October 31, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 PM


Jindal takes 11-point lead in latest Kennedy poll (John Hill, October 30, 2003, Shreveport Times)

Jindal had 49 percent compared to Democrat Kathleen Blanco's 38 percent in the independent poll by Verne Kennedy of Marketing Research Insight of Pensacola, Fla.

Kennedy said Blanco's favorability rating - and her vote - has consistently dropped, from 66 percent on Oct. 13 to 58 percent on Oct. 22 to 47 percent this week.

Jindal's favorable rating has remained flat: 54 percent on Oct. 13, 54 percent on Oct. 22 and 55 percent today, Kennedy said.

The sample is small and the swing from prior polling ridiculous, but there's nothing harder in politics than moving your opponent's favorability rating without damaging your own. That Jindal managed it, at least in this poll, suggests he continues to run an especially good campaign. You'd still have to favor Blanco, but he's making it a race.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:33 PM


Mo’ Money, Mo’ GOP GovernorsDotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris, Beth Lester, Sean Sharifi and Clothilde Ewing, 10/31/03, CBS News)

Three days before the Nov. 4 Mississippi and Kentucky gubernatorial elections, Mr. Bush will head to DeSoto, Miss., for a rally with GOP candidate and former RNC chairman Haley Barbour, who’s locked in a tight race with Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. The president will then fly to Paducah, Ky., for a rally with Rep. Ernie Fletcher, who’s running against Democrat Ben Chandler to replace scandal-plagued Democratic Gov. Paul Patton. Mr. Bush and Fletcher will then travel to London, Ky., for another event before the president heads back to Gulfport, Miss., to campaign again with Barbour.

The GOP is salivating at expanding their hold on governorships with wins in Mississippi and Kentucky and the Nov. 15 Louisiana runoff. Before the California recall, the number of statehouses were split, 26 held by Republicans and 24 by Democrats. If the Republicans win on Tuesday, and polls show Barbour and Fletcher with shots at taking over those statehouses, they’ll have a 29-21 edge over the Democrats. The GOP would hold onto that advantage if Bobby Jindal defeats Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco in Louisiana.

Once again we see Mr. Bush doing something all too rare in the modern presidency--putting his own reputation at risk in order to boost his Party and its candidates. The pay-off last November was huge, but if Democrats were to take these three races--certainly a possibility--you can be certain that the stories that followed would portray it as a personal repudiation for him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:14 PM


The Opt-Out Revolution (LISA BELKIN, 10/26/03, NY Times Magazine)

Wander into any Starbucks in any Starbucks kind of neighborhood in the hours after the commuters are gone. See all those mothers drinking coffee and watching over toddlers at play? If you look past the Lycra gym clothes and the Internet-access cellphones, the scene could be the 50's, but for the fact that the coffee is more expensive and the mothers have M.B.A.'s.

We've gotten so used to the sight that we've lost track of the fact that this was not the way it was supposed to be. Women -- specifically, educated professional women -- were supposed to achieve like men. Once the barriers came down, once the playing field was leveled, they were supposed to march toward the future and take rightful ownership of the universe, or at the very least, ownership of their half. The women's movement was largely about grabbing a fair share of power -- making equal money, standing at the helm in the macho realms of business and government and law. It was about running the world. [...]

"I am so conflicted on this,'' says Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, an anthropologist and author of ''Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants and Natural Selection.'' Female primates, she says, are ''competitive'' in that they seek status within their social order. So it would follow that women strive for status too.

But there is an important qualifier. When primates compete, they do so in ways that increase the survival chances of their offspring. In other words, they do it for their children. ''At this moment in Western civilization,'' Hrdy says, ''seeking clout in a male world does not correlate with child well-being. Today, striving for status usually means leaving your children with an au pair who's just there for a year, or in inadequate day care. So it's not that women aren't competitive; it's just that they don't want to compete along the lines that are not compatible with their other goals. [...]

This, I would argue, is why the workplace needs women. Not just because they are 50 percent of the talent pool, but for the very fact that they are more willing to leave than men. That, in turn, makes employers work harder to keep them. It is why the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche has more than doubled the number of employees on flexible work schedules over the past decade and more than quintupled the number of female partners and directors (to 567, from 97) in the same period. It is why I.B.M. employees can request up to 156 weeks of job-protected family time off. It is why Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pa., hired a husband and wife to fill one neonatology job, with a shared salary and shared health insurance, then let them decide who stays home and who comes to the hospital on any given day. It is why, everywhere you look, workers are doing their work in untraditional ways.

Women started this conversation about life and work -- a conversation that is slowly coming to include men. Sanity, balance and a new definition of success, it seems, just might be contagious. And instead of women being forced to act like men, men are being freed to act like women. Because women are willing to leave, men are more willing to leave, too -- the number of married men who are full-time caregivers to their children has increased 18 percent. Because women are willing to leave, 46 percent of the employees taking parental leave at Ernst & Young last year were men.

Such a target rich environment, one barely knows where to start. Human behavior so obviously departing from both evolutionary and Left/feminist theory seems inviting enough, but who could pass up the delightful irony that women's "liberation" has ended up letting men quit the rat race while their wives go to work?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:42 PM


Why Be Partial to Israel? (Paul J. Cella, 10/20/2003, Tech Central Station) 

Patriotism is an understandable human sentiment. In its place, it is noble; though not as noble as Christian charity. But the problem with modern notions tracing their lineage from Christian charity is that they have abandoned its humanness in favor of abstract Humanity. The net is cast too wide. Men are asked to do something that is simply beyond most of them: for it is the very rare man indeed who cares intimately for those with whom he has no connection. It was not for nothing that Jesus Christ commanded us to love our neighbors, the word implying a certain nearness. Humanitarianism in the modern world lost its humanity, as it were. St. Francis was a real humanitarian: but he cared not one whit for Humanity, though he loved as a brother every human being he met; and his example set hearts aflame.
All this is to say that patriotism of that broader variety which includes the Jews of Palestine, whose society descends from our civilization, but excludes the Arabs of Palestine, whose society is part of our civilization's greatest historical rival and antagonist, is perfectly understandable, unavoidable, and ineffaceable. It is nothing to be ashamed of. To require of Americans that they hold out a fastidious abstract impartiality in this bloody conflict, a conflict so distant from them, is to simply misunderstand the nature of man. It is the victory of stale rationalism over sanity; abstraction over human sympathies. It is a very modern error.

Brother Cella brings up an important point--one that many on the Left, in Europe, and in the Islamic world seem not to have processed yet: the attitude on those who support the war on terror with regard to Islam might fairly be compared to that of Abraham Lincoln with regard to slavery when he reluctantly but forcefully prosecuted the Civil War:
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.

It would be preferable for Islam to reform itself and deal with the murderous thugs in its midst on its own. Failing that, it would be fine if a few wars and the application of moral, political, and economic pressure were to force a Reformation and bring the violence under control. But, let us have no illusions about it, if the violence continues or escalates--especially if the survival of Israel or any other Western nation were ever at stake--rather few will be troubled if the Israelis decimate the Palestinians and we the Sauds or the Pakistanis or the Syrians or whoever. The object of the struggle does not really concern Islam but the West. Islam, strange as it seems, is incidental to our ends.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:01 PM


CBS Forgets to Tell the Truth (Michael Reagan, Oct 31, 2003, Human Events)

They want to talk about his forgetfulness, but he never forgot the people of this country. He gave us all a tax break, created 19 million new jobs, and restored our faith in ourselves. He never forgot the hostages in Iran, who were freed the day that he was sworn in as President.

He never forgot the suffering people behind the Iron Curtain, living in squalor and poverty and under the gun for all those many years. He did everything he could to free them.

And he never forgot who he was, and where he had come from. He remembered being poor. He remembered struggling.

The important things he needed to know he never forgot.

Even the "worst" moment of his presidency was a function of his empathy for others' suffering: IranContra was about freeing Americans held hostage in Lebanon and about freeing the people of Nicaragua from Communist tyranny. It may have been unwise as policy--though we'd argue otherwise--but there was no shame in it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:48 PM


Does the culture retain no sense of shame whatsoever?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:56 AM


Cuddle up to India, US urged (Jim Lobe, 10/30/03, Asia Times)

Washington must devote "sustained and high-level attention" to India and Pakistan and be "more active" in helping the two nuclear-armed neighbors manage their conflicts, argues the "Chairmen's Report" of a joint task force on India and South Asia co-sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society. [...]

The group found that, after a long estrangement during the Cold War, US and Indian interests on all fronts "broadly coincide", to such an extent that Washington should treat India as a "friendly country", a status that would, for example, further ease restrictions on exports of sensitive "dual-use" technology that has military as well as civilian applications.

The report also called for a more sustained trade policy dialogue that could, among other things, result in a free trade accord on services, which could provide more hi-tech jobs for Indians in exchange for permitting US business to compete in finance, law, accounting and related professional services.

Potential obstacles to the consolidation of a "genuine partnership" with Washington over the coming years, the report says, include India's failure to further liberalize its economy; possible conflict with Pakistan; and the maintenance of India's social and communal peace, which, could be challenged by the rise of Hindu extremists in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Prospects for continued close ties with Pakistan, described as "one of the most complex and difficult challenges facing US diplomacy anywhere in the world today", are seen as considerably more problematic.

Perhaps it was necessary for them to do so for political purposes, but the report apparently leaves unstated the obvious point that India should be cultivated, the Pakistani military government tolerated, and the Afghan government propped up because they may all be helpful when the war on terror ends up in Western Pakistan, as it must. But among these three, India matters most because it can be counted on to enthusiastically help with the killing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 AM


Study finds cronyism in Iraq, Afghanistan contracts (Bryan Bender, 10/31/2003, Boston Globe)

Many of the companies that have received government contracts to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan have collectively contributed more money to President Bush's election campaigns than to any other candidate in more than a decade, according to a study released yesterday.

In one of the most detailed studies of postwar contracts, the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit government watchdog, found that at least 70 companies have been awarded a total of $8 billion in contracts in the past two years.

While some of the contractors were previously known to have ties to White House officials -- such as Halliburton, formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney -- the group found several lesser-known firms that also are linked to senior government officials. One small company's sole employee is married to a deputy assistant secretary of defense, the study found.

Allegations of cronyism were quickly denied yesterday by government officials and company spokesmen. But the report raised new questions about whether political allies of the White House or Congress are being repaid for their support with lucrative, taxpayer-funded contracts. Most of the 70 contracts -- for tasks ranging from restoring electricity to rebuilding ports and schools -- were put out to bid, but some were not.

This report is done precisely backwards. The interesting question would be: Has any American company capable of doing large scale reconstruction work been shut out of Iraq and does it not contribute to the GOP? The point is that there are a few companies in the world capable of doing the kind of work a Halliburton does. Was the Administration supposed to award the contracts to companies incapable of fulfilling them?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:08 AM


Analysis: Rumors of war (Claude Salhani, 10/30/03, UPI)

According to correspondents in Iraq, rumors are currently circulating around Baghdad that a major terrorist offensive against the U.S.-led coalition is imminent and could take place as early as this weekend.

Word has it that the armed resistance put up mainly by "foreign fighters" and remnants of the Iraqi Baath regime, are preparing "something big." The latter, the United States now believes, is being directed by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, vice-chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council and one-time deputy commander of the Iraqi armed forces. Al-Douri, a former army general who rose to the highest ranks of the ruling Baath Party, was a long-time confidant of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. His daughter was married to Saddam's son, Uday, who was killed last July.

In the months leading up to the invasion, Saddam and his associates had ample time to prepare for the U.S. assault, to stockpile weapons, money and plans for the post-invasion period. [...]

But back to the rumors of the "Ramadan offensive." In more specific terms, word on the street has it that a Tet-like assault is about to take place with hundreds of armed insurgents attacking one of Saddam's palaces, the one where the U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, is headquartered, secured behind concrete walls, concertina wire, and Abram M1-A1 tanks and heavy machine guns.

The "Flypaper Theory" has always seemed dubious, mostly because you'd like to think that evil masterminds aren't complete idiots and won't replicate the disaster that was Tet for the Vietcong (morons, after all, shouldn't have been able to kill 3,000 of our fellow citizens). However, the purveyors of terror have acted stupidly pretty much every chance they've had, so, while this rumor seems too good to be true, we can at least hope. One good Tet-offensive would likely conclude the after-war period.

Posted by David Cohen at 10:08 AM


October Diary (John Derbyshire, National Review Online, 10/30/03)

One of my lesser ambitions was fulfilled this month: I have been banned from the campus of a U.S. college on the strength of my opinions. The college in question, though perfectly respectable, is not very big or important, but I am flattered nonetheless. . . .

I was coming to this college to talk about analytic number theory, not homosexuality or "straight flight." It was not the topic of my address that bothered the lady, but my opinions about unrelated matters. Her position was not: "Mr. Derbyshire is coming here to voice unacceptable opinions." (A position that would be deplorable enough in itself. As if the minds of Midwestern liberal-arts students are so delicate they need to be shielded from dangerous ideas!) Her position was: "Mr. Derbyshire holds some opinions I consider extreme, and so I do not want him on my campus at all, in any capacity." She would presumably object to me being hired as a janitor on her campus, because of my opinions.

I would pay money to hear Mr. Derbyshire speak on any subject he chose, even obscure issues in number theory. Preferably, this would take place in a small group of likeminded people, over a good single malt and fine cigars. Nonetheless, conservatives should immediately champion the right of this college to block any speaker they want for any reason. There is never a bad reason to try to resuscitate the right of association.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:19 AM


Lawmakers Are Negotiating Import of Prescription Drugs (ROBERT PEAR, 10/31/03, NY Times)

House and Senate negotiators say they are seriously discussing proposals to allow imports of less expensive prescription drugs from Canada, as well as a plan to give the Food and Drug Administration more money and more authority to police the market.

The negotiators have worked for more than three months on a bill to revamp Medicare and to add drug benefits to the program. But until this week, they largely avoided the explosive issue of drug imports.

Lawmakers said they discussed it on Wednesday night and again on Thursday at meetings with Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services.

"We are considering it," said Representative Michael Bilirakis, Republican of Florida.

Since they both refused to support us at the Un in the Iraq war run-up, why not bankrupt Mexico and Canada by letting their taxpayers subsidize our drug dependency? They'll inevitably have to stop doing so and the program will die a natural death, but not before wiping out many National Health programs around the world. Plus you get the side benefit of a respite on R&D for new drugs as profit margins disappear. In one of those ironies that makes politics so much fun and human nature so amusing, reimportation is a totally counterproductive policy for the general purposes of those who support it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:03 AM


Are Happy Days Back for the Economy? Bush Hopes So (FLOYD NORRIS, October 31, 2003, NY Times)

Profits are soaring, the economy is expanding at its fastest rate in nearly two decades and there are signs that businesses are finally beginning to hire.

All that is in sharp contrast to the outlook just last winter. In February, share prices were falling, the economy was stumbling along at a growth rate of 1.4 percent and the talk among many seers was of the failure of cuts in taxes and interest rates to rescue the economy. Some feared the possibility of Japan-style deflation. [...]

The gross domestic product report showed that over the last six months, final sales to domestic purchasers rose at a 5.9 percent annual rate, well above the pace of late 1999, when growth was peaking.

Businesses were broadly unprepared for the recovery. The government guesses that inventories fell during the quarter, but there is a good chance that it is underestimating the decline. If so, the third-quarter growth rate will be revised down, but the needed inventory restocking will lift fourth-quarter growth.

This would be a good time for the media of the Right to begin pushing the term Bushonomics.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:57 AM


Japan: the rising specter of unemployment (Hussain Khan, 10/31/03, Asia Times)

Higher labor costs, yen appreciation resulting in the outsourcing of production facilities and growing computerization all point to a long-term structural increase in Japan's jobless. Due to heavy losses in labor-intensive sectors, companies are planning further outsourcing of their production facilities to countries where labor costs are much lower.

It is difficult to describe how profound these changes are in Japanese society. [...]

The banks are not alone in their restructuring plans. Sanyo is emblematic of the new and unsettling Japan. In the electrical goods manufacturing sector, as a part of its effort to provide secure employment, Sanyo continued to produce white goods at its domestic plants. But with the white goods business unlikely to stop bleeding red ink in the immediate future, Sanyo has decided to downsize its operations in Hyogo Prefecture and another in Shiga prefecture. The Hyogo plant is to cease production of vacuum cleaners, massage chairs and all other products by year-end and focus on research and development. The Shiga plant is scheduled to stop making microwave ovens, washing machines and double-tub washing machines by the end of this fiscal year.

As a result, sales from domestic production are expected to account for about 20 percent of the firm's overall home appliance sales, down sharply from the current 60 percent. Sanyo intends to reduce employees at the two plants from the current 1,250 to around 900 by April 2004 through relocations to other divisions and transfers to subcontractors. The company plans to maintain its product lineup by outsourcing production at the two plants to outside firms and transferring it to overseas factories. [...]

The effect of computerization on employment cannot be neglected. On the second day of the Nikkei Global Management Forum, Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive officer of US computer firm Sun Microsystems Inc, said information technology will bring about drastic changes in the corporate world. Since the spread of IT will render obsolete conventional ways of working, personnel ability and corporate activities, companies will have to adapt to the changes, for example, by reorganizing their employment structure, he said.

The Japanese economic miracle--built on the absurd notion that a developed nation could long endure as a mere assembly plant--has pretty much run its course. Now its core weaknesses--declining population, stifling of creative thinking and individuality, racism, centralized economic planning, lack of corporate transparency, etc.--come to the fore.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:33 AM


Life, Death, and Silence: Why the media elites won't tell the full story on Terri's prognosis and Michael Schiavo. (Wesley J. Smith, 10/31/2003, Weekly Standard)

[W]HY IS THE ESTABLISHMENT MEDIA covering the Schiavo story as if it wants Michael to succeed in his campaign to end Terri's life?

The establishment media usually reflects the attitudes of society's elites, who do generally believe that people like Terri are better off dead. On the other hand, talk-radio and the Internet--what I call dissident media--generated the unprecedented outpouring of support for Terri's life that culminated in Terri's Law. Members of the establishment disdain dissident media and perceive it to be a threat.

Thus, the Schiavo case has, for the mainstream media, become a potent symbol both of the culture wars--pro-life versus pro-choice--and an acute challenge by dissident media to its hegemony over news dissemination.

It's quite natural for the elites to support the notion that they should be allowed to choose who lives and who dies; it's just the ultimate expression of their intellectual arrogance: believing themselves capable of making all the important decisions in our lives--through big government--why shouldn't they end up at the point where they decide when those lives should end?

The problem though is that while abortion was supposed to be a way of controlling the reproduction of the poor--especially poor blacks--and was sold as a way of empowering women, it has instead had its worst subsidiary effect on the white middle class and on women in particular.

Similarly, medical killings were supposed to be a way of getting rid of those who the elites had judged were inferiors, leading lives not worth living, and is often sold as a way of liberating women, traditional caretakers for the dying, but on closer examination it becomes clear that its also a way for individuals to get rid of those they don't want around anymore. It's a disaster for them when a case like this comes along and demonstrates the truth that the designated decision-maker will often have divergent interests from the person they're trying to kill. Many of us would like to have the power of life and death over others; few care to have others wield that power over themselves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM


Finland, U.S. Most Competitive Economies, Report Says (Reuters, 10/30/03)

Finland is the world's most competitive economy followed by the United States, Sweden, Denmark and Taiwan, according to a Global Competitiveness Report released Thursday.

The survey among business leaders measured economic competitiveness based on a combination of technology, the quality of public institutions and the macroeconomic environment. [...]

The United States scored high on technology but weak on the quality of its public institutions and economic environment, particularly public finances, where it ranked 50th.

Germany moved up one notch to 13th and France gained two places to 26th. The WEF said both countries showed improvements driven by better public institutions and technology, despite budgets troubles.

"If there is one lesson from our exercise, it is that the strength and coherence of government policies have an enormous bearing on a country's ranking," Augusto Lopez-Claros, chief economist of the WEF, said in a statement.

In her e-mail, Buttercup noted the hilarity of believing that the key to competitiveness is government policy. We're struck by the way their measure makes Germany, which is dragging all of Europe into recession (again) a model economy.

October 30, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:54 PM


Leadership (Tony Blankley, October 29, 2003, Townhall)

President Bush continues to amaze, baffle and infuriate most of the Washington political class. Yesterday, he pronounced that "under my leadership America is more secure and peaceful ... the world is safer for having removed Saddam Hussein," even while the ambulances were still removing the dead and dying from suicide bombsites in Baghdad. The president's claim of more security and peace only makes sense if one understands to what he is comparing the current condition. Presumably, if we hadn't invaded Iraq (and Afghanistan), things would be more peaceful right now. American soldiers wouldn't be dying on foreign soil, and there would be no explosions on the streets of Baghdad. If we had let the U.N. quietly, politely and ineffectively continue to complain to Mr. Hussein and the Taliban for their various misdeeds, the French, Germans and many Muslim governments would not now be saying rude things about America. We might even be admired around the world for our forbearance, restraint and maturity after that tragedy in New York and at the Pentagon.

The president's statement makes sense only if one believes that the terrorist danger will not go away, but rather will grow ever worse until it reaches a genocidal level of applied WMD weaponry against Americans here at home. In that case, every day we delay our effort to suppress and extinguish terrorism at its heart in the Middle East, America and the world grows less secure and less full of peace. It is in that sense that the president was correct yesterday. Having started the process of rolling back terrorism (however falteringly or imperfectly), we are more secure than if we had not yet started. On Sept. 12, and for some months thereafter, most Washington politicians and journalists shared with the president that sense of the danger and urgency. But with the passage of months, and now years, for many the very idea of a war on terrorism has become prosaic. It has become a mere cliche, an abstraction, a political phrase to be tossed off without thinking.

But it is not so for George Bush.

The question is: when the next big terrorist strike comes--as it must--will George W. Bush receive credit for having kept his focus on terror or blame for not preventing the attack. He may well deserve a fair portion of both and deserve a somewhat nuanced judgment, but that tends not to be the way our politics works--we like to settle on a simpler storyline.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:21 PM


House, Senate move to OK $87.5B Iraqi package (AP, 10/30/03)

With the most contentious issue resolved, the House on Thursday moved to give final approval to the $87.5 billion package for Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senate was expected to follow suit quickly, and Congress could send the package to President Bush for his signature by Friday or possibly early next week.

House-Senate negotiators worked out the final details of the package Wednesday night, eliminating a Senate provision that would have required that half of the $18.4 billion for Iraqi reconstruction and security forces be given as loans instead of grants. [...]

The package worked out by House and Senate conferees cannot be modified. Most of the money in the package is to support U.S. military operations and both chambers passed their versions of the bill overwhelmingly: 303-125 in the House and 87-12 in the Senate.

The final version of the bill included $64.7 billion for military operations, just under the $65.1 billion Bush had sought. The $18.4 billion for reconstruction and Iraqi security was less than $20.3 billion requested. The bill would provide $1.2 billion for Afghanistan, compared with $800 million sought by Bush.

The legislative process is a wee bit complicated and can be terribly boring, but it's not all that hard to figure out and when it finally spits out laws some of them do matter. So it's a mystery why serious news outlets treated the loan provision as a major blow to the President or a victory for the Democrats when there was never any chance of its being in the final bill. On the one hand, you might assume that it was just bias, but, in the end, all they accomplished was to make it look like the President's veto threat made the opposition crumble. Perhaps that's as good as it gets for Democrats and the press these days--a temporary technical win (Jeffords party-switch, Texas Democrats hiding out, 9th Circuit stopping the recall, etc.) followed by an inevitable rout.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 PM


GOP going for a Kentucky sweep (Jim Drinkard, 10/30/03, USA TODAY)

A Louisville Courier-Journal poll Sunday showed that the race, virtually a dead heat a month ago, now favors Fletcher by 9 percentage points over Democratic contender Ben Chandler, the state's attorney general. Voters appear sympathetic to Fletcher's call, repeated in a flood of TV ads, to "clean up the mess in Frankfort," the state capital.

Fletcher has embraced Bush, whose approval ratings have slipped but remain at 61% here, higher than his 53% rating nationally. The president is due to fly into the state on Saturday for turnout-boosting appearances in Paducah and in London, a Republican stronghold in southeast Kentucky.

"We called his bluff," Fletcher says of Chandler. "We said, 'You want to nationalize this election? We'll stand our national leaders up against yours.' "

Kentucky is one of three states with elections for governor in November. The other two:

-Mississippi. Republican lobbyist Haley Barbour holds a narrow lead in polls over incumbent Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

-Louisiana. Republican candidate Bobby Jindal is running an aggressive race against Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco. The GOP currently holds the seat.

They're all tough races, but if the GOP can pull out one to add to CA they'll have had a great Fall. More than one and the Democrats are in big trouble.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 PM


Dean courts wide spectrum (Joey Bunch, October 29, 2003, Denver Post)

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean tried to be all things, except George W. Bush, to all voters on fundraising stops in Boulder and Denver on Tuesday.

The pack-leading Democrat hit all the marks, courting fiscal conservatives and social liberals. He bashed the war and pumped up his plans for universal heath care, renewable energy and investments in schools, highways and broadband Internet for everyone.

Dean declared himself a "metrosexual," the buzz phrase for straight men in touch with their feminine sides, as he touted his accomplishments in "equal justice" for gay and lesbian couples.

But then he waffled.

"I'm a square," Dean declared, after professing his metrosexuality to a Boulder breakfast audience with an anecdote about being called handsome by a gay man. "I like (rapper) Wyclef Jean and everybody thinks I'm very hip, but I am really a square, as my kids will tell you. I don't even get to watch television. I've heard the term (metrosexual), but I don't know what it means."

Try to imagine Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush calling himself a metrosexual just so he could appeal to a given block of voters. Not easy, is it? You can run as a candidate defined by ideas--as they did--or as a constituency candidate, cobbling together the demands of various special interests, as Mondale and Dukakis did and Dean is now doing. But, if you choose the latter, you reach a terrible moment in your campaign where you show youreself to be a hollow man, waiting to be filled up by others, as you stand on stage and plead: "Just tell me who you want me to be..."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 PM

UNARGUABLE? (via Mike Daley):

Are Suicide Bombings Morally Defensible? (RICHARD WOLIN, Chronicle of Higher Education)

In recent weeks a publishing scandal involving charges of anti-Semitism has dominated the feuilleton sections of leading German dailies. The debate has embroiled one of the nation's most respected publishing houses, the Frankfurt-based, left-liberal firm of Suhrkamp Verlag. It has also implicated the world-renowned philosopher Jürgen Habermas for having made a controversial publishing recommendation. More generally, the dispute raises an issue of fundamental importance concerning the ground rules of the continuing, fractious debate over Middle East politics -- an issue familiar to American academics: At what point does vigorous criticism of Israeli policy dovetail with rank anti-Semitism?

At the center of the maelstrom in Germany is a slim volume by the philosopher Ted Honderich, who until his retirement taught at University College London. The book, After the Terror, is an attempt to reassess global politics in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Written in an offhand, chatty style, its main point -- unarguable, as far as it goes -- is that first-world nations bear responsibility for third-world nations' impoverishment.

Whahappen? In what conceivable sense is that "unarguable"? Third World nations were, for the most part, impoverished when the first world found them, were they not?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 PM


Through a Glass, Darkly: a review of A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love. Richard Dawkins (Michael Ruse, American Scientist)

In recent years, his attention has swung from writing about science for a popular audience to waging an all-out attack on Christianity. In the name of Darwinism, he has become the scourge of the religious, the atheist's answer to Billy Graham. At every opportunity, he preaches the hard truth-there is no God, religion is superstition, and Darwin proves just this. Essentially, what ties this volume together is the crusade of nonbelief, for just about every piece carries this same message. [...]

However, I worry about the political consequences of Dawkins's message. If Darwinism is a major contributor to nonbelief, then should Darwinism be taught in publicly funded U.S. schools? The Creationists say not. They argue that if the separation of Church and State keeps belief out of the schools, then it should likewise keep nonbelief out of the schools. There are issues
to be grappled with here, and Dawkins does nothing to address them. Does Darwinism as such lead to nonbelief? It is true that Darwinism conflicts with the Book of Genesis taken literally, but at least since the time of Saint Augustine (400 A.D.) Christians have been interpreting the seven days of creation metaphorically.

I would like to see Dawkins take Christianity as seriously as he undoubtedly expects Christianity to take Darwinism. I would also like to see him spell out fully the arguments as to the incompatibility of science (Darwinism especially) and religion (Christianity especially). So long as his understanding of Christianity remains at the sophomoric level, Dawkins does not deserve full attention. It is all very well to sneer at Catholic beliefs about the Virgin Mary, but what reply does Dawkins have to the many theologians (like Jonathan Edwards) who have devoted huge amounts of effort to distinguishing between false beliefs and true ones? What reply does
Dawkins have to the contemporary philosopher Alvin Plantinga, who argues that the belief that there are other minds and that others are not just unthinking robots requires a leap of faith akin to the Christian belief in the Deity? Edwards and Plantinga may be wrong, but Dawkins owes them some reply before he gives his cocky negative conclusions. Moreover, once he has proved the incompatibility of science and religion, I would like him to address the classroom issue. Would he keep evolution out of U.S. schools, and if not, what argument would he use? In one of these pieces, he complains that British A-level examination requirements necessitate coverage of so much other material that they exclude the proper teaching of evolution. What about the U.S. Constitution?

Finally, I don't want to sound paranoid or insecure, but I do wish that he and other science writers would cease assuming that philosophical issues can be solved by talking in a brisk, confident voice. I have no more liking of cultural studies than Dawkins, and I loved his talk of "the low-grade
intellectual poodling of pseudo-philosophical poseurs." But this rhetoric is no substitute for hard analysis. Postmodernists claim that science, no less than religion and literature and philosophy, is infiltrated with culture. How does Dawkins respond to this charge, given the undoubted significance in science of metaphors that are based on the culture of the day? One would have thought that the author of The Selfish Gene would be sensitive to questions like these.

There is more. I agree fully with Dawkins when he writes that

Modern physics teaches us that there is more to truth than meets the eye; or than meets the all too limited human mind, evolved as it was to cope with medium-sized objects moving at medium speeds through medium distances in Africa.

But how then does Dawkins respond to the obvious retort of the religious, who have always stressed mystery? Some of the fundamental problems of philosophy are no closer to being solved today than they were at the time of the Greeks: Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is this something not something else? What is mind, and are we unique? Perhaps one agrees that traditional religions-Christianity specifically-do not offer the full answers. But what is to stop a nonbeliever like myself from saying that the Christians are asking important questions and that they are right to have a little humility before the unknown? As Saint Paul said: "Now we see through a glass, darkly." That apparently includes Richard Dawkins.

Mr. Ruse's bewilderment answers itself: no one who has rejected God and placed his entire faith in religion can acknowledge that he's taken a leap, or else his whole worldview falls apart. He doesn't respond to awkward questions because he has no intelligent responses to make. Atheists of Mr. Dawkins's bent have to believe that the religionists' glass is dark, but the rationalists' glass is clear, and that requires one to ignore such fundamental issues as where the glass came from and why the view through any glass should be trusted; where the observer came from and why his observations should be trusted; etc. But, as Mr. Ruse notes, Judeo-Christianity has been wrestling with such issues for thousands of years and so finds them less threatening than science, which has been thoroughly disappointed in its ambition to answer them and now finds itself incapable of justifying its claims to primacy in the face of this abject failure. So folk like Mr. Dawkins just begin at a point after their faith entered the equation and then ignore all that has come before. It makes them ludicrous, but touchingly so.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:37 PM


The night is drawing in: The prospect of Michael Howard's leadership spells danger for his own party - but also for New Labour (Polly Toynbee, October 31, 2003, The Guardian)

Few home secretaries are popular, certainly not with liberals. But the outrage Howard caused should not be forgotten. He took over from Douglas Hurd, one of the wiser pragmatic home secretaries of recent times. He was brought in as a political weapon to try to shore up the Major government's sinking fortunes, a challenge he took up with a vengeance. People imagine, wrongly, that all politicians are capable of almost anything in pursuit of power: it is rarely so. But Howard is an exception. As a home secretary and a QC, he was apparently reckless of legal propriety in pursuit of something that would turn a quick vote. He frequently flouted the law and was often rebuked by higher courts.

It scandalised the judiciary when he put two 10-year-olds on trial for murder in an adult court and himself upped their sentence to 25 years. The high court found his actions an "abuse of power" and "deeply flawed", but it was water off a duck's back. With his infamous "Prison works!" speech he sent the prison population soaring. To Labour's "tough on the causes of crime" his riposte was: "I know what causes crime: criminals!"

Right from his 1983 maiden speech advocating the restoration of the death penalty, he has courted cheap popularity. It was not being rightwing that worried people like Ann Widdecombe: it was his willingness to dabble in almost any unsavoury policy that looked like a winner. Europhobic, homophobic (he introduced Clause 28 and voted against gay adoptions), anti-abortion (he voted for the Alton bill to restrict it), he called for General Pinochet's release. As for wise policy-making, he was a key minister responsible for the poll tax. [...]

Max Hastings, late of the Telegraph, wrote in these pages this week: "Britain is now a social democratic country. Barring a national cataclysm, a visibly rightwing party will not again achieve power here." Those are words of profound truth. If only it was absolutely certain that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown thought so too. By May 1997, the people were already social democrats, but New Labour never dared believe that they really did want radical change.

Britain, like the rest of Europe, is in the midst of a cataclysm. Declining birthrates, burgeoning retirement costs, growing dependence on immigration, the dalliance with giving up national sovereignty that the EU represents, etc., etc., etc. These ugly truths can be ignored for awhile but not ignored in the long run. Many's the continental nation which too might have considered its Right to be a dead letter, its social democrats a permanent governing party. But when push comes to shove it turns out not to be so. A robustly nationalistic, anti-immigration, anti-European, Tory Party may not return to power immediately but will be well positioned to do so by the end of the decade.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:22 PM


'Patriotic' Stick Figure Drawing Troubles School (Fox News, 10/29/03)

A 14-year-old New Jersey schoolboy -- whose dad and stepdad are in the military -- was suspended for five days because he drew a "patriotic" stick figure of a U.S Marine blowing away a Taliban fighter, officials said yesterday.

"He's been punished for the drawing," said Tinton Falls school superintendent Leonard Kelpsh. "We felt it was highly inappropriate, and we took it very seriously."

Scott Switzer, of Colts Neck, was sent home last week from Tinton Falls Middle School after a teacher saw the image on a computer and described it to the principal.

Scott, who turned 14 Tuesday and was headed back to school Wednesday, said he was unjustly disciplined for his sketch of "a war scene."

"Truth be told, it's a Marine shooting a terrorist Taliban," he told The Post. "It's just a picture. What upsets me most is that the principal would dare say it's not normal. To me, it's patriotic."

When you hear the term school administration don't you just get a mental picture of the kids you used to give wedgies to in the school halls now grown up and running the place?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 PM


A Judge Who Did Justice: 'You Have Committed a Despicable Act,' Said Sentencing Judge Pickering (Nat Hentoff, October 24th, 2003, Village Voice)

When George W. Bush renominated Mississippi Federal District Judge Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Democratic attack machine on the Senate Judiciary Committee, People for the American Way, and other liberal watchdogs of the judiciary went after Pickering again--just as the Republican artillery pursued some of Bill Clinton's nominees.

As before, the most insistent charge against Pickering was that, presiding over a cross-burning case in Mississippi as a district judge, he had gone way out of his way to get a lighter sentence than the federal prosecutors demanded for one of the three white defendants. At the October 2 Judiciary Committee hearing on Pickering, Senator Ted Kennedy declared the judge's behavior in that case shameful.

What follow here are the facts of the case as reported by a New York Times specialist in legal issues, Neil Lewis (May 28), and Bryan York in National Review Online (January 9 and 13) and Editor & Publisher (March 3). I am indebted to Lewis and York, and did my own reporting as well. Lewis's factual reporting on this case has been ignored by Times editorial writers as they repeatedly attack Pickering's action.

Except that it's not a question of whether the judge is just but of what Democrats have to do to keep their special interests satisfied.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:07 PM


Tour of U.S. Schools Reveals Why Zionism Is Flunking on Campus (NATAN SHARANSKY, October 24, 2003, The Forward)

When I got to Rutgers University in New Jersey last month, I almost forgot I was on a college campus. The atmosphere was far from the cool, button-down academic reserve typical of such institutions. It was more reminiscent of a battlefield.

My arrival was greeted by a noisy demonstration of Palestinian and Jewish students holding signs reading "Racist Israel" and "War Criminals," together with black-coated Neturei Karta members calling for the destruction of the blasphemous Zionist entity. Faculty members, predictably led by a former Israeli professor, had sent out e-mails protesting the granting of a platform to a representative of the "Nazi, war-criminal" state. Of course, there was the famous pie incident in which a member of a campus Jewish anti-occupation group made his way past my security guards and plastered me in the face with a cream pie while shouting "End the Occupation."

Opposed to them were hundreds of no less rowdy Jewish students, full of motivation to defend Israel and give the protesters back as good as they got. After the pie incident, when I returned to the hall and mounted the stage, the atmosphere was so electric, so full of adrenalin, that the Palestinians and their supporters who had come to disrupt the event had no choice but to abandon their plans for provocation.

Things were not much calmer at Boston University: An anonymous bomb threat brought swarms of police to the lecture hall and almost forced a cancellation of my appearance. But here, too, some good resulted when the bomb threat caused the lecture to be moved to a larger hall, which was quickly filled with some 600 listeners who were unwilling to accept the violent silencing of pro-Israel views.

These moments — the pie throwing, the bomb threat, the demonstration — as raucous, threatening and contentious as they were, are among the more pleasant memories from my 13-campus tour of the United States. Perhaps it is because at these moments I felt that there was some point to my trip, perhaps because the violent hostility had stirred the students and motivated them to want to fight and win — which I, of course, was delighted to see. [...]

For six days I traveled across the United States. I did not meet with administration officials or do any politicking. Just campuses. Meeting students, instructors, Jewish and non-Jewish activists. A marathon of 13 campuses in six days. I discovered an enormous thirst for knowledge, for straight answers about these supposed "human rights violations" and "war crimes." I learned that combining human rights, a popular, burning issue among students, and Israel, a very unpopular issue, works to Israel's advantage, because even the most pro-Palestinian students, including Arab students, had to back down when the discussion centered squarely and honestly on human rights and democracy.

But I also learned that every such victory was a limited one, like capturing a single hill in enemy territory. The overall picture is deeply worrying. On every campus I visited, Jewish students make up between 10% and 20% of the population, but no more than a tenth of them, by my estimate, take part in Jewish or pro-Israel activity. Another tiny but outspoken fraction serves as the spearhead of anti-Israel activity, for there is no better cover for hiding the racist nature of causes like an anti-Israel boycott than a Jewish professor or student eager to prove that he is holier than the pope. And the rest? The rest are simply silent. They are not identified, not active, not risk-takers. Nearly 90% of our students are Jews of silence.

In a perverse way, the uniquely pro-Israel and Jewish-friendly United States may prove the death of Judaism, just via assimilation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:15 PM


Queer Eye for the Black Guy: Fear of Gay Marriage Gives the GOP Another Chance at Minority Voters (Ta-Nehisi Coates, September 24 - 30, 2003, Village Voice)

[T]here is an underappreciated fact about black America that anyone armed with a decent survey could see: Black people vote like Democrats, but on social issues they think like Republicans. Whether the GOP can ever lure churchgoing African Americans from the revival tent to the party's so-called big tent remains a matter for debate. Now the controversy over gay marriage, a potent brew of religion and politics, is giving Republicans another shot--but don't bet on their converting it.

The votes are there to be gathered, or so the numbers would suggest. A July poll, by Gallup and CNN/USA Today, concluded that since the Supreme Court overturned Texas's anti-sodomy law in June, support for gay marriage has dropped precipitously in the black community. Before the decision, when African Americans were asked whether homosexual relationships should be legal, 58 percent said yes; afterward that figure dropped to 36 percent. [...]

The goal of transforming black fundamentalism into a black conservative voting bloc has proven elusive, however. Much of black history involves African Americans petitioning the government--with varying degrees of success--for protection against racism. Thus African Americans tend to have a progressive view of the role of government. "The difference is that black conservative Christians are more concerned about social and economic needs that the government can address," says Bositis. "Government is something that white Christian conservatives are against, except in trying to control people's lives through abortion curbs, etc."

Today, there simply is no black equivalent of the Christian Coalition. While the black church has been the source of some backward thinking on social issues, it's also been a hotbed of black leftism--just look at Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton.

Conservatives have yet to outline for African Americans the benefits of shifting their vote rightward. For gay marriage to be a voting issue, they would have to see some sort of cost-benefit analysis. "What do you tell your kids when they ask about the schools?" Bositis says. " 'Yeah, but we kept those gay people from getting married'?"

How about: Republicans got you the voucher that put you in a decent school?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:07 PM


It's No Vietnam (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, 10/30/03, NY Times)

Since 9/11, we've seen so much depraved violence we don't notice anymore
when we hit a new low. Monday's attacks in Baghdad were a new low. Just stop for one second and contemplate what happened: A suicide bomber, driving an ambulance loaded with explosives, crashed into the Red Cross office and blew himself up on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This suicide bomber was not restrained by either the sanctity of the Muslim holy day or the sanctity of the Red Cross. All civilizational norms were tossed aside. This is very unnerving. Because the message from these terrorists is: "There are no limits. We have created our own moral universe, where anything we do against Americans or Iraqis who cooperate with them is O.K."

What to do? The first thing is to understand who these people are. There is this notion being peddled by Europeans, the Arab press and the antiwar left that "Iraq" is just Arabic for Vietnam, and we should expect these kinds of attacks from Iraqis wanting to "liberate" their country from "U.S. occupation." These attackers are the Iraqi Vietcong.

Hogwash. The people who mounted the attacks on the Red Cross are not the Iraqi Vietcong. They are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge -- a murderous band of Saddam loyalists and Al Qaeda nihilists, who are not killing us so Iraqis can rule themselves. They are killing us so they can rule Iraqis.

Note the suggestion here--typical of so much of the repulsive generation of the 60s, which seems incapable of acknowledging its tragic error--that the Vietcong were basically a bunch of freedom fighters.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:44 PM

DON'T GO FRENCH ON US TIGER (via Glenn Dryfoos):

Money matters: Look for Woods to close out the year in winning fashion (Gary Van Sickle, October 28, 2003, ESPN)

Now that Tiger Woods has dropped to second place behind Vijay Singh on the PGA Tour money list following Vijay's win at Disney last weekend, Woods can say that winning the title doesn't mean that much to him. But he's wrong. The Player of the Year title sounds impressive, but who really remembers an award based on a vote by tour players or on a shaky points system (the PGA of America's award)? The money title, on the other hand -- now that's an honor with staying power. It's stronger than a Camel or a Chevy truck.

There are no fluke winners of this prize. Jack Nicklaus won the money title eight times -- even though, like Tiger, he played a limited schedule. Woods has won the money title four straight years, a record he shares with Tom Watson (1977-1980) at the moment. It would likely be six straight years if Tiger hadn't worked on swing changes in 1998, when he won only once and slipped to fourth on the money list -- although he would've needed one of his best years to top David Duval's career year.

While I wouldn't presume to know what Woods thinks about anything (since he keeps all us media types at arm's length) I can't help but feel that, if he winds up getting edged by Singh for the money title, Tiger is going to regret not playing at least one more tournament this year. No matter how you look at it, the 18 PGA Tour events Woods will have played this year is a light workload. The only place an 18-week work year is considered heavy lifting is in France.

No effect of the Iraq war run-up has been more salutary than the universalization of France-hatred.

Posted by David Cohen at 10:55 AM


The Bush Boomlet The economy just had a great quarter. Does that really mean it's booming? (Daniel Gross, Slate, 10/29/03)

When the Department of Commerce releases third-quarter gross domestic product figures Thursday morning, it will kick off one of the best days of the Bush presidency. As the Wall Street Journal reported, respected forecaster Macroeconomic Advisers believes the economy grew at an annual rate of 6.9 percent last quarter. . . .

But thus far, the Bush boom rests more on hope than hard data—and on a pretty weak definition of a boom. . . .

The Bush boom promoters also sidestep the real issue about the third-quarter growth. It would be hard for the economy not to surge when you consider how much money the administration has poured into it in the form of tax cuts and government spending. It remains to be seen whether the economy can produce jobs and growth without continual booster shots, and whether the massive deficits the administration is running will drag down growth for years to come. . . .

The Bush boom may or may not be a reality. I'd settle for several quarters of consistent growth, with job creation and GDP expansion at rates remotely close to those of the '90s. But that doesn't make for a particularly sexy book title, or for a compelling re-election slogan.

This article is splashed on the Slate homepage as Is The Economy Coming Back? Dan Gross on Bush's Bogus Boom.. The article, of course, doesn't say anything of the sort, concluding instead with "maybe, maybe not." There is no doubt, though, that Slate is hoping that there won't be any boom, and assumes that its readers are hoping the same thing.

This is the sort of "play-by-play" political reporting that drives me up the wall, because there is no point to it at all. Over the next 12 months, the economy will do whatever it does and the President's reelection will be easier or harder depending on its performance. But all the posturing now, by either side, is simply wasted.

Well, maybe not wasted. The Democratic voters who will soon be chosing their presidential nominee might well be effected by a belief that the economy is permanently crippled for '04. Such a belief would, I think, make Howard Dean seem just that much more electable and thus help his quest to be the Democratic Alf Landon. I would enjoy it immensely if all this doomsaying by the left lead the Democratic party to its richly deserved exile.

Posted by Stephen Judd at 9:13 AM


GDP Growth Strongest Since 1984 (REUTERS, 10/30/2003)

The U.S. economy rocketed ahead at its fastest pace in more than 19 years in the third quarter of 2003 as consumers, their wallets fattened by tax cuts, went on a buying spree, an unexpectedly strong government report showed on Thursday.
U.S. gross domestic product surged at a 7.2 percent annual rate in the July-September period, the Commerce Department said. It was the strongest advance since the first quarter of 1984 and more than double the second quarter's 3.3 percent rate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:41 AM


Remaking the World: Bush and the Neoconservatives: a review of America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy by Ivo H. Daalder & James M. Lindsay (Joshua Micah Marshall, November/December 2003, Foreign Affairs)

Their emphasis on the president is no accident. According to the authors, Bush was no figurehead or pawn in the revolution that bears his name, but rather the key decision-maker. "Bush," they write, may not have spent any time consciously trying to develop a philosophy about foreign affairs. However, a lifetime of experience had left deeply formed beliefs -- instincts might be more precise -- about how the world works and, just as important, how it does not. ... The fact that Bush could not translate his gut instincts into a form that would please political science Ph.D.s really did not matter.

The book's central argument is simple and, by now, familiar: the president's unilateralist policies have produced quick victories in Afghanistan and Iraq but have also fractured the nation's alliances, and as a result the world system is more chaotic and unfriendly, and the United States is less secure. Daalder and Lindsay are concerned about more than the truculent face the administration sometimes shows abroad. "The deeper problem," they write in the book's concluding chapter, is that "the fundamental premise of the Bush revolution -- that America's security rested on an America unbound -- was profoundly mistaken." [...]

Another abiding characteristic of the administration's foreign policy, Daalder and Lindsay note, has been its belief that forceful U.S. leadership would cow the United States' enemies and bring wavering friends into line. Handwringing or grumbling from allies, the Bush team believed, stemmed not from too much American direction, but from too little. Vice President Dick Cheney summarized this view just before the outbreak of the Iraq war, when he told NBC's Tim Russert that he had no doubt that in the long run, after Saddam had been overthrown, "a good part of the world, especially our allies, will come around to our way of thinking." Readers can judge for themselves to what extent this prediction has been borne out.

We'll gladly concede Mr. Marshall's points that Saddam was not as well armed as the West had believed and that Iraq's Sunni seem to prefer power to freedom, but on the other points he seems--and presumably the authors are-- quite wrong. First the only genuine allies we have--the other members of the Anglosphere except for the one run by a Frenchman--were on board for the war, and other allies look to be getting involved in Iraq about as quickly as could be expected. The war did, of course, demonstrate fairly conclusively what has been obvious to the Right for over two hundred years: the French are an enemy, not a friend. So the division with the EU served a good purpose. But the key point they seem to have missed is that post-9/11 much of the Islamic world is engaging in attempts, however tentative, to reform itself. The most extravagant of the neocon claims would appear to be coming to fruition.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:15 AM


Brown is Worth Fighting For (Marni Soupcoff, 10/20/03, The American Enterprise)

Janice Brown is perhaps best known, however, for her principled insistence on the government’s equal treatment of its citizens, regardless of race. In her majority opinion in Hi-Voltage Wireworks v. City of San Jose, Brown upheld California’s notorious Proposition 209—a ballot initiative that banned government racial preferences—and struck down a San Jose ordinance requiring government contractors to seek bids from companies owned by women and minorities. Brown concluded that “equality of individual opportunity”—not affirmative action—is what the Constitution requires.

And one has to conclude that Brown, a black sharecropper’s daughter who worked her way up from a childhood in the segregated south to a position on the highest court of the country’s largest state, knows whereof she speaks.

Now, President Bush has nominated Brown to a seat on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and her confirmation hearing is rapidly approaching. But liberal activists are trying vehemently to block her nomination, no doubt well aware that if Brown is elevated to a federal appeals court, she has an excellent chance at eventually landing a spot on the United States Supreme Court. This would be a serious blow to liberal special-interest groups—such as People for the American Way, one of Brown’s most vocal detractors. A Brown seat on the Supreme Court would mean one more vote for a jurisprudence of true equal rights, rather than one of forced racial and sex preferences. What poetic justice this vote for freedom would be, coming as it would from an articulate black female jurist.

It’s almost too much for the racial preferences crowd to bear, which explains their ongoing efforts to keep Brown off the DC Court of Appeals and the momentous fight they are waging to scuttle her nomination. But if any judicial nominee is worth fighting for, it is Janice Rogers Brown. [...]

If you would like to help support Justice Brown’s nomination, make your views known to your senators (http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm).

Democrats have to block the courthouse door with the ferocity of a George Wallace on this one, because they can't afford to have a black woman on the Supreme Court fast track.

October 29, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:30 PM


Hedonists R Us: Darwinism and Morality (BreakPoint with Charles Colson, September 23, 2003)

Ask someone who the first Darwinist was, and they’re likely to think it’s a trick question, like “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?” But as a recent book tells us, it’s not Darwin—at least not in regard to the way a materialistic worldview shapes our morals.

That book is Moral Darwinism: How We Became Hedonists by Benjamin Wiker. Wiker of Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, calls the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who lived in the third century before Christ, the “first Darwinist.” Actually, as Wiker says, it would be more accurate to say that Darwin was an Epicurean—probably the most influential one ever.

What he means is that Darwin represented the culmination of what Wiker calls “Epicurean Materialism.” While Epicureanism is commonly associated with hedonism, the fact is that Epicurus “offered the first thorough-going materialist view of the universe where the mere chance interaction of brute matter swirling about created all things.”

So, human beings are “just one more soul-less product of evolution,” and “there is ultimately no good and evil.” This account of the universe was the “foundation” of Darwin’s system and his materialistic explanation for the world.

Wiker writes that Epicurean materialism is “fundamentally antagonistic” to Christianity. For two thousand years, these worldviews have contradicted one another with regard to God, nature, human nature, and morality.

The last part is especially important. Just as Epicurean materialism provided the foundation for Darwinism, Darwinism is the foundation for “one of the two sides in the culture war”: the side “that champions sexual freedom, abortion, [and] euthanasia.”

A materialistic worldview undermines the very basis for morality by denying that we are distinct from the other animals and created in the image of God. Instead, we are considered the product of chance and impersonal forces. If that’s so, why prohibit murder? Nobody talks about “murdering” a dog or a fly. The very idea of “murder” assumes that there’s something unique about being human.

What’s true about murder goes double for human sexuality and familial relationships. If there is no God, soul, or afterlife, all that’s left, as Wiker’s subtitle tells us, is hedonism. In a world that is amoral, how we should live becomes a matter of “continually balancing bodily pleasures and pains.” Morality and the distinction between good and evil are purely human creations with no intrinsic authority.

This link between materialism and amorality, along with materialism’s account of the origins of the universe, makes attempts to “reconcile” Darwinism with Christianity—which some Christians try to do—wrong-headed. If there is one lesson to be learned from “moral Darwinism,” it is that Darwinism and materialism are not “morally neutral.”

Darwinists like to imagine that he discovered, explained, or popularized some important scientific insight, when in reality all he did was provide an undisprovable (and therefore unscientific) justification for an ideology that denies the possibility of morality. The realization that people--Americans mainly--are rejecting it for just that reason has sent the Robert Wrights of the world scrambling around trying to prove that evolution produces "morality" too but has rendered them so incoherent as only to appeal to the lunatic fringe and secular elites, if there's a difference.

Posted by John Resnick at 5:51 PM


Florida Dept. of Corrections will provide Kosher food to Jewish prisoner (The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, 10/28/2003)

Three years after Alan Cotton began his battle to get a Kosher diet while incarcerated at the Everglades Correctional Institution, the Florida Department of Corrections has finally agreed to his request. State prison officials have signed a Settlement Agreement (PDF format, 17K) and have begun providing him Kosher food, thereby settling a lawsuit filed on September 19, 2002. Cotton was represented in the lawsuit by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and by attorneys Elliott Scherker and Susana Betancourt of the Miami office of the law firm of Greenberg Traurig.

Cotton is a 58 year old prisoner who began serving a life sentence in 1967. He was born and raised in the Jewish faith, and returned to serious religious practice during the 1990s. He first sought Kosher meals in an informal grievance on October 20, 2000. It was quickly denied, as was a formal grievance and an appeal.

Conspicuously absent here is the ACLU. Where are the champions of the separation of Church and State in this one? Meanwhile, what a wonderful legal system that can find it is good to extend special rights to humans whose rights should be forfeited, while denying basic rights to humans who aren’t old enough yet to commit crimes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:38 PM


Bush Faces Hostile Environment: His record has been distorted. From air and water pollution to forests and wildlife, things are getting better. (Gregg Easterbrook, October 14, 2003, LA Times)

Now it's true that there are some major defects in Bush's environmental policy — mainly its lack of global warming reform and its failure to seek meaningful fuel-economy increases for SUVs and the misnamed "light" pickup trucks that increasingly dominate auto sales. But otherwise most of the charges made against the White House are baloney — baloney being rolled and deep-fried with cheese for purposes of partisan political bashing and fund-raising.

Meanwhile, Bush has implemented three major new environmental reforms for which he has received zero credit. He ordered that diesel fuel be reformulated to reduce its inherent pollution content — over the howls of his natural constituency, Big Oil. He ordered that new diesel trucks and buses meet significantly stricter emissions standards — over the howls of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, in whose Illinois district sits an enormous diesel-engine factory. Third, he imposed new emissions standards on a range of previously unregulated machines — construction vehicles, outboard motors, all-terrain vehicles and others.

Taken together, Bush's three dramatic anti-pollution decisions should lead to the biggest pollution reduction since the 1991 Clean Air Act amendments.

Why is the Bush environmental record so relentlessly distorted? Because it could ruin the instant-doomsday script. Democrats are bashing the president for political reasons, just as Republicans bashed Clinton for political reasons. Environmental lobbies raise money better in an atmosphere of panic, and so they are exaggerating the case against Bush.

We've frequently argued at the environment, though not big "E" Environmentalism, should be a conservative issue.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:22 AM


Karl Marx (Prospect Magazine, Oct 2003; via Arts and Letters Daily)

Donald Sassoon: Well, Dr Marx, you are all washed up, aren't you? Fifteen years ago your theories ruled half the world. Now what's left? Cuba? North Korea?

Karl Marx: My "theories"-as you put it-never "ruled." I had followers I neither chose nor sought, and for whom I have no more responsibility than Jesus had for Torquemada or Muhammad for Osama bin Laden....

DS: How about John Stuart Mill?

KM He was a well-meaning plagiarist ...

DS: How about more recent thinkers?

KM: The fashion-following apologists of the propertied classes, now and again, try to find an adequate rival for me.... So they resurrect Hayek one summer and, by the next spring, they are all wearing Popper ...

DS: OK. No one underestimates your renown. But you must agree: Marxism is not what it used to be...

KM: In reality my work has never been as important as it is now. Over the last 40 years or so it has conquered the academy in the most advanced countries in the world. Historians, economists, social scientists, and even, to my surprise, some literary critics have all turned to the materialist conception. The most exciting history currently produced in the US and Europe is the most "Marxistic" ever. Just go to the annual convention of the American Social Science History Association, which I attend regularly as a ghost. There they earnestly examine the interconnection between institutional and political structures and the world of production. They all talk about classes, structures, economic determination, power relations, oppressed and oppressors. And they all pretend to have read me-a sure sign of success.

The currency of Marxist ideas suggests an intellectual form of Gresham's Law: in the academy, bad ideas drive out good.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 AM


After Strange Gods: a review of T.S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism and Literary Form by Anthony Julius (James Wood, New Republic)

T.S. Eliot was an anti-Semite. Anthony Julius's program is to assert the centrality of Eliot's anti-Semitism in his thought. Anti-Semitism, Julius says, was Eliot's inspiration, his muse. He was that rare anti-Semite, one who was "able to place his anti-Semitism at the service of his art"; he "trained himself to be an anti-Semite." To conjure this centrality, Julius argues that anti-Semitism occurs at the heart of some of Eliot's greatest poems. Julius is brave and
occasionally right. His anger has the glow of righteousness. But it is the color of simplicity. His book is tendentious, misleading and unremittingly hostile. He has written an unstable book about an unstable subject; reading it is like watching a maniac trying to calm an hysteric. [...]

