essay on Brave New World, which let's those of us who saw the novel as a parable of politics when we read it during the Cold War see that it is even more pertinent today, when we are at war with our own natures.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 AM

ROOM TO THE RIGHT (via Mike Daley):

Can the Tories learn to trust the people? (Alice Thomson, 12/09/2003, Daily Telegraph)

By saying nothing, they have let the Government damage itself. They're no longer the "nasty party"; that honour has been taken by Labour.

The Opposition held a party this week, in a foyer, and this is where the Tories are stuck, neither in nor out. Where is the great idea, the road map, the narrative?

Yesterday the Tories announced it. For two years, their best brains (they have more firsts than any other party, if less common sense) have been working away on a new vision. Their big idea: decentralisation.

The idea is great. Britain is now as overcentralised as the Soviet Union once was, bogged down by targets, audits, inspections, terms and conditions. The problem is that it's such a good idea, it's been thought of several times before.

Labour has tried its own version: a Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, regional assemblies and independent mayors. It has cost billions and just added another layer of bureaucracy. It came up with the slogan "The People's Party" and talked about "communitarianism".

David Blunkett, in his book Politics and Progress, discusses decentralisation at length, as does Peter Mandelson in The Blair Revolution Revisited. The Liberal Democrats were founded on small is beautiful. Tories from William Waldegrave to David Willetts have floated the idea.

So how will IDS succeed when so many have failed? In yesterday's new pamphlet, Total Politics: Labour's Command State, the Tories give an excellent analysis of how over-centralisation has caused too much waste, bureaucracy and rigidity, leading to paralysis. But in 100 pages, they devote only four to discussing their great plan.

The most important issue they need to address is how far to devolve. Do they want to give power to local authorities, to schools and hospitals, communities or individuals? To give an example, in education are they going to give more power to the LEAs, to schools or to parents?

If they give greater autonomy to councils, are they prepared to stand by and watch if the money is hijacked by Left-wing radicals, as happened in the 1980s? They're going to have to be brave enough, where possible, to devolve to the individual. [...]

If they are serious about their big idea, the Tories will need guts. Like Margaret Thatcher with the unions, they will be taking on huge vested interests: inefficient LEAs, hospital trusts, and many of the extra 600,000 public servants that Labour has employed. They will need to take on Whitehall and the mandarins who instinctively mistrust the provinces. They will need the doctors, teachers and police on their side. And they must sort out the funding; there can be no second poll

I suspect the public is already on their side; it's the pen-pushing public servants who will complain. Labour has done the Tories a service by proving that chucking money at health and education doesn't work. The public may be ready to take back control of their own lives, but are the Tories really ready to let them?

This is a moment of great opportunity for the Tories. The War on Terror has exposed the contradictions in Tony Blair's Third Way--a conservative Pm trying to lead a socialist party. He is going to be forced to tack Left, at least rhetorically, which leaves the Right open at long last, if only the Tories can get themselves back there.

There are three issues that are absolutely pivotal to this but their track record is too spotty to give much hope. The plan above is a fine start towards a seriouys devolution of power and privatization of the welfare state. But they need to grab onto the issue and not let go.

Second, they need to come out forthrightly against the EU. Their policy should be unlimited national sovereignty in all foreign and legal affairs, plus trade and military alliancea with the rest of the Anglosphere.

Third, they need to pass up the chance to question Mr. Blair's case for war against Saddam and not quibble over the post-war situation. These are minor issues where they can score partisan points but only at the cost of getting themselves on the wrong side of the war, as Democrats are currently doing in America.

In short, they need to make themselves once again the party of Thatcherism and they need to do so while her natural heir, Tony Blair, is distracted.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM


Israel's threat revives Arafat's flagging image (KARIN LAUB, September 14, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)

Yasser Arafat is in fine spirits for someone facing expulsion or assassination, flashing victory signs and relishing the support of tens of thousands of Palestinians who rushed into the streets to reaffirm his status as undisputed leader and national symbol.

He may have good reason: By declaring its intention to ''remove'' Arafat, Israel boosted his flagging popularity -- yet it may be unable to make good on its threat because of U.S. opposition and international condemnation.

And even if Arafat were kicked out, he could comfortably run Palestinian affairs from abroad, possibly a welcome change after being cooped up by Israel in his West Bank compound for nearly two years. Arafat led the Palestinians in exile from 1967, when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the Middle East war, until his return in 1994, operating from Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and other Arab countries.

Israel can be forgiven many things, but not reviving Yasar Arafat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM


Having a Jewish wife won't save Dean (Zev Chafets, September 14, 2003, Daily News)

Howard Dean has an Israel problem.

Last week, in the presidential free-for-all in Baltimore, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) blasted Dean for saying during a campaign stop a few days earlier that he wouldn't take sides in the Middle East. Dean added that he'd be "evenhanded," which in standard State Department English means pro-Palestinian. Later, Dean pleaded ignorance of the significance of the coded phrase. [...]

Dean has denounced Lieberman's complaint as "despicable" and proclaimed himself to be a friend of Israel in the mode of Bill Clinton. Nice try. Clinton, who served at a time of apparent peacemaking, did take on the role of honest broker, but he did it with Israel's blessing. Nobody in Jerusalem ever seriously doubted Clinton's essential sympathy and support.

Dean looks a lot less like Clinton than like Jimmy Carter, the President most associated with what Dean calls "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." Carter, an instinctive appeaser and champion of Third World dictatorships, took the Arab side in the dispute over the West Bank and Gaza, labeled Israeli settlements illegal and generally tried to turn American public opinion against Israel.

Dean's unmistakable ideological resemblance to Carter won't help the Vermont Democrat among supporters of Israel.

Here's a hint to the Dean campaign: He won't be able to hide behind Bill Clinton - or Dr. Judith Steinberg.

On a campaign stop in Iowa, Dean was asked by a woman named Norma Jean Sharp about his position on Israel. According to The Weekly Standard, Dean replied, "They'll be all right. ... I'm not going to let anything happen to Israel. My wife is Jewish."

One other way in which Mr. Dean resembles Jimmy Carter is his stubborn sanctimony. Rather than just admit he screwed up the Israel question royally and starting over, Dean is going to dig in his heels and drive himself even further off the reservation, because in his own mind he's right and anyone who would question him is not only wrong but inherently deceitful.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:52 AM


Security, rights butting heads: Muslim crime suspects in Arizona feel victimized by terror crackdown (Dennis Wagner, Sept. 14, 2003, The Arizona Republic)

"We understand the need for a tough hand. But they are specifically looking for something to get these people on because they are Muslims or from the Middle East," said Deedra Abboud, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations here.

"They're looking for technicalities so they can be more aggressive. It's just fishing so you can find something to hold over their heads."

Abboud and Randall Hamud, a San Diego defense attorney for terrorism suspects, said agents use intimidation to scare Muslims into cooperation.

"We can't be fast and loose with people we don't like, because everybody suffers later," Hamud said. [...]

Consider the arrest this summer of Samih Jammal, 34, the Lebanese-born owner of Jammal Trading Co. in Tempe.

Was he plotting chemical attacks or making phone calls to Osama bin Laden?

No. Jammal was accused of leading a $22 million crime syndicate that stole infant formula from superstores, then resold the product at marked-up prices in minimarts.

Although U.S. prosecutors trumpeted this case as a success for the Terrorism Task Force, they were quick to point out that no one was charged with a terror-related crime.

Family members of defendants trumpeted their anger: The government smeared 27 people, most of them Muslims, with the "T" word for no reason, they said.

"They're just making him look like some horrible person, like a monster," said Gretchen, Jammal's wife, Gretchen. "They're making a big deal out of it because they want to make themselves look good."

Just remember, today's prosecution of a Muslim thief could lead to tomorrow's prosection of a non-Muslim thief...then what will you say?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 AM


Myth of Allende obscures reality (JAMES R. WHELAN, Sep. 14, 2003, Miami Herald)

On Sept. 13, 1970, The Herald's long-time Latin American editor, Don Bohning, rated Salvador Allende's electoral victory in Chile, nine days earlier, as the ''single most significant event in Latin America since Fidel Castro seized power more than a decade ago.'' The then-U.S. Ambassador, Edward M. Korry went further. In a confidential report to President Richard Nixon, he wrote: ``It will have the most profound effect on Latin America and beyond; we have suffered a grievous defeat.''

And, he added: ``It is a sad fact that Chile has taken the path to communism with only little more than a third of the nation approving this choice, but it is an immutable fact.''

Three years later, on Sept. 11, 1973, Allende was overthrown in a remarkably surgical military coup. Despite elaborate plans to train, arm and equip a clandestine militia, and to ring Santiago itself with fortified factories, the fighting on the llth took fewer than 200 lives on both sides.

In the aftermath, another journalist -- the talented British writer, David Holden -- wrote ``Salvador Allende died a lucky man. In life, he was a failure. Both his policies and his country were shattered long before the end. But in death, he achieved success beyond his dreams. Instantly canonized as the Western world's newest left-wing martyr, he became overnight the most potent cult figure since his old friend, Che Guevara.''

The British author, Robert Moss, went further: ``It was a bit boy scoutish of them, but the soldiers who overthrew Salvador Allende thought they had earned the gratitude of the American people, and of the West in general. For one thing, they prevented the transformation of Chile into a sort of Latin American Czechoslovakia, complete with Soviet bases. . . . Alas, how little these soldiers understood the mood of the times in Washington or London.'' [...]

Allende was, of course, ousted by a military coup headed by Augusto Pinochet. It was not a typical power-grab by jackbooted gorillas; the military acted reluctantly, and only in response to the clamor of the overwhelming majority of the Chilean people.

Pinochet and the other armed services took over a country whose economy, social and political arrangements had -- in the phrase of Chile's leading contemporary historian ''suffered a progressive decay, culminating in its later and total collapse -- the collapse of death -- in 1973. Many,'' added historian Gonzalo Vial Correa, ``are unwilling to admit the decadence and death of the system -- the military intervened because the conflict among civilians has become insoluble.''

Over the next 17 years, they focused first on fighting well-armed terrorist organizations and those who aided and abetted them. In those 17 years, 2,279 persons -- on both sides -- died or are missing, more than half of them in the first, conflictive 90 days after the coup.

Parallel with that, they set out to rebuild the economy and create a new and sturdy institutional framework; the Constitution created by a broad-based group of civilian experts, including two former presidents, is, by far, the most functional in Chilean history. Indeed, it remains in force 13 years after Pinochet voluntarily relinquished power to an elected government. The economy has made Chile the envy of all of Latin America.

Altogether, the Chilean revolution of 1973 was the most successful in Latin American history.

It also was the least bloody of any major revolution. And it also is the most reviled. But that would be a story for another day.

It is the sad lot of men like Francisco Franco and Augusto Pinochet to have saved their nations from communism and to be hated for it by even the decent Left.

Check out this remarkable post at Val e-diction.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 AM


The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (C-SPAN, September 14, 2003, 8 & 11 pm)

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America‚s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair‚s brilliant director of works and the builder
of many of the country's most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his "World's Fair Hotel" just west of the fairgrounds˜a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. In this book the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.

Erik Larson's gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.
It's a terrific book, a social history snapshot with the pace of a thriller, as Burnham tries to pull the fair together and Holmes perpetrates one evil after another. Cameos by the famous abound and all kinds of iconic products and inventions appear for the first time--not least the Ferris Wheel.