Throughout his book, Julius is in such a rage that he whales his evidence into compliance. Consider this comment by Eliot on the poetry of Isaac Rosenberg, a celebrated British poet who died in the First World War, and whom Eliot called, in 1953, "the most remarkable of the
British poets killed in that war": "The poetry of Isaac Rosenberg ... does not only owe its distinction to its being Hebraic: but because it is Hebraic it is a contribution to English literature. For a Jewish poet to be able to write like a Jew, in western Europe and in a western European language, is almost a miracle." Eliot's meaning is clear. Rosenberg was a distinguished English poet, but his particular addition to English literature was that he retained a Jewishness that was not assimilated; and this retention, within the pressure that the English poetic tradition exerts to surrender one's literary Jewishness, was almost miraculous.

For Julius, however, this is an anti-Semitic "libel" that allows "Jews an aesthetic sense, and thus a measure of creativity, but deriving only from Jewish tradition." He follows Eliot's quote with this paragraph:

Eliot's eccentric praise of the Jewish poet is consistent with his larger deprecations. "That a Jew can do this!" registers the surprise of the anti- Semite. What is it to write like a Jew? Richard Wagner explains: "The Jew speaks the language of the country in which he has lived from generation to generation, but he always speaks it as a foreigner." A Jew cannot compose German music; when he purports to do so, he deceives. The Jewish composer could only compose music as a Jew by drawing on the "ceremonial music" of the synagogue service, a "
nonsensical gurgling, yodelling and cackling." These "rhythms ... dominate his musical imagination"; they are irresistible. So while the talented Jewish composer is disqualified by his race from composing German music, he is disqualified by his talent from composing Jewish music. Rosenberg was luckier. He was able, by "almost a miracle," to write in English "like a Jew." The difference between Eliot's anti-Semitism and Wagner's is defined, on this point, by the possibility of this " miracle."

This is characteristic of Julius's method. A passage of Eliot's is dropped into a stream of vicious anti-Semitic crudity, in the hope that the waters will mix. Almost every page of this book, which lavishly flows with examples of the anti-Semitism of people other than Eliot, attempts this guilt by immersion. But Julius makes Eliot mean the opposite of what he is saying. Wagner claims that the Jew tries to speak as a native but always reveals himself as a foreigner. For this reason he is incapable of great work. But Eliot praises Rosenberg for precisely the opposite quality. Rosenberg has retained a foreignness which Eliot considers a contribution and a miracle of self-preservation.

If anything, Eliot implies that the Jew will always speak as a native, and that the struggle will be to speak as a foreigner. And Eliot is careful to suggest that Rosenberg's foreignness is not his only quality: "does not only owe its distinction to its being Hebraic." Julius reads the passage as if the phrase "like a Jew" were simply not in the text, as if the passage read: "For a Jewish poet to be able to write in western Europe and in a western European language, is almost a miracle."
This may be Wagner's belief, but it is palpably the opposite of Eliot's. Eliot is not praising Rosenberg for being able to write at all. The difference between Eliot's anti-Semitism and Wagner's anti-Semitism is not defined by the word "miracle"; it is defined by Eliot's not being, in this instance, anti-Semitic. At worst, Eliot's comment suggests a heightened awareness of Jewishness.

A critic who is inattentive to language in this way will not seem trustworthy, and Julius's book contains many bullied readings.

It's several years old but this was a brave review by Mr. Wood.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:24 AM


The Seventeenth Amendment and the Death of Federalism (Ralph A. Rossum, October 3-4, 2003, Philadelphia Society)

My comments today are based largely on a book I recently completed for Lexington Books that explores the Seventeenth Amendment and the death of federalism. Entitled Federalism, the Supreme Court and the Seventeenth Amendment: The Irony of Constitutional Democracy, it is also a critical commentary on the spate of controversial federalism decisions recently handed down by an activist U.S. Supreme Court. Thirteen times since 1976 (and, with much-greater frequency, twelve times since 1992), the Court has invalidated federal laws--many of them passing both houses of Congress by wide margins‹in order to preserve what it has described as "the original federal design." In the book, I challenge the Court's fundamental jurisprudential assumptions about federalism and argue that (1) the framers did not expect federalism to be protected by an activist Court but rather by constitutional structure--in particular, by the mode of electing the United States Senate; (2) the political and social forces that culminated in the adoption and ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment eliminated that crucial structural protection and thereby altered the very meaning of federalism itself; and (3), as a consequence, the original federal design has been amended out of existence and is no longer controlling--in the post-Seventeenth Amendment era, it is no more a part of the Constitution the Supreme Court is called upon to apply than, for example, in the post-Thirteen Amendment era, the Constitution's original fugitive slave clause.

I argue in the book that the framers understood that federalism would be protected by the manner of electing (and, perhaps most importantly, re-electing) the Senate. However, the adoption and ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment, providing for direct election of the Senate, changed all that.

The Seventeenth Amendment was ultimately approved by the United States Congress and ratified by the states to make the Constitution more democratic. Progressives argued forcefully, persistently, and ultimately successfully that the democratic principle required the Senate to be elected directly by the people rather than indirectly through their state legislatures. The consequences of the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment on federalism, however, went completely unexplored, and the people, in their desire to make the Constitution more democratic, inattentively abandoned what the framers regarded as the crucial constitutional means for protecting the federal/state balance and the interests of the states as states.

Following ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment, there was a rapid growth of the power of the national government, with the Congress enacting measures that adversely affected the states as states--measures that quite simply the Senate previously would never have approved. For the initial quarter of a century following the amendment's ratification in 1913 and then again for the last quarter of a century, the United States Supreme Court's frequent reaction to this congressional expansion of
national power at the expense of the states was and has been to attempt to fill the gap created by the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment and to protect the original federal design. It has done so by invalidating these congressional measures on the grounds that they violate the principles of dual federalism; go beyond the Court1s narrow construction of the commerce clause; "commandeer" state officials to carry out certain federal mandates; exceed Congress's enforcement powers under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, or, most recently, trench on the states' sovereignty immunity. In so doing, it has repeatedly demonstrated its failure to appreciate that the Seventeenth Amendment not only eliminated the primary structural support for federalism but, in so doing, altered the very nature and meaning of federalism itself.

There is irony in all of this: An amendment, intended to promote democracy, even at the expense of federalism, has been undermined by an activist Court, intent on protecting federalism, even at the expense of the democratic principle. The irony is heightened when it is recalled that federalism was originally protected both structurally and democratically--the Senate, after all, was elected by popularly-elected state legislatures. Today, federalism is protected neither structurally nor democratically--the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment means that the fate of traditional state prerogatives depends entirely on either congressional
sufferance (what the Court calls "legislative grace") or whether an occasional Supreme Court majority can be mustered.

The book argues that federalism as it was understood by the framers‹i.e., the "original federal design"--effectively died as a result of the social and political forces that resulted in the adoption and ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment

To the extent that Mr. Rossum's argument is compelling it just confirms what an abomination the 17th Amendment is.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:24 AM


MEAP SUCCESS: Holding kids back seems to pay off (PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI, October 8, 2003, Detroit Free Press)

Poor MEAP test scores used to go hand-in-hand with poor students at Algonac's Pte. Tremble Elementary, where about one-fourth of the kids qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch. But four years ago, leaders in Algonac and Yale schools linked reading with passing. Kids in grades K-3 who weren't reading at grade level would flunk. And they meant all kids, including those in special education.

The idea sparked controversy and jitters among parents and teachers. T.J. Bucholz, until recently a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education, said he hadn't heard of another district with a similar plan.

When MEAP scores were released Friday, 95 percent of Pte. Tremble's fourth-graders met or beat the state's reading standards.

Four years ago, only slightly more than half of the school's fourth-graders met the state's standards. Officials in the two St. Clair County districts say the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test results justify their leap of faith. In both districts, 83 percent of fourth-graders met the state's expectations in reading, up from 55 percent in Algonac Community Schools and 65 percent in Yale Public Schools in 1999. They also came in ahead of the state average, 75 percent.

The theory was simple: All kids can learn, but some kids need a little more time. The districts' challenge was to make sure children got that time. Failing a school year isn't a good option, but being unable to read is worse, educators thought. [...]

School officials had to face down more than a few angry parents. Some even moved their children to other districts.

"We learned from the time of trials and tribulations," Darin said.

But slowly, parents were won over. Michael Schrader, 7, barely met the minimum first-grade reading requirements last spring. His teachers suggested summer school to help him begin second grade with more confidence.

His mother, Lisa Schrader, said her initial reaction was that her son wouldn't have much of a summer. But the former preschool teacher knew children can forget skills over the summer and agreed to send Michael.

"I'm absolutely glad we did it," Schrader said. "I can already see the difference this year. He seems more confident. He takes more risks in terms of reading things that are not familiar to him.

"I don't think parents want to be told your child is going to be retained, that's a hard thing to hear," Schrader said. "But you know as a parent, if your son or daughter is struggling, you want what's best for them." Risk pays off.

This is what President Bush meant by "the soft bigotry of low expectations".

October 28, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 PM


Racial dynamics of recall (Steve Sailer, 10/08/03, UPI)

Due to higher rates of citizenship, adulthood and turnout, whites are much more heavily represented among voters in immigrant-rich California than among residents. Non-Hispanic whites cast 69 percent of the votes Tuesday.

That's about average for the last three California elections, in which the white proportion ranged from 64 percent in 1998 (prompting numerous premature pronouncements about the end of white domination of the state's electorate) to 76 percent in last year's long and dull race between Davis and political novice Bill Simon, which resulted in a record-low turnout, especially among minorities.

In each of these elections, according to exit polls, the GOP candidate failed to win a majority of the white vote. On Tuesday, however, the two main Republican candidates combined to win a crushing 65 percent of the non-Hispanic white vote. That's the kind of enthusiasm for Republicans normally seen among whites in the South, not in California. [...]

The GOP total in this election clearly benefited from having two attractive candidates with views spanning much of the center and right of the ideological spectrum. The moderate Schwarzenegger is one of the world's most famous men, and the conservative McClintock emerged from the election with the highest favorability rating of the top three candidates (54 percent favorable, compared to 51 percent for Schwarzenegger and 37 percent for Bustamante).

One key event during the election was Davis' signing of a bill to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants in early September. He had previously vetoed the bill because it did not included security checks he had said were necessary in the post-9/11 environment, but this time he signed it without the safeguards he had earlier demanded. Bustamante strongly supported the bill.

This backfired on the Democrats, proving unpopular with Californians. In the exit poll, voters opposed driver's licenses for illegal aliens 70 percent to 24 percent.

When you pick a wedge issue, it's generally helpful to be on the side that has overwhelming support. Unfortunately for them, Democrats are on the 25% on all the social issues nowadays. Gay marriage could be especially harmful for them in 2004.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 PM


Noble lies and perpetual war: Leo Strauss, the neo-cons, and Iraq: Are the ideas of the conservative political philosopher Leo Strauss a shaping influence on the Bush administration’s world outlook? Danny Postel interviews Shadia Drury – a leading scholarly critic of Strauss – and asks her about the connection between Plato’s dialogues, secrets and lies, and the United States-led war in Iraq. (Danny Postel, 10/16/2003, Open Democracy)

Danny Postel: The neo-conservative vision is commonly taken to be about spreading democracy and liberal values globally. And when Strauss is mentioned in the press, he is typically described as a great defender of liberal democracy against totalitarian tyranny. You’ve written, however, that Strauss had a “profound antipathy to both liberalism and democracy.”

Shadia Drury: The idea that Strauss was a great defender of liberal democracy is laughable. I suppose that Strauss’s disciples consider it a noble lie. Yet many in the media have been gullible enough to believe it.

How could an admirer of Plato and Nietzsche be a liberal democrat? The ancient philosophers whom Strauss most cherished believed that the unwashed masses were not fit for either truth or liberty, and that giving them these sublime treasures would be like throwing pearls before swine. In contrast to modern political thinkers, the ancients denied that there is any natural right to liberty. Human beings are born neither free nor equal. The natural human condition, they held, is not one of freedom, but of subordination – and in Strauss’s estimation they were right in thinking so.

Praising the wisdom of the ancients and condemning the folly of the moderns was the whole point of Strauss’s most famous book, Natural Right and History. The cover of the book sports the American Declaration of Independence. But the book is a celebration of nature – not the natural rights of man (as the appearance of the book would lead one to believe) but the natural order of domination and subordination.

The necessity of lies

Danny Postel: What is the relevance of Strauss’s interpretation of Plato’s notion of the noble lie?

Shadia Drury: Strauss rarely spoke in his own name. He wrote as a commentator on the classical texts of political theory. But he was an extremely opinionated and dualistic commentator. The fundamental distinction that pervades and informs all of his work is that between the ancients and the moderns. Strauss divided the history of political thought into two camps: the ancients (like Plato) are wise and wily, whereas the moderns (like Locke and other liberals) are vulgar and foolish. Now, it seems to me eminently fair and reasonable to attribute to Strauss the ideas he attributes to his beloved ancients.

In Plato’s dialogues, everyone assumes that Socrates is Plato’s mouthpiece. But Strauss argues in his book The City and Man (pp. 74-5, 77, 83-4, 97, 100, 111) that Thrasymachus is Plato’s real mouthpiece (on this point, see also M.F. Burnyeat, “Sphinx without a Secret”, New York Review of Books, 30 May 1985 [paid-for only]). So, we must surmise that Strauss shares the insights of the wise Plato (alias Thrasymachus) that justice is merely the interest of the stronger; that those in power make the rules in their own interests and call it justice.

Leo Strauss repeatedly defends the political realism of Thrasymachus and Machiavelli (see, for example, his Natural Right and History, p. 106). This view of the world is clearly manifest in the foreign policy of the current administration in the United States.

A second fundamental belief of Strauss’s ancients has to do with their insistence on the need for secrecy and the necessity of lies. In his book Persecution and the Art of Writing, Strauss outlines why secrecy is necessary. He argues that the wise must conceal their views for two reasons – to spare the people’s feelings and to protect the elite from possible reprisals.

The people will not be happy to learn that there is only one natural right – the right of the superior to rule over the inferior, the master over the slave, the husband over the wife, and the wise few over the vulgar many. In On Tyranny, Strauss refers to this natural right as the “tyrannical teaching” of his beloved ancients. It is tyrannical in the classic sense of rule above rule or in the absence of law (p. 70).

Now, the ancients were determined to keep this tyrannical teaching secret because the people are not likely to tolerate the fact that they are intended for subordination; indeed, they may very well turn their resentment against the superior few. Lies are thus necessary to protect the superior few from the persecution of the vulgar many.

The effect of Strauss’s teaching is to convince his acolytes that they are the natural ruling elite and the persecuted few. And it does not take much intelligence for them to surmise that they are in a situation of great danger, especially in a world devoted to the modern ideas of equal rights and freedoms. Now more than ever, the wise few must proceed cautiously and with circumspection. So, they come to the conclusion that they have a moral justification to lie in order to avoid persecution. Strauss goes so far as to say that dissembling and deception – in effect, a culture of lies – is the peculiar justice of the wise.

Strauss justifies his position by an appeal to Plato’s concept of the noble lie. But in truth, Strauss has a very impoverished conception of Plato’s noble lie. Plato thought that the noble lie is a story whose details are fictitious; but at the heart of it is a profound truth.

In the myth of metals, for example, some people have golden souls – meaning that they are more capable of resisting the temptations of power. And these morally trustworthy types are the ones who are most fit to rule. The details are fictitious, but the moral of the story is that not all human beings are morally equal.

In contrast to this reading of Plato, Strauss thinks that the superiority of the ruling philosophers is an intellectual superiority and not a moral one (Natural Right and History, p. 151). For many commentators who (like Karl Popper) have read Plato as a totalitarian, the logical consequence is to doubt that philosophers can be trusted with political power. Those who read him this way invariably reject him. Strauss is the only interpreter who gives a sinister reading to Plato, and then celebrates him.

Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the Left's fear of Straussianism is their insistence that its elitist anti-democratic aspect is a dark and jealously guarded secret. It is, of course, the classic conservative critique of democracy that such a system is not necessarily liberal--does not protect liberty. No one was better aware of this than the Founders, who wrote a rather anti-democratic Constitution and created a Republic, based on those of ancient times, rather than a pure democracy. In order to believe the Straussian disregard for democracy to be unique to them and a secret, you not only have to ignore the Federalists themselves, but folks like de Tocqueville in the past and both the more popular writings of the neocons, like Fareed Zakaria's Future of Freedom, and the best writings, like Robert Kraynak's Christian Faith and Modern Democracy, of those the Straussians have influenced.

In fact, especially given the fact that so many neocons are Jewish, it's at least worth considering that the attempt to treat a rather open criticism of democracy as some kind of clandestine and totalitarian philosophy may be -- either intentionally or not -- based on classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Ms Drury in particular has a tendency to treat Straussianism as if she'd personally uncovered the new Protocols of the Elders of Zion or is at least its Henry Ford.

(via Political Theory):
The Leo-conservatives (GERHARD SPOERL, August 4, 2003, Der Spiegel)

Like Heidegger, [Leo] Strauss drew a radical consequence from the experiences of World War I and the constant threat to the Weimar Republic: In his view, this served as historical proof that the Enlightenment, with its positive view of human nature and its faith in progress, was an illusion. He also believed that faith in a liberal democracy as the governmental and social order of the future was invalid. And Strauss remained true to this theory until his death.

However, what displeased Strauss about Heidegger's principal work "Being and Time" (1927) was its existentialism, which abandoned any justification of morality and worshipped "death as God" (Strauss), making the philosopher from Todtnauberg susceptible to the National Socialists' nihilistic yearning for death. As a result of his conflict with Heidegger, however, Strauss developed a slightly eccentric theory, which was received with surprising enthusiasm many years later in America.

Religion is the opium of the people, but it is an indispensable opium.

As his theory goes, philosophers following in Nietzsche's footsteps could devote themselves to the question of how the death of God and the renunciation of religion impacts thought and being. But without the inner cohesiveness faith provides, states could not exist. For this reason, according to Strauss, religion serves as a binding agent in a stable social order. It is, admittedly, the opium of the people, but it is also an indispensable opium. In Strauss' view, liberal democracies such as the Weimar Republic are not viable in the long term, since they do not offer their citizens any religious and moral footings.

The practical consequence of this philosophy is fatal. According to its tenets, the elites have the right and even the obligation to manipulate the truth. Just as Plato recommends, they can take refuge in "pious lies" and in selective use of the truth.

It is precisely because of these fundamental elements of a political theory Strauss represented throughout his life that he is accused, in today's America, of having used the Nazis to study the methods of mass manipulation. And "Straussians," such as Wolfowitz and other proponents
of the Iraq war, are now suspected of simply having used the Strauss' political principles for their own purposes. When seen in this light, the partly fictitious reasons for the war against Saddam Hussein represent the philosophical heritage of an emigrant from Germany.

A conspiracy theory is developing in which Strauss is portrayed as the puppet master and the Bush administration as his puppets. The anti-Semitic overtones of this theory are obvious - Strauss as a "Nazi Jew" -, particularly as many of his students bear Jewish names: Paul Wolfowitz, Abram Shulsky, Harvey Mansfield, William Kristol.

Doesn't the felt necessity of morality and the necessity of God to that morality instead offer a means of rational access to faith even for the elite?

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 6:20 PM


Sens. Kennedy, Kerry Support University of Massachusetts Marijuana Research Plan (Marijuana Policy Project press release, 10/23/2003)

Both U.S. senators from Massachusetts, Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry, have asked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to approve a groundbreaking proposal from the University of Massachusetts Amherst to manufacture marijuana for FDA-approved medical marijuana research.

At present, all U.S. medical marijuana researchers are required to obtain marijuana for medical studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIDA's marijuana, grown on a farm in Mississippi, has been criticized for its poor quality ...

This will not only create jobs, it will light a fire in UMass's research program. Nice work, Sens. Kennedy and Kerry.

I am a little curious about one thing. Complaints have also been lodged about the quality of Canadian government marijuana. In serious medical research such as this, is it really important that the test subjects have high quality marijuana? If medical scientists were to experiment on the effects of red wine, would it have to be Chateau Mouton Rothschild?

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 5:32 PM


Man Accused of Stealing 440 Left Shoes (AP, 10/27/2003)

Police arrested a man for stealing shoes at a southern Japanese hospital then found a collection in his home of 440 women's shoes - all for the left foot....

The missing footwear was always for the left foot and in a women's shoe style, a local police spokesman said Sunday....

In Irie's home, police found a box in a closet overflowing with the left mate to 440 pairs of women's shoes, including high heels, patent leather pumps, sandals and nurses shoes.

What this guy did just isn't right.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:42 AM


Hawaiians march for an independent state (SFGate, 10/19/2003)

Supporters of Hawaiian independence wearing bright, floral shirts marched through town Sunday, shouting "Aloha," and distributing flyers to passers-by, hoping to gather support for their cause....

Kaiopua Fyfe, an organizer who lives on the island of Kauai, said many Hawaiians consider the United States' governance of Hawaii to be an illegal occupation of a country, similar to the British Empire's colonization of India and the current situation in Iraq.

"They should allow us to participate in our own self-determination," he said.

The Hawaiian islands have been part of the United States since the U.S. military overthrew the last monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, in 1959....

"Everything we have has to be imported in," said Imaikakoloaenui Nauha, who lives in Modesto, but was born and raised in Honolulu. "Hawaii is one of the richest states, yet it's the poorest because of the state that America has left us in."

He said Hawaiian were able to support themselves long before becoming part of the United States and they have no need for the economic benefits the United States offers.

A few thoughts on this story:
  • Given the relatively free press in Hawaii, Reporters Without Borders should move us ahead of the Palestinian authority.
  • If Nauha has no need for the economic benefits the United States offers, why is he living in Modesto?
  • Maybe if the Hawaii public schools would explain that the U.S. takeover was in the 19th century, these young Hawaiians would not be so militant.
  • If we let them have self-determination, will they allow us to hunt the roosters?

  • Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:28 AM


    Cheney's new adviser has sights on Syria (Jim Lobe, 10/21/03, Asia Times)

    A neo-conservative strategist who has long called for the United States and Israel to work together to "roll back" the Ba'ath-led government in Syria, has been quietly appointed as a Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

    David Wurmser, who had been working for the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, John Bolton, joined Cheney's staff under its powerful national security director, I Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in mid-September, according to Cheney's office. [...]

    For the latter part of the decade, he wrote frequently to support a joint US-Israeli effort to undermine then president Hafez Assad, in hopes of destroying Ba'ath rule and hastening the creation of a new order in the Levant to be dominated by "tribal, familial and clan unions under limited governments".

    Indeed, it was precisely because of the strategic importance of the Levant that Wurmser advocated overthrowing Saddam Hussein in favor of an Iraqi National Congress (INC) closely tied to the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan.
    "Whoever inherits Iraq dominates the entire Levant strategically," he wrote in one 1996 paper for the Jerusalem-based Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS).

    Wurmser, whose Israeli-born spouse Meyrav Wurmser heads Middle East studies at the neo-conservative Hudson Institute, was the main author of a 1996 report by a task force convened by the IASPS and headed by Perle, called the Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000. The paper, called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm", was directed to incoming Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It featured a series of recommendations designed to end the process of Israel trading "land for peace" by transforming the "balance of power" in the Middle East in favor of an axis consisting of Israel, Turkey and Jordan.

    To do so, it called for ousting Saddam and installing a Hashemite leader in Baghdad. From that point, the strategy would be largely focused on Syria and, at the least, to reducing its influence in Lebanon.

    Among other steps, the report called for Israeli sponsorship of attacks on Syrian territory by "Israeli proxy forces" based in Lebanon and "striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper".

    "Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, even rolling back Syria," the report argued, to create a "natural axis" between Israel, Jordan, a Hashemite Iraq and Turkey that "would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula". "For Syria, this could be the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East, which could threaten Syria's territorial integrity," it suggested.

    One nice thing about taking down Syria is that it would establish that Ba'athism is a sufficient cause for regime change, never mind WMD.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:28 AM


    Ginger Pumpkin Bisque (The Splendid Table, October 21, 2003)

    Adapted from The Cape Cod Table by Lora Brody Chronicle Books 2003). Copyright © 2003 by Lora Brody

    Serves 8

    A velvet firecracker is what someone once called this smooth-as-silk soup with a bit of a bite. You can make it with fresh or canned pumpkin.

    1 3-by-1-inch-piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
    Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
    3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
    2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
    2 10-ounce cans pumpkin puree, or 2? cups fresh pumpkin puree (see below)
    1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced
    6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
    1 cup orange juice
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    3 to 4 drops Tabasco sauce
    Sour cream or plain yogurt for garnish (optional)
    Toasted pumpkin seeds (see below) for garnish (optional)

    Place the ginger, orange zest, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, onion, stock, and orange juice in a large, covered, heavy-bottomed nonreactive stockpot set over moderate heat.

    Simmer until the vegetables are very tender about 30 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes before pureeing the soup, either in a blender or with a hand-held (immersion type) blender. Add salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce to taste.

    Garnish each bowlful with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt and top with toasted pumpkin seeds just before serving.

    To Prepare Fresh Pumpkin Puree: Select a sugar pumpkin (the kind with the variegated vertical stripes). Scrub the surface, cut off the stem, cut the pumpkin in half, and remove the seeds and stringy pulp. Use a sharp knife to remove the outer skin. Cut the flesh into 2-inch chunks and place them in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add water to cover and set over high heat until the water comes to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer gently until the pumpkin is very tender about 20 minutes. Drain before using.

    To Toast Pumpkin Seeds: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a heavy-duty baking sheet or shallow, rimmed pan with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray or coat it lightly with vegetable oil. Spread the seeds and stringy pulp across the foil. Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, using a metal spatula to turn the seeds over halfway through the cooking time, until they are deep golden brown.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:27 AM


    USINPAC's Puri: 'Sky's The Limit' For Bobby Jindal: With Republican Bobby Jindal, a 32-year-old second-generation Indian American, locked in a runoff to become Louisiana's next governor, NationalJournal.com's Jennifer Koons spoke with Sanjay Puri, who is in charge of Capitol Hill outreach for the U.S. India Political Action Committee, about the impact of Jindal's campaign on the broader Indian American community. (National Journal, Oct. 15, 2003)

    Q. More than 1.7 million Indian Americans live in the United States today. Census results suggest Indian Americans are more educated and better off financially than many other groups. So why has there not been much news about Indian-Americans' active political involvement -- is this because they are not as involved as other demographics?

    A. You're right, the census shows about 2 million Indian Americans. I think that the interesting part about that is that they're growing at the rate of 10 percent every year. They're doubling the numbers each census. Also, if you look at the breakdown of 2 million, there are close to 40,000 physicians in that group, half a million in the IT sector and then about half a million in the hospitality sector owning hotels and motels. It's a pretty highly educated group.

    As far as the political process, why nobody's talked about it, because, you
    know, it's the typical immigrant story -- when they came in they were
    looking to build their homes, their families, to educate themselves, their
    children, to fulfill the American dream.

    There have been attempts at their participating, but it has been relatively
    too far and too infrequent. I think now we are seeing the evolution and the
    majority. I think it's just going to escalate in a tremendous manner as we
    go forward in the future. [...]

    Q. USINPAC is a bipartisan organization that supports Indian American
    candidates for office regardless of their political affiliation. Many devout
    Hindus have expressed extreme dissatisfaction with Bobby Jindal's
    gubernatorial bid in Louisiana, saying that he is too Americanized or too
    Christian. How has the organization successfully balanced these opposing

    A. The way our organization is built we don't look at religion or any
    of those issues. On the sum of it was, is Bobby a good candidate? Is he a
    good American? Does he have the skills to be a great candidate? A person's
    religous beliefs are really between a person and himself. We don't make
    judgments on that.

    Looking at the track record of Bobby Jindal and having had the chance to
    meet him several times and talk to him, he is just an exceptional candidate
    who has proven time and again that wherever he goes, he produces results.
    And I think it's really a statement from the people in Louisiana that they
    want a results-oriented person -- and a person's background in terms of his
    international origin or whatever else really doesn't matter. So that's the
    course we have taken during this race. [...]

    Q. Your organization raised roughly $19,000 for both political parties in
    2002. Will you continue to raise money for both President Bush and the
    Democratic nominee in the 2004 election?

    A. Well, we raised a lot more money since 2002, because we're almost at the end of 2003. So we will continue to raise money and continue to support candidates who support our issues.

    As far as the presidential candidates, we have had the real privilege of
    having most of the Democratic candidates come in and present their views on
    the issues that are important to our community at meetings. We would love to
    have President Bush also come in and talk to us, and that invitation is open
    to him.

    October 27, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:05 PM


    Silent Smile (Shawn Macomber, 10/6/2003, American Spectator)

    [T]his weekend's pro-life conference hosted by The American Cause was definitely a step in the right direction. Aside from a few wild card panelists, (including one who said that Planned Parenthood centers are churches for pro-abortionists where babies are "sacrificed to Satan"), the conference was quite the forward looking affair. New ideas strategies were discussed with an admirable and undogmatic frankness that might have shocked outsiders.

    Chief among these was the inclusion of women recounting the terrible fallout of their own abortions. The emotionally charged atmosphere sent many attendees into tears. Try maintaining your composure while a young woman describes Planned Parenthood staff advising her as a 16-year-old seeking an abortion (sans her parents' consent) to keep her crying down as she received the injection that would still the beating heart of her child.

    "Is it a baby?" she asked the Planned Parenthood counselor, who, notably, refused to allow her to see the sonogram confirming her pregnancy. "No, it's just a clump of cells," she was told. "They tell you that, but they don't tell you what it’s like to have to abort your baby at home, alone," she said.

    Most abortion is not murder; it's negligent homicide. Murder requires premeditation and an understanding that one is terminating a life. The trend in our society has clearly been toward getting over our "love affair with the fetus," as former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders so eloquently put it.

    It is only much later, when the gravity and horror of the operation hits home, that the grief and penance come into play. Yet, the condemnation wing of the pro-life movement continues to frighten these women -- arguably its most valuable asset -- away. Combine their testimony with the technology that can pick up the first smiles in the womb, ever closer to the point of conception, and the entire debate shifts.

    If Ms Elders had said we have to get over loving babies, even the Left might have been horrified. But because the Right had been losing for so long and the Left had been allowed to impose dehumanized terminology, folks could convince themselves she was talking about something unlike us. Creating this fiction of otherness is always a prerequisite for any systemic deprivation of one group's rights by another.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:25 PM


    Measurements of evil: a review of Hitler's Scientists by John Cornwell (Alan Judd, 14/09/2003, Daily Telegraph)

    Half of all Nobel prize-winners in the natural sciences and medicine during the first two decades of the 20th century were German. Germany was the Mecca of science, yet, from 1933 onwards, many of the intellectual inheritors of this great tradition - themselves no less gifted and educated, and including Heisenberg, of quantum physics fame - worked for a government that exterminated millions for being Jewish, developed an entire pseudo-science of racial hygiene and based much of its industrial and scientific effort on slave labour.

    Some were passively co-operative but others were more enthusiastic, competing for funds and prestige - 44.8 per cent of German physicians joined the Nazi party, the highest representation of any professional group (lawyers were next, with 25 per cent).

    This prompts big questions, which John Cornwell poses at the start of his thought-provoking account: "Can we by studying the history of science in Germany… draw significant conclusions about the relationship between science and the good society? Does doing science make human beings more rational, sceptical, internationalist, objective?" [...]

    Cornwell makes some comparisons between the Nazi attitudes towards science and those of the democracies during the Cold War - and even now: "The Faustian bargains lurk within routine grant applications, the pressure to publish… the treatment of knowledge as a commodity." He might have developed this theme in relation to the former Soviet Union - particularly with regard to biological warfare - and he might have made more of 19th-century German attitudes towards the state and the professions, but his fundamental judgments are sound.

    The brute truth is that science follows funding, that the greater the state's role, the more the state culture dominates; and that most scientists, like most non-scientists, co-operate with tyrannies because the consequences of not doing so are dire.

    And where religion is allowed to atrophy there is no competing culture and when scientists personally abandon religion they've no moral compass to slow their surrender to the State. It's an ugly cycle that secular Statism establishes.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:12 AM


    The Night the Bed Fell (James Thurber, 1933-07-08, The New Yorker)

    I suppose that the high-water mark of my youth in Columbus, Ohio, was the night the bed fell on my father. It makes a better recitation (unless, as some friends of mine have said, one has heard it five or six times) than it does a piece of writing, for it is almost necessary to throw furniture around, shake doors, and bark like a dog, to lend the proper atmosphere and verisimilitude to what is admittedly a somewhat incredible tale. Still, it did take place.

    It happened, then, that my father had decided to sleep in the attic one night, to be away where he could think. My mother opposed the notion strongly because, she said, the old wooden bed up there was unsafe: it was wobbly and the heavy headboard would crash down on father's head in case the bed fell, and kill him. There was no dissuading him, however, and at a quarter past ten he closed the attic door behind him and went up the narrow twisting stairs. We later heard ominous creakings as he crawled into bed. Grandfather, who usually slept in the attic bed when he was with us, had disappeared some days before. (On these occasions he was usually gone six or eight days and returned growling and out of temper, with the news that the Federal Union was run by a passel of blockheads and that the Army of the Potomac didn't have any more chance than a fiddler's bitch.)

    -SHORT STORY: Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife (James Thurber, 1933-03-04, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: THE YEARS WITH THURBER: The man and his letters. (ROBERT GOTTLIEB, 2003-09-08, The New Yorker)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:12 AM


    A Growing Euroscepticism (Hans Labohm, 10/20/2003, Tech Central Station)

    European integration, of which the European Union offers the most visible institutional expression, has deep roots. It can be perceived as a successful, yes even magnificent venture to come to grips with Europe's erstwhile endemic internal power struggles, which since 1870 caused four Franco-German wars, two of which escalated into world wars, whereby entire generations of young men were butchered at the European battle fields.

    This has now become a thing of a distant past. The older generation, which has consciously experienced World War II, saw a united Europe as the most effective response to prevent a recurrence of these dreadful events. Its attitude towards European integration is influenced by deep gratitude and emotional attachment to what has been achieved. Adherents
    of a United Europe want to go even further and 'deepen' European integration. They disapprove of anything that might harm European cohesion and might divert from finding the Holy Grail of political finality (in French: finalité politique) of the EU, which, by the way, has never been properly defined. They abhor a businesslike assessment of each further step of European integration, based on sober, case-by-case, cost-benefit analysis. They believe that one should not mix ideals with petty national interests.

    In their view, differences are not insurmountable. They believe that reaching the goal of a United Europe is so overriding that one should not quarrel too much about the sacrifices it entails. They keep unfolding grandiose institutional schemes in order to bring about a United Europe, which in many respects would mirror the United States. They sincerely regret the fading away of European idealism. They strongly disapprove of the bickering about the distribution of the
    financial burden, especially initiated by countries which are net-contributors to the European budget, such as the UK and the Netherlands. They consider it as a lack of commitment and loyalty to the European cause - yes, even as anti-European. They equally loathe attempts of the smaller European members to prevent institutional changes which may give the bigger member states a dominant position. They believe that these attempts are thwarting the effectiveness of the decision-making process and the achievement of the political finality.

    Their top-down view of the integration process contrasts sharply with the bottom-up approach of those who insist on subsidiarity, which was been laid down, for the first time, in the Treaty of Maastricht of 1982. Subsidiarity implies that decision-making should take place as close as
    possible to the citizen. Only when local, regional or national decision-making is inadequate -- e.g., because they have external effects which exceed the level on which they are taken -- should it be lifted to the European level. It also implies that European policies should have value added.

    This implicates what must be the single most important issue confronting liberalism (small "l"), whether the end of governance should be sovereignty or legitimacy. Here's a nice differentiation of the two, Legitimacy, Sovereignty and the Justice of War with Iraq (John Lewis, Dec. 5, 2002, The Collegian) :
    Sovereignty refers to a government’s exclusive authority to enforce laws over a given geographic area.  Sovereignty can be established and maintained by a constitutional process, as in America.  However, de facto sovereignty can also be established by brute force, as Saddam Hussein holds power over Iraq.  Sovereignty means that the political authority has a monopoly on power.  It does not say whether the power is legitimate.
    There is a parallel in economics.  A person may have a sum of money.  But, did he get it by theft?  If so, then he should be arrested and his claim to ownership disavowed.  The mere fact that he possesses the money does not legitimize his ownership of it.
    But what constitutes political legitimacy?  A government is legitimate if it is proper.  But what constitutes proper?  To answer this depends upon one’s view of human nature, and of the purpose of government.  I have a benevolent view; I think people are good, and will prosper if the political system they live in protects their rights to think and act rationally.  A legitimate government defends these rights. [...]
    Freedom defines the purpose, the means, and the moral status of a government.  Protecting freedom is its proper purpose, and its reason for existing.  A sovereign power is established and recognized as a means to that purpose.  Only a government that fulfills this purpose is legitimate.

    One would suspect that many, if not the majority of those who are reading this do in fact believe that sovereignty is not sufficient, that a government must also be proper, must conform to certain pre-existing moral standards, in order to be legitimate. Certainly, the American Republic rests on the belief that only that government which meets such standards is legitimate. This is the plain meaning of both the Declaration:
    WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    and the Preamble to the Constitution:
    We the people of the United States, 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.

    Obviously a number of presumptions underlie these statements, not least that we have broad agreement about what constitutes justice and liberty and that we share a faith that there is a Creator who did endow us with rights that predate the State. But so far those presumptions have held reasonably true.

    This is not the only possible view of the state though, nor even the only liberal one, nor even the only reasonable and decent one. For as a general matter our system tends to favor only one of the two competing sources of human motivation--it favors freedom. But the attempt to guarantee security is certainly an honorable quest--peace and order are not things to be dismissed lightly. And if it is believed that they can best be achieved by a system that requires us to ignore whether the governments of other states are legitimate--to look only at whether they are sovereign states, and if they are leave them to deal with their own internal matters--that belief deserves due consideration. It is, after all, most likely the one held by the majority of people, states, and institutions in the world. Groups and individuals from the Pope to the UN to most of the American and European Left to Saddam Hussein himself, felt that the fact of Iraq having a sovereign state and orderly rule, and that it was not attacking any other sovereign state, should have sufficed to keep it inviolable. That's a fairly august collection of partisans.

    But it's an interesting aspect of the alternative belief, the belief in legitimacy, that it is by its very nature universalist. And so, for the very reason that it requires a domestic government to behave in a legitimate manner, it feels unconstrained by the idea of sovereignty when it confronts illegitimate regimes.

    The great battle that rages around us still--and we see it not just in the debate over invading Iraq but in regard to Kyoto and the International Criminal Court and the UN itself--is whether America should remain committed to its traditional demand of legitimacy, which leads us into unilateralism, or whether we should join Europe and the other transnationalists in accepting mere sovereignty as sufficient justification for all governmental exercises of power. The latter vision might even, though there's ample reason to doubt it, render a world that is more peaceful than current one. But it will do so at the cost of some considerable sacrifice of human freedom--we're such a bumptious lot that genuine peace requires that we be restrained to some substantial degree. The choice seems that simple: a peaceful security or a rather more violent freedom?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:11 AM

    WHAT CONCERN ARE YOU OF MINE? (via Mike Daley):

    Are All Religions Identical? (Phil Mole, Butterflies and Wheels)

    Are all religions identical? Many people seem to think so, especially if they've taken a world religion course in college or read a Joseph Campbell book. They will tell you that all religions teach us to value life, to refrain from harming others, and to renounce selfishness. Therefore, so the thinking goes, all religions are identical in both content and purpose. The corollary assumption is that there can never be legitimate conflicts between religious beliefs, therefore all disagreements between followers of different religions must be fundamentally illegitimate. These conflicts allegedly stem from simple misunderstandings or unwillingness to admit common ground.

    Such a view is certainly comforting, since it suggests that religious factions need only to listen to each other to find out they're not so different after at all. Then, as trendy therapists might say, the healing can begin. The only problem with this tidy, conciliatory view is that is utterly incorrect. A little knowledge of world religious traditions might convince us that they are identical, but a lot of knowledge tends to convince us that they are very different.

    Many people who believe all religions are identical pay special attention to the similarities between Judaism, Christianity and Islam, or between ancient myths such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Biblical flood story included in Genesis. All of these describe the actions of a powerful deity who created the world by conquering the forces of chaos. But why is this similarity so surprising? All of these religions arose in the same tiny sliver of the world known as the Fertile Crescent, and their development often overlapped. The Babylonian Code of Hammurabi almost certainly inspired the Jewish Ten Commandments, which later found their way into both Christianity and Islam as those religions absorbed and reinterpreted Judaic religious concepts. Thus, it's hardly newsworthy that Near Eastern religions tend to resemble each other to some degree. [...]

    People who assume a common ethical code across all religions tend to think that only good things follow from real religious beliefs, and overlook any aspects of religions that don’t conform with modern moral standards. They define religion as equivalent to goodness and virtue, so it's hardly surprising that all religions reflect these qualities back at them. This tautological view of matters prevents many people from asking if some religious beliefs might have inherent negative consequences as well as positive consequences. Christians, for example, do not often consider the possibility that monotheism may fuel intolerance of rival religious factions, and allow people to exterminate their neighbors in the name of piety. Christians often express sincere concern about events such as the Crusades and the Inquisition, but tend to see these events as aberrations of true Christianity rather than tendencies inherent within monotheism itself. Monotheism can also motivate good ethical conduct, of course, but that doesn't negate the existence of the bad conduct. Both are real parts of the legacy of world religions, and responsible scholarship should not ignore one at the expense of the other.

    What Mr. Mole fails to consider is somewhat the opposite point: that a certain level of intolerance is necessary to a healthy society. Everyone recognizes this at least implicitly--consider, for example, how few voices were raised in protest when the Feds cracked down on militia groups after Oklahoma City. Speech, assembly, and gun rights justifiably took a back seat when those seeking to exercise them were racist separatists. Similarly, WWI and the Cold War brought Red Scares; WWII saw the incarceration of the Japanese-Americans and totally trumped up prosecutions of various Bundists; and 9-11 brought a massive roundup of Islamic immigrants. It's all well and good to protest that some or all of these were mistaken, but we keep doing it, don't we? We feel ourselves entitled to defend society from those who are most alienated from it and who openly threaten it. Moreover, the alternative to such intolerance is a society which does not even attempt to be decent in the way that most of us would define decency. Instead, mere peaceful coexistence is elevated from a means to an end in itself. It is detente on a personal scale, requiring one not to take notice of the intolerable conditions one's neighbor imposes on his family, because, after all, who are we to judge? It requires, in fact, that we deny that there is even such a thing as Good, or Evil, because recognizing them to be real then forms the basis for making judgments about others.

    It seems implausible that any social structure could long endure which was truly tolerant --the notion depends too much on a Utopian belief in the essential decency of human nature. But the more basic issue is whether such a structure, even were it workable, is something that most of us would desire. Do we just want to be left alone, even if it means ignoring the sins and suffering of those around us, or are we, as Aristotle said and as Christ ordered us to be, social creatures?

    October 26, 2003

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:33 PM


    What became of the Israeli left? (Ian Buruma, Guardian, 10/23/2003)

    The left in Israel always was the preserve of the European elite. Socialism did not grow out of the socio-economic problems of a local working class, but was transferred, along with Bauhaus, Chopin and Brahms, as part of Zionist idealism. Ideology was not the product of circumstances; it preceded them....

    Yair Tzaban, a former cabinet minister under Itzhak Rabin, explains how his leftwing Zionist party, Mapam, is always mentioned in the polls as the party fighting hardest for social rights, but "can't capitalise on it because of our national problems". For "the working classes vote for the right".

    This seems to be the end toward which many democracies are evolving: On the left is a party of the elite, who want to rule; on the right is a party of the people, who want liberty and law to restrain the powerful.

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 6:30 PM


    Questions raised about Terri's collapse (World Net Daily, 10/26/2003)

    Dr. Michael Baden, co-director of the Investigative Unit of New York State Police in Albany and former chief medical examiner for New York City, ruled out potassium imbalance and a heart attack as factors in Terri's mysterious collapse 13 years ago – which left her severely incapacitated and unable to speak – and pointed to head trauma and bone injuries as a more likely cause....

    Baden said he studied a bone scan made in March 1991at a hospital that describes her as having a head injury.

    If her husband does starve her to death while he's the guardian, can he avoid an autopsy?

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 5:47 PM


    Bush judicial nominee slammed (Sacramento Bee, 10/23/2003)

    California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, President Bush's controversial nominee for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, ran into a firestorm of criticism from Democrats ...

    In her questioning, Feinstein zeroed in on a speech Brown delivered three years ago to the Federalist Society at the University of Chicago Law School that the senator said was disturbing because of its anti-government tone.

    In that speech, Brown said that "where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates, and our ability to control our destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege, war in the streets, unapologetic expropriation of property, the precipitous decline of the rule of law, the rapid rise of corruption, the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit."

    If judging doesn't work out, Ms. Brown, a judge after my own heart, can always write for the BrothersJudd. The pay isn't good, but we don't have to bow down to liberal idols.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:14 PM


    Defender of the Faith: Why all Anglican eyes in London are nervously fixed on a powerful African archbishop (Philip Jenkins, November 2003, The Atlantic Monthly)

    The most important figure today in the Anglican Communion, a worldwide federation of churches with some 75 million adherents, is probably a man few people in the West know anything about: Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola, of Nigeria. An uncompromising traditionalist, Akinola presides over the most vibrant and almost certainly the largest Anglican community in the world—at a time when the Anglican world's true center of gravity has shifted to Africa.

    It was no small matter, then, when Akinola went public this past summer with blistering denunciations of proposals to consecrate openly gay bishops and to sanctify gay marriage. Commenting on the decision of the Canadian diocese of New Westminster to approve the blessing of gay unions, Akinola declared that the diocese had in practice seceded from the Anglican world. Reacting to a proposal in the Church of England to ordain a gay bishop (a proposal ultimately withdrawn after intense pressure from African and Asian leaders), Akinola thundered, "This is an attack on the Church of God —a Satanic attack on God's Church." And during the buildup to the U.S. Episcopal Church's controversial ordination of Gene Robinson as the bishop of New Hampshire, he announced, "I cannot think of how a man in his senses would be having a sexual relationship with another man. Even in the world of animals, dogs, cows, lions, we don't hear of such things."

    American and European readers may be inclined to dismiss such remarks as coming from a hidebound bigot, or perhaps from a demagogue seeking attention—but they would be wrong to do so. In his attitudes toward sexuality, and above all in his attitude toward religious authority, Akinola represents a deep-rooted conservative tradition in African Christianity that is flourishing and growing, and that is simply not going to vanish as levels of economic growth and education rise in Africa. The prospect of imminent global schism in the Anglican Communion is therefore real.

    If we've not become immune to irony, there's something delicious in the specter that Britain having brought Western civilization to its empire will now be summoned back to a vindication of that civilization's values by its former subjects.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:13 PM



    What walked into Columbine High School Tuesday was the culture of death. This time it wore black trench coats. Last time it was children's hunting gear. Next time it will be some other costume, but it will still be the culture of death. That is the Pope's phrase; it is how he describes the world we live in.

    The boys who did the killing, the famous Trench Coat Mafia, inhaled too deep the ocean in which they swam.

    Think of it this way. Your child is an intelligent little fish. He swims in deep water. Waves of sound and sight, of thought and fact, come invisibly through that water, like radar; they go through him again and again, from this direction and that. The sound from the television is a wave, and the sound from the radio; the headlines on the newsstand, on the magazines, on the ad on the bus as it whizzes by--all are waves. The fish--your child--is bombarded and barely knows it. But the waves contain words like this, which I'll limit to only one source, the news:

    . . . was found strangled and is believed to have been sexually molested . . . had her breast implants removed . . . took the stand to say the killer was smiling the day the show aired . . . said the procedure is, in fact, legal infanticide . . . is thought to be connected to earlier sexual activity among teens . . . court battle over who owns the frozen sperm . . . contains songs that call for dominating and even imprisoning women . . . died of lethal injection . . . had threatened to kill her children . . . said that he turned and said, "You better put some ice on that" . . . had asked Kevorkian for help in killing himself . . . protested the game, which they said has gone beyond violence to sadism . . . showed no remorse . . . which is about a wager over whether he could sleep with another student . . . which is about her attempts to balance three lovers and a watchful fiancé . . .

    This is the ocean in which our children swim. This is the sound of our culture. It comes from all parts of our culture and reaches all parts of our culture, and all the people in it, which is everybody. [...]

    A man called into Christian radio this morning and said a true thing. He said, and I am paraphrasing: Those kids were sick and sad, and if a teacher had talked to one of them and said, "Listen, there's a way out, there really is love out there that will never stop loving you, there's a real God and I want to be able to talk to you about him"--if that teacher had intervened that way, he would have been hauled into court.

    Yes, he would have. It occurs to me at the moment that a gun and a Bible have a few things in common. Both are small, black, have an immediate heft and are dangerous--the first to life, the second to the culture of death.

    The Booker prize went to an author this year who imagines an American school shooting--one doubts he focuses on the culture of death we all share in the West, eh?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:08 AM


    Flying Humans: An Interview with David Glover (Astrobiology Magazine, Oct 20, 2003)

    David Glover is the past President of the United States Hang Gliding Association. He holds a world record for distance hang gliding and has taken more people up for their first flight than almost anyone in the world. Glover is among the fewer than ten tandem hang gliding instructors who have more than 5000 flights with a passenger. Today, there are fewer tandem hang gliding instructors than astronauts. [...]

    Flying flexible wing designs has a rich history among forward-thinking planetary explorers. The first flex wing hang glider patent by Dr. Francis Rogallo (NASA Langley wind tunnels, Virginia) dates all the way back to the late forties. Rogallo is considered "The Father of Hang Gliding", and his design is often hailed as a kind of original, not having any model in nature.

    In contrast to other flexible aerial devices like parachutes, a load-bearing Rogallo wing produces more lift than drag, though not as much as a conventional wing. But rigid wings could not be folded neatly away when not in use, and they were inherently far heavier. Rogallo first realized what this might mean in 1952, when he chanced across an article on space travel: "with beautiful illustrations depicting rigid-winged gliders mounted on top of huge rockets. I thought that the rigid-winged gliders might better be replaced by vehicles with flexible wings that could be folded into small packages during the launching."

    Although the light materials like bamboo and thin, strong cloth have been available for thousands of years, a practical design for human soaring was missing: the dream of foot-launched flight particularly seemed dauntingly difficult. Indeed, the Egyptians had all the items necessary to create a glider capable of carrying a person, but only the latter half of the twentieth century saw the full concept take shape.

    As part of its Century of Flight commemoration, Astrobiology Magazine had the opportunity to talk with David Glover about human flight, on the one-hundredth anniversary of the Wright Brothers' famous first lift-off. [...]

    AM: What is the moment of 'glass-off', in hang-gliding terminology?

    DG: The sun can be down and you still are floating far above the ground. So 'glass-off' denotes an end of the day phenomenon where the latent heat trapped in a valley, usually in front of a mountain, releases a rush of rising air and provides buoyant lift for a pilot.

    It is a very descriptive phrase, 'glass-off', because at the end of the day, over a valley, the air can become all lift. It gives the pilot a very smooth ride.

    What a lovely phenomenon.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:07 AM


    Demography, Disaster and Destiny (Megan McArdle, 10/21/2003, Tech Central Station)

    To understand exactly why Social Security is so troubled, it's helpful to stop thinking about our looming fiscal crisis, and think instead about the demographic problem that's causing it. For all the exhaustive arguments about tweaking benefit levels, changing the structure of FICA, or raising taxes, the main problem with social security is devastatingly simple. While there are currently 3.3 workers in the workforce supporting every retiree, in the 2040's -- when the Social Security Administration's projections show the program falling off the cliff into insolvency -- there will be fewer than 2, due to a combination of falling birth-rates and longer lifespans. Any long term solution, therefore, must do one of two things: increase the ratio of workers to retirees, or increase the productivity of the workers so that they can support themselves, and the retirees depending upon them, in the style to which everyone has become accustomed.

    Changing the ratio of workers to retirees is probably easier. Increasing the number of workers, indeed, could be a lot of fun; the most obvious way to do it is to make more babies. Barring that, we can import more workers. Social Security is basically a Ponzi scheme; we could keep it going for an indefinite period of time by adding fresh victims to the bottom of the pyramid. [...]

    If we can't increase the size of the workforce that much, what about shrinking the number of retirees? Certainly, that would help. Various groups have already suggested two ways we could do this: means-testing benefits, so that the rich are disqualified; and raising the retirement age. [...]

    Privatization will be a major component of any long-term solution to the Social Security crisis. Why? Because private accounts increase our national savings. Unlike money given to the government, which overwhelmingly goes into current spending, money invested in the private sector is used to do new research, invent new products, and buy new facilities and equipment -- all of which will eventually make our future workers more productive. When we've gone as far as we can go towards changing the ratio of retirees to workers, privatization can take us the rest of the way by increasing the output of the workers we have left so that both workers and retirees can continue to live in comfort. It can also improve the efficiency of our economy by stopping the Social Security surplus -- which people think is being saved for their retirement -- from being funnelled into wasteful spending by legislators, on things they presumably wouldn't fund if they had to beg their constituents for the tax increases to pay for them.

    Of course, if you completely privatized the system then you could have a 1 to 1 ratio, because everyone would pay for themself--though obviously over the course of their lives the poor would have to have contributions made by the government.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:06 AM


    Carp: It's what's for dinner -- and it's pretty good (Chuck Haga, October 20, 2003 , Minneapolis Star Tribune)

    Using their special ingredient, the students in Doris Wang's food science class at the University of Minnesota, Crookston experimented last spring with a chowder, an enchilada and a quiche.

    They formed balls for grilling and puree for chowder. They made tacos and a casserole.

    All with carp. Ground carp.

    Skeptical? Wait till we get to the artichoke hearts.

    "The food bank people called and said they had all this ground carp and didn't know what to do with it," said Dina Van Dorsten, 31, a student in the class.

    "At first, it was 'Oh, gross!' Nobody wanted to hear about ground-up fish. But it actually worked better than hamburger in some of the recipes.

    "The best was the quiche," she said. "The worst was some kind of casserole we came up with."

    Cheddar carp quiche

    Shell: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons shortening 1/4 cup milk


    1 pound ground carp

    1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

    1/4 cup chopped green pepper

    1/4 cup chopped onion

    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/8 teaspoon pepper

    3 eggs, beaten

    1 1/4 cups milk

    Brown ground fish in a small amount of oil, drain and set aside.

    In a bowl, combine the flour, salt; cut in shortening till crumbly. Stir in milk. On a floured surface, roll dough into a 10-inch circle. Transfer to an ungreased deep-dish pie plate or quiche dish. Trim and flute edges. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

    In a bowl, combine browned fish, cheese, green pepper, onion, flour, salt and pepper; spoon into crust. Combine the eggs and milk, pour over fish mixture. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

    Yield: 6 servings.

    Recipe adapted and tested by dietetic technician students at University of Minnesota,Crookston.

    That just ain't right.

    October 25, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:07 PM


    The Fabulous Fabulists Mencken, Liebling, and Mitchell made stuff up, too. Why do we excuse them? (Jack Shafer, June 12, 2003, Slate)

    Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, and Christopher Newton all fabricated details--mundane and spectacular--in their journalism. But why? Reaching for the simplest explanation, I previously wrote that fabulists make stuff up because they don't have the talent or industry to produce copy grand enough to satisfy their egos.

    But if we agree that hacks and loafers resort to lies because they don't know how else to make great journalism, what can we say about reporters from the Pantheon who marbled their journalism with fiction? I'm thinking of H.L. Mencken, A.J. Liebling, and Joseph Mitchell, all of whom made stuff up. None of them suffered much in the way of reputation injury when their inventions were discovered. What sort of double standard is this? [...]

    Liebling's colleague at the World-Telegram and New Yorker, Joseph Mitchell, also diluted fact with fib. In the mid-'40s, he wrote three New Yorker pieces about New York's Fulton Fish Market, which were presented as fact. Only when the stories were collected as a book, Old Mr. Flood, in 1948 did Mitchell offer this disclaimer: "Mr. Flood is not one man; combined in him are aspects of several old men who work or hang out in Fulton Fish Market, or who did in the past." In a 1992 article, the New Criterion catalogs a few of his embellishments: Mitchell assigned Flood his own birthday, July 27; his "gustatory predilections"; his love for the Bible; his high regard for Mark Twain; his taste for columnist Heywood Broun; and his affection for all things old.

    If we insist on banishing Blair, Glass, Newton, and all the other confessed composite artists and embellishers (Michael Finkel, Christopher Jones, Jay Forman, Nik Cohn, Rodney Rothman) from journalism, why do we still honor Mencken, Liebling, and Mitchell? [...]

    All fabricators share a common motive: They want to make their story better than the plain truth, which they think gives them license to blend characters into a composite, pipe in dialogue, and edit events into a more logical narrative. If the truth refuses to collaborate, they conjure up something more compelling. The leading exponent of this school of journalism was New Yorker staff writer Alastair Reid. In 1984, the Wall Street Journal reported that Reid had constructed numerous composite characters in his nonfiction New Yorker pieces, rearranging events and scenes and inventing conversations. A translator and a poet as well as a nonfiction writer, Reid rationalized every one of his embellishments. [...]

    Joseph Mitchell anticipated Reid's grandiosity and self-regard in defending his Fulton Fish Market composite, writing in the preface to the book version, "I wanted these stories to be truthful rather than factual, but they are solidly based on facts." This caveat reveals Mitchell's disdain for the quotidian truths of newspapers. One suspects that Liebling's willingness to bend genres hails from the same territory. Reid spoke for all the arty fabricators working inside journalism when he told the Journal, "Readers who are factual-minded are the readers who are least important."

    -Literary License: Defending Joseph Mitchell's composite characters. (Meghan O'Rourke, July 29, 2003, Slate)
    Joseph Mitchell's Old Mr. Flood is a great book. It's as vivid a portrait of the Fulton Fish Market and of working-class life in New York City as any we have. Old Mr. Flood is also partly invented. Though it was first presented as journalism'Äîmost of it ran as magazine pieces in The New Yorker in 1944--Mitchell revealed in the book's preface some four years later that Mr. Flood was a composite character, as Jack Shafer recently noted in Slate.