-BOOK SITE: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (Random House)
-AUDIO INTERVIEW: Erik Larson (Diane Rehm Show, 3/3/03)
-INTERVIEW: Erik Larson in the City of Books (Dave Weich, March 13, 2003,
-INTERVIEW: Notable Writer: Erik Larson (University of Oregon)
-INTERVIEW: erik larson (Robert Birnbaum, March 24, 2003, identity theory)
-INTERVIEW: The devil is in the details: Fortune and fate at the Chicago's World Fair (ALDEN MUDGE, BookPage)
-CHAT: Erik Larson on 100 year anniversary of the Galveston hurricane (CNN, September 8, 2000)
-REVIEW ARCHIVES: Devil in the White City (Reviews of Books)
(Janet Maslin, NY Times)
(Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post)
(H. W. Brands, Raleigh News & Observer)
-REVIEW: of Devil in the White City (Stephen Lyons , SF Chronicle)
of Devil in the White City
(Roger LaMay, Philadelphia Inquirer)
of Devil in the White City
(Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
of Devil in the White City
(Robin Vidimos, The Denver Post)
of Devil in the White City
(Michael S. Gant, MetroActive)
of Devil in the White City
(MICHAEL J. BANDLER, Houston Chronicle)
-REVIEW: of Devil in the White City (John Hohman, New York)
-REVIEW: of ISAAC'S STORM: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History By Erik Larson (William L. Fox, SF Chronicle)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 AM


Adapt or Die: What Charles Darwin can teach Tom Ridge about homeland security (Raphael Sagarin, Foreign Policy)

For more than 3 billion years, biological evolution has guided the colonization of our planet by living organisms. Evolution's rules are simple: Creatures that adapt to threats and master the evolutionary game thrive; those that don't, become extinct. And so it is with the threat posed to the United States by terrorist networks such as al Qaeda. If the genus Americanus wants to overcome this latest challenge to its existence, it must adapt its defense mechanisms accordingly. What better way to do that than to harness time-tested Darwinian theory to the cause of homeland security?

Folks like Mr. Sagarin make it too easy for Darwin skeptics with their truly inane arguments that our capacity to use human reason to adapt to situations is identical to evolutionary processes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:17 AM


The Women of Roe v. Wade (Mary Ann Glendon, June/July 2003, First Things)

Most women have understood all along that Roe v. Wade would not, as Friedan once predicted, "make women whole." For the past thirty years, all three leading polling organizations have consistently told us that a large majority of Americans, women even more than men, disapprove of the majority of abortions that are performed in this country. In recent years, that disapproval has increased significantly. The latest Zogby poll, reported in November 2002, reveals not only that Americans in general are becoming more conservative in their views about abortion, but that young people are significantly more pro-life than their parents. The strongest supporters of abortion rights in the United States, as any nineteenth-century feminist could have predicted, are not women-but men in the age group of eighteen to twenty-five. Nevertheless, the most pro-life part of the population is people under thirty.

Why, then, a curious person might ask, has that widely shared sentiment not tempered the extremism of American abortion law? In part it's probably because the Supreme Court has left so little room for expression of popular will through legislation. In part it's probably also because so much confusion exists about what the law really says. But there may be other, deeper reasons. With almost a million-and-a-half abortions a year for thirty years, we have become a society where nearly everyone has been touched by abortion, if not personally, then through friends and family members. When we speak about abortion today, we are speaking to women who have had abortions; to men who have asked women to have abortions; to young people who have lost brothers and sisters to abortion; and to the mothers and fathers, friends and neighbors of those women and men. That knowledge often leaves us tongue-tied, at a loss for words, for what to say and how to say it.

That knowledge has made it tempting for countless women and men to take refuge in slogans like: "Who am I to be judgmental?" and the famous "Personally, I'm opposed, but I can't impose my opinions on others."

I have to admit that, back in the 1970s, I was rather uncritical of such phrases. I remember asking the former dean of Boston College, a Jesuit priest, "Father, what do you think about this abortion issue?" He said, "Well you see, Mary Ann, it's very simple. According to Vatican II, abortion is 'an unspeakable moral crime.' But in a pluralistic democracy, we can't impose our moral views on other people." "Oh," I said, "OK."

I know this story doesn't reflect any credit on me, but I mention it to show that many of us just didn't focus on the issue all that closely. I know now that I should have questioned the word "impose." But it took some time before growing numbers of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews stepped forward to point out that when people advance their moral viewpoints in the public square, they are not imposing anything on anyone. They are proposing. That's what citizens do in a democracy-we propose, we give reasons, we vote. It's a very strange doctrine that would silence only religiously grounded moral viewpoints. And it's very unhealthy for democracy when the courts-without clear constitutional warrant-deprive citizens of the opportunity to have a say in setting the conditions under which we live, work, and raise our children.

It was only after I started to look into how controversial issues like abortion and divorce were handled in other liberal democracies that I realized how my dean's slogan has been used not only to silence religiously grounded views, but to silence all opposition to abortion. I should have asked the dean why citizens should have to withhold their moral views on abortion but not on other issues where he did not hesitate to advance religiously grounded moral viewpoints-the Vietnam War, capital punishment, civil rights, and relief of poverty. Years later, I put a related question to the former dean of Harvard Law School. In the mid-1980s, after I had given a talk to the Harvard faculty comparing American abortion law unfavorably with the approaches taken in several other liberal democracies, Dean Al Sacks took me out for lunch and said, "You know, no one in that room agrees with you." Since he had put the point in a friendly, avuncular way, I asked him about something that had long puzzled me. "Why," I asked, "did you and so many other constitutional lawyers stop criticizing the Court's abortion decisions after most of you had been highly critical of Roe v. Wade?" He sighed and gave me a very candid answer that had the ring of truth. "I suppose," he said, "it was because we had been made to understand that the abortion issue was so important to the women in our lives, and it just did not seem that important to most of us."

We've a tendency to think of abortion as an issue that has been fiercely divisive since Roe was announced, but both Richard Nixon and Geral Ford supported abortion and it's easy to forget that Ronald Reagan's opposition to abortion was considered a potential candidacy killer when he ran in 1980. It has taken us some time to recognize just what the creation of an unbridled "right" to abortion meant, but it seems that the recognition has moved the nation to the point where there's some serious prospect that both legislatures and the Court will start to reign it in. The most important dynamic fueling this movement will be the collapsing support of women for abortion, support which was always an aberration.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:04 AM


What Is Power?: Which global players have power today-and which are likely to acquire it in the coming decades? (Niall Ferguson, Spring 2003, Hoover Digest)

I have tried to suggest that power is about monopolizing as far as possible what might be called the means of projection (of power). A list of these would have to include manpower, weaponry, and wealth but also knowledge and, since a rationally organized bureaucracy is a formidable resource, administrative efficiency.

As we have seen, however, most if not all of these elements of power are tending to become more evenly distributed because of differentials in growth rates and the speed with which knowledge (including knowledge with military applications) can be transmitted. In that sense, power per se is tending to be dispersed. And the more it is dispersed, the less power there is. One power with a nuclear missile is very powerful. Twelve powers with nuclear missiles are each much less powerful than that. The more proliferation, the less power.

The same cannot be said, of course, of natural resources. In the case of oil and other key strategic commodities, these essential elements of power are finite and geographically concentrated. But either way, the inference to be drawn is that we should not exaggerate the likely duration of America?s era as a hyperpower.

Yet there is a final dimension of power that cannot be left out: the psychological. Two things can greatly magnify or diminish the ability of any entity, governmental or nongovernmental, to project power: first, its own legitimacy in the eyes of its individual members; second, its credibility in the eyes of other powers.

These are the unquantifiable-but perhaps the most important-elements of power. And we do well to remember them. For in the war against terrorism declared by President Bush in September 2001, they may prove to be the deciding elements.

As things stand, both parties-the United States and the terrorist diaspora-have firmly established their credibility, the latter by destroying the World Trade Center, the former by overthrowing the Taliban regime and now Saddam Hussein. At the same time, both appear to have legitimacy in the eyes of their respective constituencies. Certainly, the American public mood was dramatically changed by September 11. Certainly, support for Al Qaeda among young Muslims seems to remain strong from Karachi to Riyad. American patriotism is arguably a civil religion as formidable in its way as Islamic fundamentalism.

But is it?

Stamina-the ability of any human organization to sustain a collective effort-is dependent as much on moral as on material factors: That is one of the oldest lessons of military history. The Russian army collapsed in 1917 under far less severe conditions than the Russian army endured in 1942. That was because Stalin's totalitarian combination of propaganda and coercion preserved his regime's legitimacy.

There is no reason in theory why democracies should not prove equally resilient, even though they rely on consent through representation rather than (or at least more than) on coercion. But we don't know for sure. No democracy has ever suffered privations as colossal as those the Nazis inflicted on the Soviets; the United States in particular has got off amazingly lightly in all the wars it has fought against external enemies.

Power, then, is partly about material things: guns, butter, men, money, oil. But it is also about morale. In a world characterized by the diffusion of most of the material elements of power, real power may therefore come to depend on having credibility and legitimacy. Faith cannot move mountains. But it can move men.

Despite the desertion of most of the Democrats already in the War on Terror, there seems little reason to worry about the strength of American patriotism and morale in the citizenry generally. And Australia and England seem to be on board for the long haul. Interestingly, the Japanese are looking rather hawkish these days too. But we can see in Canada and Western Europe, in particular, what happens when societies lose confidence in the worthiness of their own culture--they are no longer considered credible nations in American eyes.

Men without chests (David Warren, September 14, 2003)

C.S. Lewis wrote about "men without chests", and one often notices in reading today, or in looking at the faces about one, the overwhelming presence of both men and women upon whom one could not wish to rely in an emergency.

It is the new, post-Christian Canada, and Western world -- already vastly changed since my childhood. It is our post-modern society of abortions, soft pornography, recreational sex, same-sex marriages, and fault-free divorce; an age of huge public concern about auto insurance premiums. We live today in what, if I were to reduce it to a single word, I might call a "degenerate" culture. [...]

Looking back, now, over two years, from the shock that was administered to our systems on 9/11, I think we should get a clearer picture of the event as a kind of divine warning. For here were unquestionably evil men -- the foot-soldiers and carnage-planners of Islamist fanaticism -- who attacked us (sic: attacked us, all civilized people) in the belief that we were so degenerate we would quickly fold. [...]

So long as I live, I shall be impressed by the America that was revealed in the ashes of the World Trade Centre; by the New York of the firemen who rushed to the scene; by the staff running towards, not away, from the wreckage at the Pentagon; by the airplane passengers riding into the ground of Pennsylvania.

The men with chests rose immediately to the occasion. And God was most certainly with America when it came.

But we must ask, will He remain?

For the connexion between the events, great and small, is this. God will save those, even whole nations, who sincerely call upon his aid. But a nation fallen into apostasy cannot even save itself; nor can we save ourselves if we are men without chests.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 AM


CQOD Home Page

Intellect can light up only a small area of the universe. For my part, I should subscribe to the familiar paradox that the more we know, the more we are conscious of our ignorance -- the further the intellect has traveled, the smaller it seems relatively to the distance still to be traveled... The intellect does, indeed, take us part of the way; we have no other mode of conveyance; and, in taking us as far as it does, it justifies us in taking the rest on trust... In following the religious account of the universe beyond the point at which it leaves reason behind, and trusting to it as an explanation of the many things that pass our understanding, we are accepting on faith conclusions which are not demonstrated by reason. In other words, we are acting as if a hypothesis were true, which, at the moment, at which we act upon it, is still a hypothesis and not a truth. Nevertheless, it is, I suggest, knowledge, the knowledge which we possess already and which reason has won for us, that makes it reasonable to do so.
--C. E. M. Joad (1891-1953), The Recovery of Belief (1952)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 AM


Q&A with Larry the Cucumber: 'Vegetarians make me nervous': VeggieTales star reveals his fears, faith in God and opinion of facial hair and toupees (Dallas Morning News, September 5, 2003)

In the beginning, they were just a cucumber and tomato, two evangelical vegetables trying to make it in the world of Mickey and Minnie. But they were neither as nimble nor as pretty as Disney's famously marketable mice.

Larry the Cucumber was gawky and missing all but one tooth. Bob the Tomato was cranky and corpulent. In the secular world of human entertainment, the odds were decidedly against them.

But Larry and Bob had, in show-biz parlance, a good schtick. Supported by a talented cast of peas, carrots, gourds, and other vegetables, they recreated Bible stories, drawing humorously on American pop culture.

VeggieTales first conquered the evangelical markets with creative videos such as Dave and the Giant Pickle, the vegetable version of the David and Goliath tale. The videos eventually moved into the mainstream. Last year, Big Idea, the Lombard, Ill., company behind VeggieTales, made it to the big screen with Jonah - A VeggieTales Movie. [...]

Question: How has your life changed now that you're a celebrity cucumber?

Answer: It used to be a lot harder to find a table in restaurants ... unless I was an entrée.

Question: If you had five minutes with Jesus, what would you say?

Answer: I know you love us both the same, but who do you think is funnier, me, or SpongeBob SquarePants?

Question: How do you feel about vegetarians?

Answer: Vegetarians make me nervous. Gotta keep your eye on 'em. You never know when they might snap.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 AM


Saudis Promising Action on Terror: The Saudis have acknowledged that their terrorist problems are far worse and more difficult to combat than they had imagined, but U.S. officials remain wary. (DON VAN NATTA Jr. and TIMOTHY L. O'BRIEN, 9/14/03, NY Times)

Since May the Saudis have broken up six to eight Qaeda cells operating within the country, including several in the past few weeks, Saudi and American officials said. They also made renewed efforts to cooperate with Russia against terrorism. The Russians have long suspected the Saudis of financing Muslim separatists in Chechnya. Last week, Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, traveled to Russia for talks that included terrorism as well as oil and trade agreements. It was the first visit by a Saudi leader to Moscow in 75 years.

In the discussions with their American counterparts, Saudi law enforcement officials said they would try to channel monetary donations away from mosques into more regulated entities that would allow the Saudi authorities to keep a closer eye on the source and destination of such money. All Muslims are expected to contribute a portion of their income to charities, a practice known as zakat. The Saudi government has not yet announced any specific measures, and in practice officials on both sides acknowledge that policing donations at mosques may prove daunting, akin to forbidding churchgoers in the United States from making donations at Sunday services.

Since May, the Saudis have acknowledged that their terrorist problems are far worse and more difficult to combat than they had imagined, American officials said.

Only weeks after the May bombings in Riyadh, Saudi security forces cornered a senior Qaeda operative suspected of orchestrating the attacks and fatally shot him as he tried to flee in his car on a Riyadh street. The retribution visited upon the suspect, Yousif Salih Fahad al-Ayeeri, known by a nom de guerre translated by the Saudis as Swift Sword, was hailed in Saudi Arabia as a significant blow to the Qaeda network in the country and proof that the Saudi authorities were willing to bring the war on terrorism home.

But less than a month later, security officials stumbled upon enormous caches of terrorist weaponry — 20 tons of explosives and detonators, rocket-propelled grenades and high-powered rifles — at three different locations. Several senior Saudi officials said the discoveries served to underscore the reality that despite what they believed to be an aggressive crackdown on terrorists, the Saudi royal family faced the prospect that scores of heavily armed Qaeda terrorists were entrenched inside the kingdom and might be plotting further attacks against Saudi targets or members of the royal family themselves.

"It was another shock to the system," said Jamal Khashoggi, a former newspaper editor who is now a senior adviser to the Saudi ambassador in London. "Clearly, the terrorists were planning a big attack inside the kingdom, and they had the weapons and manpower to do it."

American officials familiar with Saudi Arabia said the recent bombings had a major effect. An American diplomat in the Middle East said they had "fundamentally changed the way Saudis view terrorism and threats and the best way to deal with them." The official said that Saudi citizens were now demanding the arrest, or even elimination, of militant Muslims -- a sea change in a country that has long been hospitable even to radical Islamists.

"They have realized that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of terrorists inside Saudi Arabia," a senior American official based in the Middle East said.

In addition to the dragnet that ensnared Mr. Ayeeri, the Saudis have arrested more than 200 people since May who the authorities say are connected to Al Qaeda. Last Tuesday, as part of its enhanced effort to track terrorists domestically, the Saudi Interior Ministry asked families with missing sons to report their disappearances to the government. The ministry said the move is a reflection of the government's "concern to protect Saudi citizens against suspect groups who try to drag people into criminal activity."

The Saudi interior minister, Prince Nayef, said last month that he believed that Al Qaeda had established training camps inside the kingdom. Saudi security forces have staged regular raids on safe houses and farms all over the kingdom. In several shootouts, at least 16 suspected members of Al Qaeda and 11 Saudi police officers have been killed.

"The populace now says, `Make us feel safer,' and one of the extraordinary things is the Saudis are now publicizing each arrest, each raid," said the American official based in the Middle East. "Before May 12, they'd arrest guys, then deny publicly that they had arrested them. There was a head stuck in the sand. After each shootout, the public says, `We want more of it, this is good, finish the job.' "

The more bombs that go off the more allies--even somewhat unwilling ones--we have in the War on Terror.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:05 AM


Top Gun vs. Total Recall: Who's more Hollywood, Schwarzenegger or Bush? (Frank Rich, 9/14/03, NY Times)

The fun in watching Mr. Schwarzenegger is that, unlike Mr. Bush and most of his other political peers, he doesn't pretend to be above Hollywood stunts; he flaunts his showmanship and policy ignorance as flagrantly as those gaudy rings he wears. Rather than wait a few weeks to trade quips with a late-night TV comic, as Mr. Bush and Al Gore did in the 2000 campaign, he just cut to the chase and announced his candidacy to Jay Leno. The political press then pooh-poohed his decision to give his first interview to Pat O'Brien of "Access Hollywood" instead of, say, Tim Russert. But Mr. O'Brien, who began his career working for David Brinkley at NBC News in Washington, points out that most of his supposedly more serious colleagues were condescending to Mr. Schwarzenegger as a show-biz joke anyway, with their dim wordplays on the titles of his movies. "Everybody ought to take a deep breath and realize the guy is a candidate now, not the Terminator," Mr. O'Brien says. "There aren't enough of those metaphors to last until the election."

When Ronald Reagan was asked to predict what kind of governor of California he'd make, he famously answered: "I don't know. I've never played a governor." As his biographer, Lou Cannon, has written, Reagan ran for that office not knowing how bills were passed or budgets were prepared. In this sense, Mr. Schwarzenegger has admitted to being somewhat Reaganesque. His ideology, though, is way to the left of his party, despite all the lip service he pays to being a fiscal conservative. (Howard Dean is a fiscal conservative, too.) Mr. Schwarzenegger is pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control, pro-green. He has said that the Clinton impeachment made him "ashamed" to call himself a Republican.

It is hilarious to watch conservatives -- the same conservatives who often decry phony Hollywood liberals and their followers -- betray their own inviolate principles to bask in Arnold's hulking movie-star aura so that they might possibly gain a nominal Republican victory in the bargain. Even the 1977 Oui magazine interview in which Mr. Schwarzenegger bragged about participating in orgies -- not to mention his repeated admissions of drug use -- can't frighten them away.

Arnold may have ducked questions about affirmative action, but that hasn't stopped Fox's star-struck Sean Hannity from gushing that he's "as forthright as any politician I've ever interviewed in my life." As for the Oui confessional, Bill O'Reilly said: "So what? He's a new guy." Rush Limbaugh at first questioned Mr. Schwarzenegger's conservative bona fides, but of late has been hedging, praising Arnold for "the charisma, the star power, the stage presence . . . the likability, the personality" and saying that he never meant to imply that he "is not worthy." No less a religious conservative than Pat Robertson came out for La-La-Land's pro-gay, pro-choice Republican as well: "I'm a body-builder. . . . So I think the weight lifters of the world need to unite."

Ann Coulter has a term for conservatives who wimp out like this -- "girly boys." But she's gone all girly herself over Arnold, telling Larry King that "I'm impressed enough that he's in Hollywood, he's married to a Kennedy and he still calls himself a Republican — that's good enough for me." Perhaps. Her friend, Bill Maher, has taken a somewhat darker view of these unlikely political conversions. "If his father wasn't a Nazi," he has said of Arnold, "he wouldn't have any credibility with conservatives at all."

The Bill Maher quote is predictable enough, but it's surprising that Mr. Rich--some forty years after Ronald Reagan's political career began--still hasn't figured out that it is precisely because conservatives have so little respect for politics and government that they're unfazed by neophyte candidates. It is Democrats with their belief that governance should be at the center of our lives and that policies must be terribly convoluted, innovative, and administered from the top down, who place their faith in a managerial/intellectual class to rule over us. Therefore, they have traditionally believed that extensive experience and some imagined level of "expertise" are required to be a successful elected official. This may be the main reason that Republican actors have done so much better than Democrats when they've run for office. But Democrats finally seem to be figuring out that government isn't rocket science, in particular with their turn to business people (Cantwell, Corzine, etc.) to run for the Senate and now with their desperate courtship of General Wesley Clark.

Here, at any rate, is a more sensible look at the inexperienced actor angle, Experience might not mean much to voters: Reagan used criticism to his advantage in '66 (George E. Condon Jr., September 1, 2003, COPLEY NEWS SERVICE):

When they listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger's political opponents assail the actor's "inexperience," Jerry Brown and Lyn Nofziger hear echoes from a California race run almost four decades ago. Similar allegations were raised then and failed to sway an electorate unhappy with an incumbent insider.

"That didn't work for my father and they could be making the same mistake again," said Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown. [...]

Reagan deflected Brown's statements with one disarming comment: "The man who currently has the job has more experience than anybody. That's why I'm running."

"What they keep forgetting, then and now, is that most people don't think you need that much experience to be governor," Nofziger said.

The younger Brown, who was to succeed Reagan as governor and serve two terms in the office, agreed.

"We don't want to overstate the experience needed to be governor," he told CNN earlier this month. "I've been there. I can tell you what it is. It's not like, you know, fixing a complicated airplane engine. It takes some intelligence. It takes common sense. It takes some character, some understanding, and concern about what is needed by California." [...]

"For some voters, it cuts both ways," [Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo] said. "For Republicans, it actually might be a net positive. They don't associate him with career politicians. . . . But for many, many Democrats, it's a negative."

Mr. Schwarznegger is no Ronald Reagan, but given the competition he hardly needs to be.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:34 AM


In California, White Men Are the Silent Plurality (PETER SCHRAG, September 14, 2003, NY Times)

With Californians facing a shrinking number of high-paying blue-collar jobs, a huge state deficit and reduced access to the state colleges, the immigration issue has never gone away, even if mainstream politicians avoided talking about it. But when Governor Davis, trolling for Latino votes, signed the driver's license bill, he put the issue on the political front burner. [...]

In polls, Mr. Bustamante has the edge over Mr. Schwarzenegger among all female voters: 35 percent to 22 percent. But according to a survey last week by the Field Poll, a nonpartisan group, Mr. Bustamante is losing the men's vote, by 29 percent to 26 percent, with 16 percent favoring Mr. McClintock, who has been under intense pressure from Republican leaders to drop out.

Could the immigration issue lure men to the polls? Young men "are the hardest group to drag into the voting booth," said Ken Khachigian, a Republican campaign strategist.

And as pollsters point out, the California election is not like Minnesota's in 1998, when rebellious male voters came out to vote for Jesse Ventura, giving him the 37 percent plurality he needed to win.

In July, a Field poll found that 54 percent of registered voters who firmly stated they intended to vote were women. In the September poll, those numbers started to favor men, 52 percent to 48 percent. The poll also found that the proportion of voters in the 18-39 age group had increased from 24 percent in July to 33 percent now.

Because of the extraordinary nature of this election, all predictions are risky. Yet even Governor Davis's pollster, Paul Maslin, acknowledged that young men supporting Mr. Schwarzenegger could make some difference.

Although fewer than half of all Californians are non-Hispanic whites, they make up 70 percent of the voters. And Californians, besides expressing their opposition in 1994 to services for illegal aliens, also voted against affirmative action in 1996 and against bilingual education in 1998.

The issue of illegal immigration, then, may be a pivotal one for Mr. Schwarzenegger, and create a volatile chemistry that goes well beyond this election.