    With the reappearance of Stephen Glass and the dismissal of Jayson Blair, a certain kind of rule-bending literary journalism has taken it on the chin. Mitchell and other respected sometime-"fabulists"'--including A.J. Liebling and Ryszard Kapuscinski'--have been lightly tarred and feathered along with the black-listed young journalists. After all, the argument goes, the realms of Fact and Fiction are diametrically opposed. There is no truth but the plain truth. The very currency of journalism is fact; to toy with it once is to devalue it (and your integrity) permanently, whether you are a great stylist or a hack.

    This line of reasoning is entirely logical. And yet too rigid an adherence to such standards would mean an impoverishment of American journalism'--one that seems unthinkable. There'd be no Old Mr. Flood, no The Honest Rainmaker, by A.J. Liebling; some work by New Journalists like Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, and Norman Mailer would go in the trash. John Hersey is said to have created a composite character in a Life magazine story; does this mean we should think differently of his masterpiece Hiroshima?

    Of course, no one wants to encourage budding Jayson Blairs. There is a line between aesthetic enhancement and outright fabrication; what's at stake here is something closer to judicious manipulation of fact than to Stephen Glass' invention-stews. Newspaper journalism always ought to be thoroughly factual. (H.L. Mencken's fabrications in the Baltimore Herald, for example, are indefensible.) [...]

    Indeed, there are times when the license of fiction, sparingly employed in the service of nonfiction, results in a great book with no negative effects on the lives of those involved. Old Mr. Flood seems precisely such a book. For one thing, no one real person is defamed in Mitchell's
    composite of Flood (unlike Stephen Glass' untruths about Vernon Jordan). Nor does Mitchell's use of a composite detract from the realism of Old Mr. Flood's compassionate, elegant, reportorial portrait of the Fulton Fish
    Market. Like a novelist, Mitchell takes license with dialogue in order
    to dispense with some of the ancillary randomness that is part of everyday life and arrive at a more highly stylized portrait. The quotes in the Old Mr. Flood are models of eloquent compression, such as you rarely find in real life and usually find in fiction. The point? To create a work that provides more aesthetic pleasure than a less highly wrought one, a distillation that makes us feel something essential about the world described, and thus has a greater chance of being remembered, read, used.

    After all, unlike newspaper stories, literary journalism seeks to make or "conjure up" a broader reality--îto bring us into a world. This isn't news of the who-what-when-how-why variety, but news of the kind that V.S. Naipaul said only the novel can deliver--news that resonates with the potency of its presentation. Strictly segregating fact from fiction hobbles literary journalists unnecessarily. Where fiction is an inclusive genre, one that allows for its conventions to be violated, journalism relies on a system of conventions intended to guarantee objectivity. But clearly even these conventions don't make for pure objectivity, which from the start compromises the sanctity of the fact/fiction opposition. [...]

    So, perhaps the problem is partly that our culture has no label for this kind of work, and that, systematizing creatures that we are, we need labels.

    Maybe we even need a new magazine genre, somewhere between fact and fiction. As for how and when it ought to be used, the only way to determine the answer would be on a case by case basis; in large part it depends on how worthwhile the result is. A system that asks writers to
    evaluate their own self-worth (in advance) is not a simple one; take the fact that Truman Capote's rigorous notion of a factually accurate nonfiction novel has quickly given way to a less well-enforced sub-genre, one example of which is Maria Flook's new book about Christa Worthington, a journalist murdered on Cape Cod in 2002. But such a system is theoretically feasible: Fiction writers pillage the lives of friends all the time; we tend to shrug off the negative consequences when the result is Saul Bellow's Herzog or a Robert Lowell poem. Certainly when in doubt, a journalist should assume it's not OK to take licenses like those described here; they're tools to be used rarely. But let's not take Mitchell off the syllabi because other writers lack his judiciousness and talent.

    There does seem an essential difference between day-to-day reporting, which should be as factually accurate as the journalist can get it, and essay writing, which seems as much an entertainment as a piece of reportage. Certainly no one reading Joe Mitchell or E.B. White or the other greats of the New Yorker would have thought that they were getting straightforward news coverage.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:06 PM

    A DUD:

    Thirty Years of Petro-Politics (Daniel Yergin, October 17, 2003, Washington Post)

    The 1973 oil embargo was the unsheathing of "the Arab oil weapon." [...]

    The whole international order seemed to have been transformed. Now politics was also about economics. On the day the embargo was announced, President Nixon told his advisers, "No one is more keenly aware of the stakes: oil and our strategic position." The vast flood of "petro-dollars" to the exporters turned "petro-power" into a central fact of international politics. [...]

    Within less than a decade, the "permanent shortage" turned into a glut, triggering a price collapse that, among other things, hastened the end of the Soviet Union, which had been depending on its oil exports as the lifeline to keep its economy alive.

    There are many lessons here. Nations that had taken their energy supplies for granted suddenly realized how important reliable, reasonably priced supplies were to their well-being. Oil became high politics, and energy became part of public policy.

    One of the less obvious but lasting lessons is that markets work, even in circumstances as dramatic as these were.

    Strangely missing is one of the--maybe the--key lessons of the use of oil as a weapon: even when it was wreaking economic havoc it failed utterly as a political weapon. American support for Israel has never wavered appreciably and the petro-nations never became a significant force in world affairs. Brandishing the threat of oil embargoes secured them no influence. You can't beat an idea--liberal democracy--with a commodity, no matter how much folks want it.

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 3:19 PM


    Second World Press Freedom Ranking (Reporters Without Borders, 2003)

    To compile this ranking, Reporters Without Borders asked journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists to fill out a questionnaire evaluating respect for press freedom in a particular country....

    29. Benin
    30. East Timor
    31. Greece
    31. United States of America (American territory)
    130. Palestinian Authority
    131. Morocco
    132. Liberia
    132. Ukraine
    134. Afghanistan
    135. United States of America (in Iraq)
    136. Yemen

    Special situation of the United States and Israel. The ranking distinguishes behaviour at home and abroad in the cases of the United States and Israel. They are ranked in 31st and 44th positions respectively as regards respect for freedom of expression on their own territory, but they fall to the 135th and 146th positions as regards behaviour beyond their borders.

    I suspect if we ranked countries according to the criterion, "What would happen if we tried to publish the BrothersJudd blog within its borders?", U.S.-occupied Iraq would not rank below the Palestinian Authority, and the U. S. of A. would not rank below Benin.

    However, Brian Leiter describes these rankings as "generous" to the U.S. Presumably he thinks the U.S. is worse than #34 Albania.

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:42 PM


    Has George W. Bush Met His Own Ken Starr? (John W. Dean, Findlaw's Writ, 10/24/2000)

    The Washington editor of The Nation, David Corn, has written a powerful -- not to mention disquieting -- 324-page polemic addressing the pervasive mendacity of George W. Bush's administration. It is entitled The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception.

    Actually, calling the book a polemic is misleading. It may be more accurate to call it a bill of particulars -- the document that provides the specific charges underlying an indictment.

    In this case, the charges are highly credible. Corn is an experienced and respected Washington journalist. His evidence is overwhelming ...

    This is not a Bush-bashing book.

    It would be interesting to know what, according to lefties, would qualify as a Bush-bashing book.

    However, the important contribution of this article is that it helps us conservatives understand what lefties mean when they say, "He lied."

    How should we judge Presidential lies?

    Corn himself implicitly suggests a few criteria. He notes that it is not enough for a president and his principal aides to refrain from making knowingly false statements. Rather, they must find the truth, and if they can't, must say so. In addition, an error in a presidential statement, when discovered, is every bit equal to a false statement if not corrected immediately.

    I agree. And that means that it is no defense that a President is unaware.... The obligation to find the truth remains.

    In other words:
  • To fail to know the truth, and not pronounce one's ignorance, is a lie. [For "if they can't [find the truth], they must say so."]
  • To fail to know the truth, even if one pronounces one's ignorance, is a lie. [For "it is no defense that a President is unaware.... The obligation to find the truth remains."]
  • New knowledge which corrects old knowledge and is not revealed immediately, is a lie. [For "an error ... is ... a false statement if not corrected immediately."]

    These assertions become all the more remarkable when one considers that we are at war, and all the most famous "lies" have to do with the war. In a past war, the slogan was, "Loose lips sink ships!" Now the left would substitute, "Tell all or be condemned of lying!" For if the president accurately and immediately limns the extent of his ignorance, he necessarily reveals the scope of his knowledge; if he immediately corrects any misimpression, he necessarily reveals the content of his knowledge.

    In fact, especially in wartime, information is a President's chief asset, and it must be played out as carefully as a poker player's chips. Mr. Dean here is requiring George W. Bush to be incompetent at conducting the Presidency, or to stand condemned in his own eyes.

    In the Christian tradition, one must never lie; but a lie is merely, and only, the making of a knowingly false statement. Contra Dean and Corn, it is enough "to refrain from making knowingly false statements." In fact, one can and should release true information selectively in order to create a false impression if that will serve the cause of goodness. A famous case was St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria in a time of persecution, who set forth on a boat on the Nile trying to escape Roman soldiers who would kill him. Seeing that he could not outrow his pursuers, he turned his boat and rowed directly toward them. As they drew near, a Roman called out, "Where is the traitor Athanasius?" Athanasius gaily called back, "Not far away!" The Roman soldiers rowed on.

    The left, whose standard of honesty for the Clinton administration fell far short of this Christian position, is now proposing new standards of honesty for a Republican administration that are far more stringent than the Christian position. Yet leftists do not argue for these new standards in a way that would be persuasive to conservatives. Their writings seem to be directed solely at those who already agree with them -- at those who isolate themselves in the left's intellectual ghetto.

  • Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:30 AM


    The Nonreligious Left: Why do they fear the religious right? (DANIEL HENNINGER, October 17, 2003, Wall Street Journal)

    In last fall's Public Interest quarterly, political scientists Louis Bolce and Gerald De Maio of Baruch College at the City University of New York argued in "Our Secularist Democratic Party" that the clearest indicator of party affiliation and voting patterns now is whether one is churched or unchurched, believer or agnostic. [...]

    Democratic secularists are defined as agnostics, atheists or people who rarely attend church, if ever. According to the national convention delegate surveys, write Messrs. Bolce and De Maio, "60% of first-time white delegates at the [1992] Democratic convention in New York City either claimed no attachment to religion or displayed the minimal attachment by attending worship services 'a few times a year' or less. About 5% of first-time delegates at the Republican convention in Houston identified themselves as secularists."

    In the 1992 election, Bill Clinton got 75% of the secularist vote, while the current President's father received support from traditionalists (churchgoers) by 2 to 1. That pattern held in the 2000 election. "In terms of their size and party loyalty," Messrs. Bolce and De Maio argue, "secularists today are as important to the Democratic party as another key constituency, organized labor."

    In turn this single self-definition tracks political belief across the entire battlefield of the culture wars--abortion, sexuality, prayer in the schools, judicial nominations. Interesting as that is, what intrigues me more as simple politics is how a Howard Dean, John Kerry or Joe Lieberman can feed these creedal beliefs of the "un-religious left" without in time coming themselves to be known as leaders of the party of non-belief? Or hypocrites. It's a hard river to cross.

    In an interview, Prestonwood pastor and SBC president Jack Graham said he expects evangelicals to go to the polls for Mr. Bush "in record numbers." "Our people didn't quite know George Bush in the last election, but they do now." Led through a list of voting issues for evangelicals, the Rev. Graham cites one above all: "that we have people of character in the White House."

    What should really trouble the Democrats is the following, WHILE LIEBERMAN BREAKS "JEWISH BARRIER," POLL REPORTS NEARLY HALF OF AMERICANS WOULD NOT SUPPORT ATHEIST (Atheists.org, August 12, 2000)
    A poll from the Gallup organization shows that Sen. Joseph Lieberman has made history in becoming the first Jewish American to run on a presidential ticket for either of the two major political parties, and that an overwhelming majority of those questioned say that his Orthodox faith is not an issue. The August 8 survey results show that 92% of respondents said they would vote for a "generally well qualified person for president" who happened to be Jewish, with only 6% saying they would oppose such a candidate. Similar percentages are reported when asked how they feel about a Roman Catholic or Baptist candidate as well.

    A Mormon candidate generates a 79% approval rating, with 17% saying they would not vote for an LDS member.

    Atheists do not fare as well, though, according to the Gallup survey, which finds "close to half of Americans, 48%, unwilling to support an atheist for president while 49% say they would."

    The survey results were compiled between Feb. 19-21, 1999.

    If the end of society and the State is to achieve the common good, but a significant portion of the populace disputes that otherwise widely accepted traditional good, can they be valued members of the body politic still?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:29 AM


    'It's a boy' is still what parents hope to hear (Marilyn Gardner, 10/08/03, CS Monitor)

    For new parents, can there be any more beautiful colors than pink and blue? "It's a girl!" and "It's a boy!" - the announcements ring out joyously to relatives and friends, heralding a new generation and the continuity of a family's lineage.

    Yet pink and blue are still not cheered and cherished in equal measure. Despite growing equality for girls and women, Americans continue to want sons over daughters. In a new Gallup Poll, 38 percent of respondents say they would prefer a boy if they could have only one child. Twenty-eight percent would choose a girl. Slightly more than a quarter express no preference. The rest have no opinion.

    Among young people, the gap widens. Almost half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 would prefer a son. Twenty-nine percent want a daughter, while 18 percent say it doesn't matter.

    In other words, the generations that think in terms of only having one child do consider maleness important.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:28 AM


    Self-Interest Versus Virtue: Conservatism and America's Divided Inheritance (Professor Barry Shain, October 4, 2003, The Philadelphia Society Regional Meeting)

    To understand accurately Madison's political teachings...one must uncover what Madison proposed as solutions to the critical problems of govern-ment: (1) how to control the governed and prevent them from acting tyrannously against minorities, and (2) how to control the government so that no one branch would impose its will on another. In confronting a work with contradictory claims, one must develop some such analytic to allow one to discriminate between essential and unessential remarks (though this is so rarely done). And Madison's answers to these questions provide just such a key that will allow us to uncover his authentic political teachings. By proposing that the means by which the new American government would control these twin pathologies of popular government exploited self-interest and found little or no role for virtue, Madison made clear which discourse, that of self-interest or that of virtue, was essential.

    The first of these problems was majority faction. To address this, Madison famously argued in The Federalist that the American system would be designed so that factions would be set against themselves so that none would be able to affect their will against deviant minorities or individuals. Madison argued that by extending the size of the polity and including within it numerous distinct economic and religious differences, and having these interests represented in a national representative legislative body, interest would offset interest. Strikingly, in the system as he defended it, there is no appeal to virtue in the people or any hope that the proper inculcation of it could prevent majoritarian tyranny. All that is expected of the people is that they honestly represent their self-interest when choosing representatives. Thus, in proposing a solution to the first of the most intransigent problems of popular government, Madison turned to well engineered political institutional mechanisms in a properly designed system that left no role for popular virtue. [...]

    [H]is vision of self-interestedness and elite dominance would only be imposed on the entire country in the glow of the Incorporation Doctrine and its hyperbolic development under the Warren Court (surely Warren went further than even Madison would have gone). Curiously, though, it is only with something like the Warren Court that Madison's political vision finally found a vehicle to put in place the essential features of his plan of government in which a centralized elite would be able to suspend morally intrusive laws of local majorities, if you will of "moral majorities." Still, in spite of this and that almost no one understood or showed any interest in his argument in number 10 until Beard did in the beginning of the twentieth century, it is Madison's theory of the extended republic that is read by students today as characteristic of eighteenth-century thought and as providing a foundational logic to the Constitution. Such an understanding, though, is historically without any credibility and represents instead the hopes of those who wish to import into the eighteenth century liberal values more appropriately associated with the twentieth. This kind of dishonesty true conservatives must resist.

    But to return to the two problems of popular government that Madison believes a defensible theory of government must solve, and that provide the key to discriminating between his authentic and unauthentic theories of government, we must also briefly consider his solution to the second problem, that of governmental tyranny. Here too, Madison proposes that virtue would be little needed. In fact, again, he offers a vision of government that will take as its basic engine the seeking after honor. Although this was more noble than that passion most readily associated with people -- avarice -- still it is a selfish passion and, thus, at a considerable remove from true virtue, be it Christian or republican. [...]

    Thus, Americans have inherited two visions of republican government and conservatives do have a choice. We can celebrate and give voice to the most long-lived, one might suggest most authentic, American vision of republican self-government guided by a morally demanding vision of human flourishing, or we can follow neo-conservatives and defend the precocious liberalism of Madison and its denigration of the corporate commitment to human virtue. We have a choice: embrace local self-government and moral education as central to a well-lived human life, or choose Madisonian liberalism and its twentieth-century incarnation in something similar to the Warren Court and its embrace of centralization and individualism. Conservatives must understand Madison's vision for the liberal one that it is and, if they are truly conservative, painfully turn away from it and turn back to the long-lived vision of American republican government that is Christian and localist. One must choose, if you will, between adhering to American conservative ideals or idealizing those who stood against them, and have done much to undermine them. The choice is yours

    That's why the Anti-Federalists were right.

    October 24, 2003

    Posted by M Ali Choudhury at 6:39 PM


    Lightning strikes Gibson's 'Christ' (CNN/Associated Press, 24th October 2003)

    Actor Jim Caviezel, who plays Jesus in Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of Christ" was struck by lightning during shooting.

    Caviezel was uninjured, but a producer described how he saw smoke coming from the actor's ear.

    An assistant director on the film, Jan Michelini, was also hit -- for the second time in a few months.

    The first time, a lightning fork struck his umbrella during filming on top of a hill near Matera in Italy, causing light burns to the tips of his fingers, VLife, a supplement to Variety publications said in its October issue.

    A few months later the second strike happened, a few hours from Rome.

    Michelini was again carrying an umbrella, and standing next to Caviezel on top of a hill, the magazine said.

    Both were hit, with the main bolt striking Caviezel while one of its forks hit Michelini's umbrella. Neither were hurt.

    The film, which is spoken in Latin and Aramaic, has come in for criticism from some religious leaders. It portrays the last hours of Jesus, but some Jewish and Roman Catholic groups are concerned the film will fuel anti-Semitism.

    It'd have been pretty darned impressive if Caviezel had died and come back to life at the premiere. Anyway be careful to keep away from anybody called Michelini during stormy weather.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:36 PM


    Slang crosses up GM (MARYANNA LEWYCKYJ, October 16, 2003, TORONTO SUN)

    It's game over for the Buick LaCrosse in Canada. A General Motors executive yesterday admitted that the future Buick model -- which is set to debut late next year -- will be re-named in Canada after GM learned LaCrosse is a Quebec slang term for masturbation.

    The new mid-size sedan, which will replace the Buick Regal, will still go by the name LaCrosse in the U.S.

    That's the verb form--used as a noun you'd say, "What a Chretien".

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:34 PM


    A Dislike Unlike Any Other?: Writer Jonathan Chait Brings Bush-Hating Out of the Closet (Howard Kurtz, October 19, 2003, Washington Post)

    The words tumble out, the hands gesture urgently, as Jonathan Chait explains why he hates George W. Bush.

    It's Bush's radical policies, says the 31-year-old New Republic writer, and his unfair tax cuts, and his cowboy phoniness, and his favors for corporate cronies, and his heist in Florida, and his dishonesty about his silver-spoon upbringing, and, oh yes, the way he walks and talks.

    For some of his friends, Chait says at a corner table in a downtown Starbucks, "just seeing his face or hearing his voice causes a physical reaction -- they have to get away from the TV. My sister-in-law describes Bush's existence as an oppressive force, a constant weight on her shoulder, just knowing that George Bush is president."

    Has this unassuming man in a rumpled sports shirt lifted the lid on a boiling caldron of anti-Bush fury in liberal precincts across America? Or is he just an overcaffeinated, irrational liberal, venting to a minority of like-minded readers?

    Ramesh Ponnuru, a soft-spoken conservative at National Review, pays Chait a backhanded compliment, writing that "not everyone would be brave enough to recount their harrowing descent into madness so vividly."

    Ponnuru calls him "smart, funny and completely misguided." Since the president is so likable, he says, the outbreak of Bush hatred "just makes you scratch your head."

    Far from being inexplicable, the Left's hatred of George W. Bush seems quite logical and even justified--that it's only emerged at this late date helps to explain its source. The problem is that they bought into their own rhetoric about Mr. Bush and came to believe him an inconsequential imbecile. But while they were dismissing him, he began what could end up being a radical transformation of the American state and society since FDR's. And, just as FDR was despised by the Right for the damage he was doing by vastly increasing the power of the State, so is it necessary for the Left to despise Mr. Bush as he seeks to transfer that power back to the people.

    Today's hate-fest has accelerated and become public because the Left has finally figured out what should have been obvious to them as far back as 2001 or 2002, Mr. Bush is succeeding. Even after you set aside the most obvious successes--tax cuts and the war on terror--consider the series of other monumental victories: No Child Left Behind, which as they've only now realized is a voucher plan; the Faith-Based Initiative, which they've only just realized is being implemented by Executive Order; increasing privatization of the Federal work force; etc. Combine these policy achievements with the ahistorical midterm victories in 2002 and what looks to be a pretty good 2003 election cycle for the GOP (just winning CA would make it so, but MS, KY, and LA all have competitive races for governor), and you have the frightening prospect for the Left that far from turning voters off, this transformation is winning their support or at least their acquiescence.

    Now we head into the 2004 election cycle and not only is the President going to be re-elected easily but the House is going to stay Republican, again, and Republicans will be closer to 60 than to 50 seats in the Senate.

    Why does the Left hate George W. Bush so much? May as well wonder why the Right hated FDR so much in 1935.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:33 PM


    Let Them Eat War: Why do the very Americans who have been hurt the most by George W. Bush's policies still support his presidency? (Arlie Hochschild, October 8, 2003, Mother Jones)

    One possibility is that the Nascar Dad is not well informed; that indeed, like the rest of us, he's been duped. For example, he may have fallen for the Karl Rove-inspired bandwagon effect. "Bush is unbeatable," he hears, or "Bush has a $200,000,000 re-election fund. Get with the winner." It makes you a winner too, he feels. This might account for some blue-collar Bush support, but it doesn't explain why the Nascar Dad would be more likely to be taken in by the bandwagon effect than the professional or managerial dad. Anyway, most blue-collar men would seem to be no less likely than anyone else to vote their conscience, regardless of whom they think will win, and that's not even counting those who root for the underdog as a matter of principle.

    But another kind of manipulation could be going on. A certain amount of crucial information has gone missing in the Bush years. As has recently become clear, information that would be of great interest to the Nascar Dad has been withheld. With jobs disappearing at a staggering rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ended its Mass Layoff Tracking Study on Christmas Eve of 2002, thanks to this administration. And although Congressional Democrats managed to get funding for the study restored in February of 2003, the loss of 614,167 jobs in those two months was unannounced.

    Conveying the truth in a misleading manner is, of course, another way of manipulating people. As the linguist George Lakoff astutely observes, the term "tax relief" slyly invites us to imagine taxes as an affliction and those who propose them as villains. If we add in such distortions to the suppression of vital information, the Nascar Dad who listens to Rush Limbaugh on the commute home, turns on Fox News at dinner, and is too tired after working overtime to catch more than the headlines is perhaps a man being exposed to only one side of the political story.

    But then Nascar Dad could always turn the radio dial. He could do a Google search on job loss on his kid's computer. He could talk to his union buddies -- if he's one of the 12% who are still unionized -- or to his slightly more liberal wife. It could be he knows perfectly well that he's being lied to, but believes people are usually being lied to, and that Bush is, in this respect, still the better of two evils. But how could that be?

    Maybe it's because Bush fits an underlying recipe for the kind of confident, authoritative father figure such dads believe should run the ship of state as they believe a man should run a family. Republican rhetoric may appeal to the blue-collar man, Lakoff suggests, because we tend to match our view of good politics with our image of a good family. The appeal of any political leader, he believes, lies in the way he matches our images of the father in the ideal family. There are two main pictures of such an ideal American family, Lakoff argues. According to a "strict father family" model, dad should provide for the family, control mom, and use discipline to teach his children how to survive in a competitive and hostile world. Those who advocate the strict father model, Lakoff reasons, favor a "strict father" kind of government. If an administration fits this model, it supports the family (by maximizing overall wealth). It protects the family from harm (by building up the military). It raises the children to be self-reliant and obedient (by fostering citizens who ask for little and speak when spoken to). The match-up here is, of course, to Bush Republicans.

    Then there is the "nurturing parent family" model in which parents don't simply control their children but encourage their development. The government equivalent would be offering services to the citizenry, funding education, health, and welfare, and emphasizing diplomacy on a global stage.) The core values here are empathy and responsibility, not control and discipline and the match up is to the pro-public sector Dean/Kucinich Democrats. Studies have shown that blue-collar ideals are closer to the strict father than to the nurturing parent model. But that's been true for a very long time, while the blue-collar vote sometimes goes left as in the 1930s, and sometimes goes right as it's doing now. So we can't simply pin the pro-Bush Nascar Dad vote on a sudden change in blue-collar family ideals.

    Maybe, however, something deeper is going on, which has so far permitted Bush's flag-waving and cowboy-boot-strutting to trump issues of job security, wages, safety, and health -- and even, in the case of Bush's threats of further war -- life itself. In an essay, "The White Man Unburdened," in a recent New York Review of Books, Norman Mailer recently argued that the war in Iraq returned to white males a lost sense of mastery, offering them a feeling of revenge for imagined wrongs, and a sense of psychic rejuvenation." In the last thirty years, white men have taken a drubbing, he notes, especially the three quarters of them who lack college degrees. Between 1979 and 1999, for example, real wages for male high-school graduates dropped 24%. In addition, Mailer notes, white working class men have lost white champs in football, basketball and boxing. (A lot of white men cheer black athletes, of course, whomever they vote for.) But the war in Iraq, Mailer notes, gave white men white heroes. By climbing into his jumpsuit, stepping out of an S-3B Viking jet onto the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, Bush posed as -- one could say impersonated -- such a hero.

    There's nothing on Earth more painful than the Left trying to figure out how men think. At least medieval cartographers, when they reached the limits of the world they knew, usually had the sense to put something like "Here Be Dragons", an admission they knew not what lurked beyond. The only thing the Democrats share with NASCAR is, as Senator Zell Miller says, they're always turning left.

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 2:19 PM


    Word From Rome (John Allen, National Catholic Reporter, 10/24/2003)

    Also Oct. 17, CNN conducted an interview with Angelo Scola, the patriarch of Venice, who became a cardinal Oct. 21, and I was invited to tag along....

    Scola's most fascinating comment came before the cameras rolled, while we were chatting in St. Peter's Square. As we stood there, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna approached and said hello. Schönborn is himself widely mentioned as a papal candidate, and as he walked away, Scola said unexpectedly: "He is the man of the future."

    I immediately asked, "In what sense?"

    "I think you understood me," Scola replied. "In every sense."

    As a footnote, the next day I was with another cardinal chatting in an informal setting, when I happened to recount this exchange with Scola. The cardinal looked at me in great earnest and said: "He's absolutely right."

    There is no more worthy successor to John Paul II than Cardinal Schönborn.

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:33 PM


    ACLU joins husband in battle to stop feeding of brain-damaged woman (South Florida Sun Sentinel, 10/24/2003; via Brian Hoffman)

    The American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday that it will aid Michael Schiavo in his fight against Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature, which earlier this week took the remarkable step of passing a law to prevent the Pinellas County man from disconnecting his brain-injured wife from a feeding tube....

    By substituting his judgment for the judgment of the courts, the governor "set aside the role of the whole judicial system," [ACLU Florida Director Howard] Simon said, warning that a precedent has been set for Bush and legislators to write laws gutting any court decision they don't like....

    "He's upset about what happened," [Michael Schiavo's other attorney, Deborah] Bushnell said. "It has raised this situation from one of personal importance to one of statewide and national importance. If this law is allowed to stand, it creates an incredible bad precedent. It potentially paralyzes the judicial system."

    Now it's astonishing that these lawyers think the Florida legislature and governor have no role to play in defining the law that shall govern this case. In order to overrule Florida statutes on this matter, the Florida judiciary would have to rule that the Florida Constitution mandates Terri's death, regardless of statutory law. But surely Florida's Constitution does not mandate that husbands have the right to starve wives to death; surely also, given that Florida's longstanding laws against suicide have been regarded as constitutional, the Florida Constitution does not compel the state to respect Terri's own wishes in the matter -- even ignoring the lack of clear expression from Terri Schiavo of any desire to die in a case such as this.

    To overrule the legislature and governor, therefore, would require an express act of judicial law-making predicated upon judicial supremacy over the elected branches.

    The best part of the article is this:

    Members of the Florida Bar Association's elder law section were planning an emergency telephone conference within the next few days to discuss whether they should get involved in the upcoming constitutional challenge, said section President Stephanie Schneider.

    "We wonder if we'll see a domino effect," said Schneider, a Broward County elderlaw attorney. "If a party doesn't like what a court does, they'll say, `Let's just go to the governor's office.'"

    Horrors! People might leave the judicial system and turn to the legislature and governor to obtain better laws! We can't have that. Judges must rule!

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:47 PM


    Does It Pay to Pray?: Evaluating the Economic Return to Religious Ritual (Bradley Ruffle, Harvard Business School, and Richard Sosis, University of Connecticut, Sept 2003)

    Time-consuming and costly religious rituals pose a puzzle for economists committed to rational choice theories of human behavior. We propose that religious rituals promote in-group trust and cooperation ... We test this hypothesis ... [by] field experiments ... [on] religious and secular Israeli kibbutzim. Our results show that religious males (the primary practitioners of collective religious ritual in Orthodox Judaism) are more cooperative than religious females, secular males and secular females. Moreover, the frequency with which religious males engage in collective religious rituals predicts well their degree of cooperative behavior.

    Never mind the rational choice jargon, the confounding influences not investigated (like the influence of moral norms promulgated by the religion in encouraging cooperation), or the impossibility of deducing directions of causation from observed correlations. The important finding is that practice of a Judeo-Christian religion is correlated with cooperative behavior -- and cooperation among citizens is what a free society needs to flourish, or even survive.

    It should be no surprise, then, that it is in nations of Judeo-Christian faith that freedom developed and flourished; and that in countries where such faith has declined, freedom appears to be threatened.

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:44 PM


    Xtreme Politics: You're Not A Voter, Just a Spectator (Daniel Henninger, WSJ, 10/24/2003)

    [O]ur politics has never seemed more polarized. How did that happen?...

    In some ways, America may now be closer to the England of the Stuarts, rife with religious and political animosity, than to the intentions at Philadelphia in 1789. If not, it is sliding toward reflexive strife.

    I agree with the argument that this war of the cultures dates to the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision of 1973....

    I think many people who don't get paid for waging politics are becoming quite frustrated with dysfunctional legislatures that are now polarized -- as in Congress or in California -- essentially along the cultural faultlines created by 30 years of allowing judges to preempt the broader community's ability to discover, or reexamine, its social beliefs. These legislators have become little more than clerks to judges and the complainants in their courts -- the law as not much more than a brief. When this happens, citizens lose their status as voters or electors and become mere courtroom spectators. How can this be good?

    Continuing to use the courts in this way -- the ACLU boasting it will get a court to overthrow a law passed by Congress or any legislature -- and then demanding that large portions of American society simply shut up and swallow it is a recipe for a kind of war much more serious than the mere chattering crossfire of talk shows.

    Mr. Henninger is quite right: as the 1996 First Things symposium, The End of Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics, showed, outrage over judicial law-making is growing; and the recent filibusters show that as more and more power is acquired by the judiciary, it becomes impossible for elected officials to agree on who should be a judge. Given the inability of judges to do more than decide individual cases, the after-the-fact nature of court cases, and the diversity of judges, judicial lawmaking leaves everyone uncertain about what the law will ultimately be found to have been. Effectively, judicial lawmaking destroys the rule of law.

    In response, the whole political environment is becoming unstable. The best solution would be for judges to re-acquire the spirit of moderation:

    If an independent judiciary seeks to fill [Constitutional imprecisions] from its own bosom, in the end it will cease to be independent. And its independence will be well lost, for that bosom is not ample enough for the hopes and fears of all sorts and conditions of men, nor will its answers be theirs; it must be content to stand aside from these fateful battles....

    [T]he price of [judicial independence], I insist, is that [judges] should not have the last word in those basic conflicts of "right and wrong-between whose endless jar justice resides."... [T]his much I think I do know - that a society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone, no court can save; that a society where that spirit flourishes, no court need save; that in a society which evades its responsibility by thrusting upon the courts the nurture of that spirit, that spirit in the end will perish. What is the spirit of moderation? It is the temper which does not press apart an advantage to its bitter end ...

    Judge Learned Hand, The Spirit of Liberty (Alfred A. Knopf, 1953), pp. 162-65.

    Posted by David Cohen at 10:09 AM


    Did anyone know that this is the flag of Malaysia. I didn't.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:40 AM


    The Clouds May Be Clearing for Bush and GOP: Progress in Iraq and the U.S. economy could leave the president sitting pretty for 2004. (Walter Russell Mead, October 19, 2003, LA Times)

    Like the Chicago Cubs, though, the Democrats may have peaked too soon. Bush's poll numbers have stabilized. Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory in the California gubernatorial recall election has sent a thrill through the Republican Party. In Iraq, the violence continues, but the lights are now on, kids are returning to school, Turkey has agreed to send troops to the most dangerous part of the country (Sunni Iraq) — and the Bush administration won unanimous support from the U.N. Security Council for its plan for Iraq.
    This doesn't mean Bush's problems in Iraq are over. The drumbeat of death will go on for some time. Discontent in the ranks and among reservists (and their families) will continue to rise. Questions about weapons of mass destruction will not go away — and, especially if Saddam Hussein is not captured or killed, the politics of Iraq will remain uncertain and potentially full of nasty surprises.
    The new harmony at the U.N. Security Council is only skin-deep. Allied money and troops aren't flowing into Iraq yet — and may never. Old Europe and its friends aren't ready to kiss and make up with the Bush administration. The French, Germans and Russians still steam over the U.S.-led invasion. They remain worried that a new Iraqi government, with U.S. backing, may try to repudiate some of the debt Hussein contracted in cozy deals made with French, Russian and German companies. They want the U.S. to pay the highest possible price — in money and even in blood — for the invasion to lessen the chance that the Bush administration or its successors will ever act without their approval. "You broke it; you fix it," is Old Europe's basic attitude on Iraq — and it will never willingly do any favors for an administration it fears and despises.
    Even so, time is on Bush's side. The distance between the U.S. and the rest of the world over Iraq will narrow. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Old Europe want Washington to draw up timetables and set dates for elections and a handover of power to a new Iraqi government. Although the U.S. believes that schedules are unhelpful, as time passes, the tasks will get easier. The reality is, the United States wants to do exactly what the rest of the world would like it to do in Iraq — hand control back to a freely elected, stable Iraqi government at the earliest possible moment.
    Iraq is making progress toward forming a new government, and that government will be able to assume more and more security responsibilities. By next spring, the new Iraqi police and army will be deploying, enabling the administration to start pulling out U.S. troops well before the November elections.

    The President's most admirable quality--very much a surprise given his well-deserved reputation as a hothead--is his political patience. He's had innumerable opportunities to panic and start flailing around in the past four years--from John McCain's victory in NH, to Florida 2000, to Jim Jeffords defection, to 9/11, to the economic slowdown, etc.--but he's not only stayed his course but followed the overall strategy he and Karl Rove charted before they ever began running for the presidency. One of their key insights was the understanding that the presidency itself is a form of political capital, which can all too easily be used up in a profligate manner, see particularly Bill Clinton. They've been very careful, therefore, to reserve the President's personal appearances and speeches for moments that really matter, rather than trotting him out everytime someone has a complaint.

    This has been on display most recently in the almost serene indifference he's displayed to his dip in the polls and to dismay over the course of the peace in Iraq. In fact, there was a journalist on NPR yesterday talking about how upset the networks are that this is the second consecutive weekend that the administration hasn't made anyone available for the Sunday talk shows. Mind you, this is while every poundit and politico East of the Pecos is hysterically jabbering about how the administration hasn't done good enough sales job on the war. Either things will quiet down in Iraq and the economy will continue to improve or they won't, regardless of anything anyone says. The President's acting as if he believes they will. We expect he's right, but then we don't have to hold our ground amidst hailstorms of criticism.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:38 AM


    The Widening Crusade: Bush's War Plan Is Scarier Than He's Saying (Sydney H. Schanberg, October 15 - 21, 2003, Village Voice)

    If some wishful Americans are still hoping President Bush will acknowledge that his imperial foreign policy has stumbled in Iraq and needs fixing or reining in, they should put aside those reveries. He's going all the way--and taking us with him.

    The Israeli bombing raid on Syria October 5 was an expansion of the Bush policy, carried out by the Sharon government but with the implicit approval of Washington. The government in Iran, said to be seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, reportedly expects to be the next target.

    No one who believes in democracy need feel any empathy toward the governments of Syria and Iran, for they assist the terrorist movement, yet if the Bush White House is going to use its preeminent military force to subdue and neutralize all "evildoers" and adversaries everywhere in the world, the American public should be told now. Such an undertaking would be virtually endless and would require the sacrifice of enormous blood and treasure.

    Maybe something like this:
    Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done. [...]

    Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

    Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber - a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms - our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

    They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa.

    These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us, because we stand in their way.

    We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions - by abandoning every value except the will to power - they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies.

    Americans are asking: How will we fight and win this war? We will direct every resource at our command - every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war - to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.

    This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

    Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

    Our nation has been put on notice: We are not immune from attack. We will take defensive measures against terrorism to protect Americans. Today, dozens of federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local governments, have responsibilities affecting homeland security. These efforts must be coordinated at the highest level. So tonight I announce the creation of a Cabinet-level position reporting directly to me - the Office of Homeland Security.

    And tonight I also announce a distinguished American to lead this effort, to strengthen American security: a military veteran, an effective governor, a true patriot, a trusted friend - Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge. He will lead, oversee and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism, and respond to any attacks that may come.

    These measures are essential. But the only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows.

    Many will be involved in this effort, from FBI agents to intelligence operatives to the reservists we have called to active duty. All deserve our thanks, and all have our prayers. And tonight, a few miles from the damaged Pentagon, I have a message for our military: Be ready. I've called the Armed Forces to alert, and there is a reason. The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud.

    This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom. [...]

    After all that has just passed - all the lives taken, and all the possibilities and hopes that died with them - it is natural to wonder if America's future is one of fear. Some speak of an age of terror. I know there are struggles ahead, and dangers to face. But this country will define our times, not be defined by them. As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world.

    Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom - the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time - now depends on us. Our nation - this generation - will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.

    It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal. We'll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We'll remember the moment the news came - where we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire, or a story of rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.

    And I will carry this: It is the police shield of a man named George Howard, who died at the World Trade Center trying to save others. It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. This is my reminder of lives that ended, and a task that does not end.

    I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.

    The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.

    Fellow citizens, we'll meet violence with patient justice - assured of the rightness of our cause, and confident of the victories to come. In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom, and may He watch over the United States of America.

    What, did the Schanberg's of the world think he was joking?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:20 AM


    Bird's Eye (Karl Zinsmeister, October/November 2003, American Enterprise)

    For many God-fearing people, worship is the time when they feel most elevated, most removed from other creatures that lack spiritual discernment. Chimpanzees use tools. Dolphins play and gambol with each other. Every animal indulges in carnal life and communicates with fellow members of the species. Even the crudest organisms can breed and reproduce themselves. But only man is able to discern and embrace the universe’s higher order. Only man worships and gives thanks to his Creator. Only man practices altruism, exercises compassion, offers praise, and suppresses his own selfish interests to honor the God who exists beyond our immediate surface life.

    The companionship of God offers much in return: chances to learn and practice moral action. Experiences that elevate one’s thinking. The power and peace that come from a Father’s constant presence. An abstract yet powerfully immediate fraternity with millions of other humans from different places and times. Opportunities to be holy. These are the truest rewards of faith.

    Yet Christians and Jews are also enjoined to be distinctive in the routines of their day-to-day lives. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells the first members of the church to live as “children of light” and pursue “goodness, righteousness, and truth.” A whole series of very specific injunctions follow: “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” Christians are told not to be angry or slanderous, to be kind, to avoid sexual immorality, drunkenness, and greed. “Be very careful, then, how you live,” instructs St. Paul -- because the everyday actions of Christians are their advertisement to the rest of the world.

    Theoretically, then, in addition to their richer philosophical understandings Christians ought to be registering unusually wholesome earthly outcomes.

    Does that happen in practice? The verdict of this issue of The American Enterprise is that, yes indeed, things generally go better with God. Societies are more prosperous and individuals more thriving where faith blooms.

    Eventually one arrives at a rather important question: if the success of the American Republic is largely dependent on faith, and if a significant portion of the society has grown hostile to faith, need they be tolerated at the risk of losing the society entire?

    October 23, 2003

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:45 PM


    Don’t the Democrats care even a little about terrorism? (Byron York, The Hill, 10/22/2003; via RealClear Politics)

    There is some stunning — and so far unreported — news in a new poll conducted by Democratic strategist Stanley Greenberg.

    The survey — sponsored by Democracy Corps, the group founded by Greenberg, James Carville and Robert Shrum — focused on Democrats who take part in the nominating process in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina....

    In one question, pollsters read a list of a dozen topics — education, taxes, big government, the environment, Social Security and Medicare, crime and illegal drugs, moral values, healthcare, the economy and jobs, fighting terrorism, homeland security, and the situation in Iraq — and asked, “Which concern worries you the most?”

    In Iowa, 1 percent of those polled — 1 percent! — said they worried about fighting terrorism. It was dead last on the list.

    Two percent said they worried about homeland security — next to last.

    In New Hampshire, 2 percent worried about fighting terrorism and 2 percent worried about homeland security.

    In South Carolina ... the results were the same....

    The bottom line is that if a Democrat wins the White House next year and listens to his party’s most ardent supporters, he will simply shut down the war on terrorism.

    It's as if we're two entirely different peoples, living in one nation.

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:42 PM


    Are Suicide Bombings Morally Defensible? (Professor Richard Wolin, Chronicle of Higher Education, 10/24/2003)

    Was Honderich's endorsement of Palestinian suicide bombing anti-Semitic? Technically, no.... [S]uicide bombings constitute a highly freighted act of political symbolism. They deliver an unambiguous message: All Jews -- men, women, children -- are legitimate targets of political murder.

    When Daniel Moynihan spoke of "defining deviancy down", he probably didn't realize the lengths to which the professoriate could take these redefinitions. I wonder what sort of deviancy would qualify "technically" as anti-Semitism?

    Posted by David Cohen at 3:16 PM


    'Humans could live for hundreds of years' (Ananva, 10/23/03)

    Scientists say people could live active lives for hundreds of years if humans follow the same biological rules as laboratory worms.
    Or would it just seem like hundreds of years?

    Posted by David Cohen at 2:27 PM


    Can our deity beat their deity? (Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, 10/23/2003)

    AT FIRST it sounded like satire. My God is bigger than yours? Did General William Boykin actually taunt his Islamic enemy with that muscular divinity? Not my weapons are bigger than yours. . . .

    But for all we talk about the clash of civilizations, we know that the most important global struggle is not between one religion and another but between fanaticism and tolerance -- the two principles that cut across all borders and run through every religion. In the long struggle between theocracy and democracy, General Boykin has, I am afraid, thrown his lot in with the enemy.

    If Americans are to stand for tolerance, it's more than a strategic error to say that my God is bigger than yours. It's a sacrilege to our civic religion.

    There is about as much nonsense per column inch here as we have come to expect from Ellen Goodman, the AAA Maureen Dowd. There is at least one completely false statement and, tolerantly, a downplaying of Mahathir's antisemitism. But she is being admirably truthful when she accuses General Boykin of sacrilege to the established church of tolerance and I'm sure that OJ can but admire the forthright way she wishes to punish the General for his heresy.

    Posted by David Cohen at 2:09 PM


    Dear Prudence (Slate, 10/23/03)

    Dear Prudie,
    I am 22 and recently met a 27-year-old man who seems to be wonderful. (I say "seems" because I've only known him a week.) He is attentive, has called me every day since we met, and genuinely seems to want to get to know me. My problem is that, in conversation, the subject of prostitution came up. I can assume from what he told me that he slept with prostitutes during his Navy days. This of course was an uncomfortable subject for him, and he didn't want to talk about it. I didn't push, but it bothers me. Granted, my past isn't exactly sparkling either, but I've never slept with someone in a foreign country for money! I also realize that what he did before me has nothing to do with me and, frankly, is none of my business. But it still bothers me. Should I just let it go and continue to try and have a relationship with him?


    I'm not going to take the position that having gone to prostitutes while in the Navy makes a man ineligible for dating thereafter (except with any woman related to me). But where in the world does the idea that "what he did before me has nothing to do with me and, frankly, is none of my business" come from? Does any actual human being older than 22 live her life this way? We are what we have done and although past performance is no guarantee of future returns there is no other way to judge what we are capable of. Presumably, this woman is considering dating, trusting, sleeping with and, potentially, marrying and having children with this man. Can she possibly believe that she is somehow obligated not to find out everything she can about him because its not her business?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:42 PM


    Aquinas and the Heretics (Michael Novak, December 1995, First Things)

    Frederick II was held by many to be the Great Heretic of the epoch, who for nearly thirty years waged constant warfare throughout Italy, leaving a train of ruin, slaughter, humiliation, and misery. Just as St. Thomas was fortunate to know personally one king who was widely regarded as a saint, Louis IX of France, and at least two who were, on the whole, good kings, Edward Plantagenet of England and Charles of Anjou, so he knew through bloody experience a king who was-and rejoiced in being-an on- again, off-again foe of popes. When the term "heretic" was used, it was not for Thomas Aquinas or his contemporaries an abstraction.

    Nevertheless, Frederick II was himself a foe of heresy. In his own legal code promulgated at Melfi in 1231, Frederick followed the legal precedents of the era, including those of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, in condemning heresy, sacrilege, treason, usury, and counterfeiting (in that order) as structural crimes against the state. Professor Abulafia, himself no admirer of the Church of Frederick's time, explains the rationale of the Melfi code:

    Heresy, indeed, is presented as treason. Those who deny the articles of the Catholic faith implicitly deny the claims of rulers to derive their authority from God. They are enemies not merely of God and of the souls of individuals, but of the social fabric. Their questioning of religious truth involves a questioning of the monarch's command over the law; as enemies of the law, they are its legitimate targets, and the position of primacy accorded to legislation against heretics is thus entirely proper. [...]

    With regard to heretics there are two points to be observed, one on their side, the other on the side of the Church. As for heretics their sin deserves banishment, not only from the Church by excommunication, but also from this world by death. To corrupt the faith, whereby the soul lives, is much graver than to counterfeit money, which supports temporal life. Since forgers and other malefactors are summarily condemned to death by the civil authorities, with much more reason may heretics as soon as they are convicted of heresy be not only excommunicated, but also justly be put to death.

    But on the side of the Church is mercy which seeks the conversion of the wanderer, and She condemns him not at once, but after the first and second admonition, as the Apostle directs. Afterwards, however, if he is still stubborn, the Church takes care of the salvation of others by separating him from the Church through excommunication, and delivers him to the secular court to be removed from this world by death. The Decretum repeats Jerome's comment, Cut off the decayed flesh, expel the mangy sheep from the fold, lest the whole house . . . the whole body, the whole flock burn, perish, rot, die. Arius was but a single spark in Alexandria, but as it was not at once put out, the whole world was laid waste by his flame. To read this text, we must clarify what Aquinas means by heretic. He does not mean a Muslim or a Jew, an unbeliever or an infidel. He means a Catholic who has chosen to deny his faith, in whole or in part. For Jews and Muslims, Aquinas argues for toleration, not only of their persons but also of their public rites. It is true that from his viewpoint their faiths are incomplete and to that extent erroneous. It is also true that for Thomas toleration is a means for gaining respect for the true faith, rather than an end in itself, a duty simply owed to the conscience of others. But he does argue for toleration for Jews and Muslims in an emphatic way, as he does not for heretics. About the Jews, for example, he writes: "Among unbelievers there are some who have never received the faith, such as heathens and Jews. These are by no means to be compelled, for belief is voluntary." And about the religious rites of Jews and Muslims, he adds:

    Thus from the fact that the Jews keep their ceremonies, which once foreshadowed the truth of the faith we now hold, there follows this good, that our very enemies bear witness to our faith, and that what we believe is set forth as in a figure. The rites of other infidels, which bear no truth or profit, are not to be tolerated in the same way, except perhaps to avoid some evil, for instance the scandal or disturbance that might result, or the hindrance to the salvation of those who, were they unmolested, might gradually be converted to the faith.

    Similarly, Aquinas shows a great deal more respect for unbelievers, such as his beloved Aristotle, who knew nothing whatever about Christ and His revelation than he does for heretics. He admires in unbelievers how much of the truth about man revealed by Christ they had come to simply by studying the laws of their own being. (For Aquinas, it is inconceivable that there are two truths, one learned from the things that are, the other learned from faith. For him, the one God, the Creator, is the sole source of truth.) For that he respects them, acknowledging that by fidelity to truth they served the God they did not know, and so are dear to God.

    The student of Aquinas already familiar with his teachings on individual personal responsibility, conscience, and the role of reason and will in free choice is likely to be surprised by his unremitting hostility to heretics. In a typical passage, Thomas wrote:

    Every judgment of conscience, be it right or wrong, be it about things evil in themselves or morally indifferent, is obligatory, in such wise that he who acts against his conscience always sins. Or again, this passage from the Summa Theologica:

    Since conscience is the dictate of reason, the application of theory to practice, the inquiry, whether a will that disobeys an erroneous conscience is right, is the same as, whether a man is obliged to follow a mistaken conscience. Now because the object of a volition is that which is proposed by the reason, if the will chooses to do what the reason considers to be wrong, then the will goes out to it in the guise of evil. Therefore it must be said flatly that the will which disobeys the reason, whether true or mistaken, is always in the wrong. Given such teachings as these, why could not Thomas respect the conscience of heretics?

    By heretic, again, Aquinas meant a person of Catholic faith who deliberately and resolutely, even after having been called to reflect on the matter, has chosen to renounce that faith in some important particular. Aquinas points out that the word heresy comes from the Greek word for choice. Heresy for him is not a mistake of the intellect but a choice of the will. It is a choice of adherence to a proposition, or set of propositions, known by the chooser to contradict the Catholic faith. It is a choice to cut oneself off from communion in the Catholic faith, to put oneself in a sect-a thing cut off. It is right, insists Aquinas, that such choice be dealt with harshly.

    Aristotle begins his Politics with a seemingly simple statement that may no longer be true for those who preach a kind of watered-down liberalism that elevates toleration above all else:
    Every state is a community of some kind, and every community is established with a view to some good; for mankind always act in order to obtain that which they think good.

    This seems a perfectly sensible notion, that a community or state, once organized to achieve a certain purpose, must be able to enforce that purpose on its members. Otherwise, how will the purpose be achieved, or, at any rate, how much harder will it be to achieve?

    Now, when we truly feel our state or community threatened, as in the wake of Oklahoma City or 9-11, we almost all take rapid recourse to this notion--so that few will quarrel with the government locking up white separatists or Islamicists and crippling their organizations. But if we recognize this in extremity, mightn't we also have to recognize that in general we have a right to some degree of conformity to our founding principles? This is not to say that we need to burn folks who disagree with the original understanding of the Republic at the stake, but it does suggest that we can justly require that they conform or be banished.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:40 PM


     How Thomas Jefferson’s “Wall of Separation” Redefined Church-State Law and Policy (Daniel L. Dreisbach, October 4, 2003, The Philadelphia Society)

    Metaphors are a valuable literary device.  They enrich language by making it dramatic and colorful, rendering abstract concepts concrete, condensing complex concepts into a few words, and unleashing creative and analogical insights.  But their uncritical use can lead to confusion and distortion.  At its heart, metaphor compares two or more things that are not, in fact, identical.  A metaphor’s literal meaning is used nonliterally in a comparison with its subject.  While the comparison may yield useful insights, the dissimilarities between the metaphor and its subject, if not acknowledged, can distort or pollute one’s understanding of the subject.  Metaphors inevitably graft onto their subjects connotations, emotional intensity, and/or cultural associations that transform the understanding of the subject as it was known pre-metaphor.  If attributes of the metaphor are erroneously or misleadingly assigned to the subject and the distortion goes unchallenged, then the metaphor may reconceptualize or otherwise alter the understanding of the underlying subject.  The more appealing and powerful a metaphor, the more it tends to supplant or overshadow the original subject, and the more one is unable to contemplate the subject apart from its metaphoric formulation.  Thus, distortions perpetuated by the metaphor are sustained and magnified. 

    The judiciary’s reliance on an extraconstitutional metaphor as a substitute for the text of the First Amendment almost inevitably distorts constitutional principles governing church-state relationships.  Although the “wall of separation” may felicitously express some aspects of First Amendment law, it seriously misrepresents or obscures others.  In Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State, I contend that the wall metaphor mischievously misrepresents constitutional principles in at least two important ways: 

    First, Jefferson’s trope emphasizes separation between church and state--unlike the First Amendment, which speaks in terms of the nonestablishment and free exercise of religion.  Jefferson’s Baptist correspondents, who agitated for disestablishment but not for separation,
    were apparently discomfited by the figurative phrase and, perhaps, even sought to suppress the president’s letter.  They, like many Americans, feared that the erection of such a wall would separate religious influences from public life and policy.  Few evangelical dissenters (including the Baptists) challenged the widespread assumption of the age that republican government and civic virtue were dependent on a moral people and that morals could be nurtured only by the Christian religion.

    Second, a wall is a bilateral barrier that inhibits the activities of both the civil government and religion--unlike the First Amendment, which imposes restrictions on civil government only.� In short, a wall not only prevents the civil state from intruding on the religious domain but also prohibits religion from influencing the conduct of civil government.  The various First Amendment guarantees, however, were entirely a check or restraint on civil government, specifically on Congress.  The
    free press guarantee, for example, was not written to protect the civil state from the press, rather it was designed to protect a free and independent press from control by the national government.  Similarly, the religion provisions were added to the Constitution to protect religion and religious institutions from corrupting interference by the national government and not to protect the civil state from the influence of, or overreaching by, religion.  As a bilateral barrier, however, the wall unavoidably restricts religion’s ability to influence public life, and, thus, it necessarily exceeds the limitations imposed by the Constitution.

    Herein lies the danger of this metaphor.  The “high and impregnable” wall constructed by the modern Court has been used to inhibit religion’s ability to inform the public ethic, deprive religious citizens of the civil liberty to participate in politics armed with ideas informed by their spiritual values, and infringe the right of religious communities and institutions to extend their prophetic ministries into the public square.  The wall has been used to silence the religious voice in the public marketplace of ideas and to segregate faith communities behind a restrictive barrier.

    You can see just how corrupted our law and culture became during the long hegemony of the Left-- beginning with the Depression--by the fact that such an extraconstitutional bit of boilerplate became an accepted constitutional standard. Most folks probably even think the wall is mentioned in the Constitution itself.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:36 PM


    Bush's Filtered News (Michael Kinsley, October 17, 2003, Washington Post)

    Every president complains that the media are blocking his message, and the media complain that every administration wants to manage the news. It's not only presidents. Everyone who has something to say in our media-saturated culture (and who doesn't?) longs for ways to get that message out unmediated by someone else. In this media cacophony the president probably has more ability to deliver his message without a filter than anyone else on Earth. Anything the president says is automatically news. If he wants to commandeer all the TV networks for a speech in prime time, he can usually do it. The president can even hold a news conference, although this president rarely bothers. [...]

    Bush doesn't really want people to get the news unfiltered. He wants people to get the news filtered by George W. Bush. Or, rather, he wants everyone to get the news filtered by the same people who apparently filter it for him. It's an interesting question how our president knows what he thinks he knows and why he thinks it is less distorted than what the rest of us know or think we know. Every president lives in a cocoon of advisers who filter reality for him, but it's stunning that this president actually seems to prefer getting his take on reality that way.

    Bush apparently thinks (if that is the word) that the publicly available media contaminate the news with opinion but Condi Rice and Andy Card are objective reporters. Anyone who has either been a boss or had a boss will find it easier, knowing that Bush believes this, to understand how he can also believe that things are going swimmingly in Iraq. And where does the Rice-Card News Service obtain its uncontaminated information? Bush conceded his shocking suspicion that Rice and Card "probably read the news themselves." They do? Whatever's next?

    The president noted, though, that Rice and Card also get "news directly from participants on the world stage." ("Hi, Ahmed -- it's Condi. What's going on there in Baghdad? What's the weather like? And how's traffic? Thanks, I'll go tell the president and call you again in 15 minutes.") The notion that these world stagers are sources of objective information while newspaper reporters are burdened by unsuppressible opinions and hidden agendas is another odd one.

    Mr. Kinsley's frustration -- at the fact that he studies and opines about the President but the President blithely ignores him -- just comes shrieking out of this essay. No small part of the reason the press admired Bill Clinton was that they mattered to him.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:33 PM


    Grade inflation takes a toll on students (Fredreka Schouten, Gannett News Service)

    Around the country, even students with stellar high school records have discovered that they don't have all the skills to survive in college. In Georgia, for instance, four out of 10 students who earn the popular Hope Scholarships to the state's university system lose the
    scholarship after they earn about 30 credits — roughly a year's worth of work — because they can't keep their grades up.

    Performances on college admissions tests point to possible grade inflation. Fifteen years ago, students with A averages accounted for 28% of SAT test takers, says Wayne Camara, who oversees research for the College Board.

    Today, 42% of college-bound seniors have A averages, but they score no better on the college admissions tests than did A students a decade earlier.

    Some education experts say the trend is a clear sign that high school teachers are handing out high grades for weak work. But many say the real culprit is the typical high school course load. Students just aren't taking the rigorous math, science and writing classes in high school that they need to succeed in college and the workplace.

    Only 1 in 3 18-year-olds is even minimally prepared for college, according to a report by the Manhattan Institute, a New York-based think tank. The picture is even bleaker for minorities: Only 20% of black students in the class of 2001 were college-ready.