Although it is never written about in such terms, the gender gap in American politics tends to be as drastic or more so where men are concerned as for women, with Democrats faring as badly or worse with male voters as Republicans do with women. In fact, Bill Clinton's entire electoral success--unique among national Democrats the past 35 years--traced to his ability to appeal to male voters.

In a one on one matchup the Republican candidate for governor in CA should be beating Cruz Bustamante by at least ten point in the male vote--probably even higher, given the liberal issues Bustamante's highlighting. Those male votes that the conservative Tom McClintock is naturally peeling off are all that's keeping Arnold Schwarznegger from putting this race away, and if Mr. McClintock stays in the race they could cost the GOP a victory that's well within reach.

-A leading man tries to wow women off-screen: Women, in many ways, represent Schwarzenegger's greatest opportunity and greatest risk. (Mark Sappenfield, 9/14/03, CS Monitor)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:09 AM


NOW's Woman Problem (NY Times, 9/14/03)

By racing to assist Ms. Braun's candidacy, the leaders of NOW showed loyalty to someone with a long relationship with the organization, going back to the unsuccessful struggle to enact the Equal Rights Amendment. But they also trivialized the important role women will play in the coming election, and made themselves look silly to boot.

NOW trivial? Boy, you can't sneak anything past the Times, can you.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:07 AM


Everyman, With a Voice: Johnny Cash provided a voice for the downtrodden, for lost
souls and lost causes that might otherwise have found no place in the American Dream. (PETER GURALNICK, 9/14/03, NY Times)

Only those who were there at the beginning can remember how different he really was. The records, when they first started coming out on the Sun label in 1955, in the immediate wake of Elvis Presley's success, sounded "so unusual," said the Sun session guitarist, Roland Janes, "that I never would have dreamed he could have even gotten a record played on the radio. But he set country music on its ear."

It was the voice that compelled attention from the start. It was a voice that the founder of Sun Records, Sam Phillips, compared to the blues singer Howlin' Wolf's in its uniqueness, the unimpeachable integrity and originality of its sound -- but it was the conviction behind the voice that allowed Johnny Cash to create a body of work as ambitious in its scope as it was homespun in its sound.

He carried that conviction with him from the time he first entered the tiny Sun studio in Memphis in the fall of 1954. He was just out of the Army, selling home appliances door to door, and playing with a trio of musicians barely conversant with their instruments: a guitarist who played one note at a time because he didn't know any other way to do it; a bass player who had just switched over from guitar and had not yet learned to tune his instrument; and a steel guitar player who would drop out of the picture altogether before they even made a record. They worked and worked until, after nearly six months, they finally came up with something that reflected the honesty, originality, above all the kind of spontaneity and emotional truth (as opposed to technical, or even musical, perfection) that both Phillips and Cash particularly prized. This "low-tech" approach was the perfect vehicle, certainly, for the plain-spoken quality of Johnny Cash's message. But the method of delivery doesn't come close to explaining the majesty, or ambition, of his art.

To understand that, one has to factor in the power of imagination. [...]

Through imagination he possessed a gift for empathetic transference; unlike many artists he was able to take on other voices and make them his own. His music celebrated the power of the individual, but his emphasis on directness and simplicity made a complex, and sometimes contradictory, message accessible to all. His, as Sam Phillips once said, was the truest voice, because it was so irremediably his own -- but it was a universal voice, too, for the very way in which it incorporated a constant sense of striving and struggle, an irreducible awareness, and embrace, of the human stain.

Mr. Guralnick is our leading historian of popular music. While most will know of his recent Elvis bio, his social history of soul music is even better.

-INTERVIEW: Johnny Cash: A Final Interview: The country legend offered his thoughts on life and music to TIME in July (Lev Grossman and Johnny Cash, September 14, 2003, TIME)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:56 AM


Where are the football bloggers?: Though the gridiron seems perfectly suited for blogland, it's baseball that reigns. (King Kaufman, Sept. 11, 2003, Salon)

The Web is fairly groaning with baseball blogs. Scroll down the right column of Baseball Primer's Clutch Hits, itself one of almost a dozen weblogs on the Primer site, and you'll find links to 87 other baseball blogs. The Baseball News Blog links to 155 of them, including some overlap with Clutch Hits. If it happened in baseball, it's on a blog somewhere.

But searching for football blogs is like looking for Metallica fans at a Clay Aiken concert. There might be a few around, but you're not tripping over them. After quite a bit of searching, I know of more blogs devoted to the Detroit Tigers than to the NFL.

That surprises me. Football, aside from being massively popular, seems ideal for the blogosphere. It's highly technical and complicated, yet it can also be followed and understood on a "Did you see that hit?!" level. It seems to me that brainy programmer types can appreciate the intricacies of strategy, blocking schemes, zone coverage and quarterback checkdowns at the same time that the, shall we say, less complicated among us can appreciate the game on a more foam-finger-in-the-air level.

"It's rather odd, since football is clearly much more popular as a spectator sport," says James Joyner, who with Steven Taylor blogs at "Football also seems to lag in other things, like card collecting and fantasy leagues."

The bloggers and webmasters I asked, all via e-mail, cited four main reasons for football's lag in blogging popularity: Baseball's literary tradition; the length of baseball's season, almost twice that of football's; baseball's daily schedule as opposed to football's weekly clashes; and the popularity of sabermetric statistical analysis in baseball, which is not as developed in football. [...]

Some bloggers say it's baseball's dailiness that lends itself so well to the form.

"The blog format is essentially an online diary, and therefore lends itself to daily installments," Belth says. "Like Earl Weaver once told Tom Boswell, 'This ain't football. We do this every day.'"

"I always go back to the daily nature of baseball," says Ed Kubosiak, who writes the Red Sox blog Out of Left Field. "There is a different cadence, a rhythm that is more conducive to writing. More to talk about. Second-guessing is second-nature in baseball. The history is well known and often celebrated. Football, for me, is tied to one day. Any given Sunday. Friday night lights."

We'll forego the myriad wisecracks that offer themselves about the capacity of football fans to read and type. Instead, let us just point out that all that really matters in football is who wins and who loses on Sunday and whether you won or lost money as a result. The players--as the replacement games during the last strike showed--are entirely interchangeable, a group of uniforms, rather than identifiable and distinct talents and personalities. And, most important, no one knows anything about the numbers and history of football, while in baseball we know who holds the records and what they are, from Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak and Ted Williams being the last player to hit .400 to Hank Aaron passing Babe Ruth's 714 HRs to finish with 755 to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa passing Roger Maris's 60 HR mark in the same season, only to be passed by Barry Bonds with 73. Thus, baseball has a frame of reference and a cultural resonance that football lacks. Baseball conversation takes place in a continuum; football talk in a vacuum.

September 13, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:21 PM


Sacrilegious Spinning (Ellen Goodman, September 13, 2003, Washington Post)

Sunday night we saw a sober president admitting that the scenario of swift victory in Iraq was far too rosy. This was no flight deck photo op. The "Mission Accomplished" speech of May has become the "Mission Prolonged" speech of September -- with an $87 billion price tag.

But repeatedly, deliberately, the president connected the dots between Sept. 11 and the war in Iraq. Since "those deadly attacks on our country," he said, "we have carried the fight to the enemy." "For America," he said, "there will be no going back to the era before Sept. 11 -- to false comfort in a dangerous world." And finally, he told Americans that we are fighting the enemy today, "so that we do not meet him again on our own streets in our own cities."

The trouble is that the dots he connected are cartoon bubbles drawn by the White House and its speechmakers.

Nevertheless, Americans have followed them. A Washington Post poll recently showed that 69 percent of Americans still believe it's likely or very likely Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11.

The emotional link -- bad guys do bad things, Saddam is bad, 9/11 is bad -- has become a successful political link. Fifteen of 19 hijackers were suicidal Saudis, all were members of al Qaeda. There was no connection. Osama and Saddam, the religious fanatic and secular despot, are brethren only in brutality.

Agreed. So why should we hunt one anti-American brute to his death and leave the other in place?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:12 PM


Kucinich Challenged on Terror (Juliet Eilperin, September 13, 2003, Washington Post)

Rep. Dennis Kucinich's ambitions are set on winning the nation's highest office, but the lawmaker from Ohio may need to turn some of his attention to keeping his House seat -- just in case he doesn't succeed in winning the Democratic presidential nomination.

Republican Edward Fitzpatrick Herman has announced he will challenge the four-term lawmaker. Herman was a corporate and government consultant before being called up to active military service in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. As a part of a military intelligence task force under Central Command, he interrogated dozens of al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan, according to his campaign.

"Northeast Ohioans deserve a representative in Washington who understands the importance of the war on terror," Herman said. "I am running for Congress because Dennis Kucinich does not appreciate the nature and magnitude of the threat facing America from worldwide terrorist organizations."

Is there really a constituency somewhere that doesn't care that Mr. Kucinich opposes the War on Terror and switched his position on abortion during his announcement that he was running for president?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:38 PM


Exit Arafat?: What removing Yasser Arafat would mean. (William Kristol, 09/22/2003, Weekly Standard)

The government of Israel will decide whether and how to follow through on its threat to remove Arafat. The American government can and should give the Israeli government our best counsel in private, and perhaps in public as well. But the administration's professed reasons for opposing the removal of Arafat are unimpressive. And they seem altogether de-linked from any underlying moral and strategic judgment of what the war on terror requires, and what those who support and sponsor terror deserve.

Right now, to take just one example, Mullah Omar is hiding in the wilds of Afghanistan or Pakistan, subject to being killed if and when we find him. In what way is Yasser Arafat morally distinguishable from Mullah Omar? Is he less complicit in terror? For a decade, Israel bent over backwards to try to engage in a peace process with the chief terrorist of Palestine.

That, unfortunately, is precisely how they differ. Israel made Arafat a de facto head of state and they, along with Bill Clinton, bargained with him as an equal. He's even been in our White House, to our eternal disgrace. All of that makes it hard to now turn around and say he's just a killer, even if he is.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:06 PM


Orwell's List (Timothy Garton Ash, September 25, 2003, NY Review of Books)

So there it was at last, the copy of George Orwell's notorious list of "crypto-communists" that went into the files of a semisecret department of the Foreign Office on May 4, 1949. It lay before me in a buff folder on the office table of a senior Foreign Office archivist. Despite all the controversy around it, no unofficial person had been allowed to see the list for more than fifty-four years, since someone typed up this official copy of the original list that Orwell dispatched from his sickbed on May 2, 1949, to a close friend, Celia Kirwan. She had recently begun work in the Foreign Office's Information Research Department (IRD), which was concerned, among other things, with producing anticommunist propaganda. The list contains thirty-eight names of journalists and writers who, as he had written to Celia on April 6, "in my opinion are crypto-communists, fellow-travellers or inclined that way and should not be trusted as propagandists."

Orwell's list, which is divided into three columns headed "Name," "Job," and "Remarks," is eclectic. It includes Charlie Chaplin, J.B. Priestley, and the actor Michael Redgrave, all marked with "?" or "??," implying doubt whether they really were crypto-communists or fellow travelers. E.H. Carr, the historian of international relations and Soviet Russia, is dismissed as "Appeaser only." The editor of the New Statesman, Kingsley Martin, an old bête noire of Orwell's, gets the gloriously back-handed comment "?? Too dishonest to be outright 'crypto' or fellow-traveller, but reliably pro-Russian on all major issues." Beside the New York Times Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty and the former Trotskyist writer Isaac Deutscher ("Sympathiser only"), there are many lesser-known writers and journalists, starting with an industrial correspondent of the Manchester Guardian, described as "Probably sympathiser only. Good reporter. Stupid." [...]

In February 1949, George Orwell was lying in a sanatorium in the Cotswolds, very ill with the TB that would kill him within a year. That winter, he had worn himself out in a last effort to retype the whole manuscript of 1984, his bleak warning of what might happen if Britain succumbed to totalitarianism. He was lonely, despairing of his own wasted health, at the age of just forty-five, and deeply pessimistic about the advance of Russian communism, whose cruelty and treacherousness he had personally experienced, nearly at the cost of his own life in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. The communists had just taken over Czechoslovakia, in the Prague coup of February 1948, and they were now blockading West Berlin, trying to strangle the city into submission.