    No problem; the colleges inflate them too and then you're just not ready for the workplace.

    Posted by David Cohen at 10:36 AM


    Traveling with the SECDEF (Impromptus, Jay Nordlinger, NRO, 10/22/03)

    "Or take the coalition in Iraq. It now includes military forces from 32 nations. Consider some of the countries that are contributing troops in Iraq today: Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine. They all have forces in Iraq assisting the coalition. There are others, as well, but I just mention these because those are the nations helping in Iraq today that President Reagan helped to make free."

    Posted by David Cohen at 10:28 AM


    Mideast peace as cause celebre (Bradley Burston, Haaretz, 10/22/03)

    Driven to distraction by the tragedies of eternal warfare and the burdens of economic strife, Israelis woke Wednesday to a peace initiative so outlandish as to accomplish the impossible - defy immediate condemnation.

    Heralded by a literally star-spangled flourish in the popular press, an organization called OneVoice Israel announced that a red carpet list of marquee actors - Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Alexander, Danny De Vito and Rhea Pearlman - had signed on for a decidedly unorthodox mission: coming to the Holy Land in an effort to make peace. . . .

    Security permitting, the stars are to arrive in Israel at the end of the year or the beginning of 2004, said OneVoice Israel Executive Director David Leffler, a one-time aide to Yitzhak Rabin, and more recently, Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport.

    Leffler said the group's goal is to promote a referendum, in which "very large numbers" of both Israelis and Palestinians would take part. . . .

    Through the results of the referendum, "We want each side to see that the other side has a moderate majority," Leffler said.

    Its hard not to make fun of this and I'm skeptical that the referendum will show that each side "has a moderate majority." But something's got to give and celebrities will focus attention on the referendum, so more power to them.

    Posted by David Cohen at 10:05 AM


    Jim Carrey Goes Bionic (Josh Grossberg, E! Online, 10/22/03)

    Jim Carrey is normally one of Hollywood's $20 million men. Looks like he's taking a huge paycut.

    The rubbery-faced funnyguy is ready to go bionic in a send-up of The Six Million Dollar Man.

    Unlike the classic 1970s ABC sci-fi series starring Lee Majors, the movie--which has long been in development as a by-the-numbers suspense thriller--will now be transformed into a comedy vehicle, allowing Carrey to parody the action genre much in the way Mike Myers (news) poked fun at James Bond movies in Austin Powers.

    I heard Lindsay Wagner on the radio yesterday doing a commercial for the Sleep Comfort bed. Twenty-five years ago the combination of the ideas "Lindsay Wagner" and "bed" could have powered a small city, if that energy had been harnessed. Hmm . . . "harnessed".

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 AM


    Trend to live together, not marry, puts kids at risk (USA Today, 10/20/03)

    USA TODAY research this month showing that civil marriages are increasing while church weddings are declining raises questions about which type of marriage is better. The answer from family researchers: Whether couples tie the knot in a courthouse or a church is less important than that they are married while raising children.

    What worries researchers who study family structures is the growing trend of couples choosing to live together outside of marriage while raising children. Divorce and out-of-wedlock birth rates leveled off years ago, but families in which parents cohabit are on a steady climb. More than 40% of all live-in households in 2000 included a child under 18, up from 21% in 1987, according to the latest U.S. Census figures.

    While an unmarried mom and dad living together might look like the married couple down the block, unions lacking formal long-term commitments have been found more likely to create problems for kids. Sociologists cite evidence that children raised by live-in parents have a greater likelihood of emotional troubles and poor school performance. A major reason is that unmarried couples are more likely to break up.

    Certainly, adults have every right to choose their living arrangements and expect social tolerance of their choices. But when the choices have a negative impact on dependents in their care, the government and other institutions have sound reasons to promote marriage as a social good.

    The notion that we need honor these individual choices even though they put children and the health of our society at risk is simply ridiculous. There is an entire range of sensible steps we should take to make the cost of not marrying or of divorcing prohibitive, especially for parents.

    October 22, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:33 PM


    Whispers of democracy across the Middle East (John Hughes, 10/22/03, CS Monitor)

    Ever so gently, the breezes of change - we can't yet call them "winds" - are rippling across hitherto repressed parts of the Islamic world.

    • Saudi Arabia announced last week it will hold elections for municipal councils within a year - its first flirtation with real elections.

    • In Morocco, King Mohammed VI outlined sweeping changes in polygamy, marriage, and divorce laws, proclaiming: "How can society achieve progress while women, who represent half the nation, see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence, and marginalization?"

    • In Iran, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi - the first Muslim woman to win it - gave heart and a fillip to the embattled reform movement. Ten thousand Iranians turned out at the Tehran airport to welcome her home.

    • Arab intellectuals, in cooperation with the UN, released a report Monday calling for reforms that would advance the cause of women's rights in Arab lands and make governments more accountable.

    • Afghanistan has virtually finished a constitution that will affirm adherence to Islam, but provide for national elections in 2004, and set up a two-chamber parliament in which women would have a significant role. The draft constitution guarantees the protection of human rights.

    • In Iraq there's movement toward swifter empowerment of the Iraqi Governing Council, to be followed by a new constitution and national elections, perhaps in 2004.

    We can be heartened, but not too euphoric.

    The most important thing to realize is that only the events in Morocco would be proceeding had 9-11 never occurred, and perhaps not as quickly there.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:19 PM


    'Means Test' Deal Near On Medicare: Wealthy Seniors Would Be Charged More Under Plan (Amy Goldstein, October 16, 2003, Washington Post)

    The agreement's basic contours, reached during a bargaining session yesterday, would take Medicare in a direction not envisioned by the House or the Senate in June, when each chamber passed legislation to add a prescription drug benefit and a larger role for private health plans to the insurance program for the elderly and disabled.

    The idea of creating a "means test" with less help for affluent patients has surfaced in every major discussion of Medicare's future for nearly two decades. Policymakers have regarded it as one of the most effective steps they could take to improve the system's fragile financial health. But liberal Democrats and others say it would undermine a central principle on which the 38-year-old program was founded: universal health insurance for all people 65 and older. [...]

    The Senate included an income-related provision in 1997 legislation to balance the federal budget, but it was dropped in a final budget agreement with the House. President Bill Clinton included the strategy in his failed attempt to revise the nation's health care system in the early 1990s, but he abandoned it as politically unworkable in a Medicare proposal to Congress several years later. And in the late 1990s, leaders of a high-level advisory commission on Medicare's future favored the idea, but excluded it from final recommendations.

    It's decades past time to means-test all government welfare programs, but they'll almost certainly fold under pressure yet again. This is one of the many ways in which Bill Clinton's unwillingness to Nixon-go-to-China cost the nation dearly.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:56 PM


    Yes Virginia, There Are Elections This Year (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris, Beth Lester, Clothilde Ewing and Beth Brenner, 10/22/03, CBS News)

    In Philadelphia's mayoral race, a Tuesday night debate featured sharp exchanges over the ethical questions that have come to dominate the contest. Incumbent Mayor John Street underlined his belief that the current FBI investigation of his office is an attempt to manipulate the election’s results, while Republican Steve Katz countered that the probe was an "exclamation point" on the city’s history of corruption. [...]

    As the debate took place, many voters seemed to agree with the mayor that he is the victim of political manipulation. Far from hurting the mayor, the FBI investigation seems to be creating a "dramatic up-tick" in his support, according to Street campaign spokesman Dan Fee. And polls (Temple University, Keystone) show the mayor pulling decisively ahead. As Larry Sabato, a professor at The University of Virginia, told CBS News, "Should John Street win re-election, his first thank you should not go to his staff but to the FBI."

    In Mississippi, it's third parties instead of the FBI ruffling political feathers. As the Biloxi Sun Herald reports, John Thomas Cripps of the Constitution Party and Sherman Lee Dillon of the Green Party are increasing chances that neither the incumbent, Democrat Ronnie Musgrove, nor Republican challenger Haley Barbour will get a majority in either the popular or electoral (measured by House districts) votes. Cripps' support for the Confederate flag may take votes from Barbour, while Dillon’s progressive stances appeal to potential Musgrove backers. If Cripps and Dillon do well enough to deny a major party candidate the majority, the Mississippi House of Representatives will pick the governor. In 1999, that process took almost two months.

    Maybe coverage of actual elections could take the place of Boondocks?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:26 PM


    Rumsfeld's war-on-terror memo: Below is the full text of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's memo on the war on terror (USA Today, 10/22/2003)

    October 16, 2003
    TO: Gen. Dick Myers
      Paul Wolfowitz
      Gen. Pete Pace
      Doug Feith

    FROM: Donald Rumsfeld

    SUBJECT: Global War on Terrorism

    The questions I posed to combatant commanders this week were: Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror? Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment? Can a big institution change fast enough? Is the USG changing fast enough?

    DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere — one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.

    With respect to global terrorism, the record since Septermber 11th seems to be:

    We are having mixed results with Al Qaida, although we have put considerable pressure on them — nonetheless, a great many remain at large.

    USG has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis.

    USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban — Omar, Hekmatyar, etc.

    With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started.

    Have we fashioned the right mix of rewards, amnesty, protection and confidence in the US?

    Does DoD need to think through new ways to organize, train, equip and focus to deal with the global war on terror?

    Are the changes we have and are making too modest and incremental? My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?

    Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?

    Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions.

    Do we need a new organization?

    How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools?

    Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"?

    It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.

    Does CIA need a new finding?

    Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madradssas to a more moderate course?

    What else should we be considering?

    Please be prepared to discuss this at our meeting on Saturday or Monday.


    Excellent questions all, but in sum the likely answers appear to put places like Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia--where the intellectual power of Islamicism is centered--in the crosshairs, rather than just focusing on where the terrorists are physically. This is a logical, long overdue, next phase of the war.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:09 PM


    Is NATO Over?: The EU challenge. (Jed Babbin, October 22, 2003, National Review)

    The Euromob in Brussels is putting the finishing touches on the thousand-page constitution for the European Union. One of the many mischievous tasks they've undertaken is to create a European defense establishment that will weaken, if not destroy, NATO. The Cold War is over. Do we really care if NATO joins the Evil Empire on the ash heap of history? We do, and whatever Brussels brummagem results, we must work hard to reform and maintain NATO. [...]

    First, the EUnuchs want to subordinate their treaty obligations under the NATO treaty to a similar mutual-defense obligation among themselves. Back in the 1960s, the original Gaullist pulled French military forces out from the NATO command structure, but managed to do so without destroying the alliance. His progeny have no such scruples. One of NATO's finest moments was after 9/11, when for the first time the mutual-defense obligation was invoked. This will not happen again if the EU's decision makers will be able to decide — on an ad hoc basis — how and when any of the EU nations will defend any NATO ally, or fight any NATO foe.

    The second danger is in splitting the EU from the NATO command structure. The French and Germans apparently are advocating a military command headquarters — and structure — separate from NATO. Prior to this week's meetings, Burns called this idea, "...the greatest threat to the future" of NATO. Burns is right to be concerned. Last week U.S. ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns called an emergency meeting of NATO to deal with the direct challenge to NATO's future posed in the newly drafted EU constitution. That meeting began on Monday, and so far the results are not at all satisfying.

    A variety of reports from the past year indicate that the French, leading the pack, want to make the mutuality of defense obligation in the EU superior to the obligation to NATO, thus blockading American participation in decisions on military deployments. A separate command structure — again independent of NATO — is being advocated strongly.

    So what? Without us to provide their backbone any European force--which will necessarily be under-funded because of their social welfare obligations and undermanned because they can't afford to have people of tax-paying age in the military instead of the workforce--will be a joke. Europe is done for; untie the anchor before we get dragged down too.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:58 PM


    Day of the Spoiler: Inside Joe Lieberman's Kamikaze Campaign (Rick Perlstein, October 22 - 28, 2003, Village Voice)

    The year was 1987, an October much like this one, with a crowded Democratic field usefully united on many, if not most, issues, but for a single irritant: Al Gore, who, determined to distinguish himself from the field by a supposedly sage and mature moderate conservatism, stepped up to the microphone at the National Press Club and read his fellow Democratic candidates clear out of the United States of America. "The politics of retreat, complacency, and doubt may appeal to others," he said, "but it will not do for me or for my country." He had already bragged in a Des Moines debate about his support for the Reagan administration's position on the B-1 bomber and the MX missile, even on chemical weapons, accusing his opponents of being "against every weapons system that is suggested"; at the next forum, he lectured his fellows on the imperative of invading Grenada and supporting the Contras. For that, some Democratic insiders were whispering, was just what it would take to be electable.

    And even though the message hardly took with voters--party conservatives had scheduled a cluster of Southern primaries early in 1988 specifically to favor a candidate like Gore, but the dead-fish Tennesseean still got skunked on "Super Tuesday" by the most liberal candidate, Jesse Jackson--Gore stuck around just long enough to run a vicious campaign in the late-inning New York primary, in which he grilled front-runner Michael Dukakis for his apparent support of "weekend passes for convicted criminals."

    In Washington, opposition researchers for the Republican front-runner, George Herbert Walker Bush, were taking notes.

    "I thought to myself, 'This is incredible,' " Bush staffer Jim Pinkerton recalled of Gore's tarring the Massachusetts prisoner furlough program as if it were the idea of Michael Dukakis, when in actuality the program had been initiated by the Republican governor who preceded him. "It totally fell into our lap." Dukakis emerged from the convention that nominated him with a 17-point lead. Then Gore's million-dollar lines, so self-consciously crafted to make himself "electable," began finding their way into George H.W. Bush's mouth. Bush was able to successfully paint Dukakis as a dangerous radical. Al Gore had provided the palette--his smears having had nearly a year to sink into the American psyche.

    Think about that next time you're watching one of the Democratic debates and hear Joe Lieberman say, as he did at one, that if Vermont's former governor won the presidential election, "the Bush recession would be followed by the Dean depression." Or say, as Lieberman did at his own National Press Club policy address this year, that his opponents disastrously "prefer the old, big-government solutions to our problems," even though "with record deficits, a stalled economy, and Social Security in danger, we can't afford that."

    For partisans of the Democratic Leadership Council, the rigidly anti-liberal pressure group that Al Gore helped found and that his vice presidential candidate, Joe Lieberman, chaired from 1995 to 2001, the moral of this little parable of 1988 is apparent: The Democratic Party should have saved itself the heartache and nominated Gore in the first place, just as it should nominate Lieberman now. But that won't solve the problem, either. The myth that tacking right makes a Democrat inherently more successful in a general election is, put simply, built on a foundation of quicksand. [...]

    Joseph Lieberman adds nothing to the Democrats' chances in 2004. He does, however, take things away. In fighting to the finish and losing the nomination, he will have irreparably weakened the winner. If he wins it, he will suck out something precious: the active enthusiasm of the unwealthy that is a center-left party's only natural advantage against a party of money, the Republicans.

    It doesn't seem likely that Mr. Perlstein will find much to like in Zell Miller's new book, A National Party No More, which argues quite forcefully that the Party needs to tack Right or keep losing. But it does seem a tough fact to get around that the last four Democrats to get more votes than their Republican opponents in a presidential race were all Southern white men--LBJ, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore--and two of them--Carter and Clinton--ran well to the Right of the national party.

    That's not to say Joe Lieberman is doing himself or the Democrats any good by running--we've been noting for some time that he doesn't seem serious about his own campaign, considering it more a vanity thing, to get to be the Jewish guy who ran for the presidency. (Mr. Perlstein in very amusing fashion makes it clear that there is hardly any Lieberman campaign at ground level.) But the idea that no one on the Right (or pretending to be on the Right) should run in Democratic primaries because they end up doing the GOP's spadework seems kind of dangerous for a party that's already becoming nothing more than a coalition of special interest groups with a shrinking geographical appeal. Simply running for president as Democrats has already been sufficiently leftifying to force Bob Graham and John Edwards to abandon their Senate seats--because the positions you have to take nationally are anathema at home--imagine what the primary process would become if there weren't even any moderates (which Lieberman should probably be considered) allowed to run, if the race to the Left started from a John Kerry's positions instead of a Joe Lieberman's?

    Perhaps the Democrats' problem runs deeper. It would appear that a Republican can win the presidency after a tough primary fight in which he's correctly portrayed as well to the Right even of the GOP--witness Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush--but that a Democrat can't win if they are accurately portrayed as to the Left of the nation entire.

    -Ga. Senator Lambastes Fellow Democrats (Jeffrey McMurray, October 22, 2003, AP)

    In "A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Southern Democrat," Miller analyzes how he believes Democrats slipped from the majority to the minority in national opinion polls and predicts they will stay there for a long while. Some stores were stocking the book yesterday, with the official release set for early November.

    "The biggest problem with the party leadership is that they know nothing about the modern South," Miller writes. "They still see it as a land of magnolias and mint juleps, with the pointy-headed KKK lurking in the background, waiting to burn a cross or lynch blacks and Jews."

    -ESSAY: The Democrats Can Win without a Southerner at the Top of the Ticket (Martin Halpern, 10/20/03, History News Network)
    Although media and public attention has focused on retired General Wesley Clark's military credentials and his dramatic late entry into the presidential race, in one key respect his candidacy as a Southerner represents something familiar in Democratic presidential politics. In the past three decades, the Democrats have nominated Southerners for president five of seven times. What's more significant, they've won only with Southerners. [...]

    A trustworthy Democratic presidential candidate who pursues a consistent left-of-center course could galvanize a grass roots campaign in the women's, environmental, peace, civil rights, and labor movements. Such a campaign could bring many low income non-voters and youth into the political process. The Democrats can win the White House and a Congressional majority with a coalition of new voters, Greens, and the Democratic party's core constituencies.

    The Democrats' strategy of nominating moderate Southerners brought some victories but not long-term progress for the party or the country. Rather than focusing on turning again to a moderate Southern nominee in hopes of preventing a Southern sweep by George W. Bush, the Democrats should instead focus on developing a strategy for effective governance. They need to explain how they will promote peace and security, provide jobs, and achieve new social reforms such as national health care. Putting forward a feasible plan would energize and expand the Democratic party's social base everywhere, including the South.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:51 AM


    Controversial comics raise serious dilemmas (Mark Jurkowitz, 10/22/2003, Boston Globe)

    In an unprecedented move that angered readers and generated industry criticism, The Washington Post recently killed an entire week of "The Boondocks" comic strip with a story line suggesting the world might be a safer place if national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had a more active love life.

    Addressing the subject in his column, Post ombudsman Michael Getler quoted executive editor Leonard Downie Jr.'s view that the strip "violated our standards for taste, fairness and invasion of privacy," before adding his dissenting opinion. "Boondocks" creator Aaron McGruder was "being mischievous and irreverent . . . about a high profile public figure," Getler declared. "And that seems okay to me."

    Perhaps the world would be a better place if Mr. McGruder's parents had enjoyed a less active love life?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:35 AM


    Of Kurds and Madrid (WILLIAM SAFIRE, October 22, 2003, NY Times)

    That unanimous U.N. vote surprised doubters everywhere. Its genesis, I suspect, was at the Bush-Putin meeting two weeks ago in Camp David. Bush lavished fulsome praise on Russia's semi-dictator for his supposed vision of freedom and the rule of law; Vladimir Putin, after gladly joining Bush in sinking the Kyoto global warming treaty, agreed not only to vote our way in the U.N. but also to broker a compromise that would induce France and Germany not just to abstain, but to grudgingly support our occupation.

    Just as Turkey delivered on troops, so did Putin on votes. China, as usual, wanted to be part of the majority it could see forming. But France, meekly followed by Germany, wanted an immediate, sovereign provisional government in Iraq, stripping the U.S. of control. When we said no, Putin passed along words to save Jacques Chirac's face: that the interim administration we appointed would "embody the sovereignty" of Iraq "without prejudice to its further evolution" — thereby kicking the can of our control well into next year.

    The bandwagon that started in Camp David and gained speed in Ankara rolled through Damascus. Rather than be isolated, Syria — always nervous about the Turks and suddenly worried about the Israelis — made our U.N. resolution unanimous.

    That set the stage for this week's Madrid donors' conference. With the French, Germans and Russians refusing to ante up a plug dinar, and with the E.U. offering peanuts, we've been low-balling estimates of aid. But I suspect it will get into the double-digits of billions, especially since contributors can steer contracts to their own nationals.

    But here come Iraqi Arabs, using the Kurdish leader Barzani as their wedge to evoke faded memories of the Ottoman Empire and to look the Turkish gift horse in the mouth.

    Just as Turkey was only acting in its own national interest when it was uncooperative on the war, so too the Kurds are merely acting in their national interest now. You can't get too upset with folks for that.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:20 AM


    Case involving pledge should be easy for justices to decide (Terry Eastland, 10/22/03, Jewish World Review)

    [I]t certainly is wrong to understand "under G-d" in isolation. The pledge needs to be taken in its entirety.

    As such, it still is a pledge to the flag and the republic for which it stands.

    It still is a patriotic statement and not a religious one, the words "under G-d" accomplishing the congressional intention of affirming the role of religion in the life of the nation.

    That role traces back to Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg ("that this nation, under G-d, shall have a new birth of freedom") and to the Declaration of Independence ("endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights").

    And to the Constitution's express purpose to "secure the Blessings of Liberty".

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 AM


    Linkage logarithms (Mark Steyn, 10/21/03, Jewish World Review)

    Here's an easy way to make an effective change: Less Wahhabism is in America's interest. More Wahhabism is in the terrorists' interest. So why can't the U.S. introduce a policy whereby, for the duration of the war on terror, no organization directly funded by the Saudis will be eligible for any formal or informal role with any federal institution?

    That would also include the pro-Saudi Middle East Institute, whose "adjunct scholar" is one Joseph C Wilson IV. Remember him? He's the fellow at the center of the Bob-Novak-published-the-name-of-my-CIA-wife scandal. The agency sent him to look into the European intelligence stories about Saddam trying to buy uranium in Africa. He went to Niger, drank mint tea with government flacks, and then wrote a big whiny piece in the New York Times after the White House declined to accept his assurances nothing was going on. He was never an intelligence specialist, he's no longer a "career diplomat," but he is, like so many other retired ambassadors, on the House of Saud's payroll. And the Saudis vehemently opposed war with Saddam.

    Think about that. To investigate Saddam Hussein's attempted acquisition of uranium, the United States government sent a man in the pay of the Saudi government. The Saudis set up schools that turn out terrorists. They set up Islamic lobby groups that put spies in our military bases and terror recruiters in our prisons. They set up think tanks that buy up and neuter the U..S diplomatic corps. And their ambassador's wife funnels charitable donations to the September 11 hijackers.

    But it's all just an unfortunate coincidence, isn't it? After all, the Saudis are our friends. Thank goodness.

    The dots don't necessarily all connect, but they're still dots.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM


    Evidence Of Things Unseen: The Rise of a New Movement (Tom Hayden, October 20, 2003, AlterNet)

    There is rising a new movement in the world. It is bigger than the movement of the 1960s. Yet it is barely seen by the experts and analysts. They look only at the behavior of institutions and politicians, not the underlying forces that eventually burst into visibility.

    The first strand of this new movement is the global opposition to the war in Iraq and to an American empire. [...]

    The second strand is the global justice movement, which began with the Zapatistas on the day NAFTA took effect, then surfaced in Seattle in 1999. Those were called isolated events. Then came Genoa, Quebec City, Quito, Cancun, the world social forums in Porto Allegre. Far from isolated events, these were the historic battlegrounds of a new history being born.

    Together these movements mount a challenge to an entire worldview. We are experiencing an enlargement of dignity, an enlargement of what we consider sacred and therefore off the table, not negotiable. The purported Masters of the Universe are becoming as obsolete as those who once claimed the divine right of kings. The earth and its people are not for sale; the environment is not just a storehouse of materials for utilitarian exploitation; and cultural identities can't be replaced as if they were commodities, whether the treasures of Babylon or the rainforests of the Amazon. This movement is saying that diversity will not be looted.

    Why is this happening? No one really knows. Movements arise in mystery at the margins, eventually change the mainstream, are repressed or co-opted, and return to the oblivion we call official history.

    One explanation is that the globalization of US military and economic power is globalizing an opposition. It's a dialectic and, as it swirls and intensifies it can even bring down George Bush.

    Saddam is gone. We have new bilateral trade treaties with Chile and Singapore and more in process. The Japanese and Chinese are negotiating bilateral treaties too. The Kyoto treaty is dead. George W. Bush is headed for a landslide victory. Etc., etc., etc... If this is what we get from the "new movement", we're all for it.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM


    The Affair of the Fifteen Women (J. Douglas Allen-Taylor, October 21, 2003, Berkeley Daily Planet)

    As far as I can tell from the public record -- and the public record here is more extensive than one might desire -- Bill Clinton was never accused of putting his hands on a woman who did not so desire. Schwarzenegger was, and is. The difference is enormous. This does not mean that Clinton was not wrong. It merely means that Mr. Schwarzenegger -- if he did, indeed, do the things of which he stands accused -- was wronger.

    Arnold's behavior towards those women was despicable and they should sue him or press charges. However, that's no reason to rewrite history. Kathleen Willey certainly described unwanted contact and Juanitta Broaddrick says Bill Clinton raped her, a charge which the Clintons never denied. Democrats having dismissed even rape as just cause for judging a political figure have left themselves in an at best awkward spot where Arnold is concerned.

    October 21, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:59 PM


    Louisiana Gubernatorial Election: Election Date: November 15, 2003

    Kentucky Gubernatorial Election: Election Date: November 4, 2003

    Mississippi Gubernatorial Election: Election Date: November 4, 2003

    These three races, all of which could go either way, have been so hard to find news on, bless the folks at Real Clear Politics. They've got bios, polls and links to stories.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 PM


    Early Primary Predictions Are Anyone's Guess (Charlie Cook, Oct. 21, 2003, NationalJournal.com)

    Suffice it to say that Dean and Gephardt are locked into a close fight for first place in Iowa, with Kerry in third -- though how close he is to the front-runners is a matter of some dispute. No one else is a significant factor in the state.

    In New Hampshire, both polls agreed that Dean was the overwhelming favorite, with Kerry in second place and Clark in third. It should be kept in mind, however, that New Hampshire results are sometimes by what happens in Iowa. In the Bread for the World survey, Dean had 33 percent, and Kerry came in second with 18 percent. It is worth noting the obvious: Both men are from neighboring states. Clark came in third with 9 percent, while Lieberman was fourth with 6 percent. In the Democracy Corps survey, Dean had a whopping 38 percent of the vote, with Kerry in second with 21 percent, Clark third with 11 percent and Gephardt fourth with 8 percent.

    It was the Democracy Corps poll in South Carolina that was the most interesting, perhaps because we have seen less polling in the Palmetto State than in Iowa and New Hampshire. In South Carolina, Sen. John Edwards -- who hails from neighboring North Carolina -- held the first place slot with 14 percent, but Gephardt was just a point behind at 13 percent, with Clark another point behind him at 12 percent. Lieberman was in fourth place at 11 percent, Dean was tied for fifth place with the Rev. Al Sharpton at 10 percent, and the rest of the field was in single digits.

    The only clear conclusion from these data is that Dean is in a formidable position in New Hampshire, but locked into either a two- or three-way fight in Iowa. In South Carolina, the race looks wide open, with Edwards possibly ahead but four other candidates within four points of first place. It is the very definition of a wide-open contest.

    The idea that a candidate who doesn't finish on the radar screen in IA or NH is then going to win SC or anywhere else just seems ridiculous. If Gephardt can pull out IA, he's the opposition to Dean. If not, Dean is home free. Unless, of course, another candidate gets in the race...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:08 PM


    THE TIMES' SECRET CLINTON LINK (Page Six, 10/21/03, NY Post)

    THE New York Times had a big conflict of interest on Sunday.

    The Gray Lady's review trashing "Bill Clinton: An American Journey. Great Expectations" was written by Todd S. Purdum, the husband of Clinton's first White House press secretary, Dee Dee Myers - though Times readers weren't informed of his connction to Clinton.

    "It is the equivalent of allowing the wife of Ari Fleischer to review an anti-Bush book," said one observer. [...]

    Purdum wrote that the Clinton book "offers only the faintest pretense of originality. It is almost completely a reheated buffet of previously published material from the already groaning steam table of Clinton scholarship, scandal-mongering and supposition."

    But Purdum found a quote from Betsey Wright, Clinton's former chief of staff, worth repeating.

    Wright, who coined the term "bimbo eruptions," said Clinton's womanizing had "nothing to do with sex" and everything to do with "this inferiority complex . . . I think he's spent his entire life being scared that he was white trash."

    The Times had no comment.

    Maybe they'll let Mike Deaver review the CBS miniseries on the Reagans?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 PM


    FEDERAL INCOME TAXES, AS A SHARE OF GDP, DROP TO LOWEST LEVEL SINCE 1942, ACCORDING TO FINAL BUDGET DATA: Erosion of income tax base drives other key budget developments (Isaac Shapiro, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

    The final budget figures for fiscal year 2003 were released on October 20 by the Treasury Department.  They indicate that income tax receipts (including receipts from both the individual and corporate income tax) equaled just 8.6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.  This is the lowest level of income tax collections, as a share of the economy, since 1942.  The decline in income taxes as a share of the economy to a level last seen six decades ago helps explain several other key findings about the final budget tally.

    * In 2003, total federal revenues as a share of the Gross Domestic Product dropped to 16.6 percent.  The last time that total revenues as a share of the economy fell below 17 percent was in 1959, near the end of the Eisenhower Administration.  (The Gross Domestic Product is the basic measure of the size of the U.S. economy.)

    * Not only are income taxes at historically low levels relative to the size of the economy, they are also at historically low levels as a share of all federal revenues.  In 2003, the share of federal revenues consisting of income taxes fell to its lowest level since 1941.  Conversely, the share of federal revenues consisting of payroll taxes reached the highest level in the history of the tax system.

    * The sizable federal deficit in 2003 of 3.5 percent of GDP is more directly a reflection of diminished revenues than of increased spending.  While revenues as a share of GDP fell to their lowest level in 44 years, spending as a share of GDP was below its level in any year from 1980 to 1996, and far below its levels during the downturns of the early 1980s and early 1990s.

    * The federal deficit would have been much larger in 2003 except for the fact that receipts going into the Social Security system exceeded Social Security expenditures.  The “on-budget” deficit in 2003 — the government’s measure that excludes consideration of Social Security receipts and expenditures — was 5.0 percent of the economy.

    When we get to the tax and spending levels of the 1920's we'll have succeeded.

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:29 PM


    ... when Cambridge, Massachusetts honors the BrothersJudd blog:

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:27 PM


    Iran to Suspend Uranium Enrichment, Permit U.N. Inspections of Nuclear Program (Ed Johnson, October 21, 2003, The Associated Press)

    Iran will suspend uranium enrichment and allow unrestricted inspections of its nuclear program, as sought by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, a senior Iranian official said Tuesday after three European foreign ministers came to Tehran to press the international community's case. Iran set no date for the steps.

    Iran faces an Oct. 31 deadline, set by the International Atomic Energy Agency, to prove its does not have a nuclear weapons program as the United States alleges. Otherwise, the IAEA will likely turn to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions.

    Iran also pledged to hand over long-sought information to the IAEA that should help it determine whether Tehran has tried to make nuclear weapons, diplomats said Tuesday in Vienna, where the agency is based.

    You can just hear these foreign ministers saying: "Bush is crazy. He wants to nuke you and we can't stop him unless you comply."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:12 PM


    Senate Passes Ban on Partial Birth Abortion, Sends Bill to Bush for Signature (The Associated Press, 10/21/03)

    The Senate on Tuesday voted to ban the practice that critics call partial birth abortion, sending President Bush legislation that both supporters and foes said could alter the future of U.S. abortion rights. A court challenge is certain.

    The 64-34 vote came three weeks after the House passed the same measure by 281-142.

    Gov. Bush orders effort to save comatose woman: He signs bill to reinsert Terri Schiavo's feeding tube (October 21, 2003, CNN)
    Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ordered a feeding tube reinserted into a brain-damaged woman Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the Legislature passed a bill allowing him to do so.

    Florida lawmakers gave Bush the authority in an effort to keep Terri Schiavo alive nearly a week after the tube was removed, effectively overturning a court ruling that she be allowed to die.

    The state Senate voted 23-15 on Tuesday to approve a measure allowing Bush to issue the one-time order. The tube was removed after a lengthy court battle between Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael, and her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler.

    The bill also allows a judge to appoint an independent guardian for Schiavo, taking away guardianship from Michael Schiavo, who has been fighting to remove the tube.

    They're too few and too far between, but every once in a great while the culture of death has a bad day.

    -ESSAY: What if There Is Something Going On in There? (CARL ZIMMER, 9/28/03, NY Times Magazine)

    Daniel Rios is 24 years old, with wavy black hair, a thick mustache and a glassy stare that seems to look both at you and through you. One day almost four years ago, while he was taking a shower, a blood vessel ruptured in his brain, and he collapsed on the bathroom floor. After emergency surgery, he lay in a coma for three weeks. When he finally opened his eyes, he could not speak or move his body; his head simply lolled. In the months that followed, the doctors monitoring him at the Center for Head Injuries at the J.F.K. Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison, N.J., saw few signs that he had any meaningful mental life. Sometimes he looked as if he were crying. Other times his eyes would follow a mirror passed before his face. On his best days he was able to close his eyes on command. But those days were rare. For the most part he lay unresponsive, adrift in a neurological twilight.

    One morning just over a year after his accident, Rios was taken to the Sloan Kettering Institute on Manhattan's East Side. There, in a dim room, a group of researchers placed a mask over his eyes, fixed headphones over his ears and guided his head into the bore of an M.R.I. machine. A 40-second loop of a recording made by Rios's sister Maria played through the headphones: she told him that she was there with him, that she loved him. As the sound entered his ears, the M.R.I. machine scanned his brain, mapping changes in activity. Several hours afterward, two researchers, Nicholas D. Schiff and Joy Hirsch, took a look at the images from the scan. They hadn't been sure what to expect -- Rios was among the first people in his condition to have his brain activity measured in this way -- but they certainly weren't expecting what they saw. ''We just stared at these images,'' recalls Schiff, an expert in consciousness disorders at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. ''There didn't seem to be anything missing.''

    As the tape of his sister's voice played, several distinct clusters of neurons in Rios's brain had fired in a manner virtually identical to that of a healthy subject. Some clusters that became active were those known to help process spoken language, others to recall memories. Was Rios recognizing his sister's voice, remembering her? ''You couldn't tell the difference between these parts of his brain and the brain of one of my graduate students,'' says Hirsch, an expert in brain imaging at Columbia University. Even the visual centers of Rios's brain had come alive, despite the fact that his eyes were covered. It was as if his sister's words awakened his mind's eye.

    To the medical world, Rios and the hundreds of thousands of other Americans who suffer from impaired consciousness present a mystery. Traditionally, there have essentially been only two ways to classify them: as comatose (eyes closed and responses limited to basic reflexes) or vegetative (eyes opening and closing in a cycle of sleeping and waking but without any sign of awareness). In either case, it has been assumed that they have no high-level thought. But Schiff, Hirsch and a small group of like-minded researchers are studying people like Rios and finding that the truth is far more complicated. Their evidence suggests that even after an injury that leaves a brain badly damaged, even after months or years with little sign of consciousness, people may still be capable of complex mental activity.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:59 PM

    ONLY THE LONELY CAN'T WAIT (via Rick Turley):

    Ann Coulter Talking Action Figure (TalkingPresident.com)

    Accepting Pre-Orders Now!
    Orders will ship first week of November, 2003.
    Please be advised, if you order other products, the entire order will not ship until then.

    Listen To Her speak!
    Below are only a few of the 14 different phrases that the Ann Coulter Action figure says when you press her button.
    Batteries Included


    Of all the functions that an Ann Coulter doll could have, why does one suspect that the one her legion of male fans are interested in least is the capacity to talk?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:53 PM


    Police will charge man after Niagara Falls stunt (Carolyn Thompson, 10/21/2003, AP)

    A man who went over Niagara Falls with only the clothes on his back will be charged with illegally performing a stunt, Niagara Parks Police said Tuesday.

    Kirk Jones, 40, of Canton, Mich., faces a maximum $10,000 fine after entering the Niagara River Monday afternoon and plunging over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls in front of stunned witnesses.

    Jones, who was not seriously injured, remains hospitalized in Niagara Falls in stable condition. Police said Jones will remain in custody pending a bail hearing. A date for the hearing has not been set.

    Niagara Parks Police Inspector Paul Fortier said the police have a videotape in their possession because they believe Jones was accompanied by another person. The other person has not been charged but they believe he videotaped the act, Fortier said.

    Well, it's something to tell the grandkids. On the other hand, if there's anything to that Darwinism deal he shouldn't be allowed to breed.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:46 PM


    The Natural History of Bush-Hating (Keith Burgess-Jackson, 10/21/03, Tech Central Station)

    The signs of Krugman's hatred are there for all to see. First, he is obsessed. Nearly every column for the past year has been about the Bush administration, and often about the president personally. I assume that Krugman has free rein as far as column topics go (just as I do at TCS), so why he focuses almost exclusively on President Bush requires explanation. Hatred explains it. Second, I have never seen Krugman make a favorable comment, even grudgingly, about President Bush. Someone might say that there is nothing favorable to be said, but that is disingenuous. Nobody is perfectly bad (omnimalevolent) and nobody performs only evil deeds (omnimaleficence). Krugman could prove me wrong by writing an occasional favorable column about the president or his administration. I will not hold my breath waiting for it.

    Third, he systematically questions President Bush's motives. If the president says he did X for reason Y, Krugman says it was really for reason Z. Awarding a contract to Halliburton cannot possibly be legitimate; it must be a case of cronyism. Reducing taxes cannot be based on principle (e.g., that people are entitled to the fruits of their labor; that self-sufficiency is intrinsically good); it is calculated to "secure a key part of the Republican party's base," namely, the wealthy. To read Krugman is to see only corruption and deceit on the part of the president and his staff. It's not that the president's good intentions go awry, mind you. That would be a legitimate criticism. The president has bad intentions. Fourth, Krugman gives every indication of wanting the Bush administration's policies to fail, even if this redounds to the detriment of the American people. Krugman's incessantly negative and increasingly shrill and virulent columns about the war in Iraq, for example, come across as positively gleeful. One senses a hope, on his part, that the American reconstruction of Iraq fails. [...]

    There is another and even better reason to refuse to read Krugman: He expounds on matters outside his field of expertise. Krugman's "economic" columns consist, in the main, of criticisms of President Bush's policies. The recent blackout, for example, was President Bush's fault. The California electricity crisis was President Bush's fault. Everything that happens in Iraq (or the Middle East generally) is President Bush's fault. Where did an economist get normative expertise? Graduate school? If so, which course or seminar, specifically? Was it during the research for and writing of the Ph.D. dissertation? But how does that work? I wrote a Ph.D. dissertation. It didn't make me wise(r). Economists are technicians, not moral preceptors. They can tell policymakers what they must give up in order to get this or that. They are not equipped, even if they are so inclined, to decide which action to take. [...]

    Unfortunately, some of Krugman's readers may unwittingly infer normative authority from his authority in the technical realm of economics.

    One thing about the Times is that its two ostensibly conservative columnists openly supported Bill Clinton over George Bush Sr., on the one hand (Bill Safire), and John McCain over George W. Bush, on the other (David Brooks). You'd think their Op-Ed page would be more interesting, if nothing else, were they to hire a real red-meat conservative and turn him loose. Don't even the editors there have to get tired of Krugman and Dowd obsessing over George W. Bush as the focus of evil in the modern world?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:39 PM


    Friend H. D. Miller has some questions about the marriage of convenience between: Michael Moore and Wal-Mart.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 AM


    The Truth Is … Don’t Jump Onto a Moving Truck: Howard Dean Decides to Have Some Fun … But it Backfires (Marc. J. Ambinder, 10/20/03, ABCNEWS.com)

    The former governor had arrived a few minutes before he was scheduled to speak to an organizing conference at St. Anselm College near Manchester. He was chatting along the side of the entrance road with a throng of college students, all Dean supporters, when a large red box truck began a slow turn into the parking lot.

    By Dean's own recounting, he saw the truck slow down, and "decided to have a little fun." As the truck swung by, Dean hopped onto a running board on its rear.

    "I thought the guy was going to pull up 5 feet and I was going to get off and say, 'Ha ha ha,' " he said. A playful prank for the benefit of a friendly crowd.

    But then the truck took off. It accelerated to about 20 miles per hour, and zoomed out around the corner.

    "I was stuck, clinging to the back of the truck," Dean said.

    And people wonder why campaign staff try to make their candidate stick to the script...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 AM


    Bait-and-Switch on Public Education (NY Times, 10/21/03)

    The new law is supposed to place a qualified teacher in every classroom and wipe out the achievement gap between rich and poor children. Schools that fail to make steady progress are labeled deficient and required to provide students with costly tutoring and allow them to transfer to more successful public schools in the same district.

    In some districts, more than 40 percent of the schools are called "in need of improvement." The lack of money from Congress has licensed a backlash by states that never wanted to comply with the law anyway, especially the provision that requires ending the achievement gap between rich and poor.

    Right on cue, these states are pressing Congress to suspend the new standards and accountability measures — until full financing is made available. A few brave lawmakers, like the Democratic whip, Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, have taken a strong stand against this. While criticizing the G.O.P. for failing to fully finance the new law, Mr. Hoyer and others have urged the states to stay the course and to discontinue the practice of educating affluent children while letting the poor fall by the wayside.

    The Bush administration wanted to trumpet No Child Left Behind, then fail to pay for it — without the voters taking notice.

    Boy, you can't sneak anything past the Times, can you? The point of the law--and it represents a signal victory for the President, one that was obvious even as it was being negotiated--is to force vouchers locally, not to fund education nationally. Meanwhile, how much would Karl Rove love it if Ted Kennedy, congressional Democrats, and some weak-kneed Republicans pass a bill that lowers education standards so that the President can veto it?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:19 AM


    Is the Democratic Party clueless about the modern South? (Bill Cotterell, Oct. 21, 2003, Jewish World Review)

    "But Lord, those current presidential candidates in my party!" [Senator Zell] Miller writes. "They are good, smart and able folks but if I decide to follow any of them down their road, I'd have to keep my left turn signal blinking." Among his Senate colleagues, Miller sees John Edwards "shooting brightly through the skies like Halley's Comet," Joe Lieberman "steadily and surely plodding along … like Aesop's tortoise" and John Kerry "posing for Vogue in an electric blue wet suit with a surfboard tucked up under his arm like a rail just split. It made me wonder, are there more surfboards or shotguns in America?

    "There's also Bob Graham, who made Florida a great governor, and Howard Dean of Vermont, with whom I served as lieutenant governor and governor," says Miller. "Clever and glib, but deep this Vermont pond is not."

    The kind folks at Stroud & Hall just sent us Senator Miller's very amusing book, A National Party No More, amusing to a Republican anyway; for Democrats who'd like to win elections it must be heartbreaking. Mr. Miller combines a folksy memoir of his inordinately successful political life with an impassioned polemic against the special interests and ideologues who have driven his beloved party so far out of the mainstream that it has virtually ceased to be a viable party in the South.

    There are many great lines, but that assessment of Howard Dean is really devastating.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 AM


    Muzzling the wrong dog (Cal Thomas, Oct. 21, 2003, Jewish World Review)

    The Bush administration is making a fundamental mistake when it promotes the fiction that our enemies can be made less threatening by what America says and does. That should now be obvious to Democratic senator and presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, who spoke last Friday (Oct. 17) to an Arab American Institute meeting in Dearborn, Mich. Lieberman, who is Jewish, noted that Jews and Muslims are descendants of Abraham. "I am your brother," he said, and added, "Whatever differences we may have on the issues of the day are differences of ideas, not of religion or nationality." Members of the audience heckled him.

    This notion that religion is not at the heart of the hatred directed at America from outside and now inside the country qualifies as extreme denial. Throughout the Muslim world, America is condemned not mainly because of its ideas but because Islamists believe we are infidels opposed to G-d. [...]

    The problem is illustrated by this story: There are two dogs; one is vicious and the other friendly. The vicious dog regularly attacks the friendly dog. The owner of the friendly dog decides to muzzle his dog, hoping this will demonstrate to the vicious dog that the friendly dog means him no harm. The vicious dog sees his opportunity and kills the muzzled friendly dog.

    In muzzling Boykin, the Pentagon has not converted those who believe they have a religious mandate to destroy us. It is silencing, instead of sounding, the alarm that this enemy is bigger than any threat America has ever faced.

    If an American general gave this speech (warning: scatology alert) today, more than one of the Democratic candidates would call for him to be court-martialed.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 AM


    It's Arnold v. the 'U-Haul indicator' Popular economics (Jason Chow, , October 21, 2003, Financial Post)

    The cost of renting a 26-foot U- Haul moving truck for a one-way trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is US$1,080. The same move in the opposite direction costs only US$133.

    To economist Brian Wesbury, the difference in cost is an accurate snapshot of the economic climate in California: People are moving out of the state as opportunity diminishes and few want to move into a slumping economy.

    A one-way U-Haul move from Los Angeles to Phoenix costs US$837 while the return costs US$116. San Francisco to Boise: US$2,024. Return trip: US$310.

    Compare those rates to what U-Haul charges for the same truck between two Midwestern cities. A U-Haul rental from Chicago and Detroit costs US$419. The return rental is almost identical in price at US$449.

    "Obviously, California is having a hard time keeping U-Haul trucks in the state," wrote Mr. Wesbury, in a note to clients.

    Quite possibly the first economic indicator in the history of mankind that makes any intuitive sense.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:19 AM


    Anti-Semite berated by Bush, greeted by PM Choices at APEC summit (Mike
    Blanchfield, 10/21/03, CanWest News Service)

    Jean Chretien shook hands with the Malaysian Prime Minister yesterday but did not condemn him for anti-Jewish remarks that provoked international outrage and earned a personal rebuke from the U.S. President. [...]

    Mr. Chretien failed to add his voice to those of the leaders of Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain and the European Union, who have condemned Mr.
    Mahathir for saying that Jews "rule this world by proxy" and that Muslims should rise against them for a "final victory."

    "He was there. I shook hands with him like with everybody else," Mr. Chretien said after meeting Mr. Mahathir at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit of 21 world leaders.

    Mr. Chretien would not offer an opinion on Mr. Mahathir's remarks when he met later with Canadian reporters.

    Later they chatted over a bowl of Vichyssoise...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 AM


    Grumbling Trickles Down From Reagan Biopic (JIM RUTENBERG, 10/21/03, NY Times)

    "The Reagans," according to the final version of the script obtained by The New York Times, does give Mr. Reagan most of the credit for ending the cold war and paints him as an exceptionally gifted politician and a moral man who stuck to his beliefs, often against his advisers' urgings.

    But there is no mention of the economic recovery or the creation of wealth during his administration, key accomplishments to his supporters. Nor does it show him delivering the nation from the malaise of the Jimmy Carter years, as his supporters say he did.

    The details the producers do choose to stress — like Mr. Reagan's moments of forgetfulness, his supposed opinions on AIDS and gays, his laissez-faire handling of his staff members — often carry a disapproving tone.

    Nancy Reagan, who is played by Judy Davis, does not get light treatment either. While the script portrays Mrs. Reagan as a loyal and protective wife, it also shows her as a control addict, who set the president's schedule based on her astrologer's advice and who had significant influence over White House personnel and policy decisions.

    The portrayal sounds well within the realm of fairness, if somewhat negative in approach--of course, they tipped their hand early when they hired Mr. Streisand to play Ronald Reagan. But far more people will watch this than have read all the positive assessments of the Reagan presidency. It's well to remember that even though the Right is no longer silenced on the air waves and in magazines and publishing, the real mass media is still the bailiwick of the Left.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:57 AM


    Improvement in Bottom Lines Pumping Up Investors' Hopes (JONATHAN FUERBRINGER, 10/21/03, NY Times)

    After a long nightmare on Wall Street, the latest profit figures from corporate America have been the stuff of investors' dreams.

    Corporate earnings are set to have their best quarter since the spring of 2000, with initial estimates of a 21 percent jump over last year's third quarter. Strong consumer spending, a weakening dollar and further cost- cutting all helped to improve the bottom line for companies that have already reported for the quarter, which ended Sept. 30.

    One interesting aspect of investor willingness to hop back into the market so soon is that Democrat opposition to privatizing Social Security has over the past two years been predicated on how the bursting of the last bubble proved such a personal investment plan too risky. Folks seem instead to have a reasonably high level of faith that the market goes up over the long term.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 AM


    Richard Perle's Horizons (Bret Stephens and Michael Oren, Oct. 19, 2003, Jerusalem Post)

    Perle: The justification was never restricted to weapons of mass destruction. The president talked about regime change very early on. The regime change argument was eclipsed by the weapons of mass destruction argument partly because the Department of State was always uncomfortable talking about regime change... [because] that it is outside what is today the accepted notion of legitimacy in international terms.... But weapons of mass destruction and violations of UN resolutions are a solid basis for reaction and the State Department gravitated toward the legally correct view.

    If someone were to go back and look at all of George Bush's statements on Iraq he would find that at a certain point he stops talking about regime change and talks almost exclusively about violations of UN resolutions, some of which, by the way, centered on human rights. Not all of them centered on weapons of mass destruction. Now that's been forgotten and I hear it said all the time that the basis was the weapons of mass destruction. In any case, we know that Saddam had a weapons of mass destruction program. Although we haven't found stockpiles, I don't believe that Saddam was significantly less dangerous because he didn't have a stockpile.

    The reality is that in the aftermath of September 11 Bush became seized with the idea of not waiting too long. The problem was compounded by the decline in support for the containment policy, which was no longer merely containment. The sanctions regime was falling apart.... There was the very real prospect that Saddam was going to emerge as a great hero, having outlasted the sanctions regime, having outlasted the West, having violated the cease-fire, any number of UN resolutions and getting away with it and this became increasingly intolerable. So we had to do something. The fact that we have not found the stockpile in no way diminishes the justification for taking that action....

    We many not and need not always choose to do so, but is there ever a bad reason for the West to depose a totalitarian dictator?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:51 AM


    The Rise of Illiberal Democracy (Fareed Zakaria, November 1997, Foreign Affairs)

    FROM THE TIME of Herodotus democracy has meant, first and foremost, the rule of the people. This view of democracy as a process of selecting governments, articulated by scholars ranging from Alexis de Tocqueville to Joseph Schumpeter to Robert Dahl, is now widely used by social scientists. In The Third Wave, Samuel P. Huntington explains why:

    Elections, open, free and fair, are the essence of democracy, the inescapable sine qua non. Governments produced by elections may be inefficient, corrupt, shortsighted, irresponsible, dominated by special interests, and incapable of adopting policies demanded by the public good. These qualities make such governments undesirable but they do not make them undemocratic. Democracy is one public virtue, not the only one, and the relation of democracy to other public virtues and vices can only be understood if democracy is clearly distinguished from the other characteristics of political systems.

    This definition also accords with the commonsense view of the term. If a country holds competitive, multiparty elections, we call it democratic. When public participation in politics is increased, for example through the enfranchisement of women, it is seen as more democratic. Of course elections must be open and fair, and this requires some protections for freedom of speech and assembly. But to go beyond this minimalist definition and label a country democratic only if it guarantees a comprehensive catalog of social, political, economic, and religious rights turns the word democracy into a badge of honor rather than a descriptive category. After all, Sweden has an economic system that many argue curtails individual property rights, France until recently had a state monopoly on television, and England has an established religion. But they are all clearly and identifiably democracies. To have democracy mean, subjectively, "a good government" renders it analytically useless.

    Constitutional liberalism, on the other hand, is not about the procedures for selecting government, but rather government's goals. It refers to the tradition, deep in Western history, that seeks to protect an individual's autonomy and dignity against coercion, whatever the source -- state, church, or society. The term marries two closely connected ideas. It is liberal because it draws on the philosophical strain, beginning with the Greeks, that emphasizes individual liberty. It is constitutional because it rests on the tradition, beginning with the Romans, of the rule of law. Constitutional liberalism developed in Western Europe and the United States as a defense of the individual's right to life and property, and freedom of religion and speech. To secure these rights, it emphasized checks on the power of each branch of government, equality under the law, impartial courts and tribunals, and separation of church and state. Its canonical figures include the poet John Milton, the jurist William Blackstone, statesmen such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Adam Smith, Baron de Montesquieu, John Stuart Mill, and Isaiah Berlin. In almost all of its variants, constitutional liberalism argues that human beings have certain natural (or "inalienable") rights and that governments must accept a basic law, limiting its own powers, that secures them. Thus in 1215 at Runnymede, England's barons forced the king to abide by the settled and customary law of the land. In the American colonies these laws were made explicit, and in 1638 the town of Hartford adopted the first written constitution in modern history. In the 1970s, Western nations codified standards of behavior for regimes across the globe. The Magna Carta, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the American Constitution, and the Helsinki Final Act are all expressions of constitutional liberalism.


    SINCE 1945 Western governments have, for the most part, embodied both democracy and constitutional liberalism. Thus it is difficult to imagine the two apart, in the form of either illiberal democracy or liberal autocracy. In fact both have existed in the past and persist in the present. Until the twentieth century, most countries in Western Europe were liberal autocracies or, at best, semi-democracies. The franchise was tightly restricted, and elected legislatures had little power. In 1830 Great Britain, in some ways the most democratic European nation, allowed barely 2 percent of its population to vote for one house of Parliament; that figure rose to 7 percent after 1867 and reached around 40 percent in the 1880s. Only in the late 1940s did most Western countries become full-fledged democracies, with universal adult suffrage. But one hundred years earlier, by the late 1840s, most of them had adopted important aspects of constitutional liberalism -- the rule of law, private property rights, and increasingly, separated powers and free speech and assembly. For much of modern history, what characterized governments in Europe and North America, and differentiated them from those around the world, was not democracy but constitutional liberalism. The "Western model" is best symbolized not by the mass plebiscite but the impartial judge.

    It is odd that the United States is so often the advocate of elections and plebiscitary democracy abroad. What is distinctive about the American system is not how democratic it is but rather how undemocratic it is, placing as it does multiple constraints on electoral majorities. Of its three branches of government, one -- arguably paramount -- is headed by nine unelected men and women with life tenure. Its Senate is the most unrepresentative upper house in the world, with the lone exception of the House of Lords, which is powerless. (Every state sends two senators to Washington regardless of its population -- California's 30 million people have as many votes in the Senate as Arizona's 3.7 million -- which means that senators representing about 16 percent of the country can block any proposed law.) Similarly, in legislatures all over the United States, what is striking is not the power of majorities but that of minorities. To further check national power, state and local governments are strong and fiercely battle every federal intrusion onto their turf. Private businesses and other nongovernmental groups, what Tocqueville called intermediate associations, make up another stratum within society.

    The American system is based on an avowedly pessimistic conception of human nature, assuming that people cannot be trusted with power. "If men were angels," Madison famously wrote, "no government would be necessary." The other model for democratic governance in Western history is based on the French Revolution. The French model places its faith in the goodness of human beings. Once the people are the source of power, it should be unlimited so that they can create a just society. (The French revolution, as Lord Acton observed, is not about the limitation of sovereign power but the abrogation of all intermediate powers that get in its way.) Most non-Western countries have embraced the French model -- not least because political elites like the prospect of empowering the state, since that means empowering themselves -- and most have descended into bouts of chaos, tyranny, or both. This should have come as no surprise. After all, since its revolution France itself has run through two monarchies, two empires, one proto-fascist dictatorship, and five republics.

    Of course cultures vary, and different societies will require different frameworks of government. This is not a plea for the wholesale adoption of the American way but rather for a more variegated conception of liberal democracy, one that emphasizes both parts of that phrase. Before new policies can be adopted, there lies an intellectual task of recovering the constitutional liberal tradition, central to the Western experience and to the development of good government throughout the world. Political progress in Western history has been the result of a growing recognition over the centuries that, as the Declaration of Independence puts it, human beings have "certain inalienable rights" and that "it is to secure these rights that governments are instituted." If a democracy does not preserve liberty and law, that it is a democracy is a small consolation.

    Our local citizens' group recently discussed Fareed Zakaria's The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad , in which he expands on this essay. We'd be intereseted in folks' thoughts on the book or on our review. You can actually get most of his argument from the original essay, above.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:25 AM


    Bobby Jindal's Rise: Louisiana's next governor may be an Indian-American Republican. (John Fund, October 9, 2003, Wall Street Journal)

    The young Mr. Jindal faced enormous skepticism that a person with dark skin could succeed in Louisiana, a state in which David Duke was the runner-up for governor just a dozen years ago. Indeed, when state Rep. Jay Blossman dropped out of the race last month, he endorsed another Republican with a reference to Mr. Jindal's ethnic background: "It's unfortunate, but it is a fact, that Jindal has no chance of winning a runoff."

    But the candidate has already confounded experts who predicted he would never make it past the primary. "What he's done so far has been amazing," says Wayne Parent, a political scientist at Louisiana State University. Mr. Jindal scored points by touting his political inexperience: "I'm not a politician, I'm a problem solver." His impressive machine-gun like recitations of how he would shake up state government and attract industry became the highlight of candidate debates.

    He treats his Indian background as an overall plus but won't trade on it. He left the space for "race" on his qualifying papers blank and attacks the division of people along racial lines. "I'm against all quotas, all set-asides," he says. "America is the greatest. We got ahead by hard work. We shouldn't respond to every problem with a government program. Here, anyone can succeed."

    Mr. Jindal certainly has. He was born in Baton Rouge in 1971, shortly after his parents moved to the U.S. His father took a job as an engineer at Exxon so that Bobby's mother could earn a degree in nuclear physics at Louisiana State University. At the age of four he dropped "Piyush" as his first name in favor or "Bobby" after a character on "The Brady Bunch." He was raised a Hindu but converted to Catholicism at Brown University. He was admitted to medical school but dropped plans to be a doctor after winning a Rhodes Scholarship. His academic background in health-care administration impressed Gov. Mike Foster, who named him to head the state's $4 billion Department of Health and Hospitals. Mr. Jindal imposed budget discipline and rooted out so much fraud that he was able to turn the state's $400 million Medicaid deficit into a surplus.

    Seems wildly overqualified to be a governor of LA.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:07 AM


    Waiting for Democrats on Iraq (NY Times, October 20, 2003)

    Virtually all the Democratic presidential contenders are now skewering one or another aspect of the administration's flawed postwar policies. But many of these same candidates voted for the war. (Representative Richard Gephardt even appeared beside Mr. Bush in the Rose Garden last fall to urge Democrats to vote for a war resolution.) Mainstream Democrats did the country no favor by failing to raise more questions earlier about the administration's unilateral approach to Iraq. Those who want to take over the making of foreign policy should spell out their own ideas for fixing what is wrong in Iraq and suggest how they would respond to similar crises.

    Almost all the Democratic contenders talk about enlisting more help from America's allies and the United Nations. What's missing is an explanation of how they would achieve this desirable goal given the obvious reluctance of many countries to contribute troops as long as America retains exclusive political control. Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman are headed in the right direction when they suggest putting the U.N. in charge of Iraq's political reconstruction and transferring more authority to Iraqis. Sharing power might also bring more competitive bidding for contracts.

    On another big issue, Senators Lieberman and Kerry are right to call attention to the strain Iraq places on the army and reserves. Senator Kerry usefully suggests expanding the active-duty force by 40,000, half of them specialists in the postconflict assignments now falling to the reserves. Other candidates need to address this issue. One of them in particular, Gen. Wesley Clark, has the expertise to speak knowledgeably about it.

    The candidates also need to tell Americans where they stand on the larger issue of preventive war. The prewar intelligence failures in Iraq and the failure, so far, to find threatening unconventional weapons strike at the basic premises of Mr. Bush's alarmingly novel strategic doctrines. What alternative ideas do the Democratic contenders have for handling threats like North Korean, and possibly Iranian, nuclear weapons programs and for dealing with countries that give aid and sanctuary to international terrorist groups? And what would they do to keep Afghanistan, the scene of America's first post-9/11 war, from falling back into chaos with a revived Taliban?

    This is all certainly true, but where are the bold ideas of the Times editorial board, which has felt no compunction about back-biting at a commander-in-chief in time of war?

    October 20, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:59 PM


    Putting Syria in the dog house (Claude Salhani, 9/22/2003 , UPI)

    Again last week friends of Israel and enemies of Syria stepped up their efforts to pass the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, in a renewed effort to have sanctions imposed on Syria as punishment for failing to toe the U.S. line. Marc Ginzburg, a former U.S. ambassador to Morocco, said, "Syria continues to believe it can ignore any threat from the U.S."

    Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shara, however, said earlier Syria would meet any "reasonable" U.S. request for help following U.S. accusations that Damascus was not doing enough to end support for "terrorist activity."

    It would be worth looking at what those sanctions would in fact accomplish should President Bush, who last year opposed passing the act, now decided to sign it. Undersecretary of State John Bolton announced last week that the administration had dropped its objection to the bill and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said, "I think it's time to pass this important legislation." Engel says the bill has the support of the majority of the House (266) and the Senate (73), including the majority of Democrats and Republicans. [...]

    While the economic sanctions that would accompany the Syria Accountability Act does somewhat worry the Syrians, its ramifications are not all that devastating, seeing the current level of trade between Syria and the United States is not all that important in the first place. According to the U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau, exports to Syria from the United States in 2002 amounted to a pitiful $274.1 million while imports from Syria for the same year were only $148.1 million.

    And sanctions aimed at keeping technology out of Syria would simply not work. "If Syrians need a computer they would simply drive to Beirut," said a veteran U.S. diplomat, intricately familiar with the area. Smuggling banned items into Syria from Lebanon would be all the more simplified by the fact that Syrian troops still control large chunks of Lebanon, especially along the border between the two countries.

    There's still one Ba'athist regime too many.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:31 PM


    Bleak Arab progress report: The second in a series of UN reports is short on solutions for the region. (Nicholas Blanford, 10/21/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

    Findings of the Arab Human Development Report 2003
    • The number of Arab students in the US dropped by 30 percent between 1999 and 2002.

    • Public spending on education in Arab countries has declined since 1985, and enrollment in higher education has fallen. Among women, high illiteracy rates persist.

    • There are less than 53 circulating newspaper copies per 1,000 Arab citizens, compared with 285 per thousand in developed countries.

    • There are 18 computers per 1,000 people in Arab countries, compared with a global average of 78.3 per 1,000.

    • Internet access is available to 1.6 percent of the population in Arab countries. Telephone line access in the countries is barely one-fifth that of developed countries.

    • Just 4.4 translated books per 1 million people were published between 1980 and 1985. The corresponding rate for Hungary was 519 books per 1 million people, and in Spain, 920 books.

    • The number of scientists and engineers working in research and development is 371 per 1 million people, compared with the global rate of 979.

    • The production of literary and artistic books in 1996 did not exceed 1,945 books, representing just 0.8 percent of world production. Religious books account for 17 percent of the total.

    Geez, that's depressing.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 PM


    Prolonging the Depression: The New Deal: Time for a new look. (ROBERT L. BARTLEY, October 20, 2003, Wall Street Journal)

    [Jim Powell of the Cato Institute] adopts the Milton Friedman view of the Depression--that it resulted primarily because an ignorant Federal Reserve let the money supply shrink, instead of maintaining steady growth. This view is for sure a big advance on the conventional wisdom. That is, it sees the Depression as the result of policy mistakes, not a spontaneous market failure.

    I prefer the explanation offered by Robert Mundell, another Nobel Prize economist and my own longtime guru. In his Nobel lecture he stressed the failure of the international monetary mechanism; World War I disrupted the gold standard, and leading central banks had not constructed a good alternative. The result was a shortage of world liquidity, setting off a chain reaction of bad policies around the globe.

    From this viewpoint, I would lay the first blame not on FDR but on Herbert Hoover, who was after all on watch when disaster struck. Mr. Powell ably recounts Hoover's mistakes in signing the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, and in vainly trying to balance the budget by raising taxes in 1932. The Republican president boosted the top marginal rate to 63% from 25%; Roosevelt took it to 75% and then 91%.

    Hoover also started many of the New Deal measures, for example the Federal Home Loan Bank System that melted down in the 1990-91 recession. Most importantly, he was the original proponent of the notion of spontaneous market failure. In my view the decisive turn was not FDR's electoral landslide, but Hoover's rejection of his first Treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon.

    The idea that Hoover was a big government liberal who responded to the incipient Depression with activist policies would not have fazed his contemporaries, but has been anathema to the Academy for decades for for two reasons:

    (1) The Right has to have caused the Depression.

    (2) The Left has to have cured it.

    Thus, it was a great pleasure and a pleasant surprise when David Kennedy, in his entry for the Oxford History of the United States, Freedom From Fear, honestly presented the facts very much as above or as in Paul Johnson's indispensable Modern Times.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:52 PM

    LIBERTY FOR ALL? (via Mike Daley):

    The Soul of a Nation (Vaclav Havel, October 12, 2003, Washington Post)

    There are many politicians in the free world who favor seemingly pragmatic cooperation with repressive regimes. During the time of communism, some Western politicians preferred to appease the Czechoslovak thugs propped up by Soviet tanks rather than sustain contacts with a bunch of dissidents. These status-quo Western leaders behaved, voluntarily, much like those unfortunate people who were forced to participate in the massive government rallies: They allowed a totalitarian regime to dictate to them whom to meet and what to say. At that time, people such as the French president, Francois Mitterrand, and the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, Max van der Stoel, saved the face of the Western democracies by speaking and acting clearly. By the same token, politicians such as Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippine Foreign Secretary Blas Ople redeem the Asian reputation by not hesitating to speak the truth. The regime in Burma is, as a matter of fact, the disgrace of Asia, just as Alexander Lukashenko's regime in Belarus is the disgrace of Europe and Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba of Latin America.

    In Burma, thousands of human lives have been destroyed, scores of gifted people have been exiled or incarcerated and deep mistrust has been sown among the various ethnic groups. Human society is, however, a mysterious creature, and it serves no good to trust its public face at any one moment. Thousands of people welcomed Suu Kyi on her tours, proving that the Burmese nation is neither subjugated nor pessimistic and faithless. Hidden beneath the mask of apathy, there is an unsuspected energy and a great human, moral and spiritual charge. Detaining and repressing people cannot change the soul of a nation. It may dampen it and disguise the reality outwardly, but history has repeatedly taught us the lesson that change often arrives unexpectedly.

    "To talk about change is not enough, change must happen," said Suu Kyi during a tour among her people. The Burmese do not require education for democracy; they are and have always been ready for it.

    This is certainly what we on the Right believed of Eastern Europe all through the Cold War, but the docility, even resentment, of the post-war Iraqis has to shake your faith at least a little, doesn't it? Might people whose faith does not demand freedom in fact tend to become apathetic under tyranny? Or is the desire for freedom, as we'd like to believe, the birthright of all men? On the answer to these questions will turn the decision of whether we can just wait for the end of history to work itself out or whether it will be necessary to forcibly convert sufficiently divergent cultures to our Western faith in liberal values. That's a decision of awesome moment, so we'd do well to get it right.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:01 PM


    Bush Condemns Malaysian Remarks on Jews (PATRICK McDOWELL, 10/20/03, Associated Press)

    President Bush on Monday personally condemned the Malaysian prime minister for his statement that Jews rule the world, pulling Mahathir Mohamad aside at an international economic meeting to tell him the remarks were "wrong and divisive," Bush's spokesman said.

    White House press secretary Scott McClellan quoted Bush as telling the Malaysian leader, "It stands squarely against what I believe in."

    Bush confronted Mahathir between meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, McClellan said, inserting himself into a simmering controversy.

    Jacques Chretien was overheard plaintively saying: "He doesn't even scold me face to face anymore..."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:57 PM


    California comic eyed for Senate (James G. Lakely, 10/19/03, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

    If Arnold Schwarzenegger can be elected governor of California, can comedian Dennis Miller unseat Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer?

    Some Republicans in the Golden State think so, and quietly hope they can persuade the sharp political wit — and registered Santa Barbara Republican — to take on the liberal senator. Variety magazine reported this week that Mr. Miller has contacted California Republican consultants to feel out a campaign. [...]

    Hugh Hewitt, a popular conservative radio personality credited by many for helping to spur the California recall, has doubts that celebrity political magic could strike twice.

    "A Miller candidacy guarantees the ability to get a message past gatekeepers like the Los Angeles Times. That's a huge plus," Mr. Hewitt said. "But the message also has to work in a Republican primary, and I'm not sure what Miller believes outside of a very appealing understanding of the war on terror. So there's a lot of potential there, but some questions as well."

    The contrast of one of the wittiest guys in America against a Senator almost universally recognized as a few slices shy of a loaf would just be painful to watch--we'd pay money to see it.

    -INTERVIEW: "Live" with TAE--Dennis Miller: He’s a Hollywood celebrity. And he’s smart. He’s one of the country’s favorite comedians. And he’s a conservative. Wipe that smirk off your face and meet a patriotic entertainer. (The American Enterprise, Oct/Nov 2003)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:50 PM

    WHAT WAR?:

    Reduction in U.S. Troops Eyed for '04: Gradual Exit Strategy Tied to Iraq's Stability (Thomas E. Ricks, October 19, 2003, Washington Post)

    U.S. military commanders have developed a plan to steadily cut back troop levels in Iraq next year, several senior Army officers said in recent interviews.

    There are now 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The plan to cut that number is well advanced and has been described in broad outline to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld but has not yet been approved by him. It would begin to draw down forces next spring, cutting the number of troops to fewer than 100,000 by next summer and then to 50,000 by mid-2005, officers involved in the planning said.

    The plan, which amounts to being the first formal military exit strategy for Iraq, is designed to show how the U.S. presence might be reduced without undercutting the stability of the country. Military officials worry that if they do not begin cutting the size of the U.S. force, they could damage troop morale, leave the armed forces shorthanded if crises emerge in North Korea and elsewhere, and help create a long-term personnel shortage in the service.

    What was that you were saying, Mr. Dean?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:34 PM


    THE STOVEPIPE: How conflicts between the Bush Administration and the intelligence community marred the reporting on Iraq’s weapons. (SEYMOUR M. HERSH, 2003-10-27, The New Yorker)

    Who produced the fake Niger papers? There is nothing approaching a consensus on this question within the intelligence community. There has been published speculation about the intelligence services of several different countries. One theory, favored by some journalists in Rome, is that sismi produced the false documents and passed them to Panorama for publication.

    Another explanation was provided by a former senior C.I.A. officer. He had begun talking to me about the Niger papers in March, when I first wrote about the forgery, and said, “Somebody deliberately let something false get in there.” He became more forthcoming in subsequent months, eventually saying that a small group of disgruntled retired C.I.A. clandestine operators had banded together in the late summer of last year and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves.

    “The agency guys were so pissed at Cheney,” the former officer said. “They said, ‘O.K, we’re going to put the bite on these guys.’” My source said that he was first told of the fabrication late last year, at one of the many holiday gatherings in the Washington area of past and present C.I.A. officials. “Everyone was bragging about it—‘Here’s what we did. It was cool, cool, cool.’” These retirees, he said, had superb contacts among current officers in the agency and were informed in detail of the sismi intelligence.

    “They thought that, with this crowd, it was the only way to go—to nail these guys who were not practicing good tradecraft and vetting intelligence,” my source said. “They thought it’d be bought at lower levels—a big bluff.” The thinking, he said, was that the documents would be endorsed by Iraq hawks at the top of the Bush Administration, who would be unable to resist flaunting them at a press conference or an interagency government meeting. They would then look foolish when intelligence officials pointed out that they were obvious fakes. But the tactic backfired, he said, when the papers won widespread acceptance within the Administration. “It got out of control.”

    Like all large institutions, C.I.A. headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, is full of water-cooler gossip, and a retired clandestine officer told me this summer that the story about a former operations officer faking the documents is making the rounds. “What’s telling,” he added, “is that the story, whether it’s true or not, is believed”—an extraordinary commentary on the level of mistrust, bitterness, and demoralization within the C.I.A. under the Bush Administration. (William Harlow, the C.I.A. spokesman, said that the agency had no more evidence that former members of the C.I.A. had forged the documents “than we have that they were forged by Mr. Hersh.”)

    The F.B.I. has been investigating the forgery at the request of the Senate Intelligence Committee. A senior F.B.I. official told me that the possibility that the documents were falsified by someone inside the American intelligence community had not been ruled out. “This story could go several directions,” he said. “We haven’t gotten anything solid, and we’ve looked.” He said that the F.B.I. agents assigned to the case are putting a great deal of effort into the investigation. But “somebody’s hiding something, and they’re hiding it pretty well.”

    The CIA forging them seems unlikely, but the fact its interests are considered opposed to the Administration's seems undeniable and suggests there's ample reason to believe that the manner in which Joe Wilson was chosen for the Niger mission matters very much.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:34 AM


    Damn Yankees: A tragedy in Eleven Innings (Paul Greenberg, 10/20/03, Jewish World Review)

    Imagine what Sophocles could have done if he'd had some real material to work with - like the Red Sox instead of a faded Theban legend about a blind king.

    Then he might have written like A. Bartlett Giamatti, president of Yale, commissioner of major league baseball, Red Sox fan and therefore a man well acquainted with tragedy. Professor Giamatti needed no chorus to set the scene; he got right to the point that dreary Sunday after the big game:

    "It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today . . . a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped and summer was gone."

    As every baseball fan knows, there is life and there is the off-season. There is hope and there is baseball in Boston. And always, as in the Gwen Verdon musical and real heartbreaking life, there are the Damn Yankees, waiting to bring the curtain down and cackle gleefully, the demons.

    Once again the tragedy has been faithfully performed, the rites of fall duly observed, and the bright season closed and put away, the soul cleansed of foolish hope. It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. Again everything is as it must be, as it should be, as it always is. And the curtain falls, like a fan's hopes.

    You don't have to be Presbyterian to appreciate predestination; you only have to follow the Red Sox. It's not sad, really, it's kind of uplifting, the sheer certainty of the outcome every year. "Hardship to those resigned," pronounces Oedipus in exile, "is no dismay." He must have been a Red Sox fan.

    At least Oedipus has the decency to poke his own eyes out for his sins.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:26 AM


    Alliance MPs vote 51-1 for Tory union: Harper gets standing ovation for deal, but MPs admit they still have concerns (Joe Paraskevas, October 20, 2003, The Ottawa Citizen)

    Canadian Alliance Members of Parliament gave party leader Stephen Harper a standing ovation before a special meeting yesterday, then voted strongly in favour of a plan to create a new conservative party out of the Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives. [...]

    "After 16 years we continue to move forward," Mr. Harper told the MPs at the outset of the meeting, a comment aimed at showing the Alliance, and its predecessor the Reform party, formed in 1987, would be alive and well in the proposed Conservative Party of Canada.

    Mr. Harper also joked that the plan for the new party he and Tory leader Peter MacKay signed last week did not violate Alliance MPs' position against same-sex marriage. It was rather "a civil union," he said.

    But the remark hinted at a problem: a fear the Alliance's social conservatism won't appeal to moderate Tories -- that could thwart ratification of the merger.

    Alberta MP Myron Thompson, one of the Alliance's staunchest social conservatives, voted for the plan, but he also warned that some voters in his riding feared the new entity would abandon the original goals of Reform : to give Western Canada a strong voice and make fundamental changes to the way government operates.

    "A lot of them are the old diehard Reformers who are afraid they're going to lose what the intention was like from the very beginning," said Mr. Thompson, who was then asked what place there would be for moderate -- or red -- Tories in the proposed new party.

    It's great if they unite and move the Tories to the Right, offering a genuine and unified conservative alternative, but we'll see.

    Raining on the euphoria of the merger (Jackson Murphy, October 20, 2003, Enter Stage Right)

    Loveable losers though the two parties are two questions remain. Will the new Conservative Party snatch victory from the jaw of defeat, or rather defeat from the jaws of victory?

    "The notion that the Liberals have been maintained in power only by the splitting of the right-of-center vote has been a source of immense solace to conservatives," writes Andrew Coyne in The National Post. "[R]ather as the ‘Curse of the Bambino' has been to Boston Red Sox fans over the years: It's a happier explanation than mere incompetence." [...]

    On one hand the new party must be on some sort of right track to begin with. It has angered the progressive part of the PC Party as David "Kingmaker" Orchard and "Jurassic" Joe Clark have already condemned the proposal. If you want to galvanize the right there is no better way than trotting out the reddest of Red Tories.

    Perhaps the betrayal of Clark, and David Orchard, especially old Joe is the political equivalent of digging up Babe Ruth's body from the cemetery in New York, apologizing for trading him, and reburying him under the pitcher's mound at Fenway Park. It is a curse breaker, or at least in this case a good start.

    On the other hand it is still dangerous and wishful thinking to think that a merge alone will mean instant victory. More important is finding someone to lead this rag tag group of anyone but the Liberals out of the wilderness and back into power. Getting someone like Red Sox manager Grady Little, or that Cub fan with the wandering arms, will get front row seats only to the next Liberal Throne Speech not a Conservative victory party.

    -The different styles of conservatism in Canada (Mark Wegierski October 20, 2003, Enter Stage Right)
    There are many different, broadly right-wing factions in Canada, however most of them have a comparatively minor influence on the public scene. The perennially ruling Liberal Party has a 'right-wing' which has embraced a degree of fiscal sense, but remains thoroughly socially-liberal. The federal Progressive Conservative party, which currently has 15 MPs, has often had 'ultra-moderates' or 'Red Tories' exerting the most influence on it. The Progressive Conservative parties in the various provinces are of varying ideological complexions. Mike Harris, the former Premier of Ontario (elected in 1995 and 1999) was able to drag the provincial Progressive Conservative party in a right-wing direction, although his activism was mostly confined to economic and fiscal issues. The Canadian Alliance (which elected 66 MPs in the November 2000 federal election, mostly from Western Canada) (and which exists solely at the federal level) is probably the main home for so-called small-c conservatives today. (The term 'small-c conservative' arose in Canada as a result of the fact that the Progressive Conservative party -- or 'big-C' Conservatives -- had almost entirely abandoned conservatism.)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 AM


    Bush snubs PM at APEC meeting: U.S. trying to shift group's focus from finance to security (Scott Stinson, October 20, 2003, National Post)

    Jean Chretien has been rebuffed in an attempt to meet formally with George W. Bush at the APEC summit of world leaders, a further sign the U.S. President plans to wait until the Prime Minister leaves office before renewing warm relations with his northern neighbour.

    Although Mr. Bush has met with the South Korean President, the Thai Prime Minister and the Chinese President in advance of the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit that begins in Bangkok today, his office has not responded to a Canadian request for a face-to-face meeting. [...]

    Mr. Bush has not visited Canada since he became President in 2001.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 AM


    2 Top Democrats Will Not Contest Iowa's Caucuses (ADAM NAGOURNEY, October 20, 2003, NY Times)

    Two prominent Democratic presidential candidates, Gen. Wesley K. Clark and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, have decided to bypass Iowa's presidential caucuses, angering some party leaders there and signaling what could be a very different nomination battle next year. [...]

    "What we'll do is what I call the General MacArthur strategy," a senior Clark adviser said. "General MacArthur was very successful in World War II because he skipped over the Japanese strongholds, where they were more organized, and instead picked islands that were favorable or neutral terrain. Which means we would choose not to focus resources on Iowa and instead focus them on New Hampshire and on Feb. 3," when there are Democratic contests in seven states.

    Mr. Lieberman's advisers said his moderate stances on issues that are big in Iowa now, including his strong support for the war in Iraq and support of treaties lowering trade barriers, were problematic in a contest that attracts many liberal and blue-collar voters. His decision marks something of a retreat by the man who was his party's vice-presidential candidate in 2000; Mr. Lieberman has spent 15 days campaigning in Iowa this year.

    "I think it's pretty safe to say that there's recognition inside the campaign that Iowa is not now, and will never be, Lieberman country," one adviser said.

    Another adviser said on Sunday, "There's no victory in being fourth in Iowa."

    John McCain was able to ignore Iowa because he was going to do very well or even win NH. The strategy of the current crop of Democrats--John Edwards and his SC fire wall; Joe Lieberman trying to make AZ matter; etc.--asks supporters, donors, staff, and the press to keep the faith longer than seems likely.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 AM


    Is it Bush vs. Dean? (Pat Buchanan, October 20, 2003, Townhall.com)

    With an uptick in his approval rating to 56 percent -- higher than Reagan at this point in his presidency -- George W. Bush seems to have weathered his summer squall and to be well-positioned to do what his father failed to do: Win a second term. [...]

    If Wall Street remains the lead indicator it has usually been -- a predictor of what is to come in the economy six to 12 months out -- Bush could be presiding over good times in 2004.

    Moreover, with the dollar sinking, aiding U.S. exports, with most Bush tax cuts taking effect before November '04, with Alan Greenspan gunning the money supply and with a $550 billion deficit pumping out cash, the economy has all the steroids it needs for an Olympic performance in 2004.

    Then there is Iraq, about which a consensus seems to be emerging. Those who opposed the war do not want to cut and run and leave Iraq to chaos and civil war. Those who supported the war do not want to stay on forever and fight an Iraqi intifada.

    The consensus appears to be this: America will not send fresh new divisions to fight a five- or 10-year war. Iraq will be helped onto its feet and power transferred as soon as possible, so Iraqis themselves can take responsibility for their own independence. And then, the Americans go home.

    The absence of a Buchanan-like challenger helps too.

    October 19, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:04 PM


    Behind a widening US-Arab clash: US stature in Middle East is eroding, resulting in increasingly open attacks against American targets. (Peter Grier, 10/17/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

    Two years into the war on terrorism, the US and the Arab world are as estranged as ever, and appear to be drifting further and further apart.

    The situation may not yet be the "clash of civilizations" foreseen by Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington in a now-famous 1993 journal article. But on both sides, opinions seem to be hardening, while conflict spreads to new fronts:

    • In Gaza, Palestinian militants targeted Americans for the first time in their three-year uprising with this week's fatal attack on a US diplomatic convoy.

    • In Washington, the House Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a measure that calls for economic sanctions against Syria until the White House certifies that Damascus no longer supports terrorists.

    • Throughout the Middle East, Arab publics increasingly see the US presence in Iraq as one step short of colonial.

    The relationship may only get worse, if a front-page editorial in Lebanon's main daily paper, As-Safir, accurately reflects the region's mood.

    "One does not reveal a secret by saying many Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims kill an American every day in their dreams," said As-Safir following the Gaza attack. "The United States is responsible for massive catastrophes that have befallen this region and its people...."

    Whatever those catastrophes are, they're nothing compared to the one that will be visited on them if they really decide to generalize this conflict.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:55 PM


    Tribes inflamed by Qaeda hunt: Waziristan is notoriously independent and shares an ideological bond with Osama bin Laden. (Owais Tohid, 10/20/03, The Christian Science Monitor )

    Early this month, hundreds of Pakistani commandos, aided by helicopter gunships, fought a pitched battle with Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters amid the mud-walled homes in Baghar village, a few miles from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Eight Al Qaeda men were killed, and 18 captured; among the dead were Chechens and Arabs. Two Pakistani soldiers also died.

    Since then, Pakistani troops have been patrolling the region in armored vehicles, and on horseback in South Waziristan, where troops and paramilitaries stand guard in new bunkers.

    More than 50 tribesmen have been arrested in recent days, their shops sealed and warnings issued to turn over 13 locals believed to have provided shelter to Al Qaeda and Taliban "terrorists" fighting against the US-led coalition forces.

    "We have told the tribal chiefs to immediately hand over the men who harbored Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists and assisted them in fighting against US forces across the border or be ready for a massive operation," says a senior administrative official, Pir Anwer Ali Shah. "We will not let anybody harbor terrorists in our territory."

    Pakistan's tribal belt still follows the format established by colonial officers prior to the end of British rule in 1947. The federal government "administers" the independent tribal belt, but Pakistani laws do not apply to the tribesmen. The administration uses the dated British-era Frontier Crimes Regulations, under which tribal elders have to hand over wanted criminals at the request of the federal government. So far, tribal chiefs have handed over three alleged hosts of Al Qaeda to the authorities.

    "It is a political game between the authorities and tribal chiefs," says Waziristan-based writer and sociologist Sailab Meshud. "The authorities are pressuring the tribesmen, and the tribal chiefs are buying time [for] Al Qaeda fighters and their local agents to slip away and prevent clashes between the tribesmen and the Pakistan Army," Mr. Meshud says.

    But the tribesmen are enraged, and accuse President Pervez Musharraf of conspiring against the tribesmen at the behest of Washington.

    If they're helping our enemy and share the same ideology, are they not our enemy?

    Religious killings on the rise in Pakistan despite crackdown Killings among rival Sunnis and Shi'ites have left 76 dead, casting doubts over anti-militant drive (Straits Times, 10/20/03)

    The resurgence of killings among the rival Sunni and Shi'ite sects of Islam, climaxing with the murder of Sunni icon Azam Tariq, has underscored long-held doubts about the direction of Pakistan's crackdown on Islamic militancy, analysts say.

    Tariq's death 'was the most foretold in Pakistan', the Daily Times newspaper said, questioning how one of the most high-profile sectarian leaders could be gunned down in broad daylight as he entered the nation's capital.

    To date, no one has been arrested for the Oct 6 killing, the most high-profile of at least 76 Shi'ite and Sunni deaths this year.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:50 PM


    Taxman and Robin (E.J. Dionne Jr., October 17, 2003, Washington Post)

    How does it feel for cautious, moderate, mild-mannered Joe Lieberman to find himself suddenly compared to Robin Hood? [...]

    What Lieberman proposed is a version of tax reform aimed at shifting the burden toward the wealthy -- exactly the people who have benefited the most from President Bush's program -- and away from poor and middle-class taxpayers. [...]

    For married couples with taxable incomes of $56,800 or less, the 15 percent income tax rate would fall to 12.5 percent. For incomes between $56,800 and $114,650, the rate would drop from 25 percent to 22.5 percent. The rate reductions kick in for single taxpayers at roughly half those amounts.

    Lieberman estimates that a married couple earning $50,000 a year could save as much as $1,000 from his plan; at double that income, the savings would roughly double.

    For poorer Americans, he would fix the earned-income tax credit, the program that raises the incomes of the working poor, by eliminating biases in its rules against married people and larger families. Score one for pro-family progressivism.

    But Lieberman then turns around and restores part of the inheritance tax that is in the process of being repealed. He gets rid of Bush's dividend tax cut, raises the top rate back to 39.6 percent and applies it to married couples earning $150,000 or more. And -- here's the Robin Hood part -- he levies a 5 percent surtax on families with incomes of over $250,000. (Interestingly, Lieberman keeps the capital gains tax cuts because he thinks they promote growth.)

    Because all these numbers are based on taxable rather than gross income -- and because higher-income taxpayers would derive some benefit from Lieberman's rate cuts -- his staff reckons that all Americans earning less than $200,000 a year would benefit from his plan. Lieberman estimates that netting out the cuts and increases, the plan would yield between $600 billion and $700 billion in additional tax revenue over the next decade.

    There's much to argue about here, and we'll get to that. But at least Lieberman has joined Rep. Richard A. Gephardt in competing for the bold ideas award.

    Setting aside for a moment both the Marxist interpretation of Robin Hood and the question of whether taxing the rich is good policy, what matters here is this: no bold political idea is that hard to explain and process. When Ronald Reagan ran on tax cuts he proposed cutting rates by 30%. That's pretty easy to grasp anyway, but what came through was just the idea that he'd cut taxes. When George W. Bush ran on cutting taxes, his plan was way too convoluted, but the message was easy: he'll cut taxes. Joe Lieberman is saying that he'll raise taxes but that he'll shift the burden around, which means folks are both going to hear an initial message that scares them and have to know the specific details about the plan. That seems dubious politics.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:23 PM


    The Jewish Love Affair with the Democrats (Jason Maoz, October 17, 2003, JewishPress)

    Surprising as it might seem from our vantage point, the Jews who came to the U.S. prior to the great waves of immigration from Eastern Europe tended to look askance at the Democratic party, which was identified in the popular mind with Tammany-style political bossism, support for slavery, and an agrarian populism that often seemed indistinguishable from the rawest

    That attitude changed with the arrival of the Eastern European Jews who crowded into the big cities at the turn of the century and quickly learned that their very livelihoods were dependent on the good will of those Tammany-like political machines, which were invariably Democratic and
    invariably corrupt.

    Jobs and basic amenities were used as barter to purchase party loyalty, and bribery was the order of the day - the late New York senator Jacob Javits told the story of how his father loved Election Day because the saloonkeepers would pay $2 (double a day`s wages at the time) to anyone who promised to vote Democratic.

    Although the dominance of the big city bosses was an inescapable fact of life for the new Jewish immigrants, the pressure to vote the party line was felt most keenly in local elections. When it came to presidential politics, Jews were far less wary of voting their conscience.

    In 1916, for example, Republican candidate Charles Evan Hughes received 45 percent of the Jewish vote, and four years later Republican Warren Harding actually won a plurality among Jews - 43 percent as opposed to 19 percent for Democrat James Cox and 38 percent for Socialist Eugene V. Debs.

    That last figure - nearly 4 in 10 Jews voting for the Socialist candidate - tells a story in itself, a story not to be ignored when seeking to understand Jewish voting habits. Many of the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe came to America with a passionate belief in one form or another of socialism, and those Jews tended to vote for third party left-wing candidates when offered the choice. Though their candidates were, with the exception of some local races in immigrant neighborhoods, roundly unsuccessful, Jewish socialists and communists left a seemingly indelible stamp on the collective political identity of American Jews.

    Most Jews, however, whether out of political moderation or fear of wasting their vote on a long shot, cast their ballots for either Democrats or Republicans. And though the Republicans lost a significant number of votes in 1924 to the third party candidacy of Progressive Robert LaFollette, it was not until the election of 1928 that the relationship between Jews and the Democratic party became the inseparable bond that still exists nearly 75 years later.
    The Affair Commences
    It was in 1928 that Democratic presidential candidates first began polling landslide numbers among American Jews, as New York governor Al Smith, a Roman Catholic of immigrant stock (whose campaign manager happened to be Jewish) captured 72 percent of the Jewish vote. Despite his overwhelming Jewish support, and the equally strong backing of fellow Catholics, Smith carried only 8 states against Republican Herbert Hoover and failed to win his own home state of New York.

    The nascent trend of lopsided Jewish support for Democratic presidential candidates solidified four years later when another New York governor, Franklin Roosevelt, won the votes of better than 8 in 10 American Jews. Roosevelt, whom Jews idolized more than any other politician before or since, went on to win 85 percent of the Jewish vote in 1936 and 90 percent in both 1940 and 1944.

    The question really is less why the party loyalty than the rigid adherence to a far left ideology. The former simply follows from the latter. Mr. Maoz doesn't seem to have the answer.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:11 PM


    Swiss Right Wing Win Challenges Political Stability (Reuters, October 19, 2003)

    The Swiss right wing raced ahead in general elections on Sunday in a move which could unsettle the neutral nation's renowned political stability by rocking the foundations of the 44-year-old coalition government.

    A polarization in voter sentiment saw support swing behind the anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party (SVP), which edged out the left-leaning Social Democrats (SP) to become the nation's most popular group, a Swiss television projection showed.

    Proud of its neutrality and impeccable democratic credentials, Switzerland has long played on its strength as a stable political nation, building up a reputation as a safe haven for offshore wealth in turbulent times.

    But strong gains for the SVP point to increasing concerns in the recession-hit nation of rising unemployment and a falling standard of living. The party also reinforced Switzerland's isolation by campaigning against closer ties with EU neighbors.

    Seems pertinent to the story below about how the Tories are done as a major party--the path back to power is pretty obvious.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:05 PM


    2004 Democratic Candidates Still Mostly Unknown (Dana Blanton, October 18, 2003, Fox News)

    Over a third (37 percent) of Americans say there is a Democratic candidate they would vote for over President Bush, 44 percent say there is not an announced candidate they would vote over Bush, and 19 percent are unsure, according to this week's FOX News poll. Of those saying there is a Democrat they would support over Bush, a plurality says they would vote for "any or several" of the Democrats rather than the president.

    Retired Gen. Wesley Clark bests Lieberman by only two percentage points (well within the poll's margin of error) on the question of which Democrat running has the strongest leadership qualities. Lieberman is the only candidate to receive double-digits on the questions of which Democratic candidate is the most honest and trustworthy (16 percent) and which has the best knowledge of the issues (18 percent).

    Most strikingly, over half of voters are unsure or have no opinion on these candidate questions. [...]

    Support for Clark is down seven percentage points from September polling, when he was receiving considerable media coverage following his announcement to join the race. Now retired, Clark was a general in the U.S. Army and is still referred to as Gen. Clark. Over half of the public (56 percent) think people are more likely to vote for Clark because of his title, 18 percent say people are less likely, and 16 percent think Clark's title will not make any difference.

    It seems even more striking that the better folks get to know these candidates the less they like them. It seems about time for the press to try and force an Edwards boomlet--based mostly on his polls in SC and the delusion that he'll still matter after IA and NH--because neither Dean nor Clark has weathered their 15 minutes well.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:26 PM


    Is Howard Dean a modern Puritan? (Steve Sailer, 10/16/03, UPI)

    Is Howard Dean of Vermont, the current frontrunner for the Democrat Party presidential nomination, a 21st-century version of the New England Puritan? According to historian David Hackett Fischer, cultural patterns laid down by different groups of British settlers
    before 1776 explain much about the extent and limits of Dean's appeal.

    According to Fischer, a Brandeis University professor who is the author of the landmark 1989 book, "Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America," Dean has positioned himself as a "classic New England candidate who closely fits the cultural framework that evolved out of 17th-century Puritanism."

    Fischer noted in a telephone interview from his home in Massachusetts that Dean's followers admire him for what they see as "a very strong moral impulse, an intellectual quality that sets him apart from the others, and a particular quality of striving." These are all traits associated with the
    old New England WASP culture, Fischer told United Press International.

    Commenting on Dean's opposition to President Bush's pre-emptive attack on Iraq, Fischer said, "New Englanders are apt to make very strong moral judgments on just versus unjust wars. New Englanders haven't had an anti-war tradition in general. They strongly supported the Revolution, the Civil War and WWII. Yet, they were also the strongest center of opposition to the War
    of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War and Vietnam."

    Fischer contended that the Bush administration's doctrine of pre-emptive war on Iraq was foreign to New England's traditional self-image. "It's very important to New Englanders not to fire the first shot," he said.

    The notion that Howard Dean -- whose appeal to the Left of his party rests largely on his support for buggery, Ba'athism, and big government -- is the Puritan candidate in this race seems more than just a stretch. Here's how Edmund Morgan famously described the Puritan dilemma:
    Superficially Puritanism was only a belief that the Church of England should be purged of its hierarchy and of the traditions and ceremonies inherited from Rome. But those who had caught the fever knew that Puritanism demanded more of the individual than it did of the church. Once it took possession of a man, it was seldom shaken off and would shape--some people would say warp--his whole life. Puritanism was a power not to be denied. It did great things for England and America, but only by creating in the men and women it affected a tension which was at best painful and at worst unbearable. Puritanism required that a man devote his life to seeking salvation but told him he was helpless to do anything but evil. Puritanism required that he rest his whole hope in Christ but taught him that Christ would utterly reject him unless before he was born God had foreordained his salvation. Puritanism required that man refrain from sin but told him he would sin anyhow. Puritanism required that he reform the world in the image of God's holy kingdom but taught him that the evil of the world was incurable and inevitable. Puritanism required that he work to the best of his ability at whatever task was set before him and partake of the good things that God had filled the world with but told him he must enjoy his work and his pleasures only, as it were, absent-mindedly, with his attention fixed on God.

    That's deuced hard to square with the kind of self-centered search for easy gratification that Mr. Dean's advocating. In fact, not only is Mr. Dean not a moralist, he's an amoralist--it being his position that we can judge neither the sexual behavior of fellow citizens nor the political regime or rival nations.

    Even down to the time of Jonathan Edwards, the Puritans and their successors were terrified of the savages they found in New England and torn between the desire to convert them and the seeming necessity of killing them. It's easy enough to see the parallels to our own war on terror. But neither of those impulses, the one to bring the Bible, the other to bring the sword, is currently on display in the Democratic Party, which has instead adopted a kind of "the Islamic world is none of our business--leave them alone and they'll leave us alone" attitude. Such a disinterested "live-and-let-live" posture is quite foreign to Puritanism, especially as applied to obvious heretics.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:02 PM


    The Pursuit of Biohappiness (Leon R. Kass, October 16, 2003, Washington Post)

    To be sure, there are questions about the safety of new biotechnologies and about equality of access to their use. But these familiar concerns do not reach either the true promise or deeper perils of the biotechnology revolution. Our hopes for self-improvement and our disquiet about a "post-human" future are much more profound. At stake are the kind of human being and the sort of society we will be creating in the coming age of biotechnology.

    On the optimistic view, the emerging picture is one of unmitigated progress and improvement. It envisions a society in which more and more people are able to realize the American dream of liberty, prosperity and justice for all. It is a nation whose citizens are longer-lived, more competent, better accomplished, more productive and happier than human beings have ever been. It is a world in which many more human beings -- biologically better-equipped, aided by performance-enhancers, liberated from the constraints of nature and fortune -- can live lives of achievement, contentment and high self-esteem, come what may.

    But there are reasons to wonder whether life will really be better if we turn to biotechnology to fulfill our deepest human desires. There is an old expression: To a man armed with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To a society armed with biotechnology, the activities of human life may seem more amenable to improvement than they really are. Or we may imagine ourselves wiser than we really are. Or we may get more easily what we asked for only to realize it is much less than what we really wanted.

    We want better children -- but not by turning procreation into manufacture or by altering their brains to give them an edge over their peers. We want to perform better in the activities of life -- but not by becoming mere creatures of our chemists or by turning ourselves into tools designed to win and achieve in inhuman ways. We want longer lives -- but not at the cost of living carelessly or shallowly with diminished aspiration for living well, and not by becoming people so obsessed with our own longevity that we care little about the next generations. We want to be happy -- but not because of a drug that gives us happy feelings without the real loves, attachments and achievements that are essential for true human flourishing.

    For the past 16 months, the President's Council on Bioethics has explored the ethical and social meanings of using biotechnologies for purposes "beyond therapy." Our report, released today, tries to show what is increasingly at stake when biotechnology meets the pursuit of happiness. Lacking prophetic powers, no one can say for certain what life in the age of biotechnology holds in store. Most likely it will be the usual mix of unforeseen burdens and unexpected blessings. But we must begin thinking about these issues now, lest we build a future for ourselves that cheapens, rather than enriches, America's most cherished ideals.

    Bush's Advisers on Biotechnology Express Concern on Its Use (NICHOLAS WADE, October 17, 2003, NY Times)

    Laying a broad basis for possible future prescriptions, the President's Council on Bioethics yesterday issued an analysis of how biotechnology could lead toward unintended and destructive ends.

    Called "Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness," the council's report concerns present and future interventions intended not to restore health but rather to alter genetic inheritance, to enhance mind or body, or to extend life span beyond its natural limits. [...]

    The report's overall thrust is that people's desire to improve themselves or to give their children an edge carries the risk of putting strain on human nature in many unintended ways. The council expresses concern at "the attractive science-based power to remake ourselves after images of our own devising." It asks if the purpose of medicine is "to make us perfect, or to make us whole?" It concludes that "the human body and mind, highly complex and delicately balanced as a result of eons of gradual and exacting evolution, are almost certainly at risk from any ill-considered attempt at 'improvement.' "

    One attempt, where individuals' interest may clearly differ from society's, is that of choosing the sex of one's children — to balance the sexes within a family in some cultures, to obtain a son in others.

    The report notes that a sex ratio of more than 106 boys to 100 girls can be regarded as evidence of sex selection — usually achieved by sonogram and abortion, though sperm-sorting methods developed from animal husbandry are also available. In Cuba the sex ratio is now 118, in China 117, in Egypt 108.7 and in Venezuela 107.5. There have also been significant changes in the ratio among two American ethnic groups: over the last 20 years, the sex ratio for Chinese-Americans has risen to 107.7 from 104.6, and for Japanese-Americans to 106.4 from 102.6.

    What could possibly be wrong with wanting to remove one little birthmark?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:46 PM


    Hating women (Shmuley Boteach, Oct. 19, 2003, Jerusalem Post)

    The awarding of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian judge and women's rights activist, was as courageous as last year's to Jimmy Carter was cowardly. While Carter, of course, deserves a Nobel Appeasement Prize, the peace prize belongs to those who fight for the disenfranchised rather than those who stand up for the dictators who do the disenfranchising. And what group today is more discriminated against than women, both in Islamic culture and in the West? [...]

    When Moses first encounters God in the desert, he is commanded to take off his shoes lest he trample on holy ground. Chivalry too was once predicated on the idea that men had to mind their manners in the presence of creatures that reflected the divine spirit. Only feminine sanctity can recreate masculine dignity.

    Some suggestions in that direction include a return to single-sex education where girls can learn to discover their identities as individuals before being immersed in an environment where popularity among the boys is the determining factor of their significance.

    Likewise, boycotts organized by women leaders, who thus far have been shamefully silent, against companies and TV networks that move products by demeaning and exploiting women would be welcome. Finally, an emphasis on the ability for attentive fathers to provide their daughters with a healthy form of male attention that will make their daughters less dependent on pimply pubescent boys is a really good idea.

    Most urgent of all, Islamic imams must emerge to state that it is bad enough that their once glorious faith has instilled such hatred in young men that they are willing to sever the arms and heads of little children in buses. But if even their women become murderers, who will ever save them?

    If you're writing about the exploitation of women in the West, abortion, abandonment and divorce seem more significant than reality TV shows.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 AM


    Fish Fry: Why Marlins fans should root for the Yankees. (Sam Eifling, October 17, 2003, Slate)

    Where the Cubs and Red Sox are cursed with never winning the big game, the Marlins are cursed with never losing it. In playoff series, Florida is now 5-0 all-time, and I use that term loosely, considering the franchise started playing way back in 1993. Another title would be the second in six years. They've never lost a deciding game, never watched anyone but their Scrooge ex-owner rip out their guts. These are formative experiences for any fortified fan, and their absence is the No. 2 reason, behind that nefarious fire sale, why a recent World Series champion playing in the middle of 5 million people (including almost 2 million of Hispanic origin, many of whom serenade the team with that haunting "Maaaar-leeeeen" call) drew only 16,290 fans a game this season, third-lowest in the majors. (It was, however, a 60 percent increase from 2002.) Another World Series win, and what's the lesson for Fish fans? Come back in six years to pick up another commemorative hat?

    Dan Levatard was on NPR's Only a Game yesterday, talking about how amusing South Florida finds it that they've been paying attention to the Marlins for about eight minutes and they're in a World Series, while obsessive Cubs and Red Sox fans are shut-out again. He also talked about how clueless theur young team is about baseball history and whatnot, Luis Castillo in particular. He's apparently a notorious spaceshot, who loses his mitt between innings, gets on team planes not even knowing where they're going, and heading to the batter's box with no idea what they guy on the mound throws. So they were in St. Louis during an Old-Timer event and someone asked the little speedster if he'd like to meet one of the all-time stolen base greats--Lou Brock. Castillo apparently had never heard of him. But a few minutes later, someone walks up to introduce a distinguished older gentleman and Castillo gushingly greets "Lou Brock!" But it was Stan Musial.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:11 AM


    Tory fears as IDS probe widens its net: Investigation will dig deeper into funding of opposition office (James Cusick, 10/19/03, Sunday Herald)

    The parliamentary investigation into allegations that Iain Duncan Smith’s wife was paid a salary from public funds for work she did not do, will now dig far deeper into the overall financial running of the Tory leader’s office than initially expected.
    With IDS’s hold on the leadership already suffering from a widespread whispering campaign to unseat him, loyalists fear the wider inquiry only offers the prospect of further damage being inflicted on the Tory party itself.

    Sir Philip Mawer, the parliamentary standards commissioner, has begun looking at the running costs of the opposition office – including the roles, functions and expenses of all key staff – in order to discover precisely what work was done by Betsy Duncan Smith as his diary secretary following her husband’s jump from back-bencher to Tory leader. [...]

    The inquiry – which was initiated after a dossier of evidence on IDS’s office was handed to Sir Philip last week by the BBC journalist, Michael Crick – appears to have left dissident Tory MPs in a mood of temporary retreat.

    Last week, it was widely expected that “substantially more than 25” Tory MPs would mount a formal challenge to Duncan Smith.

    Many are now hoping that would no longer be necessary as even a mildly critical report from Sir Philip will be enough to leave IDS wounded and with little option but to resign.

    As one supporter of IDS said: “The plotters, these cowards, are clearly hoping Sir Philip does their work for them. We shall have to wait and see.”

    At least it gets the BBC back on Labour's good side.

    Can anyone save the Tory party?: They admit their great days are past, that even Disraeli and Churchill couldn’t run them now. James Cusick, Westminster Editor, asks if the Tories can ever recover (James Cusick, 10/19/03, Sunday Herald)

    Relegated to being not one of the great parties of today, but simply “one of the great political parties of history” ... this was the sad lament for the Conservative Party delivered last week by the former Tory leader and prime minister John Major. “Heartbroken” at the current state of his party, and almost reaching for the Kleenex, Major said that unless it stopped its internal feuds it would be condemned to the electoral wilderness.
    At the end of the 19th century, Benjamin Disraeli, fearing much the same outcome as Major, put his case more succinctly. Disraeli told a feuding Tory friend: “Damn your principles. Stick to your party.”

    Actually, what the Tories need now is the opposite advice: Damn the Party. Return to principles! It has been obvious for almost fifteen years now--since Margaret Thatcher was tossed over--if not more, that the future of Britain's conservative movement lies in three things: re-privatization of the State; traditional morality; and defense of British sovereignty against Europeanists.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 AM


    Why Arnold is unlikely to raise taxes and spending (Daniel Weintraub, October 19, 2003, Sacramento Bee)

    If he's not going to raise taxes, then, what can Schwarzenegger do to balance the budget? He can start by cutting spending. While the Democrats in the Legislature will resist, Schwarzenegger can begin with about $2 billion in spending cuts proposed earlier this year by Gov. Gray Davis that were never enacted. He can probably credibly propose another $2 billion from his plans to cut waste and restructure government.

    Schwarzenegger is also going to look to the federal government to reimburse California for some of the cost of providing services -- schools, health care, incarceration -- to illegal immigrants. And he wants to negotiate new deals with the Indian gaming tribes, allowing them more slot machines in return for a contribution to the state's general fund. These two sources could yield several billion dollars combined.

    Finally, Schwarzenegger has said he wants to restructure the state's debt and seek voter approval for borrowing that Davis and the Legislature approved earlier this year, possibly in violation of the state constitution. Refinancing that debt over a longer period could provide short-term savings of as much as $2 billion annually.

    People keep saying that Arnold can't balance the CA budget, but if Mr. Weintraub thinks he can then we do to.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:40 AM


    Not such a funny girl (Scotland on Sunday, 10/19/03)

    THE most horrifying sentences in the English language (in ascending order of terror) run as follows. Your bank card has been withheld. This figure is only an estimate. I have written a novel, would you give it a look? The boss wants to see you. This is going to hurt a bit, I’m afraid. Come and see Barbra Streisand sing a song to her dead dog on television.

    With huge pictures of her ex-poodle Sammy projected behind her, Barbra Streisand last week launched her 60th album, a collection of film tunes, with a rare television appearance, crooning Smile in tribute to her pet, who had been dispatched to the great kennel in the sky 12 months earlier. Here was a showbiz legend taking us through every furball of her deceased dog. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde on the death of Little Nell: it would take the heart of Carla Lane not to laugh out loud.

    Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the day a gawky Streisand made her debut in London. The Daily Mail told its readers to remember the young American’s oddly spelt name. However, their prescience did not extend to telling cabaret drag artistes, nail technicians and comedy writers that a major meal ticket had just arrived.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 AM


    What It Takes to Be a Neo-Neoconservative (JAMES ATLAS, 10/19/03, NY Times)

    Among the enduring legacies of the earlier [Vietnam] era was the split between liberals who opposed the war and the small splinter group that would become known as the neoconservatives. The group's decision to support the Vietnam War — or at least to oppose those who opposed it — was a shift that would lead them to a new level of power and influence.

    The war in Iraq has shown signs of a similar split: a pro-war faction of the liberal intelligentsia has rejected a reflexive antiwar stance to form a movement of its own. The influence of these voices isn't to be underestimated. The marginality of intellectuals is a myth; even in the resolutely hermetic world of Washington, their voices are heard.

    For the liberal intellectuals of this generation, the war in Iraq has required nuanced positions. Michael Ignatieff, director of the Carr Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a self-styled "liberal centrist," focused on the human rights issue: if liberating Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein saved opponents of the regime from torture or death, that in itself justified the war.

    The political philosopher Michael Walzer, the editor of Dissent magazine, was ambivalent, but directed much of his anger at the rigid politics of the anti-interventionist left in the face of Sept. 11.

    Christopher Hitchens, a columnist for Vanity Fair who had disapproved of United States intervention in the first Persian Gulf war, was excited about Americanization as a revolutionary force. Calling himself a "Paine-ite," he saw the new war as an uprising against an illegitimate state.

    The writer Paul Berman forcefully expressed the opinion that not only was President Bush justified in his prosecution of the war but that he had dragged his feet. Terrorism, Mr. Berman wrote in his book "Terror and Liberalism," is a form of totalitarianism; the war in the Middle East is a war to defend liberal civilization. [...]

    In the early stages of their ideological development, neoconservatives saw themselves more as reformed liberals than as true conservatives. Mr. Bell, who predicted "the end of ideology," identified himself as a socialist; Mr. Kristol identified himself -- in a famous formulation -- as a liberal who has been "mugged by reality."

    Yet in the end, all were liberals who, by the 1970's and the midpoint in their careers, were proud to identify themselves as neoconservatives, who were not the heirs of classical conservatism but rather had discovered the limitations of liberalism. A neoconservative, it might be postulated, is one who read and repudiated Marx; a conservative, one who read and embraced Hume, Locke and Hobbes.

    This generation of liberal intellectuals, like its precursors, prefers to see itself less as a political coalition than as an assemblage of writers with diverse views — which of course it is. Ideological labels are always provisional. Yet however much their attitudes toward the war in Iraq differ from those of such contemporary neoconservatives as William Kristol and Robert Kagan, they are heirs of the same intellectual tradition. Given this, can they still be classified as liberals? Or could it be that they've become . . . neoconservatives?

    It's an interesting dynamic that takes hold in such situations: they begin by recognizing--perhaps with some surprise--that they actually like our culture well enough to want to defend it against external enemies, and as time goes by they realize that if it really is worth preserving it has to be defended from internal enemies too.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 AM


    Unraveling the Mortal Coil, in Plain View (FRANK BRUNI, 10/19/03, NY Times)

    [C]atholic leaders and people who know the pope say he also believes that any suffering he endures has value, providing people with an inspirational image of courage. Experts on aging say John Paul is providing people with something else as well: a reminder and warning of questions that society must confront as medical advances prolong people's lives.

    What is the proper way to respect older people and reap the benefits of their perspectives while also making adjustments for their possibly diminished abilities? What belongs in public, and what is better left in private?

    "In a sense, he really captures a dilemma," said Harry Moody, a senior researcher at the International Longevity Center in New York, a policy analysis group. "If we do prize and value the contributions and the wisdom of elders, how do we reconcile that with the dignity we want to give them?"

    Mr. Moody said the prominence of the pope's stooped, largely immobile figure in the news media was "certainly unprecedented in political terms, in religious terms."

    But, he added, "It's not without implications in an aging society."

    As if the Pope hasn't already done more than his share to try to shore up the rickety moral framework of the West, his conscious decision to die in full view may be as important as anything he's ever done. In an age when people blithely assume that some lives are not worth living -- and act on that belief by killing the very young, the old, the infirm, and the handicapped -- he's demonstrating the essential dignity that a suffering soul retains.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM


    Wal-Mart, Driving Workers and Supermarkets Crazy (STEVEN GREENHOUSE, 10/19/03, NY Times)

    In February Wal-Mart will open its first grocery supercenter in California, offering everything from tires to prime meats, and that could be a blessing for middle-class consumers. The reason is simple: Wal-Mart's prices are 14 percent lower than its competitors', according to a study by the investment bank UBS Warburg. [...]

    Many factors explain Wal-Mart's ability to charge low prices, including economies of scale, the pressures it puts on suppliers and its embrace of imports — it imported $12 billion in goods from China last year, one-tenth of American imports from China.

    Another big factor is Wal-Mart's relatively low wages. Its sales clerks average about $8.50 an hour, or about $14,000 a year, while the poverty line for a family of three is $15,060. In California, the unionized stockers and clerks average $17.90 an hour after two years on the job. Mr. Flickinger said wages and benefits for Wal-Mart's full-time workers average $10 to $14 per hour less than for unionized supermarket workers.

    "The strike out here involves workers who enjoy decent wages, vacations and health benefits," said Kent Wong, director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California at Los Angeles. "These things were taken for granted, they made them part of the middle class, but now these workers are threatened with having these things taken away."

    A big savings for Wal-Mart comes in health care, where Wal-Mart pays 30 percent less for coverage for each insured worker than the industry average. An estimated 40 percent of employees are not covered by its health plan because many cannot afford the premiums or have not worked at Wal-Mart long enough to qualify.

    "What this means is, if I'm a Wal-Mart employee and I hurt my hand and go to the emergency room, who's going to pay for it? The taxpayer is," said Mr. Brown, the supermarket executive. "Wal-Mart's fringe benefits are being paid by taxpayers."

    Hard to believe any rational economy can afford a regime where one essentially unskilled laborer working just 40 hours per week makes enough to lift a family over the poverty line.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:52 AM


    The stars are aligned, market's up. Go profits! (Charles Stein, 10/19/2003, Boston Globe)

    It is a good bet that no one running for president -- not even President Bush -- will make a speech applauding the strong corporate profits that have been reported lately. The phrase "fatter profits" conjures up an image of a greedy chief executive stuffing his pockets, perhaps illegally. But the truth is the earnings numbers are good news and important news -- not just for chief executives and investors, but for the rest of us. Profits always matter. Given the events of the past three years they matter more than ever. The economic slump that began in 2000 was first and foremost a profits recession. During the boom of the late 1990s corporate America overspent and overinvested. When the slowdown hit, companies were stuck with expenses that were far out of line with sales. The result: a profits meltdown. Allen Sinai, the chief economist with Decision Economics, says the profit decline of the past few years was the steepest since World War II. In 2001 profit margins -- profits divided by sales -- reached their lowest level on record.

    Businesses reacted predictably. They stopped spending money -- on people, computers, air travel, and paper clips. When they did spend money it was for technology that further cut their costs and allowed them to get more out of their existing work force. Ken Heebner watched the retrenchment process and sensed opportunity. Heebner, who is with CGM Funds, is one of Boston's smartest money managers. Heebner figured that the belt-tightening and productivity improvements meant that corporate America was sharply reducing its break-even point. Heebner reasoned further that once the economy picked up even modestly -- a sure thing given lower interest rates, tax cuts, and a weaker dollar -- profits wouldn't just grow. They would explode.

    EMC Corp. offers a textbook case of what Heebner was talking about. Last Thursday, the Hopkinton technology company reported that its sales rose 20 percent in the third quarter. Yet profits rose 650 percent, thanks to several years of cost-cutting, including a reduction in staff of 7,000 people. Profits for the firms in the Standard & Poor's 500 index are expected to be up 16 percent in the third quarter from the same quarter a year ago, the best performance in three years. The profit bump explains why the stock market is up almost 20 percent this year.

    By now you are asking the question: What does all of this have to do with me? The answer is pretty straightforward. If the disappearance of profits caused companies to spend less, the return of profits should prompt them to spend more.