He thought there was a war on, a "cold war," and he feared that the Western nations were losing it. One reason we were losing, he thought, was that public opinion had been blinded to the true nature of Soviet communism. In part, this blinding was the product of understandable gratitude for the Soviet Union's immense role in defeating Nazism. However, it was also the work of a poisonous array of naive and sentimental admirers of the Soviet system, declared Communist Party (CP) members, covert ("crypto-") communists, and paid Soviet spies. It was these people, he suspected, who had made it so difficult for him to get his anti-Soviet fable Animal Farm published in the last year of the last war. [...]

"Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent," Orwell wrote of Gandhi just a few months before he sent Celia the list. Orwell's rule must now apply to Orwell himself, the Saint George of English political writing. Yet even when all possible files are released and a scrupulous historian has weighed all the available evidence on IRD, the BBC, and the rest, his "innocence" can never finally be proven. Perhaps Orwell would anyway not want to plead innocent but rather growl "guilty as charged." It all depends on the charge.

If the charge is that Orwell was a cold warrior, the answer is plainly yes. Orwell was a cold warrior even before the cold war began, warning against the danger of Soviet totalitarianism in Animal Farm when most people were still celebrating our heroic Soviet ally. He appears in the Oxford English Dictionary as the first writer ever to use the term "cold war" in English. He had fought with a gun in his hand against fascism in Spain, and was wounded by a bullet through his throat. He fought communism with his typewriter, and hastened his death by the exertion.

If the charge is that he was a secret police informer, the answer is plainly no. IRD was an odd cold war outfit, but it was nothing like a Thought Police. Unlike that dreadful genius Bertolt Brecht, Orwell never believed that the end justified the means. Again and again, we find him insisting to Richard Rees that you have to treat each case individually. He opposed the banning of the Communist Party in Britain. The Freedom Defence Committee, of which he was vice-chairman, thought political vetting of civil servants a necessary evil, but insisted that the person concerned should be represented by a trade union, that corroborative evidence must be produced, and that the accused should be allowed to cross-examine those giving evidence against him. Hardly the methods of the KGB —or, indeed, of MI5 or the FBI during the cold war. He told Celia that he approved of the aims of IRD; this does not mean that he would have approved of their subsequent methods.

The list invites us to reflect again on the asymmetry of our attitudes toward Nazism and communism. Orwell liked making lists. In a London Letter to Partisan Review in 1942 he wrote, "I think I could make out at least a preliminary list of the people who would go over" to the Nazi side if the Germans occupied England. Suppose he had. Suppose his list of crypto-Nazis had gone to the Political Warfare Executive. Would anyone be objecting?

The long-overdue publication of the IRD list also highlights the vital distinction, so often blurred, between Orwell's private notebook and the list he sent to Celia at the Foreign Office. Readers may, according to taste, be more shocked or amused by the entries in his notebook. There is about them a touch of the old imperial policeman, a hint of the spy, as well as a generous dose of his characteristic, gruff black humor. (He includes someone from the "Income Tax Dep't" in his notebook list: bloody communists, those tax inspectors.) But all writers are spies. They peek, like Fay Weldon in Carlton House Terrace. They secretly write things down in notebooks.

One aspect of the notebook that shocks our contemporary sensibility is his ethnic labeling of people, especially the eight variations of "Jewish?" (Charlie Chaplin), "Polish Jew," "English Jew," or "Jewess." Orwell's entire life was a struggle to overcome the prejudices of his class and generation; here was one he never fully overcame.

What remains most unsettling about the list he actually sent is the way in which a writer whose name is now a synonym for political independence and journalistic honesty is drawn into collaboration with a bureaucratic department of propaganda, however marginal the collaboration, "white" the propaganda, and good the cause. In the files of the IRD, you find the kind of bureaucratic language that we now habitually describe as Orwellian or Kafkaesque. Next to the very personal handwritten letter from Orwell ("Dear Celia...with love, George") in FO 1110/189 is a typewritten communication from the British embassy in Moscow: "Dear Department," it begins, and is signed, surreally, "yours ever, Chancery."

Yet perhaps we should not be surprised, for Orwell knew this kind of world from inside, and drew on it for his "awful book." While 1984 was a warning against totalitarianism of both the Nazi (that is, National Socialist) and communist (that is, Soviet Socialist) kind -- hence "Ingsoc" -- much of the physical detail was derived from his experience of wartime London, working in the BBC, itself a considerable British bureaucracy in close touch with the Ministry of Information and home to the original Room 101.

Read in its totality, this is a favorable piece, but note things like "He thought there was a war on..." and "drawn into collaboration with a bureaucratic department of propaganda" and the failure to discuss the beliefs and actions of those, like Walter Duranty, who appear on the list. Was there not a war on? Is it possible, in the context of wartime, to "collaborate" with your own government? Did Walter Duranty not help cover up Soviet atrocities?

The pertinent point here is the "asymmetry of our attitudes toward Nazism and communism" and the enduring hatred of the intellectual class for anti-communists. Had the list named crypto-Nazis, Nazi sympathizers, and fascist fellow travelers, no one on the Left would blink an eye.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:18 AM


Plot to assassinate Arafat feared (Ala Mashharawi, 12/09/2003, Gulf News)

Palestinians have thrown a tight security cordon around President Yasser Arafat fearing his assassination by unconventional means that could be construed as "a natural death", highly informed sources told Gulf News yesterday.

The new security steps include searching and clo-se monitoring of all Arafat's visitors. The sources said that one speculated method of assassination could be the direction of poisonous rays towards Arafat's brain.

These rays can cause palpitations in the heart leading to a failure of brain resulting in gradual stop in breathing and ultimate death.

"It is only curable by a specific antidote as in the bungled assassination of Khaled Mashal the head of Hamas political bureau in Jordan several years ago," the sources said.

Fools! Your puny bodies won't protect him from our Death Ray! Bwahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

Evil reptilian kitten-eater from space? (GRAEME SMITH, 9/13/03, Globe & Mail)

The increasingly nasty tone of Progressive Conservative rhetoric in the Ontario election campaign reached a point that made even Tory Leader Ernie Eves uncomfortable yesterday after his staff issued a press release calling Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty "an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet."

though the Canadians do at least appear to be kidding...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 AM

WHAT'S A 401k?

Rapid Growth Seen for U.S. Economy (EDMUND L. ANDREWS, September 13, 2003, NY Times)

The American economy finally seems poised to roar ahead at rates not seen since the late 1990's, but economists and some political analysts say the surge may not help President Bush's re-election campaign next year.

A wide range of data suggests that the economy will probably grow at an annual rate of nearly 5 percent in the final months of this year and nearly 4 percent next year — rates that would normally be spectacular news for an incumbent president.

But in a disparity with no real parallels in the last half-century, most economists predict that unemployment will remain almost unchanged at nearly 6 percent through the elections in November 2004.

The incongruous pattern of rapid growth with a stagnant job market stems primarily from an extraordinary gain in productivity, which has allowed companies to produce far more goods with far fewer people. Industrial production has jumped 5 percent since the last recession ended in late 2001, but companies have eliminated one million jobs over the same period.

The political fallout could be bigger than even the job statistics suggest, because most of the job losses have been in manufacturing, a significant sector for many of the most important swing states in the next election: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Illinois. [...]

And there are other timing issues. Even if statistics suggest the economy is red hot by early next year, it might take several more months for large numbers of voters to actually feel better about their prospects.

New data released today suggested that people are still nervous. Consumer confidence unexpectedly dropped slightly last month, according to the University of Michigan's latest monthly survey. And retail sales, which climbed rapidly this summer, rose only 0.6 percent last month, short of expectations.

"Public opinion and consumer confidence are lagging indicators because people need to feel the changes in their own lives," said Andrew Kohut, executive director of the Pew Research Center.

At over-full employment levels at the end of the 90s we got to 4% unemployment. Suppose were at 6% going into the election. But, in the meantime, the other 94% (I know, it's not that high) have 401k's that are just cranking. Do we really think a booming economy isn't going to help the President?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:08 AM


One problem with this cartoon, while Chile today does resemble the United States, it did not in 1973.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 AM


Two years of gibberish: The garbled utterances of the left after 9/11 merely flattered the arguments of warmongers. (Geoffrey Wheatcroft, September 2003, Prospect)

[...] 11th September was a day when consciousness changed. To look back at the responses which the murder evoked from the literary and political intelligentsia is to see something more than many clever and famous people making fools of themselves (enjoyable though that is). Here was a turning point. The mass murder in New York came just over four years after the death of Princess Diana. Writing here about that event, I said that the beatification of Diana by some alleged radicals demonstrated more vividly then anything since the fall of the Berlin wall the final bankruptcy of a large part of the progressive tradition 200 years after 1789. What was said and written after "9/11" might have been the formal declaration of that bankruptcy. [...]

Two years later, the sorriest consequence of all this has become much clearer. Because the critics of the Bush administration and Blair government made themselves so ridiculous in the aftermath of 11th September, the proper case against the Iraq war was subsequently much weakened. Sane critics of Bush and Blair must have been embarrassed by the sheer emptiness of the Voices for Peace, one of the instant books which came out in autumn 2001, in which Mark Steel, Ronan Bennett, Annie Lennox ("I'm sorry, but I just don't get it"), George Monbiot ("Let's make this the era of collateral repair"), Anita Roddick ("We must shift from a private greed to a public good") and other usual or unusual suspects were rounded up, along with Adrian Mitchell (yes, also still with us), who rather lamely reprinted his old favourite "Tell me lies about Vietnam," which must have taken a few wrinklies back to the 1960s.

These unthinking "radicals" provoked more than just amusement mixed with irritation-they induced a sense of despair. They simply had nothing to say-as they showed when they were asked for more practical advice. If Alice Walker's suggestion that Bin Laden should be reminded of all the good, nonviolent things he has done was one of the most remarkable entries in this whole sottisier, it wasn't much different in kind from the fatuities on offer elsewhere. Paul Foot led the way by telling Bush, "first, cut off your aid to the state of Israel." This was like saying, first, conquer the law of gravity, or, first, fly to Venus.

Other pundits came close to admitting defeat. "There is no real solution," John Mortimer sighed, and Jon Snow added limply that "There has to be a complete re-evaluation of how the world ticks." Tom Paulin did have a pragmatic answer-"I'm in favour of the symbolic notion of dropping food parcels into Afghanistan"-and Bruce Kent suggested that the al Qaeda leaders should be tried in absentia: "I would even go as far as combing through their bank accounts."

A crucial distinction was hereby discarded. An invasion of Afghanistan was, arguably, morally justifiable, militarily feasible, and in any case politically inevitable. No American president who had failed to respond with physical force could have remained in office. If the attacks had been carried out by an identifiable state, no one but a pure pacifist would have denied that the US had a casus belli. If there had been an equivalent casus belli in the case of Iraq then that war would have been very different. There wasn't, of course: the Bush and Blair regimes had to cook up a false case for a war which had been decided upon years ago, which some of the bright sparks in the Washington administration had been publicly advocating for six years, and for which 11th September provided less a reason than a pretext. But saying that the Iraq war was and remains legally and morally unjustifiable would have been much more cogent if it hadn't been for the earlier fatheaded "voices for peace," whose unintended effect was to make almost any case for war seem more plausible.

Two years on, one further lesson not easily seen at the time-not on the day we all watched the aircraft sharking in, the falling bodies, the crumpling towers, nor in the weeks afterwards when our clerisy gave such an egregious performance-emerges more clearly. The liberal left has forgotten the grammar of pacificism: not absolute rejection of violence but liberal noninterventionism, the noble doctrines of Cobden and Bright. Plenty of the self-styled "dissenters" of two years ago evidently followed a new doctrine. Armed force may be justified, but not if it in any way coincides with British or American national interest. This is almost the opposite of what Bright advocated: armed violence should be restricted to the basic defence of the nation; otherwise although one may have sympathy with suffering peoples across the globe, "it is not my business to make my country the knight-errant of the human race." It was because the left had forgotten Bright's dictum that Tony Blair was able to wrong-foot his party over Iraq.