    October just gets blacker and blacker for the Democrats...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 AM


    Key voter bloc looks beyond Bush: Arab Americans turning Democratic (David S. Broder, October 19, 2003, Washington Post)

    An assemblage of politically active Arab Americans gave presidential candidate Howard Dean repeated ovations Saturday at the windup of a two-day meeting that marked a clear shift of allegiance from President Bush to his Democratic rivals.

    Dean got by far the warmest response of any of the seven presidential hopefuls who addressed the 300 people attending the national leadership conference of the Arab American Institute, a Washington advocacy group.

    But every Democratic speaker was applauded for criticizing the administration's policies in the Mideast and especially for the anti-terrorism tactics of Attorney General John Ashcroft, condemned by participants in a morning panel as targeting immigrants from Muslim countries and routinely violating their civil liberties. [...]

    John Khamis, a San Jose GOP activist, said Bush's Mideast policy and Ashcroft's use of the Patriot Act means that "the attractive parts of the Republican agenda, our economic policies, are falling on deaf ears."

    Asked if he thought Bush could regain support among Arab Americans before next year's election, Khamis said, "I don't know. It's going to take a real effort, and the odds are against him. I've had 30-year Republicans tell me they are re-registering as independents."

    The economically and socially conservative policies that made the GOP attractive to Arab-Americans are, of course, unchanged. What has changed is that the President and his administration are waging a war on terror, at home and abroad. Implicit in the Democratic appeal to Arab-Americans must be the notion that they'll not pursue such anti-terror policies. That seems dangerous territory for the party to wander into.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 AM


    Clark's war: The Democrats' new hopeful claims he can win wars -- and keep the peace -- more effectively than the Bush administration. Does the record of his controversial victory in Kosovo back him up? (Laura Secor, 10/19/2003, Boston Globe)

    IN HIS NEW BOOK, "Winning Modern Wars," recently excerpted in The New York Review of Books, former NATO commander and current Democratic favorite Wesley K. Clark took the Bush administration to task for its performance in Iraq. It was, he wrote, "all too easy to concentrate on the fighting, killing the enemy and destroying his forces. But every serious student of war recognizes that war is about attaining political objectives -- that military force is just one among several means, including diplomacy, and that all must be mutually reinforcing."

    Clark held up his own experience as an example of such work done right. After all, Clark was the general who won NATO's only war handily in 1999, working with allies to pry Kosovo away from Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia and turn it over to the United Nations, NATO-led peacekeepers, and grateful Kosovar Albanians.

    Just last month, however, H. Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly impugned Clark's "integrity and character." The remark set reporters and commentators to wondering: Does Clark's record show the mix of idealism and forcefulness his admirers celebrate, or the reckless grandstanding his detractors decry?

    Although Kosovo looks like an impressive victory in retrospect, the intervention was not especially popular at the time. Clark navigated an unwieldy NATO alliance and an ambivalent American military establishment. Throughout the bombing campaign against targets in Serbia and Kosovo, he regularly clashed with the Pentagon over resources, tactics, and the boundaries of his job. These conflicts would become the unspoken grounds for the Pentagon's decision to remove Clark from his post directly after the war. He won the war in Europe, and won the respect of civilian colleagues in government, but he lost his military position.

    In an otherwise fine discussion of the tactics of the war and of bureaucratic in-fighting, there's a strange failure to consider the broader strategic question. If the United States and a few allies have been in a state of undeclared confrontation with Arab nationalism/Islamism for a period of decades now (since Israeli statehood? since Suez? since the embargo? since al Qaeda was formed? whenever), did it make any sense to attack our own frontlines in that conflict? Or were the Serbs merely ahead of us on the learning curve?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 AM


    Why the War Was Right: We had to move. Either we could welcome Saddam back into the community of nations, or we could rid Iraq of an evil dictatorship (Fareed Zakaria, 10/20/03, Newsweek)

    Those who now oppose the war must recognize that there was no stable status quo on Iraq. The box that Saddam Hussein had been in was collapsing. Saddam's neighbors, as well as France and Russia, were actively subverting the sanctions against Iraq. And yet, while the regime was building palaces, the restrictions on Iraqi trade had a terrible side effect. UNICEF estimated that the containment of Iraq was killing about 36,000 Iraqis a year, 24,000 of them children under the age of 5. In other words, a month of sanctions was killing far more Iraqis than a week of the war did. This humanitarian catastrophe was being broadcast nightly across the Arab world. Policy on Iraq was broken. We had to move one way or the other. Either we could lift sanctions and welcome Saddam back into the community of nations, or we could rid Iraq and the world of one of the most evil dictatorships of modern times. One of The New York Times's best war correspondents, John Burns, made this latter point as well as anyone: "Terror, totalitarian states and their ways are nothing new to me," he said in an interview, "but I felt from the start that [Iraq] was in a category by itself."

    Iraq was a threat, but more important, it was an opportunity. "A pre-emptive invasion of a country gives one pause," I wrote in that August 2002 column, "but there is another massive benefit to it. Done right, an invasion would be the single best path to reform the Arab world. The roots of Islamic terror reside in the dysfunctional politics of the region, where failure and repression have produced fundamentalism and violence. Were
    Saddam's totalitarian regime to be replaced by a state that respected human rights, enforced the rule of law and created a market economy, it could
    begin to transform that world." I still believe that.

    We've yet to hear any of the Democratic candidates explain just what they'd have done to contain Saddam Hussein's anti-Western ambitions without either a war or prolonging the agony of the Iraqi people. "End the sanctions and acknowledge that he won the post-war manuevering from 1991" seems unsatisfactory. "Maintain sanctions forever" seems to ignore the reality of Franco-Russo-German perfidy and to suggest a lack of empathy.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:48 AM


    Nasty, brutish and on credit: Theodore Dalrymple has discovered Britain's spiritual centre, and finds it ugly, aimless and noisy (The Spectator, 9/20/03)

    The unutterably hideous Bull Ring (on the site of which there has been a market for 800 years) has been torn down, except for the Rotunda -- a horrible 1960s monument to British architects' incessant search for originality in the absence of taste or imagination -- which has been preserved by the kind of criminals who allowed it to be built in the first place, in the hope that by doing so their own lack of taste and imagination will be justified or overlooked. The only suitable penalty for the architects, town-planners and city councillors of the Birmingham of the 1960s is death.

    A vast modern shopping centre that has been erected on the site is meretriciousness made flesh, or rather breezeblock, steel and glass. As one
    would expect, the buildings lack overall unity of conception and do not blend in any pleasing manner: they are rather the architectural equivalent
    of MTV, a series of images that arbitrarily succeed one another. They are buildings for people without a concentration span.

    It is hardly surprising that the buildings are meretricious: planning permission demands that they have a lifespan of only 30 years, after which
    they may be pulled down and something else equally transient erected in their place. (Birmingham's Central Library, a preternaturally ugly and
    uncleanable inverted step pyramid of concrete, which replaced the magnificent and thoughtlessly demolished Victorian library, is to be pulled
    down after about 30 years.) This is not the way to build a civilised city. Selfridges & Company's new department store, which gives on to the thoroughfare called Digbeth, is now known locally by some as the Digbeth Dalek, on account of its wavy external wall of blue punctuated by large silvery buttons. There isn't anything else like it in the world, nor should there be: uniqueness in art or architecture is no guarantee of merit or virtue in itself, and in the hands of British architects is usually a guarantee of their very opposite. [...]

    Shopping -- in the sense of the ceaseless search for the next object that will thrill for a moment and satisfy for a minute -- is the main interest of
    people without purpose. The problem with the British is that they are not even very good at shopping, just as they are not very good at their other
    passion, football, to judge by the results. For to be good at shopping requires discrimination, which itself requires some mental cultivation. And
    it is precisely the lack of this that makes British shops (on the whole -- of course, there are exceptions) so deeply dispiriting. [...]

    Of course, crime is never far away in Britain. The British being a nation of shoplifters, security guards were everywhere: you could tell them by their dark glasses and their earpieces and microphones connected to a command centre somewhere, looking like hi-tech Tontons Macoutes.

    After ten years living in central NH, and despite having grown up in Northern NJ, on my yearly visit to the Mall it has struck me that it is where peoples' souls go to die.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:20 AM


    Evil: An Investigation by Lance Morrow (C-SPAN, October 19, 2003, 8 & 11pm)

    Long couched only in theological terms, and popularly personified by the despots of history, the nature of evil has resisted explanation. In this singular survey of this mysterious but all too often palpable force, veteran Time magazine writer Lance Morrow examines the unmistakable ways evil influences our global culture-and how that global culture in turn has magnified evil's menace. Its dramatic reemergence in the national consciousness-against a backdrop of high-tech, sensationalized violence-makes his updated understanding both timely and absolutely necessary. Drawing on examples both obscure and splashed across the headlines, Morrow seeks to understand how evil works, and what purpose, if any, it serves. From the heartrending to the harrowing, from quiet lies to catastrophic acts, his stories are drawn from over thirty years of experience as a revered journalist and essayist. The result is a brilliant synthesis of a lifetime of observation that elegantly illuminates a chronically elusive but fascinating subject.

    One of the seminal 9-11 moments came on September 12th, on PBS, when Bill Moyers was talking to Andrew Delbanco. Mr. Delbanco had argued in his book, The Death of Satan, that:
    [T]he work of the devil is everywhere, but no one knows where to find him. We live in the most brutal century in human history, but instead of stepping forward to take the credit, he has rendered himself invisible. Although the names by which he was once designated (in the Christian lexicon he was assigned the name Satan; Marxism substituted phrases like 'exploitative classes'; psychoanalysis preferred terms like 'repression' and 'neurosis') have been discredited to one degree or another, nothing has come to take their place. The work of this book is therefore to think historically about the shrinking range of phenomena to which accusatory words like 'evil' and 'sin' may still be applied in contemplatory life, and to think about what it means to do without them.

    I have written it out of the belief that despite the shriveling of the old words and concepts, we cannot do without some conceptual means for thinking about the sorts of experiences that used to go under the name of evil. Few people still believe in what the British writer Ian McEwan has recently called the 'malign principle, a force in human affairs that periodically advances to dominate and destroy the lives of individuals or nations, then retreats to await the next occasion.' We certainly no longer have a conception of evil as a distributed entity with an ontological essence of its own, as what some philosophers call 'presences.' Yet something that feels like this force still invades our experience, and we still discover in ourselves the capacity to inflict it on others. Since this is true, we have an inescapable problem: we feel something that our culture no longer gives us the vocabulary to express.

    Now, Mr. Delbanco is really only speaking for the intellectual class there. Most of us, still faith-filled, have no problem comprehending and speaking about evil, but Mr. Delbanco has said that: "[religious] belief is really not an option for thinking people today." Okay, but that leaves about 90% in the unthinking category.

    Of course, here's the only vocabulary he had to express himself with after 9-11:

    BM: Do you believe in evil?

    AD: I don't see how anyone can have experienced even indirectly as you and I sitting here have the events of the last last day and not take seriously the existence of evil. One of the things that a number of writers have said about the devil-- some people believe in him as a literal being, some people believe in him as a metaphor or an image or a representation of these dark, human capacities-- one thing that a number of writers have said is that the cleverest trick of the devil is to convince people that he does not exist. We saw evil yesterday. We have to confront it. We have to face it.

    BM: Evil is defined as?

    AD: Well, for me I think the best I've been able to do with that question is to try to recognize and come to terms with the reality of the fact that there are human beings who are able, by convincing themselves that there's some higher good, some higher ideal to which their lives should be dedicated, that the pain and suffering of other individuals doesn't matter, it doesn't have to do with them or that it's... That they're expendable, that it's a cost that's worth making in the pursuit of these objectives. So evil for me is the absence of the imaginative sympathy for other human beings.

    BM: The absence of a moral imagination, the ability to see what the consequences of your actions are to someone else?

    AD: Yes, the inability to see your victims as human beings. To think of them as instruments or cogs or elements or statistics but not as human beings.

    BM: You have written about your concern that Americans have lost the sense of evil. Is what happened in the last 36 hours going to bring us back or is it too deep for that, our absence, our loss of memory.

    AD: I think it simmers. It's dormant in all of us. We don't want to acknowledge it. We want to explain it away. We want to find explanation for it. In a modern world we mostly live in a place where the terrible suffering of the world seems far away-abstract and unreal and we can somehow imagine that it hasn't anything to do with us. It came home yesterday. I think a lot of people in this city and in this country are searching their souls.

    "Evil" "The Devil" "The Soul" "Morality" ...


    -BOOK SITE: Evil: An Investigation by Lance Morrow (Perseus Book Group)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 AM


    Courageous Arab Thinkers (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, 10/19/03, NY Times)

    Most people thought it would snow in Saudi Arabia before there would be elections. So what's up?

    What's up are three big shocks hammering the Arab system. First, with oil revenues flat, there isn't enough money anymore to buy off, or provide jobs to, the exploding Arab populations. Hence the growing need for wives with work. The second is the Iraq war shock. Even with all the problems in Baghdad now, virtually every autocratic Arab regime is starting to prepare for the uncomfortable possibility that by 2005 Iraq will hold a free election, which will shame all those who never have. As Lawrence Summers, Harvard's president, likes to say, "One good example is worth a thousand theories." Iraq — maybe — could be that example.

    But there is another tremor shaking the Arab world. This one is being set off by a group of courageous Arab social scientists, who decided, with the help of the United Nations, to begin fighting the war of ideas for the Arab future by detailing just how far the Arab world has fallen behind and by laying out a progressive pathway forward. Their first publication, the Arab Human Development Report 2002, explained how the deficits of freedom, education and women's empowerment in the Arab world have left the region so behind that the combined G.D.P. of the 22 Arab states was less than that of a single country -- Spain. Even with limited Internet access in the Arab world, one million copies of this report were downloaded, sparking internal debates.

    Tomorrow, in Amman, Jordan, these Arab thinkers will unveil their second Arab Human Development Report, which focuses on the need to rebuild Arab "knowledge societies." The report is embargoed until then, but from talking with the authors I sense it will be another bombshell.

    Arab society will change for the same reason Soviet society did--not because the leadership wanted to nor even that the people forced it--but because you can't keep up with the U.S. if you have a totalitarian system and if you do have one you are naturally measured against us, your antithesis.

    October 18, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:25 PM


    Dean Gets Standing Ovation from Arab-Americans (Tom Brown, October 18, 2003, Reuters)

    Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean received a standing ovation from an Arab-American audience on Saturday when he attacked leading conservatives and figures from the religious right. [...]

    His speech was repeatedly interrupted by applause as he condemned violations of civil liberties, racial profiling and abuse of authority under the USA Patriot Act, the anti-terror legislation championed by Ashcroft that passed after the Sept. 11 attacks. [...]

    "Today we see another shameful chapter in American history. Because John Ashcroft touts the Patriot Act around this country does not make John Ashcroft a patriot," he said. [...]

    Dean also won applause by reiterating his recent promises to send former President Bill Clinton to the Middle East as his peace broker if he is elected next year.

    Never mind his impugning peoples' patriotism, what wouldn't you give to see the Israeli government's reaction if Bill Clinton showed up as our Middle East peace representative?

    Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:35 PM


    Jeb Bush 'fails' Terri (World Net Daily, Starvation Watch Day 4)

    With Terri Schindler-Schiavo's judge-ordered starvation well into its fourth day, it is clear to her family and supporters that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush probably will not step in and prevent her death ...

    The removal of Terri's feeding tube is the final victory for Michael Schiavo in a battle with Terri's family that has gone entirely in his favor.

    [T]he Schindlers had been fighting their son-in-law for 10 years over the lack of care and therapy provided for their daughter ...

    The ongoing dispute escalated five years ago when Schiavo petitioned the court for permission to end his wife's life by removing her feeding tube ... Although Terri breathes on her on and maintains her own blood pressure, she requires a simple tube into her abdomen to her stomach for nourishment and hydration. The Schindlers and many medical professionals believe that with therapy she could eat and drink without the tube, but Schiavo consistently has prevented that....

    Bush's handling of this case is unlikely to win him respect or friends in either camp.

    The Clearwater Bar Association denounced him earlier this month for sending a letter in late August to Greer, asking the judge to delay the date for removal of Terri's feeding tube ...

    Greer said he ignored the letter....

    The directors and officers of the Clearwater Bar Association were outraged at the governor's letter-writing, seeing it as an intrusion not only on its turf in Pinellas County, but upon the judiciary branch as a whole and a threat to the constitutional structure of American government.

    Here, in brief, are the key facts: Terri Schiavo's parents are eager to feed and care for her. Deprived of care, she will starve to death. Judge Greer has ordered that starve to death she must, and has barred anyone from feeding her, including her parents. Her husband's motives in seeking the judge's order are suspect. He won a lawsuit over Terri's medical care that has $750,000 in escrow to pay for her care, and he stands to inherit the money if Terri dies while they remain married. He is engaged to another woman and has fathered a child by her, but he has refused to divorce Terri. Nurses have testified that he complained to them, "When is that bitch going to die?", and that Terri has said to them, "Help me."

    It seems to me that as a matter of justice, if in the whole world 6 billion people want to see a woman starve to death, and one -- just one -- wants to feed her, that one ought to be free to feed the woman. To use the power of the state to prevent such feeding is a gross abuse of the police power.

    The argument that writing a letter to a judge expressing an opinion on a case is "a threat to the constitutional structure of American government" is so ludicrous it beggars the imagination. Apparently the judicial power is so far above the people, even the executive branches of government, that it must not even be questioned. And if Jeb Bush lacks the courage to refuse to enforce a vicious judicial order, shame on him.

    Though men may not care for Terri Schiavo, God will. May God bless her.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:51 PM


    Interview Solves the `beef Man' Mystery (TOM RAUM , October 18, 200, Associated Press)

    The White House on Saturday released the transcript of a Fuji TV interview with President Bush that let Americans in on the joke that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi shared so publicly Friday with Bush.

    Koizumi had teasingly referred to Bush as ``beef man'' as they talked to reporters after dining at Tokyo's Akasaka Palace. The remark had Bush chuckling and repeating the moniker. ``Beef man,'' he agreed with a laugh.

    But even though the main course that night had been Japanese beef steak, Koizumi's joke baffled Bush's traveling press corps. [...]

    It appears the origin of the joke is a question from Tarao Kimura, who asked Bush in the Fuji TV interview about the president's well-known dislike of sushi.

    "I wonder whether you will bear tasting sushi this time,'' the reporter asked the president after earlier queries on Iraq, North Korea and currency policy. ``I know you're not really particularly in favor of the raw fish.''

    "Well,'' Bush replied, ``I'm a beef man.''

    "I'm also,'' the president added diplomatically, ``hopefully a good enough guest not to demand a particular menu from my host.''

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:43 PM


    Now this is funny.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:37 PM


    Lockyer: I voted for Arnold (Daniel Weintraub, October 18, 2003, California Insider)

    Democrat Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer says he voted for Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor. Lockyer, speaking at a recall post-mortem at UC Berkeley, said he opposed the recall but chose Schwarzenegger in the replacement election because he stood for "hope, change, reform, opportunity, upbeat problem solving."

    Obviously it's in his interest not to have a Democrat incumbent, but still pretty funny.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:23 PM


    THE PRESENT SITUATION IN GERMANY (Digest of a meeting with Allen W. Dulles at the Council on Foreign Relations, December 3, 1945)

    Germany today is a problem of extraordinary complexity. For two and one-half years the country has been a political and economic void in which discipline was well-maintained. There is no dangerous underground operating there now although some newspapers in the United States played up such a story. The German leaders, of course, could not admit defeat and today the attitude of the people is not so much a feeling of shame and guilt as one of having been let down by their leaders.

    Economically and industrially, Germany has scraped the bottom of the barrel, and there are few shops with anything to sell. As soon as you attempt to get Germany to tick and to make arrangements for a government, the lack of men becomes apparent at once. Most men of the caliber required suffer a political taint. When we discover someone whose ability and politics are alike acceptable, we usually find as we did in one case that the man has been living abroad for the past ten years and is hopelessly out of touch with the local situation. We have already found out that you can't run railroads without taking in some Party members. [...]

    In the zone being turned over to Poland there is a good deal of buck passing. It is difficult to say what is going on, but in general the Russians are acting little better than thugs. They have wiped out all the liquid assets. No food cards are issued to Germans, who are forced to travel on foot into the Russian zone, often more dead than alive. An iron curtain has descended over the fate of these people and very likely conditions are truly terrible. The promises at Yalta to the contrary, probably 8 to 10 million people are being enslaved. Unquestionably Germany should be punished. In this instance, however, I think there will remain a legacy of bitterness which will not bode well for the future.

    I have already said that the problem of Germany very nearly defies a successful solution. The question is: What can we do? The first step is to get together in dealing with what is at bottom a common problem. Next, we must find people we can use. We might use the churches which did not knuckle under to Hitler, although it is questionable in the minds of some people whether churches should get into politics. We might also consider the survivors of the affair of July 20* and see what material the trade unions can furnish. Finally, we can screen the prisoners of war.

    The women will not be much help to us, although in theory they could be. A saying now current in Germany is that today most of the able-bodied men are women. Hitler had an enormous hold over them and Eva Braun's existence appeared to be unknown to most of them. They are extremely bitter. Altogether the problem deserves very careful study.

    I think it may well become necessary for us to change the form of our occupation. Thus far there has been very little disturbance or misbehavior on the part of our troops. I think we ought to use small, highly mechanized units and put our reliance on planes. These forces I would quarter outside of the cities, lest their presence create a talking point for German propaganda against the occupation.

    Trying to arrive at figures in order to set up a standard of living in Germany is a difficult and almost hopeless problem, and one perhaps beyond the ingenuity of man. And yet we must somehow find a solution.

    Germany ought to be put to work for the benefit of Europe and particularly for the benefit of those countries plundered by the Nazis. If we do not find some work for the Germans and if we do not solve the refugee problem, the Germans will have their revenge in one form or another though it takes a hundred years.

    Puts paid to the canard that we didn't realize the Soviets would betray their promises until much later.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:50 PM

    HOT AIR:

    Media Matters: Gross vs. O'Reilly: Culture Clash on NPR (Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, Ombudsman: National Public Radio, October 15, 2003)

    On October 9, Terry Gross, longtime host of NPR's Fresh Air aired her interview with populist political talk show host Bill O'Reilly. The e-mails and phone calls of outrage are still arriving.

    The interview was taped the day before on October 8. The ostensible reason was to talk about O'Reilly's latest book, Who's Looking Out For You? The book is about, among other things, the claim that America is in the midst of what O'Reilly calls a "cultural war between left and right." And he says the battle is being fought in bookstores by pitting sales of his book against those by liberals.

    In the Fresh Air interview, the tone was intense from the beginning. By the end of the interview, O'Reilly said he found Gross' line of questioning objectionable and hostile. He walked out of the interview, but not before he accused Gross of conducting the interview "in attack mode" and "full of typical NPR liberal bias." He also told her to "find another line of work."

    Knowing that the interview would air the next day, O'Reilly used his October 8 television program to alert his viewers about what would happen the next day on NPR

    As Gross mentioned in the interview, Bill O'Reilly was invited on Fresh Air in part because of his new book. She began by asking O'Reilly to respond to accusations made against him in a book by Al Franken, the politically liberal comedian. Franken's book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, is devoted in part to going after O'Reilly's credibility and his conservative opinions. In his book and on Fresh Air, Franken accuses O'Reilly of mistakes, distortions and outright lies.

    If you missed the show it's worth a listen. Ms Gross administers a pretty biased hatchet-job, repeatedly asking him to respond to other peoples' criticisms, rather than focusing on his book itself. On the other hand, it's nothing O'Reilly doesn't do on his own show too. The main difference is he had sense enough to walk away.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:33 PM


    AN APOLOGY (Gregg Easterbrook, 10/16/03, Easterblogg)

    Nothing's worse, as a writer, than so mangling your own use of words that you are heard to have said something radically different than what you wished to express. Of mangling words, I am guilty.

    Monday I wrote an item about the disgusting movie Kill Bill, which so glorifies violence as to border on filth. I was indignant that a major company whose work is mainly good, Disney, would distribute such awfulness, in this case through its Miramax subsidiary. I wondered how any top executive could live with his or her conscience by seeking profits from Kill Bill, oblivious to the psychological studies showing that positive depiction of violence in entertainment causes actual violence in children. I wondered about the consciences of those running Disney and Miramax. Were they Christian? How could a Christian rationalize seeking profits from a movie that glorifies killing as a sport, even as a form of pleasure? I think it's fair to raise faith in this context: In fact I did exactly that one week earlier, when I wrote a column about the movie The Passion asking how we could take Mel Gibson seriously as a professed Christian, when he has participated in numerous movies that glorify violence.

    But those running Disney and Miramax are not Christian, they're Jewish. Learning this did in no way still my sense of outrage regarding Kill Bill. How, I wondered, could anyone Jewish--members of a group who suffered the worst act of violence in all history, and who suffer today, in Israel, intolerable violence--seek profit from a movie that glamorizes violence as cool fun? Below is the paragraph I wrote that's causing the stir (to read the item in its entirety from the beginning click here). I quote it verbatim so that you can see how easy it is, on subjects like these, for good righteous anger to turn offensive by a careless choice of words:

    Set aside what it says about Hollywood that today even Disney thinks what the public needs is ever-more-graphic depictions of killing the innocent as cool amusement. Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice. But history is hardly the only concern. Films made in Hollywood are now shown all over the world, to audiences that may not understand the dialogue or even look at the subtitles, but can't possibly miss the message--now Disney's message--that hearing the screams of the innocent is a really fun way to express yourself.

    I'm ready to defend all the thoughts in that paragraph. But how could I have done such a poor job of expressing them? Maybe this is an object lesson in the new blog reality. I worked on this alone and posted the piece--what you see above comes at the end of a 1,017-word column that's otherwise about why movies should not glorify violence. Twenty minutes after I pressed "send," the entire world had read it. When I reread my own words and beheld how I'd written things that could be misunderstood, I felt awful. To anyone who was offended I offer my apology, because offense was not my intent. But it was 20 minutes later, and already the whole world had seen it.

    It might be better next time, upon realizing you've mangled your own intent, to take down the post and rewrite it immediately. Though Brother Cohen was offended by the original, personally I thought it inartfully stated but accurate. Certainly with a mild amount of revision it would not even have been offensive.

    pchuck mentioned in the comments that Mr. Easterbrook has been fired from his wonk favorite Tuesday Morning Quarterback gig at ESPN.com. I just went to the page there of his archived columns and the links don't seem to work. Are they scanning his work for secret anti-Semitic code words or something? Exactly how thin-skinned are we becoming?

    -Writer Takes Jews to Task for 'Kill Bill' (BERNARD WEINRAUB, 10/17/03, NY Times)

    In a joint Disney-Miramax statement, Matthew Hiltzik, a Miramax spokesman, said, "It is sad that these terrible stereotypes persist and that these comments are receiving a wider platform. It does not deserve any further attention."

    Peter Beinart, the editor of The New Republic, said: "Gregg made a mistake. He recognizes that. He's a very valuable member of the staff. And I don't think he's the least bit prejudiced." [...]

    Mr. Easterbrook said he planned to apologize in his Web site column on Friday for "stumbling into a use of words that in the past people have taken as code for anti-Semitic feelings."

    Mr. Easterbrook said he wrote a column last week about Mel Gibson's coming film "Passion," and added: "I raised the issue that Mel Gibson professes to be an ardent Christian. Maybe he is. But his background previous to this movie is making movies that glorify violence."

    "I raised the exact same question about a Christian," Mr. Easterbrook said, and "there was not a single peep."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:23 PM


    Mahathir slams 'sheriff Howard' (Simon Kearney and Linda Silmalis, October 19, 2003, News.Com.AU)

    MALAYSIA'S controversial leader, Mahathir Mohamad, continued his war of words with the West yesterday when he vowed to treat Australia as a "terrorist" if it acted like a US sheriff in the region.

    Dr Mahathir - already under fire for remarks this week in which he said that "Jews rule the world" - was responding to reported comments by US President George Bush saying Australia was America's "sheriff" in South-East Asia.

    "I can assure Australia that if it acts as a sheriff in this country it will be treated as a terrorist and dealt with as a terrorist," he said.

    Here's a brief intelligence test:

    (1) You believe the world to be involved in clash of civilizations and you need to take sides. Do you side with:

    (A) Libya, Palestine, Iran, etc.

    (B) America, Israel (as well as the multi-tentacled Zionist world-controlling cabal), Australia, etc.

    (2) If you picked "A", are you:

    (A) The most respected leader in the Islamic world.

    (B) A f--ing idiot

    (C) both.

    N.B.: Pardon the language, but sometimes enough is enough.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM


    Not So 'Bright': Atheists aren't as rational as they think. (DINESH D'SOUZA, October 12, 2003, Wall Street Journal)

    Mr. Dennett, like many atheists, is confident that atheists are simply brighter--more rational--than religious believers. Their assumption is: We nonbelievers employ critical reason while the theists rely on blind faith. But Mr. Dennett and his fellow "brights," for all their credentials and learning, have been duped by a fallacy. This may be called the Fallacy of the Enlightenment, and it was first pointed out by the philosopher Immanuel Kant.

    The Fallacy of the Enlightenment is the glib assumption that there is only one limit to what human beings can know, and that limit is reality itself. In this view, widely held by atheists, agnostics and other self-styled rationalists, human beings can continually find out more and more until eventually there is nothing more to discover. The Enlightenment Fallacy holds that human reason and science can, in principle, unmask the whole of reality.

    In his "Critique of Pure Reason," Kant showed that this premise is false. In fact, he argued, there is a much greater limit to what human beings can know. The only way that we apprehend reality is through our five senses. But why should we believe, Kant asked, that our five-mode instrument for apprehending reality is sufficient for capturing all of reality? What makes us think that there is no reality that goes beyond, one that simply cannot be apprehended by our five senses?

    One of the easier perpetual motion machines to build requires only an atheist, a person of faith, and the question "which of your respective beliefs is arrogant and which humble?" The Enlightenment Fallacy limns the manner in which atheism/rationalism is arrogant, believing Man to be the measure of all things.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 AM


    Repressing Women, Repressing Democracy: Globally, better female health and education align with free government. (M. Steven Fish, October 12, 2003, LA Times)

    There are many ways to measure the status of females in a society, but two indicators are particularly revealing. The first is the gap in literacy rates between men and women, which reflects the value that societies assign to the education of females. The second is the gender ratio, which is measured as the number of males per 100 females in the general population.

    A wide gap in literacy between the sexes (which invariably favors males) tends to keep women out of public life and politics. The consequences for democracy are momentous. Social and political psychologists have found that women are on the whole better at building consensus, less comfortable with hierarchy and inequality in social relations, and more averse to extremism and violence in politics. The marginalization of women, whether in the neighborhood or in elective politics, means fewer anti-authoritarian voices.

    The average literacy gap between the sexes in non-Muslim countries is about seven percentage points; in Muslim countries it is 17 points. And things seem no better in countries with secular regimes than in those where religion is mandated. The gender literacy gap is 20 percentage points in Iraq, 23 in Egypt and 28 in Syria. The gap in the more religiously repressive nations of Iran and Saudi Arabia is 15 percentage points. Outside the Muslim world, differences of 15 percentage points or more are rare. In El Salvador, the gap is five points, in Thailand three and in South Africa one.

    And then there's the ratio of men to women. In non-Muslim countries, the ratio is 98 to 100. In Muslim nations, sex ratios are dramatically unbalanced: The average number of males per 100 females is about 103. In some countries, like Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the ratio is even higher. A ratio in excess of 102 males to 100 females is a red flag: It usually reflects inferior nutrition and health care for girls and women and can point to an extensive practice of sex-selective abortion or infanticide.

    When the ratio of men to women gets lopsided, young men are far more likely to join fanatical religious and political brotherhoods. Particularly in many Muslim societies, where men must be capable of supporting a family before being allowed to marry, and where older, wealthier men practice polygamy, unbalanced sex ratios give rise to tremendous social frustration among young men.

    Democracy does not demand total equality between the sexes; it flourishes in many male-dominated societies. But patriarchy varies. A culture may have a reputation for machismo and emphasis on clan and family honor but still promote the health and basic education of its girls. Such is the case in much of Latin America, Southern and Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

    Alternatively, a culture may assign disparate weights to the value of male and female life, as in much of the Muslim world. In such cultures, democracy is far less likely to take root.

    Another lesson in a series: Demographics is destiny.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 AM


    Well, Dog My Katz!: A conservative just may be the next mayor of Philadelphia. (John Fund, October 16, 2003, Wall Street Journal)

    A century ago, the muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens described Philadelphia as "corrupt and contented." Back then, the City of Brotherly Love was being shaken down by a Republican machine. About 1950, that machine collapsed and was replaced by a Democratic one, with which the overtaxed city now is no longer "contented." Challenging its dominance is an unlikely Republican reformer running in next month's mayoral election. If he wins, Sam Katz could initiate the kind of reform agenda that Rudy Giuliani used to revive New York in the 1990s.

    Mr. Katz, a 53-year-old businessman, exemplifies the way a lot of liberal baby boomers have come to mature politically. In the 1960s he protested the Vietnam War. In the 1970s he managed the campaigns of many liberal candidates in Philadelphia--including that of former civil-rights activist and congressman Bill Gray. In the 1980s, Mr. Katz became head of the nation's largest municipal finance advisory firm, and he gradually became disenchanted with liberal solutions. In the 1990s he ran twice for mayor on a free-market platform, losing four years ago to Democrat John Street by one percentage point. [...]

    The voters Mr. Katz has the most trouble with are blacks, who make up 43% of the city. Mayor Street has tried to energize them by claiming the federal investigation of his office is part of a White House effort to discredit a black mayor. No polls have been taken on what effect that message is having with minority voters. Certainly Mr. Katz is making more of an effort in black neighborhoods than he did in the past, partly by calling for better policing that takes into account the suspicions many minorities have of the local men in blue.

    One of Mr. Katz's most effective commercials features Robin Holts, a Democratic lawyer, who looks at the camera and says, "I don't care about your color; I don't care about your political party affiliation. I'm looking for the person who has my best interest at heart. This is the City of Brotherly Love, and the brother I'm voting for is Sam Katz." Next month's election will test whether Mr. Katz's emphasis on creating jobs and economic growth overcomes the traditional suspicion minorities have of white candidates in Philadelphia.

    This would add immeasurably to the potentially gloomy November for the Democrats.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM


    Mr. Washington Goes to Mississippi (NICHOLAS DAWIDOFF, October 19, 2003, NY Times Magazine)

    Out on the stump, speaking in a drawl lately grown so sweet and sticky you could pour it on your griddle cakes, the candidate likes to refer to ''our little lobbyin' firm up in Washington, D.C.'' There is, however, nothing down-home about Barbour Griffith & Rogers Inc. Situated in a luxe office building high above Pennsylvania Avenue, B.G.&R. is perhaps the most influential lobbying firm in the country. In a day when some lobbyists wield more power than many legislators, Barbour has been the best connected of them all, ''the quintessential creature of Washington,'' according to The Washington Post. [...]

    Campaigning against ''a multimillionaire Washington lobbyist'' has proved irresistible to Musgrove. He has drenched radios and televisions with tales of Barbour ''helping the big tobacco companies that peddle their products to our children and poison their future'' and collecting lobbying fees from the Mexican government and lobbying for free trade, which ''cost Mississippi 41,000 jobs.''

    And what route does a man with a cartographer's knowledge of the Washington political geography take when he ventures outside the Beltway? During an appearance at a DeSoto County Catholic school, in a somewhat cryptic attempt to express his support for Head Start programs, which help poor children, Barbour said: ''Head Start is a godsend for Mississippi. Some of those kids in it would be better off sitting up on a piano bench at a whorehouse than where they are now.''

    That was the rare unscripted moment. Barbour has conducted the coy campaign you might expect from a man about whom Barbour's brother Jeppie says, ''My brother's a politician with more tact than nerve.'' Barbour offers rhetoric busy with conservative shibboleths -- ''For people who choose not to work, those who do work shouldn't have to pick up the pail for you.'' But such welfare-bashing does little, it would seem, to advance the debate about how to solve Mississippi's chronic poverty.

    Barbour's enormous campaign budget and speeches consisting of gestures to patriotism, moral values, low taxes, jobs creation, small government but big law enforcement make clear that it is Barbour who is Junior Bush; he has replicated himself from the presidential template. Barbour, in fact, makes frequent references to Bush's personal affection for him as a fellow C student and is given to denouncing ''liberals'' with a borrowed dose of bravado. ''Bring 'em on!'' he cries day after day.

    Barbour's campaign has experienced some unexpected obstacles. In August, his son Reeves was arrested for public drunkenness. There has also been the question of what many Mississippians consider Barbour's belated interest in the state's problems. While Barbour did join a successful Yazoo City effort to bring a penitentiary to his hometown, Gene Triggs, a retired vice president of Mississippi Chemical Corporation, complains that ''he made few contributions to Yazoo City.'' According to Triggs, the once thriving town has never recovered from the period of school integration in the 1970's and 80's, when many whites, like Haley and Marsha Barbour, packed their children off to the private academies that were opening across the state. ''Any parent has the right to send their kids where they can get the best education,'' Triggs says, but keeping your kids in public school ''was one positive stand a person could take to make the community better. I felt he should have exerted some leadership, and he never did.''

    Gotta love the Times--a day after boiling this race down to just two issues and writing that , "The second question is whether the governor, a career politician who has never lived outside the state, can convince voters that Mr. Barbour is unfit to hold high office in Mississippi, because he spent most of his adulthood as a lobbyist and Republican wheeler-dealer in Washington," they portray Mr. Barbour in precisely the terms that Mr. Musgrove requires.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM


    Beauty and the beastly practice: As was done successfully in California, Michiganders are poised to hand their governor an embarrassing rebuke (Bob Jones, 10/25/03, World)

    The successful recall of California Gov. Gray Davis may have been the first voter revolt this year, but it likely won't be the last. Next target: Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the former Canadian beauty queen who vetoed a popular anti-abortion measure on Oct. 10. Pro-life leaders believe the veto could be the governor's undoing—and they don't even have a movie star waiting in the wings. [...]

    With the chances for a legislative override looking grim, pro-lifers in Michigan are preparing to challenge the governor in a different way. The state constitution may not allow a recall election like California's, but it does provide Michiganders with an opportunity to override vetoes when the legislature cannot. A so-called "citizen initiative" forces the legislature to vote on any bill petitioned by at least 8 percent of the state's voters. Once the House and Senate approve a petitioned bill, it is considered veto-proof and becomes law whether the governor likes it or not.

    The math looks straightforward enough: To bypass Ms. Granholm's veto, pro-life groups need only 300,000 signatures on their petitions -- easy enough in a state with a large, well-organized Catholic vote. The legislature has already proved its willingness to confront the governor on partial-birth abortion, so quick passage is almost guaranteed once all the signatures are verified. Ms. Granholm would have no further say in the matter.

    Michigan is one of several Rust Belt Catholic states the President lost last time -- largely because of the John McCain/Bob Jones dynamic -- that he'll not lose this time.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM


    Quarter ends on up note: Latest earnings leave room for hope, analysts say (David R. Baker, October 18, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle)

    The late 1990s it ain't.

    But for many tech companies, 2003's third quarter brought significant growth in sales -- further evidence Silicon Valley's long, bleak slump may be over.

    The flurry of earnings reports streaming from the valley this month has brought tales of rising revenues for makers of chips and computers. Online businesses -- survivors of a brutal three-year shakeout -- scored gains in sales and profits.

    But not everyone benefited. Valley mainstay Sun Microsystems reported a dismal three months and slid on Wall Street, where analysts were already questioning the firm's direction. The handheld computer maker Handspring saw its sales nosedive 76 percent from last year.

    But for many technology firms, in many corners of the industry, the quarter brought brightening prospects. Much of the improvement so far can be traced to consumer spending -- on laptops, on electronic gadgetry -- but even long-dormant business spending has shown signs of an increase.

    You'd think there'd be one heck of a lot of business spending pent up by now and that once it gets going and folks start upgrading computers and the like that have been allowed to become outdated, it would add fuel to a recovery that's already chugging along.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 AM


    The (Finally) Emerging Republican Majority: GOP officials don't like to talk about it, but they have become the dominant party. (Fred Barnes, 10/27/2003, Weekly Standard)

    Democrats insist the recall merely showed anger against incumbents. In fact, it showed California was catching up with a powerful Republican trend over the past decade. In 1992, Democrats captured 51 percent of the total vote in House races to 46 percent for Republicans. By 2002, those numbers had flipped--Republicans 51 percent, Democrats 46 percent. And Republicans have held their House majority over five elections, including two in which Democratic presidential candidates won the popular vote. They won 230 House seats in 1994, 226 in 1996, 223 in 1998, 221 in 2000, and 229 in 2002. They also won Senate control in those elections.

    These voting patterns fit Walter Dean Burnham's definition of realignment: "a sudden transformation that turns out to be permanent." Burnham is a University of Texas political scientist, just retired but still the chief theorist of realignment. He is neither a Republican nor a conservative.

    The same Republican trend is true for state elections. In 1992, Democrats captured 59 percent of state legislative seats (4,344 to 3,031 for Republicans). Ten years later, Republicans won their first majority (3,684 to 3,626) of state legislators since 1952. In 1992, Democrats controlled the legislatures of 25 states to 8 for Republicans, while the others had split control. Today, Republicans rule 21 legislatures to 16 for Democrats. Governors? Republicans had 18 in 1992, Democrats 30. Today, Republicans hold 27 governorships, Democrats 23.

    Not to belabor dry numbers, but Republicans have also surged in party identification. Go back to 1982, the year of the first midterm election of Ronald Reagan's presidency. The Harris Poll found Democrats had a 14-point edge (40 to 26 percent) as the party with which voters identified. By 1992, the Democratic edge was 6 points (36 to 30 percent) and last year, President Bush's midterm election, it was 3 points (34 to 31 percent).

    But the Harris Poll tilts slightly Democratic. (In fact, I believe most polls underestimate Republican ID because of nominal Democrats who routinely vote Republican.)The 2000 national exit poll showed Republicans and Democrats tied at 34 percent. A Republican poll after the 2002 elections gave the party a 3- to 4-point edge. Based on his own poll in July, Democrat Mark Penn (who once polled for Bill Clinton) declared: "In terms of the percentage of voters who identify themselves as Democrats, the Democratic party is currently in its weakest position since the dawn of the New Deal." His survey pegged Democratic ID at 32 percent, Republican ID at 30 percent. A half-century ago, 49 percent of voters said they were Democrats. Today, wrote Penn, "among middle class voters, the Democratic party is a shadow of its former self."

    All these figures represent "a general creeping mode of realignment, election by election," says Burnham. By gaining governors and state legislators, Republicans are now in the entrenchment phase. "If you control the relevant institutions, you can really do a number on the opposition," Burnham says. "You can marginalize them."

    The one counterintuitive that makes such a realignment unlikely to endure for the lengthy period that the last couple have is that modern conservatism--of the fiscal variety--is a young people's politics. Older voters can be bought for the cause of Statism with retirement checks. Younger voters can be kept in opposition to the State on the basis of the taxes they have to pay to support the elderly. The GOP, therefore, has to do several things:

    (1) Take advantage of the realignment to privatize social welfare.

    (2) Limit/ban abortion.

    (3) Accept immigration as a societal good, so long as assimilation is a key element.

    The first so that retirees in the future depend on themselves rather than the State; the latter two so that we don't end up with the same kind of rapidly ageing population that is destroying the rest of the West.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 AM


    Both extremes wrong in evolution debateJEAN SWENSON, 10/17/03, Pioneer Press)

    Some people think evolution should not be mentioned at all in public schools, while others think any evidence that may contradict evolution should not be allowed.

    Both views reflect poor science, and if either side wins, students will lose. Unfortunately, that's just what might happen in Minnesota.

    Although many people view Darwinian evolution as a valid explanation, others have begun questioning parts of this theory.

    For example, a growing number of prominent biologists are signing on to the following statement: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

    Written in 2001 to encourage open-mindedness within the scientific community, the statement has been supported by Nobel Prize nominee Fritz Schaeffer, Smithsonian Institution molecular biologist Richard Sternberg and Stanley Salthe, author of "Evolutionary Biology."

    Minnesota is setting new content standards for K-12 science education. Committees have written a draft of these standards and, along with Education Commissioner Cheri Yecke, are inviting feedback from people like you at public hearings and through e-mail letters. (See www.education.state.mn.us for information and a copy of the standards.)

    I commend the standards committee for its emphasis on knowledge and the scientific method. However, I'm concerned that some citizens and committee members want Darwinian evolution taught as undisputed fact while prohibiting any critical analysis of this and other scientific theories. This is no less biased than those who do not want evolution mentioned at all.

    It's a theory. Teach it that way and let people decide for themselves.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:42 AM


    Present at the Creation: Jonathan Edwards, the first American (Gerald McDermott, 10/20/2003, Weekly Standard)

    Another reason for Edwards's uncanny attractiveness is his eagerness to confront the received Enlightenment thinking that dominated European thought. In "The Nature of True Virtue"--which uses not the Bible but reason alone to press its case--Edwards challenged "the project that dominated Western thought, and eventually much of world thought, for the next two centuries," Marsden notes, "the grand idea . . . that humans would find it possible to establish on scientific principles a universal system of morality that would bring to an end the destructive conflicts that had plagued human history." Because Edwards was nearly the only moral philosopher in the eighteenth century to deny natural human goodness, he was among the few to perceive that this dream was not only empty but could lead to unimagined horrors.

    Marsden suggests that it is precisely because of the twentieth century's experience of human horror that Edwards's thinking on hell cannot be so easily dismissed. Edwards believed that each person is "by nature incredibly short-sighted, self-absorbed, and blinded by pride." Only a traumatic jolt could burst the bonds of such self-absorption. Therefore the verbal violence of hellfire and damnation "was a gift of God to awaken people who were blindly sleepwalking to their doom." [...]

    Perhaps the most remarkable contributor to this recent explosion of interest in Edwards is the Israeli historian Avihu Zakai, with "Jonathan Edwards's Philosophy of History: The Re-Enchantment of the World in the Age of Enlightenment." A teacher at Hebrew University--and former Marxist and veteran paratrooper--Zakai sees yet another way in which Edwards beat some Enlightenment thinkers at their own game. Edwards was "a bold and independent philosopher" who showed his "force of mind" by constructing a "plausible alternative" to the eighteenth century's mechanistic interpretation of reality, which stipulated that all natural phenomena can be explained by matter and motion. This new scientific thought not only stripped nature of purpose, but "led to the notion of homogenous, empty time--time deprived of any redemptive significance."

    Edwards responded, says Zakai, by appropriating the atomic doctrine of mechanistic philosophy to show the incoherence of mechanism's basic assumption that there exist substances independent of everything else. All being, Edwards argued, is immediately dependent on the great system of being, which is God Himself. The result, according to Zakai, was a reenchantment of history. Indeed, Zakai goes further, claiming that Edwards's new history, based on the notion that religious awakening is the engine of both sacred and secular history, was revolutionary in several respects: It regarded secular history as both progressive and meaningful, it enshrined America's revival tradition, and it helped make God's redemption of the entire world a central theme of American culture.

    Ultimately, the key insight of Judeo-Christianity, at least as concerns human governance, is that Man is Fallen, is not naturally good. All political systems that assume otherwise are doomed to failure. As the great American defender of that religious insight, Edwards deserves to be considered not only a Founder, but one of the most important.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 AM


    The Legend of the Social Liberal-Fiscal Conservative: A Lost Tale of Camelot (Brian P. Janiskee, October 15, 2003, Claremont.org)

    Conservative luminaries, such as Jon Coupal (President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association), Assemblyman John Campbell, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, vouched for Arnold's fiscal conservatism and urged fellow conservatives to give him a pass on his social liberalism. After all, so the argument went, we can't make the perfect the enemy of the good. It is better to get half of something than all of nothing. And, as a testament to the rhetorical skill of the prophets of pragmatism, the great majority of conservatives heeded the call and abandoned their fellow traveler Tom McClintock in favor of the Terminator-the social liberal and fiscal conservative.

    Like a unicorn prancing in the meadows of Camelot, however, one may have doubts that such a creature actually exists. Where is this elusive and exotic social liberal-fiscal conservative? To hear the talk of some pundits and opinion shapers in conservative circles one gets the impression that politicians are built like automobiles in Detroit. According to many, liberalism and conservatism can be added to the political soul of a politician in various combinations, like air conditioning or an automatic transmission can be added to the basic automobile package. We have been led to believe that politicians can have a variety of ideological accessories that can be added to the main chassis without disrupting the operation of the whole machine.

    While this is portrayed as an established fact by almost everyone interested in politics, its veracity is somewhat in doubt. For example, let us take a look at the current Republican lineup in the U.S. Senate and compare their views on social liberalism and fiscal conservatism.

    Isn't a "Social Liberal-Fiscal Conservative" basically a libertarian?--someone who doesn't much care what their neighbors do, so long as it doesn't cost taxpayers anything.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:16 AM


    The Good, the Bad, the Ugly (DAVID BROOKS, October 18, 2003, NY Times)

    When it comes to the future of Iraq, there's not just one Democratic Party; there are three.

    First, there are the Nancy Pelosi Democrats. These Democrats voted against Paul Bremer's $87 billion plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. The essence of their case is that the Bush administration is too corrupt and incompetent to reconstruct Iraq. If Bush is for it, they're against it.

    Their hatred for Bush is so dense, it's hard for them to see through it to the consequences of their vote. But if Pelosi's arguments had carried the day, our troops in Iraq would be reading this morning about the death of the Bremer plan and the ruination of our efforts to rebuild Iraq. [...]

    Next we come to the Evan Bayh Democrats, named after the Indiana senator. These Democrats can see past their dislike of the president. They would appropriate some money for Iraqi reconstruction. But siding with the anti-foreign-aid Republicans, they'd turn the rest of the aid into loans. The Iraqi people have been raped, tortured and left bloodied on the floor. The Bayh Democrats say to them: Here's a credit card. Go buy yourself some treatment, and you can pay us back later. [...]

    Finally we come to the Cantwell Democrats. This group could be named after Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman or Dick Gephardt, but Maria Cantwell, the Washington senator, sits at Scoop Jackson's old desk on the Senate floor. The Cantwell Democrats are dismayed with how the Bush administration has handled the postwar period. They'd like to see the rich pay a bigger share of the reconstruction cost. But they knew yesterday's vote wasn't about George Bush. It was about doing what's right for the Iraqi people and what's right, over the long term, for the American people.

    The Evan Bayh position is entirely honorable, even if wrong, so long as you vote for the final package after losing on the details. The Pelosi position is just irresponsible, defeatist, and dangerous.

    -Will Democrats Take 'Bug Out' Stance on Iraq? (Mort Kondracke, October 17, 2003, Real Clear Politics)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:00 AM


    The Faith of Our Fathers: Was the faith of the Founding Fathers deism or Christianity? What does the answer mean for us today? Both the secularists and the Christians have missed the mark. (Gregory Koukl, Stand to Reason)

    The phrase "Founding Fathers" is a proper noun. It refers to a specific group of men, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention. There were other important players not in attendance, like Jefferson, whose thinking deeply influenced the shaping of our nation. These 55 Founding Fathers, though, made up the core.

    The denominational affiliations of these men were a matter of public record. Among the delegates were 28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 unknown, and only 3 deists--Williamson, Wilson, and Franklin--this at a time when church membership entailed a sworn public confession of biblical faith.

    This is a revealing tally. It shows that the members of the Constitutional Convention, the most influential group of men shaping the political foundations of our nation, were almost all Christians, 51 of 55--a full 93%. Indeed, 70% were Calvinists (the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and the Dutch Reformed), considered by some to be the most extreme and dogmatic form of Christianity.

    Even Franklin the deist is equivocal. He was raised in a Puritan family and later adopted then abandoned deism. Though not an orthodox Christian, it was 81-year-old Franklin's emotional call to humble prayer on June 28, 1787, that was the turning point for a hopelessly stalled Convention. James Madison recorded the event in his collection of notes and debates from the Federal Convention. Franklin's appeal contained no less than four direct references to Scripture. [...]

    Three of the four cornerstones of the Constitution--Franklin, Washington, and Madison--were firmly rooted in Christianity. But what about Thomas Jefferson? His signature cannot be found at the end of the Constitution, but his voice permeates the entire document.

    Though deeply committed to a belief in natural rights, including the self-evident truth that all men are created equal, Jefferson was individualistic when it came to religion; he sifted through the New Testament to find the facts that pleased him.

    Sometimes he sounded like a staunch churchman. The Declaration of Independence contains at least four references to God. In his Second Inaugural Address he asked for prayers to Israel's God on his behalf. Other times Jefferson seemed to go out of his way to be irreverent and disrespectful of organized Christianity, especially Calvinism.

    It's clear that Thomas Jefferson was no evangelical, but neither was he an Enlightenment deist. He was more Unitarian than either deist or Christian.

    This analysis, though, misses the point. The most important factor regarding the faith of Thomas Jefferson--or any of our Founding Fathers--isn't whether or not he had a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The debate over the religious heritage of this country is not about who is ultimately going to heaven, but rather about what the dominant convictions were that dictated the structure of this nation.

    Even today there are legions of born-again Christians who have absolutely no skill at integrating their beliefs about Christ with the details of their daily life, especially their views of government. They may be "saved," but they are completely ineffectual as salt and light.

    By contrast, some of the Fathers may not have been believers in the narrowest sense of the term, yet in the broader sense--the sense that influences culture--their thinking was thoroughly Christian.

    The case for Deism just gets more and more dubious.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:11 AM


    Keep government out of spam protection (Alex Singleton, 10/17/03, Adam Smith Blog)

    Milton Friedman said that the government solution to a problem is usually worse than the problem. It's certainly true in the area of unsolicited e-mail. There are two government approaches being advocated, neither of which will work.

    Mr. Singleton, we think correctly, suggests the free market is the more apprpopriate way to deal with the problem of spam.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:48 AM


    Who Is Governor Arnold? George Shultz's Hunch (Andrew Ferguson, Oct. 14, 2003, Bloomberg)

    Former U.S. Treasury Secretary George Shultz, sitting in serene retirement in his office on the campus of Stanford University, likes to tell this story about Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    "Buffett and I'' -- that would be billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who with Shultz heads the soon-to-be-governor's team of informal economic advisers -- "were doing a conference call with Arnold back in September. A number of businessmen had joined us. And one of them, a Latino restaurant owner, starts to push this driver's license thing.''

    That would be the new California law, signed by a desperate Governor Gray Davis shortly before last Tuesday's recall election, allowing illegal
    immigrants to obtain drivers licenses.

    "This fellow says, `Arnold, all my employees are for it. All my customers are for it. You support this thing and I can guarantee you a lot of votes.'

    "There was a long silence. Finally Arnold says, `But I don't support it.'

    "And this businessman says, `But it would be very good for you,' and so on and so on.

    "Another long silence.

    "Finally, Arnold says, `I'm sorry, I can't. What kind of governor would I be if I started supporting things I don't believe in?'

    "Remember, this was not a public event for public consumption. This wasn't some kind of grandstanding. I just thought, Wow. Bam. What an answer. This guy's got it. This guy's the real thing." [...]

    "You people in the press got Ronald Reagan wrong, too,'' says Shultz, who served as Reagan's secretary of state after heading Treasury in the Nixonand Ford administrations. "Everybody said, `Oh, he's just an actor, he's vague, intellectually he's not up to snuff.'

    "Reagan didn't mind. I don't think Arnold does either. Reagan even cultivated that image -- he wanted to be underestimated. And while everybody was sort of laughing at him, he just blew right by them and walked off with all the prizes. I think Arnold might do the same."

    During the Reykjavik Summit, when Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev came close to a sweeping deal calling for the elimination of entire categories of nuclear weapons, the stcking point was the Soviet demand that we give up our pursuit of the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars). Reagan refused, though he vowed that when we had a workable missile defense we'd share the technology with them--his vision being to make the world safe from the threat of mutual assured destruction, which he abhorred. Gorbachev well understood by then that the Soviets had no prayer of matching us in any kind of technological race and that merely to try and compete would in and of itself destroy what remained of the decrepit Soviet economy. In fact, Mr. Reagan had already exposed the USSR as the paper tiger that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had predicted. So Gorbachev hammered away at Reagan, pleading for the U.S. to just give up this one more weapon.

    Finally, President Reagan, who steadfastly refused to surrender a defensive program, slid a note to George Schultz which asked: "Am I doing the right thing?"

    Schultz wrote back" "Yes."

    The tale is told, presumably apocryphal, of how Gorbachev, when he was riding to the airport with Iceland's prime minister after the talks collapsed, said: "The Cold War ended here."

    October 17, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 PM


    Votes on Iraq money will resound in 2004 presidential, congressional elections (DAVID ESPO, October 17, 2003, Associated Press)

    The House voted first Friday, and the tally showed 83 Democrats in favor, and 118 opposed. By contrast, Republicans supported Bush's request, 220-6.

    In the Senate, 37 Democrats supported the spending request, while 11 opposed. All 50 Republicans who voted sided with Bush.

    [M]ore than half the Democrats voting in favor of the money are from districts across the South, where Bush's constant summons to support the war on terrorism may have more resonance than elsewhere.

    Others, including Reps. Dennis Moore of Kansas, Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, and Tim Holden of Pennsylvania, are from districts that Republicans covet.

    If you were looking to pick the single lowest point in the history of the Republic you could do no better than the day in 1975 when Congressional Democrats defied their president and cut and ran from South Vietnam, leaving a debilitated ally to the tender mercies of the communist North, despite our promises that we'd help them fend off that mutual enemy.