A clue to this sorry performance may be found in the relationship between the literary-academic left in the west-or "what's left of the left"-and militant Islam. On the face of it they should be opposite magnetic poles. So they once were. The Enlightenment knew what to say about religions, all of them: "Écrasez l'infame!" In the 19th century, the progressive party believed that one of the reasons for European superiority over the benighted regions of Asia and Africa was the conquest of superstition.

Today, credulous doting on Islam is not just an expression of western self-hatred. On the face of it, Islam and the western left have nothing in common at all. But they do, in fact, something profoundly important. They share the common experience of defeat.

Were he a bit more perceptive, Mr. Wheatcroft would realize that this vacuous Left is the ultimate expression of Enlightenment.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 AM


Bred for Power: The Protestant Establishment, which produced both the Deans
and the Bushes, had a formula for producing leaders. Our culture, which is freer and fairer, does not. (DAVID BROOKS, 9/13/003, NY Times)

If you were to pick a presidential candidate on the basis of social standing -- and really, darling, who doesn't -- you'd have to pick Howard Brush Dean III over George Walker Bush. The Bush lineage is fine. I'm not criticizing. But the Deans have been here practically since Mayflower days and in the Social Register for generations. It's true Bush's grandfather was a Wall Street financier, a senator and a Yale man, but Dean's family has Wall Street financiers going back to the Stone Age, and both his grandfathers were Yale men.

The Bush family properties were in places like Greenwich, Conn., and Kennebunkport, Me., which is acceptable, but the Dean piles were in Oyster Bay, on Hook Pond in East Hampton and on Park Avenue, a list that suggests a distinguished layer of mildew on the family fortune.

Again, I'm not suggesting the Bushes are arrivistes. Howard Dean's grandmother asked George Bush's grandmother to be a bridesmaid at her wedding, and she wouldn't have done that if the family were in any way unsound. I'm just pointing to gradations. Dean even went to a slightly more socially exclusive prep school, St. George's, while Bush made do with Andover before they both headed off to Yale. [...]

Both Bush and Dean have amazing faith in their gut instincts. Both have self-esteem that is impregnable because it derives not from what they are accomplishing but from who they ineffably are. Both appear unplagued by the sensation, which destroyed Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, that there is some group in society higher than themselves.

Both are bold. Bush is an ambitious war leader, and Dean has set himself off from all the cautious, poll-molded campaigns of his rivals.

Both were inculcated with something else, a sense of chivalry. Unlike today's top schools, which are often factories for producing Résumé Gods, the WASP prep schools were built to take the sons of privilege and toughen them into paragons of manly virtue. Rich boys were sent away from their families and shoved into a harsh environment that put tremendous emphasis on athletic competition, social competition and character building. [...]

The Protestant Establishment is dead, and nobody wants it back. But that culture, which George Bush and Howard Dean were born into, did have a formula for producing leaders. Our culture, which is freer and fairer, does not.

He lost me there. We do want the leaders produced by the Protestant Establishment but we don't want the Protestant Establishment? Does that even make sense? It's unsurprising that a system designed to build young mens' character has served up our leaders. Why wouldn't we want to maintain such a system?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 AM


Quiet Voice Urges Europe to Carry a Bigger Stick: Tzvetan Todorov, a soft-spoken outsider in French intellectual circles, argues in a new book that Europe should abandon its pacifism and rearm. (ALAN RIDING, 9/13/03, NY Times)

[Tzvetan Todorov] shares the diagnosis of Europe's basic dilemma -- that its "soft" power of diplomacy, foreign aid and multilateralism can be effective only if twinned with "hard" military power -- that was offered by Robert Kagan in a much-debated article last year in the Hoover Institution's Policy Review, later expanded and published as a book, Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order.

"The New World Disorder" is one of several new French books to address the current global crisis. In "West Versus West," the French philosopher André Glucksmann offers a strong defense of Washington's invasion of Iraq. And in another, "In the Name of the Other: Reflections on the Coming Anti-Semitism," Alain Finkielkraut warns that anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism are becoming synonymous in some parts of the world.

What perhaps distinguishes Mr. Todorov's book, though, is its lack of stridency. Even in print, his voice is soft. A prolific author, he has covered a vast spectrum of theoretical and historical subjects in his books, ranging from literary criticism to essays about Soviet-era concentration camps in Bulgaria and about how Bulgaria's Jews were in the main saved from Nazi slaughter. In this book, his first to address today's world, he again tries to apply reason over emotion.

"You cannot place immediate contentment before everything else," Mr. Todorov said, echoing Mr. Kagan's view that Europe's concern for preserving its "paradise" -- its comfortable way of life -- had made it insular and ineffective as a global political force. "You must be able to defend your values."

That misses the point almost entirely: insularity, ineffectiveness, and the futile search for immediate contentment are values too and they are the values of modern Europe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 AM


AUDIO: Commentary: Leni and Eddie (Andrei Codrescu, 9/12/03, NPR: All Things Considered)

Commentator Andrei Codrescu muses on the deaths of two figures of 20th century history who died this week: Leni Riefenstal, the German filmmaker who captured images of Adolf Hitler that shaped the dictator's propaganda image, and Edward Teller, the Hungarian Jew who was considered the father of the H-bomb. Both lived to a ripe old age. They survived, says Andrei, in part because the things they created didn't ruin our lives.

Mr. Codrescu's commentaries are uniformly unlistenable, but he established his notorious reputation as a flaming anus several years ago when he used a Christmas commentary to wax ecstatic about the idea of a Christian Holocaust, NPR apologizes for Codrescu's remark that 'crossed a line of tolerance' (Current, Jan. 15, 1996):
Codrescu's Dec. 19 All Things Considered commentary derided the belief, held by some Christians, that at world's end all those who are "saved" will ascend immediately to Heaven and the rest of the population will suffer Armageddon and wind up in Hell. Reading from a pamphlet he was handed on the street, Codrescu said that believers in the "rapture" predict that more than 4 million people will depart in less than a fifth of a second. He went on to say that "The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place."

"As soon as it aired, we realized it shouldn't have made it to air," says NPR spokesperson Kathy Scott. "We started working on an apology before we got any reaction." [...]

The apology expressed regrets for the "vulgar term" Codrescu used and his statement that the world would be better off without the believers. "Those remarks offended listeners and crossed a line of taste and tolerance that we should have defended with greater vigilance," NPR said. "We spoke with Andrei who told us he would like to apologize for what--with hindsight--he regards as an inappropriate attempt at humor. It's one he regrets. And so does NPR."

But Codrescu says he's sorry only for using the word "crap." "I had no idea they were going to apologize on my behalf. They said some staff members were upset and I said I was sorry I had upset them and didn't intend to."

Codrescu says he's mad at NPR, but will probably continue doing pieces. "It's a natural reaction to try and come back and say something even more offensive," he says, "but I don't know ... ."

It's too bad he wasn't mad enough to stop, because his commentary yesterday was even more despicable. It was one thing to engage in hate speech about a group of people, quite another to, as he did, refer to Edward Teller, a genuine American patriot, as "evil", to compare him to Leni Riefenstal, wo served Hitler, and to conclude by implying that Mr. Teller is now in Hell. Honorable people can disagree about Mr. Teller's faith in nuclear weapons as a deterrent, but no one can deny that to the best of his great ability he sought to use his scientific genius to defend freedom against totalitarianism. Equating his life's work with that of Ms Riefenstal, who used her genius to the opposite end, is nothing more than a liberal smear of the most heinous kind.

-Riefenstahl's Art and Atrocity: The director's 'Triumph of the Will' glorified the Nazis, and not even the genius of Luis Buñuel could change that. (Carlos Fuentes, September 12, 2003, LA Times)

The death of German director Leni Riefenstahl on Sept. 9 brings back memories of a story Luis Buñuel told me once.

During World War II, the great Spanish director worked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. A refugee of the Spanish Civil War, a Franco opponent disillusioned with Hollywood and the impossibility of making personal cinema in California, Buñuel found refuge in the illustrious New York museum.

It was there that he was charged with an impossible mission: Take Riefenstahl's filmed evocation of the Nuremberg rallies, "Triumph of the Will," and turn it from an epic of Nazi exaltation to a weapon in the fight against Nazism.

Buñuel conscientiously went about this task, inspired by his own anti-fascist convictions but also, inevitably, by his respect for the aesthetic quality of Riefenstahl's film.

Once he finished, Buñuel held a private screening for his friends Charlie Chaplin and film director René Clair. Each time Adolf Hitler appeared on screen, Chaplin, Buñuel told me, convulsed with laughter, pointing his index finger at the Führer and exclaiming: "He is imitating me! You see that? He doesn't do anything but imitate me!" Chaplin was referring to his splendid and corrosive parody, "The Great Dictator," in which his Hitler look-alike, re-baptized as Adenoid Hinkel, plays a classic scene in cinematic history, dancing with the globe.

If Chaplin laughed uncontrollably, Clair kept a somber, Gallic silence. As accomplished as Buñuel's version was, Clair couldn't stop worrying about the powerful aesthetic of the film - the way Riefenstahl's montages, her angular takes, her able evocation of the Greco-Roman epic, the cult of the body, its pagan fascination, revolutionized what film could do and defied Buñuel's attempt to turn pro-Hitler images into anti-Hitler propaganda.

Riefenstahl was a Nazi but she was also an artist, and it seemed impossible to untangle the two. Clair suggested that Buñuel's version be shown to the president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The screening took place in the White House and the verdict was forceful: "Do not show this film. Preserve it, but do not show it. If the public sees it, they will be convinced that the Nazis are invincible. It is a film that will demoralize our war effort."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 AM


A Lesson for Baghdad: The experience of another recent nation-building effort, in East Timor, is a cautionary tale for Iraq and Afghanistan. (BRENNON JONES, 9/13/03, NY Times)

On his recent trip to Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called for the speedy recruitment and training of former Iraqi military officers to keep the peace in their country. He made a similar suggestion at his next whistle stop, Afghanistan. It's a logical idea, but the experience of another recent nation-building effort, in East Timor, is a cautionary tale.

East Timor has a population of 800,000 -- minuscule in comparison to Iraq and Afghanistan, each with 25 million -- and the combined police and defense forces will in the end be some 6,000 men and women. Bringing these forces up to international standards, and to the point where they have earned the respect of the local population, has taken more than three years of extensive training by the United Nations and countries including Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Portugal. [...]

While it's great to call for swift elections, democracy and the rule of law, these are hardly achievable if burdens are placed too quickly on undertrained domestic security forces. Training and equipping a fledgling force cannot be done quickly or on the cheap. The force must be taught to respect human rights, to treat the community with respect, and to use nonlethal crowd-control measures.

Three or four years? How long does it take a metropolitan area to train a cop or the U.S. military to train a soldier?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 AM


An Interview with Richard Brookhiser (Kevin Holtsberry, September 12, 2003)

Richard Brookhiser is an author I admire a great deal. His insightful and elegant "moral biographies" are a great read and full of great history. Trust me, as someone who has spent some time in graduate school, this is a rare quality. Brookhiser is also a Senior Editor of National Review. If I remember correctly he was an intern at NR at a very young age and has been there practically ever since. Mr. Brookhiser is also a columnist for the The New York Observer and his writings have appeared in "The New Yorker," "The Atlantic Monthly," and "The New York Times." If you think you have him pegged read his interesting testimony before Congress on the use of medical marijuana.

Brookhiser's most recent book is Gentleman Revolutionary : Gouverneur Morris, the Rake Who Wrote the Constitution, an engaging biography of largely unknown founding father. In addition to this book, he has written several others including "Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington," Alexander Hamilton, American, and "America's First Dynasty: The Adamses, 1735-1918."