    Thankfully, the GOP controls Congress and the presidency now or else today's Democrats might have duplicated that despicable moment. Note that the votes above are not on the discrete and arguable issue of whether some money should be repaid eventually by someone (who would sign a loan agreement? Paul Bremer?), nor on precise amounts, but on the overall question of whether to continue funding the forces we have in the field at all. Large majorities of Democrats just voted to bring our troops home immediately and leave Iraq -- which, whether you approved of the initial war or not, our country just attacked and destabilized -- in the lurch. Imagine the impact on our allies, the glee of our foes, the devastation of the Iraqi people that would have resulted had they been able to force our withdrawal. This is not the action of a responsible political party.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:51 PM


    Americans are Losing the Victory in Europe (John Dos Passos, January 7, 1946, LIFE)

    We are in a cabin deep down below decks on a Navy ship jam-packed with troops that’s pitching and creaking its way across the Atlantic in a winter gale. There is a man in every bunk. There’s a man wedged into every corner. There’s a man in every chair. The air is dense with cigarette smoke and with the staleness of packed troops and sour wool.

    “Don’t think I’m sticking up for the Germans,” puts in the lanky young captain in the upper berth, “but…”

    “To hell with the Germans,” says the broad-shouldered dark lieutenant. “It’s what our boys have been doing that worries me.”

    The lieutenant has been talking about the traffic in Army property, the leaking of gasoline into the black market in France and Belgium even while the fighting was going on, the way the Army kicks the civilians around, the looting.

    “Lust, liquor and loot are the soldier’s pay,” interrupts a red-faced major.

    The lieutenant comes out with his conclusion: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” You hear these two phrases again and again in about every bull session on the shop. “Two wrongs don’t make a right” and “Don’t think I’m sticking up for the Germans, but….”

    The troops returning home are worried. “We’ve lost the peace,” men tell you. “We can’t make it stick.”

    A tour of the beaten-up cities of Europe six months after victory is a mighty sobering experience for anyone. Europeans. Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American. They cite the evolution of the word “liberation.” Before the Normandy landings it meant to be freed from the tyranny of the Nazis. Now it stands in the minds of the civilians for one thing, looting.

    You try to explain to these Europeans that they expected too much. They answer that they had a right to, that after the last was America was the hope of the world. They talk about the Hoover relief, the work of the Quakers, the speeches of Woodrow Wilson. They don’t blame us for the fading of that hope. But they blame us now.

    Never has American prestige in Europe been lower.

    This is brilliant spadework by someone at Jessica's Well, demonstrating in one fell swoop: the inanity of the Greatest Generation meme; the eternal ungratefulness of the liberated; the recurrent despair of the liberators; and the rather predictable nature of post-war Iraq.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:10 PM


    Doctors Eying the U.S.: Canada Is Sick About It (CLIFFORD KRAUSS, October 17, 2003, NY Times)

    Drs. Siva Sriharan and Srinivas Chakravarthi may never get rich staying in this small auto-producing city little more than a stone's throw from downtown Detroit, but they can eat all the hamburgers, ribs and potato skins they want for the rest of their lives at Casey's Bar and Grill.

    For the next year, they can also get their hair cut free at the Touch of Class beauty salon, and lease a Pontiac Grand Am without charge from a dealer in nearby Essex. Patients have pledged free house repairs and landscaping for their properties, and nurses have teased them with offers of free massages.

    All the two doctors have to do is continue practicing medicine in Windsor. [...]

    The two surgeons are sharply critical of Canada's health care system, which is driven by government-financed insurance for all but increasingly rations service because of various technological and personnel shortages. Both doctors said they were fed up with a two-tier medical system in which those with connections go to the head of the line for surgery.

    "It's the system that is pushing us out," said Dr. Chakravarthi, a 53-year-old Indian immigrant.

    Many other Canadian doctors feel the lure of the United States these days, particularly if they live close to the border.

    The supply of family doctors has increased at a rate lower than population growth in recent years, a problem that is complicated by an aging population and doctors seeking shorter hours. Waiting time for elective surgery is growing across the country, and becoming a hot political issue.

    Meanwhile, there are signs that a brain drain of medical talent, particularly specialists to the United States, is becoming a serious problem.

    There was a net migration of 49 neurosurgeons from Canada from 1996 to 2002, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, a large loss given that there are only 241 neurosurgeons in the country.

    Yet the Democratic ideal for our health care system is to make it like Canada's...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:53 PM

    DOES ANYBODY EDIT THE POST? (via Glenn Dryfoos)

    Paper accidentally publishes losing editorial (Associated Press, 10/17/03)

    The curse of the Bambino struck the New York Post, too.

    On the morning after the New York Yankees vanquished the Boston Red Sox to win the American League pennant, some editions of the Post carried an editorial bemoaning a loss for the Bronx Bombers.

    "The Yankees couldn't get the job done," read the editorial. "...The hitting fell short and the bullpen simply didn't deliver. It's a crying shame that Roger Clemens' career had to end on a losing note."

    Clemens, the Yankees' 41-year-old pitcher, will be one of the starters when the Yankees take on the Florida Marlins in the World Series.

    Post Editor in Chief Col Allan blamed the foul-up on a simple production error.

    "We had prepared two editorials, one in the event of the Yankees winning, one with the Yankees losing," he said. "When we transmitted the pages to our printing facility, the wrong button was struck and the wrong editorial sent."

    Somewhere in the Multiverse, this editorial is right and it's the Red Sox who have 37 World Series rings--but, Remy's Paradox, where are they?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:23 PM


    Republicanism and Religion (Ellis Sandoz, October 4, 2003, Philadelphia Society)

    Despite the Enlightenment’s concerted project of doing away with the Bible as the basis of political and social order in favor of Reason,1 religion continues to condition politics as an undergirding belief foundation: Men always have God or idols, as Luther said. Our present war on terrorism with its religious dimensions apparent to even the most blinkered secularist is evidence on the point. This phenomenon can be seen in the context of a global revival of traditional religiosity, including Christianity, as a major event of the present sometimes called “the revenge of God” by such scholars as Gilles Kepel, Philip Jenkins, and Samuel Huntington. [...]

    [T]he principal religious springs of republican politics are: a paradoxical sense of the dignity yet frailty of every human being as potentially imago Dei; individual and political liberty fostered through a rule of law grounded in “the nature and being of man” as “the gift of God and nature”; government and laws based on consent of the community; and above all resistance to tyranny whether ecclesiastical or political in the name of truth, justice, and righteousness. These key elements were directly and essentially fostered by the prevalent (“dissenting” Burke called it) Christianity of the late 18th century and by a citizenry schooled in them by devoted Bible reading and by the pulpit.

    It is worth lingering a moment over the last point as George Trevelyan memorably makes it: “The effect of the continual domestic study of the book upon the national character, imagination and intelligence for nearly three centuries to come [after 1611] was greater than that of any literary movement in our annals, or any religious movement since the coming of St. Augustine....The Bible in English history may be regarded as a ‘Renaissance’ of Hebrew literature far more widespread and more potent than even the Classical Renaissance which...provided the mental background of the better educated.” The path to that stage of liberty was never smooth. Indeed, the rise of Whig liberty, the freedom we cherish, was in no small degree bound up with the efforts of early religious reformers, notably John Wyclif and William Tyndale, to make the text of the Bible available in English–an eminently democratizing effort expanding the much earlier principle announced in the York Tractates of the Anglo-Norman Anonymous c. l100 of the priesthood of all baptized believers with the individual person standing in immediacy to God (1 Peter 2:9). [...]

    Nagging questions remain: Can a political order ultimately grounded in man’s transcendent relationship to divine Being, memorably proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and solidly undergirded by biblical revelation and philosophy, indefinitely endure–resilient though it may be–in the face of nihilistic assault of this vital spiritual tension by every means, including by the institutions of liberty themselves?

    Not only do all Americans have extensive exposure to the Bible, but no one has more than those who reject it--they study it and Judeo-Christian history assiduously, in search of errors, contradictions, and political incorrectness. Enlightenment rationalism offers nothing comparable. Sure you learn stuff like Darwinism in school, but you just accept it on authority and assume it works like that notorious wall chart that starts with australopithecus, or whoever, taking a step and ends with a human taking one. If you ever explained to a roomful of people that today's evolutionists or sociobiologists or whatever they're billing themselves as are forced to deny human free will, they'd laugh you out of the room.

    Thus is the rationalist worldview accepted, but not very influential on how we think about the Universe and our role in it, while the religious worldview, even when not accepted, deeply and irremediably influential. It is to the extent that the Bible has lost such a place in Europe that it has become truly divorced from us, even from those of us who are not expressly religious. That explains why even our atheists and libertarians tend to be warmongers, though they'd deny themselves to be crusaders.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:45 PM


    Who Will Be the Joe Coors of Bioethics? (Daniel McConchie, 10/17/03, The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity)

    There are two general types of constituencies. First are those constituencies who have a natural reason to care and support a cause. For example, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a natural constituency—millions of gun owners who want to defend their right to keep and bear arms and to have a better experience with their hobby or craft. Gun owners already know that they need to be educated about types of firearms available, what uses certain firearms may have, how to use one safely and productively, as well as the legal or political threats to their continued freedom to own guns. The NRA doesn’t really have to teach gun owners that they need to care about their issue. In fact, many gun owners not only know that they need to learn, they want to learn.

    Other issues or movements don’t have a natural constituency. Instead they consist of individuals who are trained to care and support a cause. The conservative movement of the 1970’s is a good example of this. The public wasn’t being very supportive of limited government or more economic freedom or a stronger national defense because they didn’t know to be. Without think tanks and activist groups educating the public on the issues, they didn’t understand enough to support the cause.

    Unfortunately, bioethics is one of those issues that doesn’t have a natural constituency even though the current and coming technologies may redefine the nature of human dignity, radically altering what it means to be human. Today we can genetically screen out “undesirables”, harvest the parts of living human embryos, completely de-link children from their genetic heritage, wire people’s nervous systems to the Internet, and mix human and animal DNA. Tomorrow we will be able to genetically modify our children, add processing power to our brains with computer chips or enhancing drugs, transplant most animal organs into people, and maybe even see the rise of artificially intelligent beings. These technologies will effect everyone. Yet before the public will support an ethical engagement in these issues, it will require teaching them to support such engagement.

    Thirty years ago Joe Coors, the head of the Coors Brewing Company, bought into the vision of some Congressional staffers in Washington to establish a new conservative think tank. The Heritage Foundation became Joe Coors’ legacy. Through Heritage, Joe Coors helped spawn the early building of a conservative constituency. Millions of dollars were spent over the years promoting the vision of limited government and economic freedom to both policy makers and the public. By educating the public, people began sharing the vision of Joe Coors and started to promote it. Through financially supporting Heritage and other like-minded organizations and political candidates, the constituent base of the conservative movement grew and grew. New constituents began using their resources to help Heritage and other groups train more potential constituents, until the movement became one of the most undeniable forces in U.S. politics.

    But it took the capital of Joe Coors to make it happen. His personal intellectual involvement as well as his financial support gave the necessary help to raise a generation of supporters. Joe Coors died on March 15, 2003. But the conservative movement he helped spawn continues boldly on.

    Just like the conservative political movement flourished because of the involvement and support some ardent backers, bioethics is in need of a Joe Coors today.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to bioethics issues, the culture of death is far better funded (including government funds) and organized than are those who value human dignity.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:33 PM


    Dean Renews Pledge to Repeal Bush Tax Cuts (WILL LESTER, 10/17/03, Associated Press)

    Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean offered several new proposals to help the economy during a speech at Georgetown University but it was his renewed pledge to repeal all of President Bush's tax cuts that grabbed the most attention. [...]

    Dean on Thursday called for the creation of a $100 billion fund to assist states and local governments in creating jobs and offered a plan to close tax loopholes. During the speech, he tied together elements of economic proposals he has made on the campaign. The job creation fund and the goal of closing down $100 billion of tax loopholes were among the new proposals. [...]

    Dean promised that his job creation fund would add at least a million jobs to the economy - focused on health care, education and homeland security.

    So he can find $100 billion to create one million boondoggle government jobs for Americans but opposes $87 billion to try and give the 25 million people of a country we've been at war with for thirteen years some hope for their future? Man, they say conservatives are heartless isolationists...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:14 PM


    The Poisoned Well (FOUAD AJAMI, 10/17/03, NY Times)

    From the distance of three decades, we can see oil's curse — and its ambiguous gift. It wasn't just Iran that was undone by sudden wealth. On the shores of the Mediterranean, Algeria succumbed to barbarous slaughter; a war erupted between that country's rulers and insurgents who draped their wrath, and the fury of their dispossession, in Islam's banners: Hezbollah (the Party of God) on one side, Hizb Fransa (the Party of France) on the other. For nearly 15 years, the slaughter went on in the cities of the country, while the work of oil continued uninterrupted in the Sahara. The killer squads of the regime and the merciless insurgents both fought for oil's bounty.

    In Iraq, the ruin had a different story line: here oil was tethered to state terrorism, and a displaced peasant thug from the town of Tikrit, fired up by the dreams of money and oil, set out to wreck his country and to plunge the world into endless discord.

    We are still in the grip of that historical moment. That wayward son of Arabia, Osama bin Laden, is a child of the oil revolution. He came of age amid the new wealth; it was petromoney that he took to the impoverished mountainous land of Afghanistan.

    And it was petromoney that brought about the demographic explosion that has swamped and unsettled Arabia. Thirty years ago, less than 7 million people lived in Saudi Arabia; today the estimate is about 17 million. For every member of the lucky generation that came into its own in the years of plenty, there are several more younger claimants now choking on failure and disappointment.

    The mind plays tricks here: as the wealth of 1973 was evidence of divine favor, so the retrenchment is a sign of divine disfavor, and a call on the faithful to rectify the course of history. Belligerent piety now fills the void, gives order and meaning to the capricious cycle of history, its boom and bust.

    Experts Mull Threat of Another Oil Embargo (Peter Brownfeld, October 17, 2003, Fox News)
    Some experts are saying the United States could face an energy crisis on the scale of one 30 years ago, when an oil embargo by Arab nations sparked an economic downturn, long lines at the gas pump and the fear of oil rationing.

    “Our dependence [on foreign oil] is growing, and, worse, our dependence on Middle East oil is growing,” said Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (search).

    According to the Department of Energy's 2003 Annual Energy Outlook (search), net oil imports accounted for 55 percent of total U.S. demand in 2001, up from 37 percent in 1980 and 42 percent in 1990.

    By 2025, imports are expected to account for 68 percent of U.S. demand. Oil imports from the Middle East have doubled since the 1970s, and now are about one-fourth of total imports. By 2020, the share of imports from the Middle East is expected to rise to one-half, the Energy Department's report states.

    Because of America’s increasing reliance on Middle Eastern oil, some experts warn that the United States is no better insulated from the political instability of that region now than it was in October 1973, when Arab nations, angered by U.S. support for Israel in the Arab-Israeli war, announced an oil boycott of the United States and some other Western nations.

    Presumably new oil resources in places like Russia, China, and Africa will forestall this scenario, but for our own good and that of the nations that get addicted to the revenues from the stuff, we should precipitously increase gasoline taxes (50 cents a gallon or more, off-setting them in other areas so that tax revues are at worst neutral).

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:12 PM


    Bill Would Penalize Colleges on High Tuition Rises GREG WINTER, 10/17/03, NY Times)

    [Howard P. McKeon, a California Republican and a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce] said his bill would create a government watch list of public and private universities that raised their tuition and fees more than twice the rate of inflation for three years in a row. If the offenders still did not curb their costs after another three years, they could lose their eligibility for millions of dollars in federal grants and programs under the bill. [...]

    If the bill was in effect today, no fewer than 225 public universities, 470 private colleges and 625 for-profit trade schools would be placed on the watch list, according to the American Council on Education, an industry group. That is 24 percent of the nation's postsecondary institutions, the council said. House Education Committee staff members said the tally showed how rampant the problem of escalating tuition is.

    "That obviously means that hundreds of schools are engaged in exorbitant tuition increases that hurt parents and students," said David Schnittger, a spokesman for the committee.

    Gotta love the Feds--their subsidizing of college education for every half-wit in America is driving the price increases; so, what's their solution? Do they draw down the money that's causing the inflation? No, they try to add even more regulations.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:03 PM


    The Six Dilemmas of the Moderate Islamist (Michael Vlahos, 10/16/2003, Tech Central Station)

    Editor's note: This article is the first of a two-part series on moderate Islamists and American strategy. This emerged from a Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab meeting with moderate Islamists. It does not try to speak for moderate Islamists, but rather to how they talk about their dilemmas. The discussion was frank and open, so as a courtesy the guests are not named, and only sparely quoted.
    Moderate Islamists could ultimately decide if America wins or loses its "War on Terror." Victory depends on their support, and thus also on our support of them, but in the end as well on the support of Muslims everywhere.
    Why? Because Islam is in the throes of renewal and the Muslim World is changing. Moreover we cannot genetically modify Muslim societies so they become happy American replicants. The change must be in Islam itself, and the question is will it be a radical purification or a moderate reinterpretation?
    But what exactly is a "moderate Islamist?" The moderate Islamist should not be confused with the moderate Muslim. The moderate Muslim is the kind of Muslim America likes. Americans are comfortable with moderate religiosity; so like the quiet churchgoer, we would prefer Muslims who are not above, for example, knocking back an occasional beer. But this is not what we should expect. Islam is a demanding religion -- and a demanding way of life. Islamic renewal will be full of piety and passion.
    The moderate Islamist, like the radical Islamist, seeks to renew the Muslim World -- not help it relax. The Islamist is dedicated to the Islamic cause, and he is an active proselyte. Thus moderate Islamists like radical Islamists are dedicated to change within and expansion of the Muslim World. But unlike the radicals they reject the path of aggressive struggle, or Jihad. Moderate Islamists would renew their faith and their world instead through Islamic reinterpretation, or Ijtihad.
    Moderate Islamists are thus self-proclaimed leaders -- clerics and scholars -- in the renewal of Islam. The moderate Islamist is highly educated, in contrast to many radical Islamists. The moderate Islamist is also receptive to Western ideas -- but selectively receptive. Ultimately the moderate Islamist must compete with the radical Islamist for authority among Muslims. It is this competition that will decide how Islam changes.
    But the moderate Islamist is at a disadvantage. Moderate Islamists face six dilemmas that threaten to undermine their cause.

    You need only look at the sinkhole Europe is becoming to see why moderates in the Islamic world are hostile to the full panoply of Enlightenment modernity, but you have to wonder about the chances of slow and sensible reform succeeding. The conservative American Revolution is the exception--the nihilistic French the rule.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:46 PM


    Top terrorist hunter’s divisive views: General casts military, anti-terror efforts in religious terms (Lisa Myers, 10/15/03, NBC NEWS)

    The former commander of Army Special Forces, Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin has led or been part of almost every recent U.S. military operation, from the ill-fated attempt to rescue hostages in Iran to Grenada, Panama, Colombia, Somalia. [...]

    "Why are terrorists out to destroy the United States? Boykin said: “They’re after us because we’re a Christian nation.”
    NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin, who’s been investigating Boykin for the Los Angeles Times, says the general casts the war on terror as a religious war: “I think that it is not only at odds with what the president believes, but it is a dangerous, extreme and pernicious view that really has no place.”

    During a January church speech in Daytona, Fla., Boykin recalled a Muslim fighter in Somalia who bragged on television the Americans would never get him because his God, Allah, would protect him: “Well, you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol.”

    The Somali was captured, and Boykin said he told the man: “Mr. Atto, you underestimated our God.”

    Geez...you go through our history and start banning American generals who thought they were doing God's work and we wouldn't have any left. Eisenhower didn't call his memoirs "Making Europe Safe for Multiculturalism".

    -General Rebuked For Talk Of God: Speeches Tied War, Religion (Bradley Graham, October 17, 2003, Washington Post)
    -God put Bush in charge, says the general hunting bin Laden (David Rennie, 17/10/2003, Daily Telegraph)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 AM


    Mahathir vs Jews: Another step back (Phar Kim Beng, 10/18/03, Asia Times)

    [W]hat made Mahathir's statement highly inappropriate was the fact that it was made in a setting where the OIC had convened to understand ways to "improve the knowledge and morality" of the Muslim world.

    The sort of generalizations indulged in by Mahathir, backed as they were by anecdotes rather than empirical facts, simply underlines the perception that the Muslim world has failed to move into the age of science, reason and rationality. For one of the greatest Muslim leaders in the contemporary world, himself a scientist, doctor and trained pilot, to lend credence to this view by wantonly attacking Jews is unfortunate in the extreme.

    In attacking the Jews so callously, Mahathir not only failed himself, but also the wider Muslim world that he represents. As for those who applauded when Mahathir made the statement, the same verdict applies.

    Mr. Putin and Ms Macapagal-Arroyo, at least, should have walked out.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 AM


    Clinton warned Bush of bin Laden threat (October 15, 2003, Reuters)

    Former President Bill Clinton says he warned President George W. Bush before he left office in 2001 that Osama bin Laden was the biggest security threat the United States faced. [...]

    At Wednesday's luncheon, Clinton said his inability to convince Bush of the danger from al Qaeda was "one of the two or three of the biggest disappointments that I had."

    Clinton said that after bin Laden, the next security priority would have been the absence of a Middle East peace agreement, followed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

    "I would have started with India and Pakistan, then North Korea, and then Iraq after that," he said. "I thought Iraq was a lower order problem than al Qaeda."

    Clinton's vice president Al Gore, who ran against Bush in the 2000 election, did not make the threat from al Qaeda a major focus of the presidential campaign, which both candidates kept focused mainly on domestic topics.

    Oddly enough, President Clinton mounted only a desultory attack on bin Laden, but a massive attack on Saddam (Desert Fox) and maintained both sanctions and no-fly zones against Iraq, but took no noticeable actions against al Qaeda's funding mechanisms and what not. Meanwhile, if either presidential candidate, both of whom would have been privy to American intelligence briefings, ever mentioned Osama bin Laden during the entire campaign, I sure don't recall it.

    Mr. Clinton seems like those defenders of FDR who try to blame Republicans for America's unpreparedness at the time of Pearl Harbor, as if the two men's respective two terms as president should have no bearing on events.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 AM


    Baseball is back (Charles Krauthammer, October 17, 2003, Townhall.com)

    These days Pedro Martinez plunks the Yankees' Karim Garcia (I love that name: the melting pot in two words) with a high hard one, and the umpire comes running out waving his arms, warning both sides that there will be no more retaliation. Well, in the old days when men were men, there were no dual warnings. Before 1975, the retaliation would go on until no one was left standing. The old Pacific Coast League once had a beanball fight -- an orgy, wrote the Los Angeles Daily News, ``of gouging, spiking and slugging'' -- that took 50 L.A. cops to break up.

    Now that was a fight. This week's Fenway fracas was postmodern shadowboxing, which to my mind is the best of all possible worlds: You get your fight and nobody gets hurt.

    Indeed, it has been the best of all possible baseball weeks. Could be the best we ever had. You got the Red Sox and the Cubs. You got the rhubarbs and the curses. You got a mayor ready to arrest Cy Young's successor. You got a fan (a Chicago fan, no less) reaching out to take a foul pop away from a Chicago outfielder -- and on this I shall brook no opposition -- costing the Cubs their first pennant since 1945.

    This is craziness. This is karma. This is as good as it gets. Cubs fans may be crying, but America is once again in love with baseball. As a Los Angeles Times sports reporter wrote about that glorious Pacific Coast League brawl, ``Who says that ... baseball is dying?'' That was 1953.

    The two things which in particular make baseball America's game were on display again last night:

    (1) History and tradition: There were not just 50 but hundreds of players on the field last night, from Cy Young to Babe Ruth to Chris Chambliss to Bucky Dent, etc., to now Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Aaron Boone, etc. The place wasn't just thick with ghosts, but with stories that all of us know. It's the one game where what happened one hundred years ago still seems significant.

    (2) Democracy: Everyone in America could second guess Joe Torre, who managed panicky, as if he'd never manage another game, and Grady Little, who maneged comatose, as if he'd never managed a game before. No one watches the Super Bowl and screams that the pulling guard screwed up.

    And the hero of the game, as so often in such baseball events, was unlikely. Aaron Boone, who's actually a very fine player, had been consigned to the bench--part of Torre's panicking--but ended up hitting the homerun that won it all and broke millions of Puritan hearts...again.

    Fifty years from now, our grandkids will be muttering about the 8th inning of game 7--no one remembers so much as a single play in any World Cup, Super Bowl, whatever.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:45 AM


    Mississippi Incumbent Surprises His G.O.P. Opponent (DAVID E. ROSENBAUM, 10/17/03, NY Times)

    With his money, national Republican connections, political savvy and personal charm, Haley Barbour looked to many people last winter like a sure bet to be elected governor of Mississippi this year.

    That was especially true because the Democratic incumbent whom he was challenging had presided over the weakest state economy in years in a region where President Bush is particularly popular and at a time when anti-incumbent sentiment seems to be increasing.

    But the handicappers underestimated Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. He raised nearly as much money as Mr. Barbour, conserved most of it for the last few weeks before the November election and proved to be a relentless campaigner.

    Now, although no polls have been published, the candidates and political experts agree that the race is extremely tight. [...]

    Although Mr. Barbour, who began television commercials in February, had $977,000 left in his accounts, Mr. Musgrove squirreled away his money and had $3.4 million remaining for the last five weeks of the campaign. That disparity can be explained by the fact that Mr. Barbour had already paid for all his television time through Election Day, and Mr. Musgrove had not. But in terms of money, the governor is clearly competitive.

    It's been difficult to find much on-line about the odd year governors races -- other than CA and the LA, once Bobby Jindhal won the primary -- but every story I ever found said that the three races -- LA, KY, MS -- would be very tight and that either party could sweep or they could split them a variety of ways. But this story suggests that Mr. Barbour -- who's running his first statewide race in twenty years and who had to win a primary and is running against an incumbent -- has had a tougher time than expected. The depiction of the race as one Barbour should be winning fairly easily seems counterfactual, as reflected in Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:27 AM


    Saddam's justice: framework of genocide (P. MITCHELL PROTHERO, 10/16/2003, UPI)

    What's often missed in the discussion about the crimes committed by Saddam Hussein's Baath Party regime, which killed thousands of Iraqis, is that most of the killings took place under the auspices of the rule of law.

    "The Baath Party regime made their works and their activities legal by their experiences in running the country and with the rules of the law," said Sadeeq Saleem al-Shumari, a local attorney.

    Shumari knows how these things work. He was a judge assigned to the special security services of Iraqi's legal system. In local parlance, he was a Mukhabarat judge, part of the dread security services that hunted down the perceived enemies of the regime. And in the mind of Saddam and his supporters, anyone could be such an enemy regardless of the evidence.

    Many ruthless leaders terrorize their populations, but few did so with as much aggression and under as highly organized and codified a framework as Saddam.

    "They (Saddam's regime) were experts at making whatever they wanted to do sound legal," Shumari said. "Everything they did was legal, that's why so many current judges have to be removed. They were manipulated and threatened by the system to allow the Baathists to do these things." [...]

    "Iraq was famous for its legal system," he says. "It was the highest members of the society that corrupted the system. They compromised the entire system (of justice) throughout all levels of the society.

    "Despite all that, we have many good judges, only a few were really crooked. Most were just helpless."

    You can almost hear Howard Dean saying: "Well, he didn't break any laws..."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:23 AM


    THE CHANGING CHURCH: Faith Fades Where It Once Burned Strong (FRANK BRUNI, October 13, 2003, NY Times)

    This week Pope John Paul II is to celebrate his 25th anniversary as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, which is both Europe's and Christianity's largest denomination.

    It has been a quarter century of enormous changes, and few have been more significant, for his church and mainstream Protestant denominations, than the withering of the Christian faith in Europe and the shift in its center of gravity to the Southern Hemisphere.

    Christianity has boomed in the developing world, competing successfully with Islam, deepening its influence and possibly finding its future there. But Europe already seems more and more like a series of tourist-trod monuments to Christianity's past. Hardly a month goes by when the pope does not publicly bemoan that fact, beseeching Europeans to rediscover the faith.

    Their estrangement has deep implications, including the prospect of schisms in intercontinental churches and political frictions within and between countries.

    The secularization of Europe, according to some political analysts, is one of the forces pushing it apart from the United States, where religion plays a potent role in politics and society, shaping many Americans' views of the world.

    Americans are widely regarded as more comfortable with notions of good and evil, right and wrong, than Europeans, who often see such views as reckless.

    In France, which is predominantly Catholic but emphatically secular, about one in 20 people attends a religious service every week, compared with about one in three in the United States.

    "What's interesting isn't that there are fewer people in church," said the Rev. Jean François Bordarier of Lille, in northern France, "but that there are any at all."

    THE CHANGING CHURCH: Where Faith Grows, Fired by Pentecostalism (SOMINI SENGUPTA and LARRY ROHTER, October 14, 2003, NY Times)
    The expanded Christian following in the developing world has translated into increasing power, both within developing countries and within mainstream denominations.

    As church attendance has withered in Europe, senior Vatican officials and Roman Catholic leaders recognize and look to the developing world as fertile ground for conversions and growth, a place where the faith takes firmer root than it does in Europe or North America these days. Indeed, the successor to Pope John Paul could be a Latin American or African cardinal.

    The growing assertion of the Christian south is provoking fierce doctrinal arguments, too, often over their preference for literal readings of the Bible and a conservative view on social issues. The Anglican Communion meets in October in London in an attempt to heal an unprecedented rift over homosexuality, a charge led by the head of the Church of Nigeria, which, with 18 million congregants, is the largest member of the Anglican Communion.

    Tensions extend to the political sphere. The proliferation of Islamic law in northern Nigeria, which has set off rioting that has killed hundreds, is widely seen as the Muslim elite's response to Nigeria's new, hard-line Christianity.

    Throughout Africa, the rivalry between Christianity and Islam, from Sudan to Ivory Coast, is growing.

    More Believe In God Than Heaven (Dana Blanton, October 14, 2003, Fox News)
    Fully 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God, 85 percent in heaven and 82 percent in miracles, according to the latest FOX News poll. Though belief in God has remained at about the same level, belief in the devil has increased slightly over the last few years — from 63 percent in 1997 to 71 percent today. [...]

    Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they believe in God (by eight percentage points), in heaven (by 10 points), in hell (by 15 points), and considerably more likely to believe in the devil (by 17 points). Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they believe in reincarnation (by 14 percentage points), in astrology (by 14 points), in ghosts (by eight points) and UFOs (by five points).

    Overall, most Americans think religion plays too small a role in people’s lives today (69 percent), with only 15 percent saying it plays too large a role and seven percent saying “about right.”

    All of which suggests that, for at least the last couple years, folks, especially intellectual elites, have been asking the wrong question: the issue is not whether American and European interests are diverging--they obviously are, as a result of Europe leaving Christendom and its resulting geopolitical/economic decline and drift towards a sclerotic statism--but whether we should waste our energy on these dying former allies or should instead abandon a continent that has abandoned the core beliefs we used to share and should turn our attention to the vast swathes of the developing world that are moving in our direction.

    October 16, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:28 PM


    Grady Little is a moron.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 PM

    "THE WAY THE WORLD SHOULD ACT" (via Mike Daley):

    Notes From a Friend in High Places: Reagan Let Boy Into His World (Sylvia Moreno, October 12, 2003, Washington Post)

    Rudy Hines was born and raised in Southeast Washington and hasn't ventured far afield. He lives a half-mile from where he grew up, and he works two part-time jobs in his neighborhood, at a store catty-corner from the elementary school he attended and at a soul food lounge about two blocks away.

    But it was here, as a child in Congress Heights, that Rudy got a view of high-level diplomacy, national politics and international history -- and a bit of grandfatherly counsel. Rudy was President Ronald Reagan's official pen pal for almost five years, and some of their correspondence is included in the just-published "Reagan: A Life in Letters." [...]

    Hines became the president's pen pal in March 1984 when Reagan visited Congress Heights Elementary, since renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. The White House had decided to adopt the school in 1983 as part of the National Partnerships in Education program. Students got special privileges, such as visiting Air Force One, the Rose Garden and the Roosevelt Room in the White House. In March 1984, Reagan visited Congress Heights Elementary to announce a new twist.

    "There has to be some kind of personal relationship when you're doing this," Reagan told the children and teachers. "I want to have a student from here be a pen pal, and we'll exchange letters."

    That student was Hines, chosen by Principal William Dalton for his reading and writing skills. "He was a low-key, very intelligent kid," said Dalton, who retired as principal in 1990. "He was just a normal child who happened to learn the skills we were trying to teach." Also, Hines lived across the street from Congress Heights Elementary with his mother, Stephanie Lee, who was willing to become an active participant in the relationship. Rudy's father, Chett Hines, also lived close by and was very involved in his son's life.

    Now living in Lorton and working as a nurse in the admissions testing center of Washington Hospital Center, Lee has preserved the more than 175 Reagan
    letters and photographs -- as well as a $50 check from his personal checking account in Beverly Hills that Reagan sent to Rudy as a Christmas present in 1985. And there are the White House photographs from the September 1984 visit the Reagans made to Lee's one-bedroom apartment in Southeast, where Rudy lived.

    The White House contacted Lee and asked her to host the president and first lady for dinner and to keep it a surprise for Rudy. Rudy had invited the Reagans for dinner, writing: "You have to let us know in advance so my mom can pick up the laundry off the floor."

    When the Reagans arrived, they asked to eat just like Rudy and his mom would have, Lee recalled, and they did. A photograph shows the Reagans sitting on the sofa across from the television, eating homemade fried chicken, wild rice and salad off of TV trays. In a statement last week, Nancy Reagan remembered that night as "a wonderful evening."

    The Reagans also brought a present for Rudy, some of his classmates and the school principal: front-row tickets for a Michael Jackson concert at RFK Stadium scheduled for that night.

    "I want to thank you for the visit to my house and the jar of jelly beans," Rudy wrote to Reagan. "The Michael Jackson concert was great! Tell Mrs. Reagan I think she would have jumped when they shot off the fireworks. She would have liked Michael Jackson's singing too. I enjoyed the show."

    Seven months later, Reagan invited Rudy and several hundred schoolmates to "The Greatest Show On Earth," seating his pen pal next to him and giving him the whistle he used as honorary ringmaster of the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey circus. Rudy got a special invitation to attend Reagan's second inauguration in 1985 but couldn't attend because cold weather forced the ceremony into the Capitol Rotunda, where there was little room for spectators.

    Lee keeps the scrapbooks with all the Reagan mementos in a bank safety deposit box and said neither she nor her son plans to cash in on the collection.

    "The fact we never capitalized on [the relationship or letters], I think that's what made it work," Lee said. "That relationship was quite wonderful: an old white guy talking to a young black kid as a pen pal. That was a rare event . . . and something that kids don't do anymore. . . . It's a perfect example of the way the world should act."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 PM


    Dick Cheney Was Right: "We don't know" about Saddam and 9/11. (Stephen F. Hayes, 10/20/2003, Weekly Standard)

    If the CIA ever gets serious about investigating Saddam-al Qaeda ties, it can start by sending someone to Toronto. On April 27, 2003, Toronto Star reporter Mitch Potter, his translator, and a colleague from the London Telegraph came across a document in the burned-out headquarters of the Mukhabarat in Baghdad. The document was found in the accounting department of the old Iraqi intelligence building and discussed who would pick up the tab for upcoming meetings between a bin Laden representative and Iraqi intelligence. It was, Potter wrote at the time, "the first hard evidence of contact between bin Laden's al Qaeda organization and Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime." Bin Laden's name appeared three times in the document--crudely covered with liquid paper. The goal of the meeting, according to the memo's author, was to discuss "the future of our relationship with him, bin Laden, and to achieve a direct meeting with him." The individual coming to Baghdad, the memo continued, may represent "a way to maintain contacts with bin Laden."

    Pretty damning stuff. I emailed Potter in July, and while he was careful to avoid drawing conclusions about the document's meaning, he was certain of its authenticity. "I have no doubt that what we found is the real thing," he wrote. His phone rang off the hook after he reported his find. One of those calls, he assumed, would come from the CIA or some other investigative arm of the U.S. government.

    It's been nearly six months. That call never came. As of Thursday, no one from the U.S. government had contacted Potter about the document his editors are now holding.

    American soldiers have come across other interesting documents in Baghdad. A recent stash yielded new information about Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the plotters of the 1993 World Trade Center attack. For nearly a decade, Yasin has been on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list in connection with his role in that bombing. And for nearly as long, American officials have known that he was in Iraq.

    Documents uncovered recently tell us that Yasin was harbored by the former Iraqi regime. That bears repeating. The man who burned his leg mixing the chemicals for the 1993 World Trade Center truck bomb has been living in Iraq and received a monthly stipend from Saddam Hussein. Cheney referred to Yasin--though not by name--in his appearance on "Meet the Press" last month, and the vice president has mentioned him in several recent speeches, most recently in a feisty talk on October 10 at the Heritage Foundation. But the Bush administration has otherwise been reluctant to provide details of the links between Iraq and al Qaeda. That is not, officials from across the administration insist, because there are serious questions about the connections. Rather, the White House is nervous that publicly discussing the links could trigger another set of leaks, most of them presumed to come from the CIA, attempting to discredit the new information. Those are battles the White House doesn't want to fight.

    When the CIA leaks from classified documents, administration officials cannot effectively respond to misrepresentations or distortions because the information is classified. Consider this example, from a front-page story in the June 9, 2003, New York Times. The article, headlined "Captives Deny Qaeda Worked with Baghdad," has served for months as fodder for critics who accuse the administration of hyping the links. It relied heavily on unnamed "intelligence officials" who had seen a classified CIA report on the interrogation of a top al Qaeda operative named Abu Zubaydah.

    Can we really count on the CIA to vigorously search out evidence that they were dead wrong about Saddam and al Qaeda?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:44 PM


    US sniper 'linked to terror cult' (James Langton, 14 October 2003, Evening Standard)

    Evidence has emerged linking Washington sniper John Allen Muhammad with an Islamic terror group.

    Muhammad has been connected to Al Fuqra, a cult devoted to spiritual purification through violence.

    The group has been linked to British shoe bomber Richard Reid and the murderers of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan last year.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:08 PM


    Bush, Schwarzenegger exchange compliments (AP, October 16, 2003)

    Standing alongside Bush, Schwarzenegger said California is "facing right now some serious challenges. But after speaking with the president this morning at great length about the problems of California, I can tell you one thing: that there is no greater ally that this golden state has in Washington than our president, my dear friend, President George W. Bush."

    For his part, Bush said, "Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to be a fine and strong leader for California. I'm proud to call him friend."

    Waiting off stage before they spoke, Bush and Schwarzenegger were overheard joking about how neither knew how to pronounce the southern California city of Rancho Cucamonga. Laughing, they both tried to say the city's name. Bush kept up the lighthearted remarks on stage, saying that he and Schwarzenegger had a lot in common.

    "We both married well," Bush said. "Some accuse us of not being able to speak the language. We both have big biceps." As the audience laughed, Bush added, "Well, two out of three isn't bad."

    Talking to reporters later, Schwarzenegger said he had tried to use their meeting to "create a great relationship with the White House" rather than ask Bush for specific favors. "It was not the right time to do that," he said at a news conference.

    He also said they did not talk about politics or next year's campaign.

    You can just hear the teeth of Leftists grinding as they moan about these two dunderheads holding the two most important executive jobs in the world.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:28 PM


    Thomas Paine – A Conversation on Christianity and America’s Founding (Exclusive commentary by Steve Farrell, Oct 16, 2003, Washington Dispatch)

    Q. I see, you are in agreement with Washington “that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government,” that “religion and morality are indispensable supports” of “political prosperity.” Would you also agree with him “[that] the pure and benign light of Revelation … [is at] the Foundation of our Empire”?

    A. “[Indeed, but I shall take his point further. P]olitical as well as spiritual freedom is the gift of God through Christ.”

    Q. Mr. Paine. Your “Age of Reason” fans won’t like that quote. They’ll accuse me of producing it out of thin air?

    A. [Yeah, oh well. No comment.]

    Q. But wait a minute. I’m not through with this topic. If political freedom comes from Christ, as you say, what then, in your opinion, is the most important end of government?

    A. “[A]bove all things, the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience.”

    Q. Do you mean to say, protecting religious freedom is more important than, let’s say, protecting property?

    A. “[I do. T]here is a point to view this matter in of superior consequence to the defence of property; and that point is liberty in all its meanings. In the barbarous ages of the world, men in general had no liberty. The strong governed the weak at will; ‘till the coming of Christ there was no such thing as political freedom in any known part of the earth.”

    Q. You feel strongly about this, don’t you?

    A. “[Yes.] First. Because till spiritual freedom was made manifest, political liberty did not exist[, as I just stated]. Secondly. Because in proportion that spiritual freedom has been manifested, political liberty has increased. Thirdly, whenever the visible church has been oppressed, political freedom has suffered with it. … [Thus,] as the union between spiritual freedom and political liberty seems nearly inseparable, it is our duty to defend both. And defense in the first instance is best.”

    Q. Your points are well taken. Till the coming of Christ there was no such thing as political freedom. Your words need repeating today, in Congress, in the courts, in the classroom. Can we talk about miracles now?

    A. [Let’s.]

    Q. Mr. Paine, this commentator receives much ridicule for bringing to light God’s hand in establishing this nation, whether through His miraculous intervention in the War for Independence on the side of the Americans, or His inspiring the mind’s of the Founders in the establishment of our constitution. It has been said that you, and the other Founders, did not believe in miracles, and that Christian men ought to stop injecting their private agenda into their writing. Would you please comment on that.

    A. [Yes, oh well, there they go again. Who ever said that about American Founder Thomas Paine, is wrong. I do believe in miracles. I, in fact, wrote and testified of the occurrence of miracles in the Bible and in America during this period.]

    Q. You did? Tell me more.

    A. “[Yes, I did. But let me preface my remarks with a request that the reader remember that any comments I made during the Founding Era on miracles that appear to be against a belief in miracles, ought to be kept in their intended context, that is, I was concerned, as was General Washington, about Americans who refused to take up arms to defend family and country, under the delusion that God alone would fight our battles. I felt this a false manifestation of Christianity, and the sort of response one expects of cowards, not Christians. I wrote to the Quakers:] ‘Could the peaceable principle of the Quakers be universally established, arms and the art of war would be wholly extirpated. But we live not in a world of angels. The reign of Satan is not ended; neither are we to expect to be defended by miracles. The pillar of the cloud existed only in the wilderness. In the nonage of the Israelites. It protected them in their retreat from Pharoah, while they were destitute of the natural means of defense, for they brought no arms from Egypt; but it neither fought their battles nor shielded them from danger afterwards.’”

    “[It was to say, as I wrote later,] ‘throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but ‘show your faith by your works,’ that God may bless you.’ [You see, God brings about His miracles, by common and natural means, most often when humans meet Him half way.]”

    When you read the stuff the supposedly deistic Founders said, they make Jerry Falwell sound like an atheist.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:23 PM


    Annan warns Muslim leaders against western hostilities (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 10/17/03)

    [T]he Malaysian Prime Minister urged Muslim leaders to close ranks in the face of the US-led war on terror and what he said were threats from the state of Israel.

    Dr Mahathir identified Jews as an "enemy" of Islam and declared Muslims could only defeat them through the use of brains as well as brawn.

    The Malaysian leader was addressing the opening of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in the administrative capital Putrajaya, the largest gathering of Muslim leaders since September 11.

    In his speech, Dr Mahathir said it was time for Muslims to exploit what he termed the increasing arrogance of the Jewish people.

    He called on the Islamic world to produce arms and defend themselves.

    His comments are consistent with the general theme of the summit, that Muslim states believe the US-led "war on terrorism" is in fact a war on Islam.

    If the goal of Islam is to defeat the Jews then it is at war with the West.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM


    The rise and fall of Ansar al-Islam: Former members of Ansar al-Islam talk to the Monitor about the militant group's ties to Al Qaeda, the foreign fighters that joined its ranks, and its eventual destruction. (Scott Peterson, 10/16/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

    US officials were triumphant last spring, even as the broader Iraq invasion was still underway, after a three-day assault. Gen. Tommy Franks declared that a "massive terrorist facility in northern Iraq" had been "attacked and destroyed" by a joint US-Kurdish operation.

    But today US officials assert that Ansar not only survived - like Gharib, who barely escaped after a four-hour bout with a US sniper - but that it is regrouping. They say Ansar is reinfiltrating Iraq with Kurdish and Arab militants from Iran, and, along with Saddam loyalists, is behind an increasing number of anti-US attacks across Iraq.

    Lengthy interviews with several Ansar members now in custody, and with officials and intelligence sources of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in northern Iraq, however, yield a more ambiguous picture.

    These sources describe a group now so decimated and demoralized that even true believers admit it is unlikely to be reborn according to its old template. [...]

    Ansar was once part of a long-term Al Qaeda dream to spread Islamic rule from Afghanistan to Kurdistan and beyond. But that idea was embryonic at best, and when US forces attacked Afghanistan in October 2001, Al Qaeda support for Ansar dried up.

    And despite the later arrival of some Afghan veterans and Arab fighters - and a new influx of donor cash - Ansar for 1 1/2 years was isolated, manipulated by both Iraq and Iran, and locked in stalemate with far superior Kurdish forces. Its "poison factory" proved primitive; nothing but substances commonly used to kill rodents were found there. [...]

    The Iranians flooded the Ansar area with extremely cheap food supplies, then stopped them abruptly, to squeeze concessions out of Ansar.

    Baghdad played a similar role, by using smugglers and middlemen to provide dirt-cheap weapons to Ansar. "Then it stopped - boom! - and you had to beg for it, and make concessions," Gharib says. "I tell you, Ansar was the biggest buyer [from Baghdad]."

    We tend always to be surprised by how easy it is for us to destroy our enemies once we bother to make the effort -- the Kaiser, the fascists, the Viet Cong, the USSR, militia groups, Iraq, etc. -- but it is an entirely logical function of our superiority. The fact that beating them proves easy doesn't make doing so an unworthy task.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:58 AM


    Interview: Joseph Epstein author of Fabulous Small Jews (Doug Wagner, 10/15/03, January Magazine)

    In his essays, Epstein possesses a wealth of apt, obscure and effortless knowledge. In person, he is a man of anecdotes: conversation with him invariably anchored here and there by winsome, real life accounts. Indeed it seems nearly every story in this new collection has behind it an anecdote of equal charm.

    "You can do in stories things that are above those in essays," says Epstein. "In essays and piecework, you are trying to make a point, whereas in stories you are not quite sure what the point is. T.S. Eliot once said of Henry James, 'He had a mind so fine no idea could violate it,' which, I think, is the ultimate compliment for an author. Stories are above ideas."

    Ideas aside, Fabulous Small Jews is every bit as evocative as Epstein's bestselling nonfiction, if decidedly subtler in its approach. The world of the fictive may not be his customary stomping grounds, but Epstein apparently needs no map to navigate its passageways. In his own words, put forth in a past essay, "Life, like the show, must go on, even if one is forced to make half of it up."

    It seems somehow unjust that the best essayist of his time should even be competent, never mind gifted, at fiction too.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 AM


    A King's Appeal (Jim Hoagland, Oct. 16, 2003, Jewish World Review)

    "How can society achieve progress while women, who represent half the nation, see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence and marginalization, notwithstanding the dignity and justice granted them by our glorious religion?"

    The irrefutable logic about the high cost of institutionalized gender discrimination was voiced by Morocco's King Mohammed VI last Friday at the opening of Parliament in Rabat. He then outlined far-reaching changes in family and divorce laws for the kingdom that would effectively lessen the intrusive reach of religious authorities into gender issues. [...]

    [M]ohammed VI outlined highly specific remedies and committed both his religious and political authority to getting them enacted. And he repeatedly invoked the language of the Koran to denounce the unfairness of polygamy, marriage contracts, guardianships and divorce laws as they are practiced in his country and by implication elsewhere in the Muslim world.

    As befits a 40-year-old monarch whose followers call him "the Commander of the Faithful" and who claims descent from the prophet Muhammad, the king argued that solutions can and should be found in Islam. But his words also implicitly acknowledged that Islam has been deformed into an instrument of repression in much of the Arab world and elsewhere. [...]

    Mohammed VI provides a standard to which Arabs, Iranians, Pakistanis and others can and should be held. They are not being asked to live up to Western standards by improving the opportunities and lives of "their" women. This is a descendant of the prophet, not Gloria Steinem, who is telling them that they must change or fall ever deeper into self-destructive decline.

    If I recall correctly, it was Ataturk who said that for Islam to attempt to compete with the West without granting its women equality would be like trying to fight with one arm tied behind its back.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 AM


    Germans as Victims (Anne Applebaum, 10/16/03, Jewish World Review)

    [I]f German bestseller lists reveal a German reassessment of the United States, they have also in recent years revealed an even more vigorous German reassessment of Germany. Not one but two books have become popular through their descriptions of the Allied bombing of Dresden in 1945, which resulted in fires that caused tens of thousands of deaths. One of the authors used the word "crematoria" to describe the burning buildings, described the Allied bomber pilots as the equivalents of Nazi police units that murdered Jews and concluded by wondering whether Winston Churchill, who ordered the bombings, ought to have been condemned as a war criminal.

    These books have also been effective: According to another opinion poll, more than a third of the Germans now think of themselves as "victims" of the Second World War — just like the Jews. Nor has this new interpretation of history remained limited to books. Lately momentum has gathered behind a movement to build a new museum in Berlin dedicated to Germans expelled from their homes at the end of the war — just like the Holocaust museum. It's not wrong for Germans to remember their relatives who suffered, but the tone of the campaigners is disturbing, because they seem, at times, almost to forget why the war started in the first place. Their leader, for example, is the daughter of a Wehrmacht officer, and was born in occupied Poland. Tragically, she was expelled from her childhood home when German troops were defeated — the adverb "tragically" representing a certain point of view here, not an objective observation.

    That point of view, always popular on the far right of the German political spectrum, has spread rapidly leftward in recent years, attracting supporters among Social Democrats, bank presidents and others.

    So, there we were, minding our own business...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM


    Patriot Act?: Wesley Clark says he knew the Iraq War was wrong. So why didn't he say something -- before it was too late? (Rick Perlstein, 10/15/03, American Prospect)

    Earlier this month, Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark gave the keynote address at the second annual convention of Military Reporters and Editors (MRE), the professional organization for journalists who cover the military. In his speech, Clark threw in his lot with those who believe that President Bush misled the nation in order to lay the groundwork for the Iraq War. Clark insisted, in his most striking formulation, that the war was "fundamentally elective, fundamentally our choice," and a distraction from the work of fighting terrorism at home. [...]

    Here is my concern. Like so many Democrats eager to defeat President Bush
    next November, I dearly wish to embrace Wesley Clark for being what he says he is: a gutsy and intelligent foreign-policy truth teller. Is it too much to wish that he had bravely told the truth as he saw it on national TV during the run-up to the war instead of now in his campaign book? Or would that have just made him look like a paranoid crackpot, consigning him to the bin where the establishment stores the reputations of Noam Chomsky and (Wesley Clark supporter) Michael Moore?

    Let us, for a moment, instead grant him a generous benefit of the doubt.
    Maybe he was forging the wisest possible course in service of the longer-term goal of defeating the Bush doctrine at the polls in 2004. That is, maybe he was establishing himself, with admirable discipline, as an evenhanded, nonpolitical and honest broker on the situation in Iraq in order to spend his capital in a devastating presidential run against Bush later down the road. If that's the case, the question to Clark should be about what he did or didn't do behind the scenes, through unofficial channels, to put American policy on a sounder course during the time he was keeping his counsel on TV -- or whether he really did just stand by and keep hoping the problem would go away.

    Let us, kind-hearted souls, grant General Clark an even greater benefit of the doubt and take him at his own word. He is, or was until this month, a registered independent, and a self-admitted serial Republican voter, who has said that if only Karl Rove had returned his phone calls he'd be an avowed Republican (this is the Jim Jeffords defense for party-switching--"Karl was mean"). Considering that there's a Senate race in his home state of Arkansas next year, against a vulnerable Democrat, isn't it fair to assume that he was waiting for the call to run for that seat from the GOP? Were he going to do so, he'd obviously need to be singing from the same hymnal as the President and his party. Instead, having decided that he's a Democrat instead, he has to oppose the war. All of this may not speak well of his seriousness, but does suggest he's a good party soldier...whatever the party.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 AM


    Saudi Arabia's Big Leap (KENNETH M. POLLACK, 10/16/03, NY Times)

    Saudi Arabia's announcement on Monday that within a year it will hold elections for municipal councils could be the first tremor in a slow-moving Middle Eastern earthquake. [...]

    In fact, because Saudi Arabia is the most conservative of the Arab states, Riyadh's decision to start a process of democratization, no matter how gradual, is already beginning to force many Arabs to rethink where the tides of Middle Eastern history are headed. As long as the Saudis keep moving down this path, no matter how sluggishly, it will be hard for the other countries of the region not to follow. The other governments will have no answer when their people ask why, if the Saudis can adopt more pluralistic political institutions, can't they as well?

    What's more, such reforms are the only way to deal with the two major threats that the United States faces from the dysfunctional Saudi system. The first is that Saudi society has become an important contributor to violent terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden himself is Saudi, and he has found many of his recruits among his disaffected young countrymen. And, knowingly or not, many wealthy Saudis ó including, probably, members of the royal family ó have contributed to Islamic charities that were fronts for terrorist organizations.

    The second threat is that much of the anger and frustration that makes Saudi Arabia a fertile recruiting ground for Osama bin Laden have also made Saudi internal politics increasingly volatile, raising the specter of a violent upheaval. As long as Saudi oil production remains a linchpin of the global economy, we cannot afford an Islamic revolution there. Even if civil war or a fanatical new regime did not shut Saudi oil production altogether, either might result in a reversal of the high-production, low-price oil policy that the Saudi royals adhere to. This would set off recessions around the globe.

    Both of these threats spring, at least in part, from a common source: more than any other Arab state, Saudi Arabia is in desperate need of comprehensive political, economic, social, legal and educational reform.

    History ended last century; it's just taking Africa and the Middle East a bit longer to get the news. But once they start reforming they won't be able to contain it. In the meantime, we just have to protect ourselves while the non-liberal forces within the Islamic world are in their death throes.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 AM


    Time for Iraqis to run Iraq (Daniel Pipes, 10/16/03, Asia Times)

    What to do?

    It's simple, actually: Turn power over to the Iraqis. Let them form a government. Reduce the scope of presidential envoy L Paul Bremer's role. [...]

    So major a change in direction has unpleasant implications for Washington. It raises questions about American staying power; forfeits much of the credibility that came from the successful war against Saddam; risks throwing away a chance of victory; and permits Arab, European and Democratic critics to crow. Worse, it will be noted that sustained violence against US troops works, perhaps inviting further attacks on US forces elsewhere.

    These are valid reasons not to pull out - but they lose their pertinence if one expects, as I do, that the mission in Iraq will end in failure. I predict that unhappy outcome, not due to shortcomings on the American side, but by calculating the US motivation for being there versus the Iraqi motivation to remove them. The latter strikes me as more formidable. It reflects the intense hostility commonly felt by Muslims against those non-Muslims who would rule them. For examples, note the violence undertaken by (among others) Palestinians, Chechens, Kashmiris and Moros.

    From this pattern, I draw a rule of thumb: unless a non-Muslim ruler has compelling reasons to control a Muslim population, it will eventually be worn down by the violence directed against it and give up. Note that the US government has already given up twice in recent years, in Lebanon and Somalia.

    And no one in the West ever has a compelling enough reason to dominate another sovereign people.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 AM


    The American Prison Camp (NY Times, October 16, 2003)

    The International Committee of the Red Cross recently took the unusual step of publicly criticizing the United States over the confinement of the roughly 660 detainees at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba. After visiting the base, Red Cross officials said there was a "worrying deterioration" in the mental condition of the detainees, largely because they have no idea how long they will be held or what will happen to them.

    Other reports are equally dismaying: there have been 32 suicide attempts by 27 detainees. And while it is true that there have been recent, worrying reports about infiltration ó three staff members, a Muslim chaplain and two Arabic interpreters, have been charged with crimes ranging from disobeying orders to espionage ó this does not relieve the administration of the obligation to treat the detainees with justice.

    Why are the men still without trial, still without rights? The Bush administration has two justifications. One is, in essence, self-defense: in the war on terrorism, in which the security of the United States is in mortal danger, normal rules cannot apply. The other, more narrow, is about legality: the Taliban and Al Qaeda are not combatants in traditional or legal terms, and are therefore not eligible for the protections due to prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

    Both arguments miss the point. The men held at Guant·namo are prisoners of the United States. While they may not have the same rights as American citizens, they should be treated in the highest tradition of American justice. That means they must be given some forum in which to contest their imprisonment, and there must be reasonable rules and some individualized proof for the detentions to be upheld.

    Just like enemy captured in every other war they'll be freed when we've won and they have no right to individualized proof of guilt. Was the Times editorializing sixty years ago that each soldier of the Third Reich should have a trial or be sent back to Germany to rejoin the fight?

    The Disgrace That Is Guantanamo: While conditions for prisoners at Guantanamo deteriorate, the Bush administration plans our next war. (Elaine Cassel, AlterNet)

    [T]he Supreme Court has been asked to review a federal appeals court ruling that forecloses federal courts from hearing the pleas of the Guantanamo prisoners. The lower courts agreed that the federal courts had no jurisdiction because the prisoners are not on American soil. Howís that for a catch-22? We arrested them, brought them to a U.S. military base, classified them as "enemy combatants" so as to try to exempt them (and us) from international law, the laws of war, and U.S. law, and now we have declared them outside of the law. I guess, in a sick and twisted way, that does make some sense.

    For the hapless prisoners in the black hole of Guantanamo comes a voice from the past to file a friend of the court brief in their behalf. Fred Korematsu is an American citizen of Japanese descent who refused to enter a Japanese internment camp in California 60 some years ago and was prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned for challenging the internment order. The Supreme Court then said it was just fine that he was ordered to be locked up, and even finer that he was prosecuted for challenging the order.

    In his brief he begs the court to respect the fundamental principle that those deprived of liberty have the right to a fair hearing. I suspect the Supreme Court will follow its leader and ìrefuse to acceptî Mr. Korematsu's plea. After all, what do fairness, justice, and decency have to do with anything anymore?