I thought this would be a great time to ask Mr. Brookhiser a few questions and he graciously agreed. I will post a review of the book soon but let me peak your interest with some Q&A. [...]

Q: Morris witnessed the American and French revolutions up close. What do you think he perceived as the crucial difference between the two? Similarities?

The great difference was that Americans had a century's experience of self-rule in their colonial governments (Morris's father, unlce and grandfather had all been colonial-era politicians.) Frenchmen, living under absolutism, had none. The French, he wrote, "want an American constitution, without reflecting that they have not American citizens to support" it.

He saw no similarities, apart from the fortuitous reappearance of several figures in both revolutions-Lafayette, Thomas Paine. [...]

Q: What is in your mind the legacy of Morris?

The Preamble of the Constituion, especially the words "We the People," which prophetically shift power from the states to the people. Lincoln would begin the Gettysburg Address by recalling the Declaration-"the proposition that all men are created equal." He ended it by recalling the Preamble-"that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth." [...]

Q: I have to ask: Do you read blogs (besides The Corner)? Any in particular?

I read The Daily Dish and Instapundit. After 9/11 I read Debka until I figured out how it works. Half of it is stuff that Israeli intelligence found interesting twenty four hours ago. The rest is stuff that made some Israeli intelligence agent say, "Why are you putting this crap on my desk? Give it to Debka."

We're big fans of both Mr. Holtsberry and Mr. Brookhiser and that description of Debka is especially amusing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 AM


The Hardest Stuff (PAT JORDAN, September 14, 2003, NY Times Magazine)

The year 2003 may go down as the year the stat geeks won over organized baseball, converting the evaluation of talent from art into science. But there are still some things about the game that don't yield so easily to cold calculus, and chief among them is the mystique of the fire-balling pitcher, the guy who pitches close to and can break the 100-mile-per-hour mark. According to Robert Adair, a physicist and professor emeritus at Yale University and the author of ''The Physics of Baseball,'' throwing a ball this hard transcends the ordinary parameters of the game. ''It's really at the edge of what human beings can do,'' Adair told me.

Every major-league team has a designated flamethrower or two on its roster, but only a handful of all these pitchers get near 100. Still, the 10 or so pitchers who can break 100 m.p.h. make up what might be the largest such group to ever play in the major leagues at one time. Just as hitters have bulked up and are becoming ever more menacing at the plate, pitching technique and training have advanced, too. An arms race is under way. Lou Medina, who has been scouting for eight years, the last three for the Kansas City Royals, said that although he has never registered a 100-m.p.h. pitch on his own radar gun, he has ''no doubt that someday kids on every team will be hitting 100 m.p.h.''

There is an old baseball axiom that says, ''Hitters murder fastballs.'' But nobody murders a 100-m.p.h. fastball. Jim Thome, of the Philadelphia Phillies, has called the fastball the best pitch in the game: ''I don't think people understand how difficult it is to hit a fastball.'' And he's talking about the garden-variety 95-m.p.h. fastball. The difference between a 97-m.p.h. fastball and a 100-m.p.h. fastball, says Jeff Bagwell of the Houston Astros, ''is that sometimes you don't see it until it's in your face. It's a macho confrontation. You can see it in a pitcher's eyes -- he wants to dominate you. I like that.'' Adair said a 100-m.p.h. fastball reaches the catcher four-tenths of a second after it leaves the pitcher's hand. A batter has fifteen-hundredths of a second to react to a 100-m.p.h. fastball. ''The ball,'' Adair said, ''moves faster than you can move your eyes.''

The stat geeks are officially neutral on the importance of the 100-m.p.h. pitch -- whether an out is recorded off a blazing fastball or a fluttering knuckler makes no difference to them. And they are leery of old-school scouts who tend to be overly impressed with rudimentary gifts like velocity, while overlooking the other skills that make a major-league pitcher successful. But there's one thing that everyone in the baseball world agrees on -- there is no more valuable player than a pitcher who does not even allow the opposing team to put the ball in play. And 100-m.p.h. fastballs, if thrown consistently for strikes (an admittedly big if), are one of the best ways for a pitcher to accomplish that. When that go-ahead run is on third in the ninth inning with nobody out during the September playoff push, every general manager in contention is going to wish he had a 100-m.p.h. arm on his staff, and if he doesn't, he's going to wonder where in the world one might be found.

As the essay continues, Mr. Jordan--whose memoir, False Spring, is not only a great baseball book but great literature about squandered gifts--finds three 100 mph arms.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 AM


The Latest Obscenity Has Seven Letters: The word "Fascist" once meant Hitler or Mussolini, but it has become so elastic that it's used today for bin Laden or Bush. (ALEXANDER STILLE, 9/13/03, NY Times)

A few years after the end of World War II, George Orwell wrote that the "the word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies `something not desirable.' "

Since then the term fascist has gone in and out of fashion several times. In the late 1960's, the time of civil rights and Vietnam War protests, it was widely used to describe everything from police brutality to compulsory bedtime for children. With the waning of the cold war it seemed to go out of vogue: how could there be fascism without its historical adversary, communism?

But since Sept. 11, the term fascist appears to be making something of a comeback.

Not long after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Christopher Hitchens adopted the term "Islamic fascism" to describe Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and other forms of militant Islamic fundamentalism. More recently Paul Berman, in his book "Terror and Liberalism," uses the fascist analogy to defend the United States invasion of Iraq, applying the term to both the regime of Saddam Hussein and various manifestations of Islamic fundamentalism.

Meanwhile, in what many people see as a particularly far-fetched usage, some on the left are dusting off the political vocabulary of the 1920's and 30's to describe policies of the Bush administration that they find antidemocratic: aggressive unilateralism in foreign affairs, the doctrine of pre-emptive force and what they perceive as the abridgment of civil liberties in the war on terror. Just this week, protesters were flashing signs emblazoned with the word fascist during Attorney General John Ashcroft's speeches in favor of the antiterrorism laws.

The following seems like a pretty good discussion of fascism--though it seems more geared towards Nazism than toward other more benevolent forms such as those of Franco's Spain and Pinochet's Chile--and by its terms you can see both why Islamicism is referred to as an iteration of fascism and why it's idiotic to speak of the Bush administration as fascist, What is Fascism?: Some General Ideological Features (Matthew N. Lyons, Public Eye):
Fascism is a form of extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties. It emphasizes a myth of national or racial rebirth after a period of decline or destruction. To this end, fascism calls for a "spiritual revolution" against signs of moral decay such as individualism and materialism, and seeks to purge "alien" forces and groups that threaten the organic community. Fascism tends to celebrate masculinity, youth, mystical unity, and the regenerative power of violence. Often, but not always, it promotes racial superiority doctrines, ethnic persecution, imperialist expansion, and genocide. At the same time, fascists may embrace a form of internationalism based on either racial or ideological solidarity across national boundaries. Usually fascism espouses open male supremacy, though sometimes it may also promote female solidarity and new opportunities for women of the privileged nation or race.

Fascism's approach to politics is both populist--in that it seeks to activate "the people" as a whole against perceived oppressors or enemies--and elitist--in that it treats the people's will as embodied in a select group, or often one supreme leader, from whom authority proceeds downward. Fascism seeks to organize a cadre-led mass movement in a drive to seize state power. It seeks to forcibly subordinate all spheres of society to its ideological vision of organic community, usually through a totalitarian state. Both as a movement and a regime, fascism uses mass organizations as a system of integration and control, and uses organized violence to suppress opposition, although the scale of violence varies widely.

Fascism is hostile to Marxism, liberalism, and conservatism, yet it borrows concepts and practices from all three. Fascism rejects the principles of class struggle and workers' internationalism as threats to national or racial unity, yet it often exploits real grievances against capitalists and landowners through ethnic scapegoating or radical-sounding conspiracy theories. Fascism rejects the liberal doctrines of individual autonomy and rights, political pluralism, and representative government, yet it advocates broad popular participation in politics and may use parliamentary channels in its drive to power. Its vision of a "new order" clashes with the conservative attachment to tradition-based institutions and hierarchies, yet fascism often romanticizes the past as inspiration for national rebirth.

The defining features would seem to be its totalitarian statism--which makes it similar to communism, Islamicism, socialism, etc.--and its tendency to organize the State around a single race, ethnic group, or, more esoterically, the idea of the nation.

To the extent that we can say what Osama bin Laden seeks, it seems fair to say that he envisions a a future in which all Arabs are united in a single Islamic state with every aspect of life governed by Islamic law.

To the extent that George Bush's conservatism can be boiled down to a single idea, it is the devolution of power from the state back to individuals, with a resulting restoration of society and dimunition of the State.

-DEFINITION: fas·cism (
-fascism (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001)
-Fascism (Wikipedia)
-Fascism in Europe (Internet Modern History Sourcebook )
-ETEXT: FASCISM -- What It Is and How To Fight It (Leon Trotsky's 1930-32)
-ESSAY: Revolution from the Right: Fascism (Roger Griffin, Oxford Brookes University)
-ESSAY: The New Fascism: Frightening extremist rhetoric from America’s critics. (Victor Davis Hanson, April 26, 2002, National Review)
-ESSAY: Economic Fascism (Thomas J. DiLorenzo)

So-called "corporatism" as practiced by Mussolini and revered by so many intellectuals and policy makers had several key elements: The state comes before the individual. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines fascism as "a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized, autocratic government." This stands in stark contrast to the classical liberal idea that individuals have natural rights that pre-exist government; that government derives its "just powers" only through the consent of the governed; and that the principal function of government is to protect the lives, liberties, and properties of its citizens, not to aggrandize the state.

Mussolini viewed these liberal ideas (in the European sense of the word "liberal") as the antithesis of fascism: "The Fascist conception of life," Mussolini wrote, "stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual."

Mussolini thought it was unnatural for a government to protect individual rights: "The maxim that society exists only for the well-being and freedom of the individuals composing it does not seem to be in conformity with nature's plans." "If classical liberalism spells individualism," Mussolini continued, "Fascism spells government."

The essence of fascism, therefore, is that government should be the master, not the servant, of the people.

-ESSAY: The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism (Dr. Lawrence Britt, Spring 2003, Free Inquiry)
-ESSAY: Flirting with Fascism: Neocon theorist Michael Ledeen draws more from Italian fascism than from the American Right. (John Laughland, June 30, 2003, The American Conservative)
-EXCERPT: Rational Fascism: Excerpted from Chapter 1 of Blackshirts and Reds (Michael Parenti)
-TEACHERS' GUIDE: Nazi Fascism and the Modern Totalitarian State
-REVIEW: of The Fascist Revolution: Toward a General Theory of Fascism. By George L. Mosse (Brian C. Anderson, First Things)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:12 AM


Patients in Florida Lining Up for All That Medicare Covers: Boca Raton, researchers agree, is a case study of what happens when people are given free rein to have all the medical care they could imagine. (GINA KOLATA, 9/13/03, NY Times)

Boca Raton, researchers agree, is a case study of what happens when people are given free rein to have all the medical care they could imagine. It is also a cautionary tale, they say -- timely as Medicare's fate is debated in Congress -- for it demonstrates that what the program covers and does not cover, and how much or how little it pays, determines what goes on in a doctor's office and why it is so hard to control costs.

South Florida has all the ingredients for lavish use of medical services, health care researchers say, with its large population of affluent, educated older people and the doctors to accommodate them. As a result, Dr. Elliott Fisher, a health services researcher at Dartmouth Medical School, said, patients have more office visits, see more specialists and have more diagnostic tests than almost anywhere else in the country. Medicare spends more per person in South Florida than almost anywhere else -- twice as much as in Minneapolis, for example.

But there is no apparent medical benefit, Dr. Fisher said, adding, "In our research, Medicare enrollees in high intensity regions have 2 to 5 percent higher mortality rates than similar patients in the more conservative regions of the country."

Doctors say that Medicare's policies are guiding medical practice, with many making calculated decisions about whom to treat and how to care for them based on what Medicare covers, and how much it pays. [...]

It is easy to find all these specialists, he said. "You get recommendations at the clubhouse, at the swimming pool. You go to a restaurant here and 9 times out of 10, before the meal is over, you hear people talking about a doctor or a medicine or a surgery." And of course there are the other patients in all those waiting rooms. Mr. Bloomberg even recommends specialists to his own doctors.

But some patients say they are frustrated by what they call a waste of resources. "The doctors are raping Medicare," said Louis Ziegler, a retired manufacturer of flight simulators who lives in Delray Beach.

Mr. Ziegler recalled going to a doctor for a chronic problem, a finger that sometimes freezes. All he wanted was a shot of cortisone. But he got more, much more: "I had diathermy. I had ultrasound. I had a paraffin massage. I had $600 worth of Medicare treatments to get my lousy $35 shot of cortisone."

Dr. Colton, the internist here, is frustrated, too.

"The system is broken," he said. "I'm not being a mean ogre, but when you give something away for free, there is nothing to keep utilization down. And as the doctor, you have nothing to gain by denying them what they want."

It may be a case study, but do you really need a study to know that when government pays for something it multiplies beyond all reason and its costs skyrocket?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:07 AM


U.S.-French Rift Reopened as Powell Arrives for Talks: Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said a French proposal to cut back the role of the American-led occupation in Iraq was unacceptable to the U.S. (STEVEN R. WEISMAN, 9/13/03, NY Times)

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, reopening the trans-Atlantic rift over Iraq -- this time about expanding the authority of the United Nations there -- said today that a French proposal to cut back the role of the American-led occupation was unacceptable. [...]

"Nobody wants to turn sovereignty back to the Iraqi people as fast as the United States does, President Bush does and I do," Mr. Powell told France 2, a television network. But he said that the American occupation under "can't suddenly just step aside and turn it over -- to whom?"

He said that "since the United States and its coalition partners have invested a great deal of political capital, as well as financial resources, as well as the lives of our young men and women -- and we have a large force there now -- we can't be expected to suddenly just step aside."

At another point, Mr. Powell said: "We can't simply cede all responsibility and authority to the U.N. The U.N. isn't ready to handle it. The U.N. has not asked for it."

Aboard his plane, Mr. Powell told reporters that despite the deep differences with France, it might be possible to find language on which all sides could agree. He suggested that France was talking about abstract notions of sovereignty, whereas Washington would be willing to make some practical compromises.

"It's easy to toss out nice theories about sovereignty, occupation and liberation and all that," he said. But he said that "as a practical matter" the United Nations was not "properly staffed" to handle the transition to self-government in Iraq. [...]

"We need to get out of some of the rhetorical arguments we're having," he told French television. "One I hear is that the United States believes in the logic of occupation. Nonsense. Every European should know that the United States of America has always believed in the logic of liberation."

Seems like just days ago that folks were prattling on about Colin Powell's views being in the ascendancy and the Administration's reversal of its policy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:57 AM


Usama’s strategic reasons behind the attacks (Walid Phares, September 13, 2003,

In a summarized manner the main goals behind the Jihadist onslaught on American soil are as follow:

1) Chaos

It is one certainty that the man who ordered the destruction of the American centers of finances, military and political powers aimed at creating national chaos in the United States. The mass killing of civilians, including personnel in the military bureaucracy doesn’t produce a battlefield defeat as in the case of Pearl Harbor by way of comparison. While the element of strategic surprise –infamy- was the most common characteristic between the two aggressions, Nippon ultimate goal was to break down US military power in the Pacific, hence removing American deterrence from Japanese immediate designs in Asia. In the case of al-Qaida the direct outcome sought by the Jihad war room from 9/11, was to bring chaos to the American mainland, even though US Task forces were not touched around the world. The real and first objective of the Ghazwa (Jihad raid as it was called by UBL) was to trigger a chain of reactions, both on the popular and political levels. He saw hundred thousand Americans in the streets exploding in anger against their Government as Israelis have done against their cabinets in the 1980s. He hoped Congress would split in two and get paralyzed, campuses would rebel and companies would collapse. He wanted chaos, and a divided nation, scared, and turning onto it self. He believed time was ripe for the fall of the giant. He had many reasons to believe so.

2) Backlash

If you were Bin Laden, or the product of his political culture, you’d anticipate revenge. Had similar events took place in his region of the world, whomever was the majority, or empowered community would have unleashed bloody punishments on the perceived kin aggressor. That’s how things are dealt with from the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans. Deep down, inside his instincts, Usama was expecting Americans to attack Arabs and Muslims in sort of pogroms. Not the 420 reported incidents –which by American standards are to be condemned at once- but the Sub-Indian style where thousands of armed civilians would wreck havoc in entire neighborhoods. He fantasized about Arab and Muslim blood spilled on the street, a la Middle East. Ironically, some Jihadist callers in the first days after 9/11 were reporting alleged backlashes live to al-Jazeera. Has such nightmare occurred in America, al-Qaida would have ruled in Muslim lands and recruited in the hundred thousands.

3) American wrath overseas

With chaos and ethnic wounds inside the country, the engineer of mass death projected American grapes of wrath abroad. Had he had such military power, and had his Caliphate been attacked in similar ways, he would have unleashed Armageddon against the infidel world. In reverse psychology, Bin Laden expected the US military to carpet bomb Afghanistan and many other places. He thought he’d draw the Yankee’s raw power into the entire Muslim world, and expected a global intifada to ensue. Interestingly enough the Jihadists anticipated millions of death in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Some indications lead me to guess that the Sultan of the Mujahedin wanted the great Satan to do the unthinkable and resort to dooms day devices.

Considering how freely people condemn Americans for not understanding the world beyond our shores, it's always remarkable to realize how little they understand us. As Mr. Phares makes clear, al Qaeda completely misjudged the effects of its attack on 9-11. The comparison to Pearl Harbor should have been instructive--in exchange for sinking a few ships, destroying some planes, and killing 2,400 Americans, the Japanese got a war that left three million of them dead to our 60,000 and their society transfigured in our image. Osama can't have been hoping for a similar result, but why'd he think he'd get one?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:43 AM


Ignoring radical racialism (John Leo, 9/15/03, US News)

The mainstream press has been doing a miserable job covering Cruz Bustamante's ties to the creepy Chicano secessionist group MEChA. This may not be the biggest story of the California recall election, but voters surely have a right to expect some actual information about the leading Democratic candidate's views of a group that is certainly racialist, if not racist.

A MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) slogan translates as "For the race everything. For those outside the race, nothing." El Plan de Aztlan, a founding document carried now on many MEChA Internet sites, talks about the "call of our blood" and the need to reclaim the Southwest (Aztlan) from "the occupying forces of the oppressor." As if the Nazi-like call to the power of blood isn't scary enough, Miguel Perez of Cal State-Northridge's MEChA raised the issue of ethnic cleansing. Once Aztlan has been taken over, he said, non-Chicanos "would have to be expelled" and opposition groups quashed "because you have to keep the power."

Bustamante is no wild-eyed radical. But he has had as much trouble renouncing his connection to MEChA as Trent Lott did in retracting his admiring comment on the Dixiecrats. Bustamante joined MEChA in his college years in the 1970s and has reportedly addressed MEChA groups since. Under heavy prodding at Fox News, he said he would be governor of all the people, but he has offered no direct disavowal of the group.

Now, it's safe to say that if a leading Republican candidate for governor had any ties at all to a MEChA-like group of white supremacists, past or present, 20 or so reporters would charge out of every California newsroom, eager to commit journalism. [...]

Defenders of MEChA portray it as a benign social group now distant from its radical roots. But that portrait is hard to square with the information put out on MEChA sites today. Those sites tell Chicanos not to work outside the bronze race and to condemn "multinational" alliances. And there are hints of violence. El Plan calls for "self-defense against the occupying forces of the oppressors" and mentions "the utilization of our bodies for war."

If this is leftover '60s bluster, why don't MEChA and Bustamante simply disavow it? The group may be harmless on some campuses, but it clearly positions itself as a virulent identity group with no interest in pluralism or tolerance. Why are the press and the Democrats giving a candidate with this kind of background a pass?

One of the more absurd moments of self-congratulatory insularism in the blog world came when Trent Lott was forced to give up his leadership post and folks convinced themselves that "alternate media" had been responsible. The fact of the matter was that big media took the story and beat a Republican senseless with it. Now we have a story that is almost exactly comparable but it involves a Democrat, so other than the occassional John Leo, where is the national feeding frenzy on this story? The media sharks are always circling, but no matter how much chum bloggers put in the water, they only attack when there's a Republican involved.

September 12, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 PM


Now, not even the womb is a private place (Anne Karpf, September 13, 2003, The Guardian)

Step aside, Mona Lisa. Your chiaroscuro smile can't compete with that of a 32-week-old baby, captured for the first time on ultrasound.

The suggestion of mirth so exquisitely evoked by Leonardo has now been recorded, thanks to 3D and 4D scanning techniques, prenatally. So why do I find these photos of smiling foetuses deeply disquieting?

It has nothing to do with the ethical debate, already cranking up, between those who see this as a brilliant technological advance enabling earlier surgical correction of deformities, and the anti-abortion lobby, intoxicated with evidence of a foetus's humanity.

What disturbs me is something different - the extension of the medical gaze back ever earlier in the human journey. Hitherto, the unborn baby existed as a cluster of possibilities, limited only by the parental imagination. Of course there were those who wanted to know its sex, and others who brandished their unborn baby's grainy ultrasound pix like holiday photos. But despite the normalisation of ultrasound and the growth of antenatal surveillance and intervention, the womb - for most of us - has remained a private place. [...]

I'm not a Luddite or much given to mysticism, but I find these photos a rude invasion into a mysterious, and in some sense sacred, space, and am relieved they didn't exist when I was pregnant.

Ms Karpf is correct that the womb should be a sacred place, but contrast that view with the one expressed in another essay from the Guardian.

New hi-tech scans show babies smiling and crying before birth (James Meikle, September 13, 2003, The Guardian)

Images published for the first time yesterday seem to suggest that unborn babies can smile, blink and cry weeks before they leave the womb.

The pictures of foetuses about 26 weeks after conception have been captured by state-of-the-art scanning equipment now being employed at some clinics and teaching hospitals.

Experts can now debate whether this apparent grin reflects an emotional response or is a simple physical reaction, helping prepare baby for the outside world.

The smile might appear at 26 weeks development, but the new techniques clearly show limb movements at eight weeks, the foetus leaping, turning and "jumping" at 11-12 weeks, intricate movement of fingers at 15 weeks and yawning at 20 weeks.

Obstetrician Stuart Campbell, who has been using the Austrian-developed equipment at the private Create Health Clinic, London, for two years, said: "It is remarkable that a newborn baby does not smile for about six weeks after birth. But before birth, most babies smile frequently. This may indicate the baby's trouble-free existence in the womb and the relatively traumatic first few weeks after birth when the baby is reacting to a strange environment." [...]

Prof Campbell said scanner techniques were improving. "Some mothers say: 'I feel I am almost cheating. I am enjoying my baby before it is born.'

"The bond between parents and baby is enormous. The reaction is overwhelming especially with fathers, who rarely get involved. Before they sat in the corner. Now they really show emotion. I enjoy scanning and looking at babies. It is so informative about babies and behaviour. Every scan is an adventure."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:09 PM


Cross at ground zero draws complaints from atheist group (The Associated Press, September 8, 2003)

A steel beam in the symmetrical shape of a cross -- a remnant from the World Trade Center wreckage -- has drawn criticism from an atheist group, which objects to the artifact being kept at ground zero as a religious emblem. [...]

"Many people who died on September 11 weren't Christian. There were Jews, Muslims, and atheists who died," Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists based in New Jersey, told The Trentonian newspaper for Monday's edition. "This is a Christian religious advertisement, and allowing it to stay there is an insult to everyone who doesn't believe in that