    It seems germane that if Mr. Korematsu, who was indeed treated despicably by FDR and Earl Warren, had been a Japanese soldier captured at Guadalcanal, his case would not have been heard, does it not?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:09 AM


    The man behind the TV screen (Paul Kelly, 16oct03, The Australian)

    The contrast is striking. Across the desk George W. Bush is the same person - yet this is a different persona from that unconvincing television presence.

    Interviewed in the Roosevelt Room adjacent to the Oval Office, Bush sat to one side of a portrait of Teddy Roosevelt on horseback, former Republican, president and warrior.

    George W is tanned and fit. He wears a light blue-grey suit, light-blue shirt with red tie. He is businesslike and friendly, looks you in the eye and engages like all good US politicians do. But wait for it - he's funny, he tells jokes and his body language is relaxed and confident. A long way from the wooden wonder of the silver screen.

    He is a control freak, however. With a small group of journalists Bush takes command. He decides who asks the questions, when and in what order. There is a touch of executive management about this search for quality control.

    In the flesh his passion is stronger and more convincing. This is a man who knows who he loves, likes and hates. He returns, over and over, to the terrorists, the cold-blooded killers that will inevitably make or break his presidency. You feel in a physical way what you knew only in an intellectual way - that terror shapes his every waking moment, from the early morning security briefing until his early retirement, typically before 10pm.

    Ronald Reagan used to refer to things that happened during his presidency as occurring "on our watch"--the safety of the nation having been entrusted to him. Imagine that you had to hold yourself personally responsible, at whatever level, for what happened on 9-11--how much more would terror occupy your mind?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:52 AM

    THE FOURTH "R"--RISIBLE (via Mike Daley):

    New school will stress compassion: San Juan approves a charter campus that will teach kindness toward people and animals. (Bill Lindelof, October 15, 2003, Sacramento Bee)

    An innovative charter school that has been accused of promoting radical animal rights was approved Tuesday night by the San Juan Unified School District board.

    While the Humane Education Learning Charter School (HELC) has attracted a handful of critics, animal protection groups have lauded the charter for its approach in using animals and nature in lessons.

    One of the school's four guiding principles includes developing a school based on kindness, compassion respect and consideration "for all humans, all species and the environment."

    The school, approved by the board 4-0 with one abstention, would teach alternatives to violence and focus on teaching compassion toward all sentient beings.

    We're taking up a collection to buy Siegfried and Roy's tiger to send to this new school.

    October 15, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:29 PM


    Writer's note: Partial retraction on my above commentary about Ed Asner (Kevin McCullough, World Net Daily)

    In my WorldNetDaily column, I incorrectly quoted both myself and actor Edward Asner near the end of the column. The lack of accuracy occurred because I did not wait to review the audio of the media session in which Mr. Asner and I interacted. To date, I still have not personally reviewed the audio, but have made multiple good faith efforts to obtain it. I will not only review it upon receipt but also play the actual audio on my radio show so as to communicate the quote correctly in all formats.

    Upon reflection, I should have waited for the original audio so as to quote the parties involved as accurately as possible. Fairness and truth are what I am in constant search of and, therefore, when I am wrong I should be the first to admit such shortcomings. I do apologize to Mr. Asner for use of the inaccurate quotes regarding Joseph Stalin.

    What follows is what I have been told are the actual quotes on the audio recording:

    McCullough: "If you could portray an historical biography and you had an unlimited budget, unlimited support cast and everything you could ask for, who would it be?"

    Asner: "Well, you know something, they've played Hitler, nobody has ever really touched Stalin, it just occurred to me. It's not because I am a liberal or anything like that. Stalin is one big damn mystery, I wonder why nobody has tried it? Many people, you know, speak of the fact that he killed more people than Hitler – why does nobody touch him? It's strange. So, and he was about my size, my height – with a wig I probably could do it."

    We ran a blurb about the original version last week, but it seems Mr. McCullough must have written up what he heard in the context he heard it, rather than precisely. It's hard to imagine what Mr. Asner finds mysterious about Joe Stalin [see, for instance, Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives (Alan Bullock)], but we'll give him some benefit of the doubt that wanting to play a short Leftist mass-murderer isn't simply wish fulfillment, nor the desire to shriek out "Smash the forces of Reaction!". Our apologies if we misled anyone.

    Posted by David Cohen at 4:57 PM


    U.S. Citizens Ordered to Leave Gaza (AP, 10/15/03)

    U.S. citizens were ordered to leave the Gaza Strip following a deadly attack on a convoy of U.S. diplomats Wednesday, diplomatic sources said.

    Three Americans, apparently security guards for diplomats, were killed in the attack near the Palestinian town of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.

    Several hours after the bombing, U.S. investigators were attacked by Palestinian stone throwers and sped away as their cars were pelted by rocks.

    It has been easy to say -- and I have said -- that the US acted pusilanimously throughout the '90s when we did not respond forcefully to terrorist attacks against our people, our property and our interests. We did not respond forcefully to the first attack on the twin towers. We did not respond forcefully to the attack on the Khobar Towers. We did not respond forcefully to the attack on the Cole. The result of our failure to respond was not gratitude for our forbearance, but scorn at our weakness.

    Have we learned our lesson?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:47 PM


    $87 Billion Or Bust (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris, Clothilde Ewing and Sean Sharifi, 10/15/03, CBS News)

    A new split has emerged in the Democratic presidential field over the imminent congressional vote on President Bush's request for $87 billion for military costs and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    On Tuesday, Sen. John Edwards started things off by saying he’d decided to vote against the bill. "I believe we have a responsibility to support our troops in Iraq," Edwards said in a statement. "I believe we have a responsibility to help rebuild Iraq. But our troops will not be safer and this mission will never be successful unless the president dramatically changes course."

    Last week, Edwards hinted in a television spot running in Iowa and New Hampshire that he’d vote against the request. "I will not give this president a blank check. We should stop the inside deals and work with our allies in Iraq, so we can afford to make us stronger at home, with health care for every child and a real plan to create jobs," he said.

    Sen. John Kerry issued a release late Tuesday that said, "Unless this proposal is changed to better protect taxpayer dollars and shares the burden and risk of transforming Iraq with the United Nations and the rest of the international community, then I will oppose it." [...]

    Meanwhile, Rep. Dick Gephardt told the AP Wednesday that he plans to vote in-favor of Mr. Bush’s request. Voting for the bill, he said, sends "the right message" to U.S. troops. "I think the responsible course here is to back up the troops in the field," he told the AP.

    Sen. Joe Lieberman, a consistent proponent of the war, said it was an "infuriating vote," but planned to vote in-favor of it. "We have to give them every dollar in support and get them home in peace."

    So Edwards, Kerry, Dean, etc, are saying they will or would vote to make Iraq more chaotic for our troops?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:33 PM


    Budget Deficit Shrinks Due to Strengthening Economy (JOHN D. MCKINNON, October 15, 2003, The Wall Street Journal)

    The strengthening economy is helping to hold the federal budget deficit a bit narrower than the soaring level officials projected during the summer.

    When the Treasury Department tallies up final figures later this month, it is expected to show a federal budget deficit between $370 billion and $380 billion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. That is still a huge shortfall and far wider than the previous record deficit of $290 billion set in 1992. But it is substantially narrower than the $455 billion the White House predicted a few months ago.

    It is also the first bit of good news the Bush administration has had on the budget front in some time. Democrats dismissed the difference as a drop in the bucket, but some economists said that if the trend continues, it could point the way to more decent budget news in mid to late 2004, just as voters are beginning to focus on the election and President Bush's track record on the economy.

    CREEP should pump some ad dollars into the District of Columbia and see if they can run the table.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:11 PM


    Spence Publishing $5 Sale

    We want to reach the many people who would enjoy our books but who don't know about us, so we're cutting the price of some of our best-selling titles to $5. From our groundbreaking studies on C.S. Lewis, the Constitution, music, and film to our more polemical books on race, feminism, homosexuality, and the family, your friends will find something in this special offer that will interest them.

    Until 5:00 p.m. this Friday, October 17, approximately half our titles will be on sale for $5.

    We would particularly recommend Russell Kirk's Rights and Duties: Reflections on Our Conservative Constitution and A.J. Conyers' The Long Truce [see see review]

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM


    The End of the Republic? (Chalmers Johnson, History News Network)

    The collapse of the Roman republic in 27 BC has significance today for the United States, which took many of its key political principles from its ancient predecessor. Separation of powers, checks and balances, government in accordance with constitutional law, a toleration of slavery, fixed terms in office, all these ideas were influenced by Roman precedents. John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams often read the great Roman political philosopher Cicero and spoke of him as an inspiration to them. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, authors of the Federalist Papers, writing in favor of ratification of the Constitution signed their articles with the name Publius Valerius Publicola, the first consul of the Roman republic.

    The Roman republic, however, failed to adjust to the unintended consequences of its imperialism, leading to a drastic alteration in its form of government. The militarism that inescapably accompanied Rome's imperial projects slowly undermined its constitution as well as the very considerable political and human rights its citizens enjoyed. The American republic, of course, has not yet collapsed; it is just under considerable strain as the imperial presidency -- and its supporting military legions -- undermine Congress and the courts. However, the Roman outcome -- turning over power to an autocracy backed by military force and welcomed by ordinary citizens because it seemed to bring stability -- suggests what might happen in the years after Bush and his neoconservatives are thrown out of office.

    Obviously, there is nothing deterministic about this progression, and many prominent Romans, notably Brutus and Cicero, paid with their lives trying to head it off. But there is something utterly logical about it. Republican checks and balances are simply incompatible with the maintenance of a large empire and a huge standing army. Democratic nations sometimes acquire empires, which they are reluctant to give up because they are a source of wealth and national pride, but as a result their domestic liberties are thereby put at risk. [...]

    On January 13, 27 BC, Octavian appeared in the Senate, which had legitimized its own demise by ceding most of its powers to him and which now bestowed on him the new title of Augustus, first Roman emperor. The majority of the Senators were his solid supporters, having been handpicked by him. In 23 BC, Augustus was granted further authority by being designated a tribune for life, which gave him ultimate veto power over anything the Senate might do. His power rested ultimately on his total control of the armed forces.

    Although his rise to power was always tainted by constitutional illegitimacy -- not unlike that of our own Boy Emperor from Crawford, Texas -- Augustus proceeded to emasculate the Roman system and its representative institutions. He never abolished the old republican offices but merely united them under one person -- himself. Imperial appointment became a badge of prestige and social standing rather than of authority. The Senate was turned into a club of old aristocratic families, and its approval of the acts of the emperor was purely ceremonial. The Roman legions continued to march under the banner SPQR -- senatus populus que Romanus, "the Senate and the Roman People" -- but the authority of Augustus was absolute.

    The most serious problem was that the army had grown too large and was close to unmanageable. It constituted a state within a state, not unlike the Pentagon in the United States today. [...]

    After Augustus, not much recommends the Roman Empire as an example of enlightened government despite the enthusiasm for it of such neoconservative promoters of the George W. Bush administration as the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer, the Wall Street Journal's Max Boot, and the Weekly Standard's William Kristol. My reasons for going over this ancient history are not to suggest that our own Boy Emperor is a second Octavian but rather what might happen after he is gone. The history of the Roman republic from the time of Julius Caesar on suggests that it was imperialism and militarism -- poorly understood by all conservative political leaders at the time -- that brought it down. Militarism and the professionalization of a large standing army create invincible new sources of power within a polity. The government must mobilize the masses in order to exploit them as cannon fodder and this leads to the rise of populist generals who understand the grievances of their troops and veterans. [...]

    Given the course of the postwar situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, it may not be too hard to defeat George Bush in the election of 2004. But whoever replaces him will have to deal with the Pentagon, the military-industrial complex, our empire of bases, and a fifty-year-old tradition of not telling the public what our military establishment costs and the devastation it can inflict. History teaches us that the capacity for things to get worse is limitless. Roman history suggests that the short, happy life of the American republic is in serious trouble -- and that conversion to a military empire is, to say the least, not the best answer.

    Even for the Left this is lunatic, as the "militarized" America he's fretting about spends a historically paltry, though quite sufficient, 4% or so of its GDP on the military, and this at a time of global warfare, with troops in the field from Central Europe to the Philippines to Colombia. As for the unfettered power of the American military--if the generals ran the nation we'd not have fought the first Iraq war, never mind the second, so it's hard to even figure out what he's talking about.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM


    Ummah stands divided (Phar Kim Beng, 10/15/03, Asia Times)

    At the ministerial preparatory meeting held this week in Putrayjaya, Kuala Lumpur, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) tried to appear upbeat despite the many problems confronting the Islamic world.

    It sought to show unity by calling for the eviction of United States forces from Iraq. However, Turkey's decision to provide troops to Iraq, which is represented in the conference by the US-sanctioned interim Iraqi Governing Council, triggered divisions within the organization. [...]

    Although the OIC serves to represent the ummah (the Islamic community), James Piscatori, a professor in international relations at Oxford University, has long argued that the Islamic world rallies more to causes that resonate with national interests than pan-Islamic ones. Events dating back to 1969, the year when OIC was first conceived, has shown his insights to be prescient.

    In his book Islam and the Nation-State, he showed that the foreign policy of some of the most Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, were each driven by their parochial national interest rather than Islamic ones.

    Thus, while the OIC's aspirational goals include promoting the collective welfare of the Islamic world, caught as it is by the hegemony of the United States, the OIC's decisions cannot be aversed to member states' national prerogative too. In fact, the latter always dominate. Hence, the track record of the OIC has always been filled with inconsistency.

    When the modern State comes into conflict with the Church, the State wins. That's why, as vital as it is to separate Church and State, it is equally important to limit the power of the State and maintain the health of the Church, so that there is some countervailing authority within the nation that at least has a prayer of restraining the exercise of State power. Easier said than done.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 AM


    Saudis' Progress (CS Monitor, 10/15/03)

    Saudi Arabia's announcement that it will hold its first-ever elections - for municipal councils - is a welcome step along the difficult road the kingdom must follow.

    The Saudi royal family has reached a decision point. It can begin desperately needed political, economic, and social reforms and try to gradually bring the deeply conservative country into the modern world. Or it can resist and watch the country slide backwards into greater poverty, unemployment, and benighted fundamentalism, risking the Islamist revolution Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist organization aims to provoke. [...]

    The elections - to take place in about a year - are the latest in a series of reform moves. The government has transferred girls' education to the Ministry of Education. Non-Muslims can now own property in the kingdom. Crown Prince Abdullah, the de facto ruler, is trying to introduce due process into the judicial system, reduce the government's role in the economy, and curb royal privileges.

    For many Saudis these moves are earthshaking.

    In a few decades we'll look back and say that 9-11 did for the cause of Islamicism what Pearl Harbor did for Japanese Imperialism.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM


    A new face rises in bayou politics: Jindal could be Louisiana's first non-white governor since Reconstruction. (Kris Axtman, 10/15/03, CS Monitor)

    He's been called a wunderkind, a whiz kid, and a political neophyte. And if he wins the runoff election on Nov. 15, 32-year-old Bobby Jindal will become the country's first Indian-American governor.

    But when he topped a field of 18 candidates in the Louisiana race earlier this month, his father had one question: "Why didn't you win the election outright?" [...]

    Sitting on donated furniture at his campaign headquarters last week, he says in bursts of rapid-fire response that his conversion from Hinduism to Catholicism when he was 18 is the basis for most of his social perspective. He refers to his church's teachings and the pope's writings freely.

    "I think my faith is an important part of how I approach life - how I raise my daughter, how I approach my job," he says. "I don't think you can separate your faith from who you are."

    Jindal's parents emigrated from India to Baton Rouge in 1971 so his mother could study nuclear physics at LSU. Their first child, Piyush Jindal, was born six months later. At age 4, Piyush informed his family he wanted to be known as "Bobby."

    He says it was his father, a civil engineer, who encouraged him and his younger brother to take advantage of the opportunities they had and, in turn, give back to the community.

    "He was always pushing us to be better, always pushing us to work harder. He was the kind of father who, when we brought home a 90 percent, he wanted to know about the other 10 percent," says Jindal.

    Hard to see any ceiling to his career.

    Liberal bigotry, Louisiana politics, and the New York Slimes (Michelle Malkin, 10/15/03, Jewish World Review)

    On Oct. 12, Times editorial writer Adam Cohen penned a hit piece masquerading as a profile of Bobby Jindal, the remarkable Republican gubernatorial candidate in Louisiana. Cohen began by noting that while Jindal's primary night victory celebration last weekend was attended by a diverse mix of whites and Indian-Americans, "there was scarcely a black reveler" there.

    How many "black revelers" were in attendance at Democratic rival Kathleen Blanco's election night gathering, Cohen did not see fit to print.

    Cohen sneered at Jindal's "almost freakishly impressive resume." At 32, the GOP Rhodes Scholar has already turned around Louisiana's bankrupt Medicaid program as Secretary of the state's Department of Health and Hospitals; raised graduation rates, retention, and private donations as president of the University of Louisiana system; and served as a senior health policy adviser in the Bush Administration.

    If a young, minority Democrat candidate possessed such a striking record, Cohen almost assuredly would have described it as "extraordinary" or "prodigious." But since the resume belongs to a conservative who happens to be pro-life, pro-school choice, pro-gun rights, and pro-free market, "freakish" is what came to Cohen's narrow mind.

    None of Jindal's policy accomplishments matter more to Cohen, however, than this: He is "the dark-skinned son of immigrants from India."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 AM


    'Gay fatigue' claims another in its grip (STEVE BLOW, October 11, 2003, The Dallas Morning News)

    I think I have "gay fatigue."

    Don't worry, it's not catching. But I suspect that many of you have contracted it, too.

    Let's talk.

    Remember a few years ago when there was lots of talk about "compassion fatigue"? The news confronted us with so many problems, so the theory went, that our ability to feel compassion simply wore out.

    If nothing else, it made a nice excuse for indifference.

    But to some degree, it also made sense. And that's why I think I'm now suffering from gay fatigue. I'm just feeling kind of overwhelmed. [...]

    Let's face it. Society is in the midst of enormous change on this issue. It's no wonder nerves are frazzled. The deal we once made with gays was this: You stay invisible, let us pretend you don't exist, and everything will be OK.

    It's not surprising that once gays did kick open the closet door, they were more than a little miffed – and clamoring for attention. "We're here, we're queer, get used to it," as the chant went.

    Maybe now it's time to simply reply, "You're gay, OK, we get it."

    Sadly, Mr. Blow doesn't get it at all. This isn't about being allowed to engage in homosexuality in private; it's about forcing people to at least pretend in public that such transgressive behavior is perfectly moral and healthy. It's an attack by the minority on the majority.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 AM


    The Frame Around Arnold (George Lakoff, October 13, 2003, AlterNet)

    By presenting a laundry list of issues, Davis and other democrats fail to present a moral vision -- a coherent identity with a powerful cultural stereotype -- that defines the very identity of the voters they are trying to reach. A list of issues is not a moral vision. Indeed, many Democrats were livid that Arnold did not run on the issues. He didn't need to. His very being activated the strict father model -- the heart of the moral vision of conservative Republicans and the most common response to fear and uncertainty.

    In short, Arnold's victory is right in line with other conservative Republican victories. Davis' defeat is right in line with other Democratic defeats. Unless the Democrats realize this, they will not learn the lesson of this election.

    And indeed, conservatives are busy trying to keep Democrats from learning this lesson. There is an important frame we haven't mentioned yet: The Right-Wing Power Grab frame. Davis used this at the beginning of his campaign, and Clinton and the Democratic presidential candidates who supported Davis echoed the frame. This frame does accurately characterize many of the facts as we have discussed them. But Davis was unable to communicate this frame effectively and it fell from public sight.

    He's right about the Democrats having no moral vision and being the party of the laundy list--that's what happens when all you have left is a coalition of different groups whose only common interest is that they want something from government. On the other point though, when 55-60% of voters want to do something, it makes little sense to attack them as extremists involved in a "Right-Wing Power Grab". They may be Right-wing extremists but few will perceive themselves to be, so you're just alienating them further.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:32 AM


    Dean blasts Kerry on Vietnam:
    Senator retorts that combat gives him executive gravitas (Sam Dealey, 10/15/03, The Hill)

    Howard Dean’s presidential campaign sharply criticized Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) yesterday for seemingly flip-flopping on the importance of serving in Vietnam in presidential politics.

    Kerry seeks to distinguish himself from his White House rivals -- both Democratic and Republican -- by drawing attention to his war record. But this emphasis stands in marked contrast to his past utterances about service in Vietnam as a qualification for the highest office.

    “Before he became a political candidate for president, John Kerry clearly believed that military service should not be used for political gain,” said Jay Carson, a spokesman for Dean, the former governor of Vermont who is running well ahead of Kerry in recent New Hampshire polls.

    “And he was right about that,” Carson added. “Unfortunately, now John Kerry and his campaign have a strategy to use that record to further his political career.”

    Of course his military service matters--it redounds to his honor. It was his subsequent support for North Vietnam that was shameful, as was his opposition to the Contras. Question his judgment when it comes to opposing totalitarianism, not the value of his service.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 AM


    Vouchers and votes (Thomas Sowell, October 15, 2003, Townhall.com)

    If you stop and think about it, if the Democrats allow the Republicans to pass a bill that will make vouchers available all across America, that could create a huge political problem for the Democrats at the next election and for years thereafter.

    First of all, vouchers would alienate one of the Democrats' biggest financial contributors, the teachers' unions. These unions also supply much manpower and phone banks to get out the votes on election nights. Losing their support would be a huge loss.

    Then there is the support of blacks, who are the group that votes most dependably and most overwhelmingly for Democrats. But what if a Republican-sponsored bill creates vouchers that allow black children to escape the terrible schools that so many attend?

    Since voucher schools will not have to accept hoodlums, they will tend to be safer places, even if the education they offer is no better. But studies have already indicated that there are better educational results as well.

    Not all black parents will send their children to private schools with their vouchers and not all those that do will vote Republican at the next election. But once it becomes apparent that vouchers offer some escape from the worst schools, word is going to spread. Moreover, Republicans can point out that Democrats fought against vouchers, tooth and nail, for years.

    This does not mean that most blacks would vote Republican. Chances are the Democrats would continue to win a majority of the black votes for some time to come. But, in a country as evenly divided politically as America is today, Democrats could be ruined if their current 90 percent of the black vote erodes to 75 percent. Democrats are already in trouble among white voters, so they need every black vote they can get to offset that.

    The problem that conservatives have to face up to is that moderate Republicans are nearly as opposed to vouchers, because their white constituents don't want black kids moving into their own kids' schools. There's plenty of blame to go around on vouchers.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:32 AM

    DOES ECONOMICS WORK? (via Political Theory): :

    The Real Risks of Deficits (Robert J. Shiller, Project Syndicate)

    Deficits raise not only immediate political issues, but also issues of distributive justice between generations, and of intergenerational risk sharing. No generation should be forced to accept unnecessary economic risks imposed by another generation. Whether or not deficits treat future generations properly depends on how a government's systems for taxation and expenditure are designed.

    Those who advocate running deficits often portray them as necessary to fix an economy in which confidence is draining away. Following Keynes, they argue that running deficits will restore confidence before a recession or depression can take hold. It is like putting a patient on Prozac before he becomes suicidal.

    But such arguments, although valid at times, have their limits. Japan's public deficits spawned a national debt of 140% of annual GDP, without producing any economic resurgence.

    Japan: The rapid run on dollar assets (Hussain Khan, 10/10/03, Asia Times)
    With the Nikkei stock average currently flirting with 11,000, up about 45 percent from its post-bubble 13-year low of 7,607.88 in April, it is starting to appear that a run on US dollar assets could well be causing the rise in Japanese stock markets.

    The yen has surged through the psychological barrier of 110:US$1, creating a sense of crisis as the run on dollar assets gains momentum. Japanese authorities are cautious about intervening heavily before Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reaches an understanding on the currency in his meeting with US President George W Bush on October 17-18 in Tokyo.

    According to one estimate, by Kyoto University Economics Professor Takamitsu Sawa, foreign investors have markedly improved the fundamentals of the Japanese economy by turning into huge net buyers of more than US$1.7 trillion in Japanese equities and assets and, by running away from their dollar positions, are thus generating a self-feeding cycle of further selling dollar assets and pushing up the Japanese markets even more.

    The flight of global investors from the dollar has serious implications, not only for the health of markets such as Japan's, but because of the peril to the US economy and thus the global economy as well, for which the United States has acted as economic engine and importer of last the resort.

    So, investors are fleeing the U.S., with a national debt that is 65% of GDP, for Japan, with its debt of 140%, but we're supposed to worry about debt?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:19 AM


    Why We Went to War: The case for the war in Iraq, with
    testimony from Bill Clinton. (Robert Kagan & William Kristol, 10/20/2003, Weekly Standard)

    Here is what was known by 1998 based on Iraq's own admissions:

    * That in the years immediately prior to the first Gulf War, Iraq produced at least 3.9 tons of VX, a deadly nerve gas, and acquired 805 tons of precursor ingredients for the production of more VX.

    * That Iraq had produced or imported some 4,000 tons of ingredients to produce other types of poison gas.

    * That Iraq had produced 8,500 liters of anthrax.

    * That Iraq had produced 500 bombs fitted with parachutes for the purpose of delivering poison gas or germ payloads.

    * That Iraq had produced 550 artillery shells filled with mustard gas.

    * That Iraq had produced or imported 107,500 casings for chemical weapons.

    * That Iraq had produced at least 157 aerial bombs filled with germ agents.

    * That Iraq had produced 25 missile warheads containing germ agents (anthrax, aflatoxin, and botulinum).

    Again, this list of weapons of mass destruction is not what the Iraqi government was suspected of producing. (That would be a longer list, including an Iraqi nuclear program that the German intelligence service had concluded in 2001 might produce a bomb within three years.) It was what the Iraqis admitted producing. And it is this list of weapons--not any CIA analysis under either the Clinton or Bush administrations--that has been at the heart of the Iraq crisis.

    For in all the years after those admissions, the Iraqi government never explained, or even tried to explain, to anyone's satisfaction, including most recently, that of Hans Blix, what had become of the huge quantities of deadly weapons it had produced. The Iraqi government repeatedly insisted that most of the weapons had been "secretly" destroyed. When asked to produce credible evidence of the destruction--the location of destruction sites, fragments of destroyed weapons, some documentation of the destruction, anything at all--the Iraqis refused.

    We always thought that the war could stand justified or fall on just one UN Resolution and Saddam's refusal to comply with same:
    UNSCR 688 (April 5, 1991) "condemns" Saddam Hussein's repression of the Iraqi civilian population -- "the consequences of which threaten international peace and security." UNSCR 688 also requires Saddam Hussein to end his repression of the Iraqi people and to allow immediate access to international humanitarian organizations to help those in need of assistance.

    In effect, the negotiated end of the first Iraq War required him to leave power. He didn't. We made him.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:04 AM


    Dispatch from Iraq: John Hanley - formerly Editor of heritage.org - is serving with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad on a leave of absence from The Heritage Foundation. His first assignment is in the CPA’s Finance Ministry preparing for the upcoming International Donors Conference in Madrid, Spain, to be held October 23 – 24. (John Hanley, October 14, 2003, Townhall.com)

    The day after arriving, we started work together in the Ministry of Finance offices. One thing we found out quickly was that the government here in Iraq keeps different hours than government in Washington (or anywhere else for that matter). The office is full by 8 AM at the latest, and the last person doesn’t leave until close to midnight. The days go quickly though, as Finance handles everything from implementing a new currency system to constructing the country’s 2004 budget.

    While supporting these activities, my main task is to help prepare for the International Donor Conference, which will be held in Madrid, Spain on October 23-24. In coordination with a myriad of ministries and agencies we are involved in identifying and analyzing needed reconstruction projects and making them available to potential donor countries. It is interesting and challenging work, and motivation is never a problem since building international support and commitments is so important to long-term success here.

    If I had to end with one impression from a whirlwind week, it would be the transformation of the Republican Palace from a source of Iraq’s decay and oppression to a nerve center for its rebuilding. And the change is physical. At one glance I’ll take in a gaudy shrine to the personal cult of Saddam Hussein, and the next I’ll see CPA employees putting up plywood cubicles so they can concentrate on the task at hand.

    In the end, it comes down to this: if one of the Democratic candidates had been president, the Saddams would still be torturing Iraqis in this palace.

    October 14, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 PM


    After ending presidential bid, Graham enjoys family and friends (JOEL ESKOVITZ, October 13, 2003, Naples News)

    Maybe someone out there knows what Sen. Bob Graham is going to do now that his presidential campaign has ended and his Senate seat is up for grabs in 2004.

    But the odds are that the only people who have a strong sense of Graham's next step are his wife, Adele, and his four daughters. After all, this is the same man who announced his decision on the presidency last week on CNN's "Larry King Live" to the shock of many members of his senior campaign staff.

    Graham spokesman Paul Anderson still expects his decision on the Senate race will come in "days not weeks," leading many to expect the full-scale start of the election year as early as this week. Whatever Graham decides will not only resonate around the Sunshine State but throughout the entire Democratic Party and its chances of taking back power in the Senate.

    Graham has spent the past week decompressing with friends and family, and rumors of a pending announcement have been commonplace in Florida and the nation's capital. Yet campaign staffs, party members and experts are still in the dark as to what he will say.

    "It's kind of hard to figure," said Jennifer Duffy, who tracks the Senate race for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "Everybody in Washington thinks he's not going to run and everybody in Florida thinks he is."

    Sure, Democratic leaders have been calling the state's senior senator to let him know they support whatever decision he makes. But they've also taken a moment to just mention how the party really could use his help.

    With Republicans holding just 51 of the 100 seats in the Senate and several Democratic incumbents retiring in the South, a candidate with Graham's name recognition and resume - 17 years as a U.S. senator and eight as Florida's governor - is seen as a key in any map that shows the Democrats winning back the Senate.

    They'll be closer to 40 than 50 after next November and it's very hard to believe that Mr. Graham wants to stick around for that.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 PM


    Morocco Widens Women's Marriage Rights (Reuters, October 11, 2003)

    Moroccan women are to win greater rights concerning marriage and divorce under reforms presented Friday by King Mohammed VI.

    The minimum age for women to marry is to be raised from 15 to 18, the same as that for men, and women are to get property rights in the marriage. Women will be able to divorce their husbands, which is not allowed now, and any divorce will require a judge's approval. Traditionally, it was enough for the husband to disavow the wife.

    Muslim men will still be able to marry up to four wives, but for the first time polygamous marriages will also need a judge's authorization, in addition to the consent of the man's current wives.

    In presenting the new laws, which are likely to be approved by Parliament, the King quoted the Koran: "Make husband and wife jointly responsible for the family, in keeping with the words of my ancestor the Prophet, `Only an honorable man will honor women and only an ignoble man will humble them.' "

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:01 PM


    Supreme Court Takes on Pledge of Allegiance in Schools (Fox News, October 14, 2003)

    The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide whether the Pledge of Allegiance recited by generations of American schoolchildren is an unconstitutional blending of church and state.

    The case sets up an emotional showdown over God in the public schools and in public life. It will settle whether the phrase "one nation under God" will remain a part of the patriotic oath as it is recited in most classrooms.

    The court will hear the case sometime next year.

    Heard that Scalia recused himself (?), which would be a shame, because his opinion would just be scathing.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 PM


    'Never lie to me’: Bush to Daschle (Albert Eisele, The Hill)

    A new memoir by Minority Leader Tom Daschle says Senate Democrats were actively courting two Republicans -- John McCain of Arizona and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island -- as most likely to switch parties and give them control of the evenly divided Senate when Jim Jeffords of Vermont informed them he was ready to do so.

    The heretofore untold sequence of events that led to Jeffords’ dramatic decision to bolt the Republican Party in May 2001 and become an Independent is disclosed for the first time in Daschle’s book, which covers the tumultuous two-year period following President Bush’s disputed election in November, 2000. [...]

    Daschle also recounts his meeting with President-elect Bush in his Capitol office in January 2001.

    “Until then, I never noticed his Texas swagger,” Daschle writes. “Perhaps it was the fact that in order to enter my suite in the Capitol, you actually need to pass through a set of swinging saloon-style doors. The combination of Bush’s confident strut, his self-assured manner, and those saloon doors swinging shut behind him all combined to create an image of a new sheriff in town. Which, in essence, he was.”

    Nevertheless, Daschle confesses that he was troubled when Bush, after expressing the hope that they could work together as closely as Bush had with Bob Bullock, his Democratic lieutenant governor in Texas, said, “I hope you’ll never lie to me.”

    “That statement caught me up short. What an unusual concern to express in such a meeting.… I’ve often wondered since then what George Bush might have been told about me that would make him begin this conversation, this relationship, from an implied position of mistrust.”

    Gee, what cause would President Bush have had not to trust him?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 PM


    Let The Bad Times Roll: Paul Westerberg talks about drinking, depressed fans, and finding a reason to live (Jim Walsh, 10/15/03, City Pages)

    CP: Have you heard the Lucinda Williams song [Real Live Bleeding Fingers," which Williams penned about Westerberg]?

    Westerberg: Uh-huh. I've only heard it once. I saw her perform it on television once. All I'll say is that she's a true songwriter, and I am too, and you have to take these things with a grain of salt. The hack songwriter will write the absolute truth every single word, whether it makes a great song or not. And the good songwriter takes something as a springboard and then goes from there. There's no saying that verse two isn't about something else. You know, f[lip], I think "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was written about me. I put myself in all the songs I love. The singer's singing to me, y'know? I'm flattered, but it doesn't affect me, really.

    People don't understand. People chase, to this day, "Who is the Mr. Tambourine Man?" Songs aren't really written that way. You take something that inspires you, and it might just be a roaring pack of lies.

    You mean, children by the million don't really sing for Alex Chilton ?

    -I Buried Paul: More than a decade into Paul Westerberg's solo career, it's time to replace The Replacements (Dylan Hicks, 10/15/03, City Pages)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 PM


    Schiavo's Date with Death: A Florida woman needs non-dehydration intervention. (Wesley J. Smith, September 5, 2003, National Review)

    Thirty-nine-year-old Terri Schiavo may not live to see her 40th birthday. She's not terminally ill. She's not engaged in inherently dangerous activities. She's not on Death Row. [...]

    After Terri collapsed from unknown causes in 1990, she became profoundly cognitively disabled.

    Michael filed a medical-malpractice lawsuit, during which he said he would care for her for the rest of her life, which, assuming proper care, would be a normal lifespan. He also presented at trial a medical-rehabilitation expert who had developed a plan to provide support for Terri to maximize her ability to respond to her environment.

    A jury awarded $1.3 million in the malpractice case, of which $750,000 was put in trust to pay for the kind of care that Michael promised to provide Terri.

    Michael never kept his promise.

    Within months of the money being deposited in the bank, Michael ordered a do-not-resuscitate order placed on Terri's chart. He has also repeatedly denied her other forms of medical care, such as treatment for infections.

    Once the money was in the bank, according to affidavits filed by nurses under penalty of perjury, Michael ordered that Terri be denied stimulation.

    In the mid 1990s, according to another nurse's affidavit filed under penalty of perjury, Michael was overheard saying things such as, "When is she going to die," "Has she died yet?" and "When is that bitch going to die?" (This affidavit was only recently filed. Michael has not yet filed a response.)

    Michael dated after the malpractice trial; he is now engaged to be married. He lives with his fiancé, with whom he has one child and another on the way. He reportedly plans to marry his fiancé as soon as his wife's death is induced.

    Money that was intended to pay for Terri's treatment and rehabilitation has instead gone to lawyers Michael retained to obtain a court order to bring about her death.

    If Terri dies, Michael will inherit what is left of the $750,000 (if any remains) and all other property they owned.

    Mr. Smith's book, Forced Exit [see review] , is filled with cases like this, Indeed, all euthanasia cases are like this: the people making decisions -- spouse, family, friends, hospital staff, etc. -- can not dissociate themselves from their own interest and can not, therefore, act in your best interest. And, if you're conscious to make the decision, you're in no state to do so. And, if you made it years or months earlier, you had no idea how you'd feel when the possibility became reality (Anyone think Christopher Reeve would rather be dead?).


        -REVIEW: of Forced Exit: The Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder By Wesley J. Smith (Linda A. Prussen-Razzano, Enter Stage Right)

        -ESSAY: Eugenics and the Left: Eugenics is born of progressive leftism. Christians should note that G. K. Chesterton was an early resister of the eugenics movement. (John Ray, Orthodoxy Today)

        -ARTICLE: Relatives at risk of suicide (Sarah Boseley, September 9, 2003, The Guardian)

        -ESSAY: What if There Is Something Going On in There? (CARL ZIMMER, 9/28/03, NY Times Magazine)

    Daniel Rios is 24 years old, with wavy black hair, a thick mustache and a glassy stare that seems to look both at you and through you. One day almost four years ago, while he was taking a shower, a blood vessel ruptured in his brain, and he collapsed on the bathroom floor. After emergency surgery, he lay in a coma for three weeks. When he finally opened his eyes, he could not speak or move his body; his head simply lolled. In the months that followed, the doctors monitoring him at the Center for Head Injuries at the J.F.K. Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison, N.J., saw few signs that he had any meaningful mental life. Sometimes he looked as if he were crying. Other times his eyes would follow a mirror passed before his face. On his best days he was able to close his eyes on command. But those days were rare. For the most part he lay unresponsive, adrift in a neurological twilight.

    One morning just over a year after his accident, Rios was taken to the Sloan Kettering Institute on Manhattan's East Side. There, in a dim room, a group of researchers placed a mask over his eyes, fixed headphones over his ears and guided his head into the bore of an M.R.I. machine. A 40-second loop of a recording made by Rios's sister Maria played through the headphones: she told him that she was there with him, that she loved him. As the sound entered his ears, the M.R.I. machine scanned his brain, mapping changes in activity. Several hours afterward, two researchers, Nicholas D. Schiff and Joy Hirsch, took a look at the images from the scan. They hadn't been sure what to expect -- Rios was among the first people in his condition to have his brain activity measured in this way -- but they certainly weren't expecting what they saw. ''We just stared at these images,'' recalls Schiff, an expert in consciousness disorders at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. ''There didn't seem to be anything missing.''

    As the tape of his sister's voice played, several distinct clusters of neurons in Rios's brain had fired in a manner virtually identical to that of a healthy subject. Some clusters that became active were those known to help process spoken language, others to recall memories. Was Rios recognizing his sister's voice, remembering her? ''You couldn't tell the difference between these parts of his brain and the brain of one of my graduate students,'' says Hirsch, an expert in brain imaging at Columbia University. Even the visual centers of Rios's brain had come alive, despite the fact that his eyes were covered. It was as if his sister's words awakened his mind's eye.

    To the medical world, Rios and the hundreds of thousands of other Americans who suffer from impaired consciousness present a mystery. Traditionally, there have essentially been only two ways to classify them: as comatose (eyes closed and responses limited to basic reflexes) or vegetative (eyes opening and closing in a cycle of sleeping and waking but without any sign of awareness). In either case, it has been assumed that they have no high-level thought. But Schiff, Hirsch and a small group of like-minded researchers are studying people like Rios and finding that the truth is far more complicated. Their evidence suggests that even after an injury that leaves a brain badly damaged, even after months or years with little sign of consciousness, people may still be capable of complex mental activity.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 PM


    Recall spurs new era of negotiation (Aurelio Rojas, October 14, 2003, Sacramento Bee)

    Assemblyman Abel Maldonado, co-chairman of Schwarzenegger's campaign and one of only three Republican Latinos in the Legislature, said he believes the new governor can address concerns about the driver's license law.

    "My advice to him is that he look at the legislation in its entire form and see if we can get a piece of legislation that helps people who are in the process of becoming legal residents, a system where there's some kind of verification of who the person is," Maldonado said. [...]

    Maldonado predicts that the movie-star-turned-politician will "build bridges" to the Latino electorate.

    "Our goal is to have 60 or 70 percent of the Latino vote in the year 2006," Maldonado said. "He's going to make sure they have good jobs. He's going to make sure they have a good education. He's going to make sure they are safe in their home. He's going to make sure they have the same opportunity everyone else has."

    Romero said Davis "clearly pandered" to Latino voters by signing the driver's license bill after opposing earlier versions of the legislation.

    "That turned off white voters, black voters, women voters, and it turned off a lot of Latino voters, too," Romero said.

    She said the measure also perpetuated the "fallacy" that Latino voters are most interested in securing benefits for "undocumented workers."

    "Latinos care more about good schools, Latinos care about jobs, Latinos care about issues that other voters care about," Romero said.

    Cruz Bustamante: The Man Who Believed Karl Rove (Steve Sailer, 10/13/03, V-Dare)
    When Bustamante became the only Democrat in the race to replace Gray Davis, his strategy seemed obvious. He just had to run as a pragmatic Democratic centrist and win the numerous Californians who just don't much like Republicans. If at least one other Republican stayed in the race with Schwarzenegger (as McClintock ultimately did), then Bustamante would have only needed to win, say, the same proportion of voters as there are registered Democrats (43.7 percent) or as would vote against the recall (44.7 percent).

    There was nothing outlandish about Bustamante positioning himself like this. He really was, by California standards, a centrist -- a career politician from the unhip Central Valley who had devoted himself to servicing big agribusiness. In 1993, for example, he voted to prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining drivers' licenses.

    Yet, rather than run for Governor of all California, Bustamante campaigned as if the race was for El Gobernador de Mexifornia. Instead of competing with Schwarzenegger for the middle-of-the-road vote, he devoted much of his energy to battling the hard left Green Party candidate Peter Camejo (2.8 percent) for the stick-it-to-the-gringo vote.

    Every time I turned on the TV, Bustamante was paying tribute to "undocumented workers" and their moral right to drivers' licenses, free college tuition, and welfare.

    He turned the recall into a referendum on the wonderfulness of illegal immigration.

    It lost.

    Why did Bustamante decide to run as if he was the spiritual descendent of Pancho Villa raiding Columbus, New Mexico?

    Bustamante's big mistake was that he actually believed all the hype he'd been reading about the Hispanic vote, what I call "Karl Rove's smoke screen."

    The GOP need not pander but it ought not antagonize--just treat them like their votes matter to you.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:29 PM


    Germans nostalgic for communist life (Daily Times, 10/15/2003)

    A third of people in eastern Germany regret that so much of daily life under their former communist regime has all but disappeared since the country was reunified, according to a survey. The poll found that a wave of nostalgia for the old days, highlighted by a series of recent films and television shows, is based on some reality.

    The summer’s cinema hit Goodbye, Lenin, which poignantly recalls life in the German Democratic Republic - has been followed up by a string of TV programmes celebrating the fashions, food and everyday hassles that characterised life in the eastern part of the country, which was a communist satellite state of the Soviet Union between 1949 and 1989.

    The latest, fronted by GDR golden girl Katarina Witt - a former Olympic ice skating champion, was watched on Wednesday night by some 6.5 million people.

    Conservatives--lovers of freedom--make a terrible mistake when they underestimate the genuine attraction that security holds for people. Given their druthers, many, maybe even most, people would gladly trade their freedom.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:10 PM


    GOP Makes Gains Among Latinos: Votes for Republicans in recall show Democrats' challenge in halting defections, Times poll shows. (Rich Connell and Daniel Hernandez, October 11, 2003, LA Times)

    The contours of the Latino vote add fresh evidence that California's largest and fastest-growing ethnic group may not be as predictable — or loyal — as Democrats once hoped, especially as increasing numbers of Latinos climb the economic ladder.

    Statewide, low-income Latinos opposed the recall and supported Bustamante by the widest margins: In each case more than three out of five voters in households earning less than $40,000, according to the poll.

    By comparison, half of Latino voters in homes earning $60,000 to $100,000 voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), slightly more than voted for Bustamante (46%). Those voters were also about evenly split on recalling Davis.

    In Latino households with earnings above $100,000, 57% supported the recall and 60% voted for Schwarzenegger or McClintock. The pattern followed that of voters overall.

    In all, 45% of Latinos backed the recall and 41% voted for Schwarzenegger or McClintock.

    There were also geographic differences among Latinos that paralleled overall voting trends. In Los Angeles County, which rejected the recall, 56% of Latinos opposed Davis' ouster. But in the fast-growing, more suburbanized counties stretching from San Bernardino to San Diego, Latinos supported the recall by a slim margin.

    To head off future defections, Democrats must work at giving middle-class Latinos more reason to stick with them, said Art Torres, the state party chairman.

    "When they assimilate, they embrace all the other American values because they earn more money and want to keep more money," Torres said.

    This is devastating news for the Democrats as Latinos would appear to be eschewing the Jewish/Black model of remaining beholden to the Democrats in perpetuity and following instead the model of other immigrant groups, like the Italians and Irish, where successive generations trend Republican as their affluence increases. One is tempted to conclude that the social conservatizing force of their Catholicism is playing a key role too.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:54 PM


    ISLAM VS. THE WORLD? (AMIR TAHERI, October 14, 2003, NY Post)

    WHAT is the place of Islam in a world order shaped by Western powers and based on Western values? [...]

    On the eve of the summit, three answers are in circulation.

    Embrace Reform: The first comes from those leaders who believe that the Muslim countries should undertake the economic, political and social reforms needed to make them part of the modern world order. They should honor the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant conventions. They should also accept the global market as a reality and join the World Trade Organization. [...]

    Reject "Western" Values: The second answer comes from countries that regard the modern world order as "corrupt, unjust and anti-Islamic." They believe that Islam should stand against that order and mobilize the poorer nations in a new rejection front within the old nonaligned framework. In this context, they single out the United States as the No. 1 enemy, and urge an alliance with its overt or covert opponents. [...]

    Yes - But: The third answer could be described as "Yes - but." It asserts that the modern world order is an inescapable reality and that trying to fight, let alone reverse it, would be suicidal for the Muslims. The best course, therefore, is for Muslim countries to negotiate their place within the existing world order in a way that they can preserve their identity and protect their interests. A majority of Muslim countries, including almost all Arab states, find themselves in this third group.

    IS it not possible to imagine a fourth answer? It is. The modern world order is based on the common heritage of mankind, including the teachings of ancient Greece and the three monotheistic religions of the Middle East. It is the expression of common values in the shaping of which Islam played a crucial role, at least in part of its history.

    The problem with Mr. Taheri's fourth option is that there is nothing intrinsic to Islam that unites it to the political theories of the other monotheisms and ancient Greece and Rome, rather there was a period when Islamic conquests brought them in contact with the writings of those other cultures and, to Islam's credit then, they translated and published those works. There's no evidence though that they grasped the deeper meanings of say an Aristotle, writing on the mixed constitutional regime.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:15 PM


    The ruins of another US try at democracy: Haiti (Nick Caistor, 10/14/03, CS Monitor)

    The United States is committed to building democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq. But there is a country much closer to home that is in desperate need of help - a country where the US and the international community have left a job half done and have abandoned millions of innocent citizens to poverty and despair.

    That country is Haiti. Back in 1994, Bill Clinton and the Organization of American States (OAS) called the bluff of a nasty military dictatorship there. After a brief showdown, they succeeded in restoring to power the elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a Catholic priest whose populist Creole rhetoric captured the hearts of the poor masses. The United Nations came in to help create an independent judiciary and a new police force, and to lay the basis for continued democratic rule.

    Ever since, Mr. Aristide - who, along the way, resigned his priesthood and lost much of his popularity - or his associates have held power. But Haiti is poorer than ever, and the political situation has shown little or no improvement. During the months they were in the country, American troops helped build a few schools and a few roads, but then pulled out, anxious not to be seen as an occupying power.

    The UN stayed much longer. Its compound at the international airport in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, received plane loads of aid, as well as small numbers of troops and larger numbers of international experts in judicial reform, police training, and human rights. But because of allegations that Aristide's election to his second presidency in late 2000 was rigged, the UN pulled out of Haiti completely the day before he took office in February 2001. Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticized the continuing instability in the country, and warned that Haiti could become an international "pariah" if the situation continued.

    And pariah it has become.

    Did Bill Clinton do anything positive during his eight years in office, besides sign stuff (like the Trade Agreements) the GOP passed?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:05 PM


    US eyes second-tier threats in terror war: It signals hardening stance by focusing on Syria, Libya, and Cuba. (Howard LaFranchi, 10/14/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

    The "axis of evil" is back - and in expanded form. Anticipated congressional action against Syria this week is just one sign that the US plans to keep up the pressure on countries it places on the wrong side in the war on terror.

    The triad of WMD-seeking states that President Bush first targeted in his January 2002 State of the Union address no longer includes Iraq. But the club otherwise made up of North Korea and Iran has grown to include Syria, Libya, and Cuba, in the administration's eyes, as it seeks to keep the nation and the world focused on the dual threats of weapons proliferation and state-sponsored terrorism.

    Some experts see the new club members as minor threats compared to the original three - one former US official calls them "the ladies' auxiliary of the axis of evil." But the Bush administration is showing lack of patience with any state tolerance of terrorism, while making clear its determination to see development of and trading in weapons of mass destruction stopped.

    As opposed to being patient about states supporting terrorism?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:56 PM


    Voters like recall idea, but few want one: 72% of those outside California say they would not vote to recall their governor (Patrick McMahon, 10/14/03, USA TODAY)

    Americans like the idea of being able to recall state officials, a new poll shows. But just days after Californians ousted their governor, 72% of those polled outside the Golden State aren't ready to recall their own chief executive.

    "Whatever level of disaffection is out there, people have seen the circus in California, and they do not want it repeated in their state,'' says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. ''This includes states with unpopular governors.''

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:48 PM


    Pawlenty proposes 'no school, no driving' plan (Norman Draper, October 14, 2003, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

    High school dropouts and no-shows would have their driver's licenses suspended under a proposal announced today by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

    Even students old enough to drop out of school legally would lose their licenses under the proposal. So would students who are absent more than 20 percent of the time for a quarter, semester or school year.

    "Schools are being held accountable, but what do they do when students don't want to step up to the plate?" said Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke, who joined Pawlenty at the press conference. "I know it's a rite of passage. Getting that driver's license is an important part of being a teenager."

    She said teachers have expressed concerns to her about poor student attendance and weak parental involvement in their children's education. This proposal would shift some of the accountability for doing well in school squarely to parents and students.

    Pawlenty made the announcement at a press conference at the North Metro driver's exam station in Arden Hills.

    He said 18 states have tried similar initiatives.

    "The early returns from many of these states is that this has had a significant and positive effect," he said.

    Most of these kids really shouldn't be in school, they should be out getting the menial jobs they'll spend their lives doing and which they'll need a car to get to, but it's an excellent idea in other areas. For instance, drug and alcohol offenses should be punished by loss of driving priveleges, Shame in their peer group will do more to rein kids in than any other weapon in society's arsenal.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:56 AM

    WAS JOE WILSON A TRIPLE AGENT? (via ef brown)

    Foggy Bottom's Friends: Why is the State Department so cozy with the Saudis? (JOEL MOWBRAY, October 13, 2003, Wall Street Journal)

    Most of the Saudi money, though, goes indirectly to former State officials, most commonly by means of think tanks. This approach pays dividends in many ways: Foggy Bottom retirees get to have their cake--without the public realizing they're eating it--and the Saudis get to have "indirect" lobbyists, who promote the Saudi agenda under the cover of the think-tank label. Three organizations in particular are the primary beneficiaries of Saudi petrodollars, and all are populated with former State officials: the Meridian International Center, the Middle East Policy Council and the Middle East Institute.

    After a long and "distinguished" career in the Foreign Service, Walter Cutler took the reins at the Meridian International Center. He had served as ambassador to Zaire and Tunisia, and twice in Saudi Arabia, and he stayed close to the Saudis after leaving State. Mr. Cutler told the Washington Post that the Saudis had been "very supportive of the center." Meridian is not alone. The Middle East Policy Council, which also receives significant Saudi funding, counts among its ranks former ambassadors--career Foreign Service members all--Charles Freeman, Frank Carlucci, and Hermann Eilts.

    The Middle East Institute, officially on the Saudi payroll, receives some $200,000 of its annual $1.5 million budget from the Saudi government, and an unknown amount from Saudi individuals--often a meaningless distinction since most of the "individuals" with money to donate are members of the royal family, which constitutes the government. MEI's chairman is Wyche Fowler, who was ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1996-2001, and its president is Ned Walker, who has served as the deputy chief of Mission in Riyadh and ambassador to Egypt.

    Also at MEI: David Mack, former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs; Richard Parker, former ambassador to Algeria, Lebanon, and Morocco; William Eagleton, former ambassador to Syria; Joseph C. Wilson, career foreign-service office and former deputy chief of mission in Baghdad;

    We've all been assuming that Joe Wilson served only two masters -- the American people, putatively, and the CIA, in reality -- but it now looks like he also may serve the House of Sa'ud.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:48 AM

    DOES ANYBODY EDIT THE LA TIMES? (via Glenn Dryfoos):

    The Story Behind the Story: How The Times decided to publish the accounts of 16 women who said they had been sexually mistreated and humiliated by Arnold Schwarzenegger. (John S. Carroll, October 12, 2003, Los Angeles Times)

    The volcanic passions of the recall are largely spent, though we'll no doubt be feeling their effects for many years. Today, on this Sunday of relative calm, I'd like to tell you how the Los Angeles Times decided to publish the stories of 16 women who said they had been sexually mistreated and humiliated by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    I'll also tell you why we published the first of those articles a mere five days before voters went to the polls, a decision that has prompted an outpouring of campaign denunciations, talk-show rants and blistering e-mails.

    Critics have accused the newspaper of malice toward Republicans and of collaboration with Gray Davis and the Democrats. It has been suggested that we cynically concealed the completed story for weeks before detonating it as a last-minute bomb. Some used the term "October surprise."

    I'll begin this accounting with a bit of background: One of our goals is to do more investigative reporting. At the risk of offending still more readers, I'll say that if you're put off by investigative reporting, this probably won't be the right newspaper for you in the years to come.

    Investigative skills were needed when Schwarzenegger announced for governor on Aug. 6. For years, he'd had a reputation in Hollywood as a man who treated women crassly. The gossip about him reached a peak after Premiere magazine published an article in March 2001 titled "Arnold the Barbarian."

    Because Schwarzenegger had a chance of becoming our next governor, we decided on the day he entered the race to see whether this reputation was warranted.

    So one of the leading figures in the most important industry in Los Angeles was outed as a serial sexual harasser thirty months ago, but the hometown paper only got around to the story when it became obvious he'd be the Republican governor of CA--this is supposed to be their defense of their editorial judgment? Suppose the same stories were circulating about Ken Lay, a leading figure in another important business to CA--would they wait until he announced for office to look into them?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 AM


    Don't Look Down (PAUL KRUGMAN, October 14, 2003, NY Times)

    There is now a huge structural gap -- that is, a gap that won't go away even if the economy recovers -- between U.S. spending and revenue. For the time being, borrowing can fill that gap. But eventually there must be either a large tax increase or major cuts in popular programs. If our political system can't bring itself to choose one alternative or the other ó and so far the commander in chief refuses even to admit that we have a problem -- we will eventually face a nasty financial crisis.

    The crisis won't come immediately. For a few years, America will still be able to borrow freely, simply because lenders assume that things will somehow work out.

    But at a certain point we'll have a Wile E. Coyote moment. For those not familiar with the Road Runner cartoons, Mr. Coyote had a habit of running off cliffs and taking several steps on thin air before noticing that there was nothing underneath his feet. Only then would he plunge.

    [RECYCLING ALERT] This reminds us [again] of a quote from Macaulay's History of England:
    At every stage of the growth of the debt the nation has set up the same cry of anguish and despair....[After the Napoleonic Wars] the funded debt of
    England...was in truth a fabulous debt; and we can hardly wonder that the cry of despair should have been louder than ever. Yet like Addison's valetudinarian, who continued to whimper that he was dying of consumption till he became so fat that he was shamed into silence, [England] went on complaining that she was sunk in poverty till her wealth showed itself by tokens which made her complaints ridiculous....The beggared, the bankrupt society not only proved able to meet all its obligations, but while meeting these obligations, grew richer and richer so fast that the growth could almost be discerned by the eye.

    Sure it would be nice to have a government so small we could pay for it again, but that's not going to happen anytime soon, is it? And the complaint, heard from Republicans until Ronald Reagan's deficits and corresponding economic boom proved it to be ridiculous, that running a deficit has any appreciable effect on the health of a society, is by now so outmoded as to seem like hypochondriacal raving, as it does here from Mr. K[rugman]. It should suffice to point out that here, in the midst of what may come to be called the Fourth World War, the total government debt is $6.[8] trillion, with a GDP of [about $11] trillion--let's call it about 65% of GDP. By comparison, the debt rose above GDP during the Second World War (and the debt Mr. Macauly was reffering to was three times GDP), yet Republicans were denied control of Congress for sixty years when they called for balancing the budget. Democrats are more than welcome to this perennial loser of an issue.

    Posted by David Cohen at 9:18 AM


    Bin Laden Son Plays Key Role in Al Qaeda (Douglas Farah and Dana Priest, Washington Post, 10/14/03)

    Saad bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden's oldest sons, has emerged in recent months as part of the upper echelon of the al Qaeda network, a small group of leaders that is managing the terrorist organization from Iran, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.

    Saad bin Laden and other senior al Qaeda operatives were in contact with an al Qaeda cell in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in the days immediately prior to the May 12 suicide bombing there that left 35 people dead, including eight Americans, European and U.S. intelligence sources say. The sources would not divulge the nature or contents of the communications, but the contacts have led them to conclude that the Riyadh attacks were planned in Iran and ordered from there.
    Radical Islamic government. Check. Rogue nuclear program. Check. Oil. Check. Violation of international accords. Check. Ties to Al Qaeda. Check. Destabilizing influence in region. Check. Threat to US allies. Check. History of attacks against Americans and US interests. Check. Membership in axis of evil. Check.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM


    Arab regimes reaching 'critical mass' (Matthew Riemer, 10/14/03, Asia Times)

    [The] rift between religious versus secular authority and emphasis still continues today in the Muslim world, not only in the two branches of Islam themselves, but more prominently, if not ironically, in the mainstream of popular Muslim political discourse. What role will be played by the religious leadership, which constitutes the political leadership in many instances, as the Arab world is forced to modernize, or more accurately, to integrate itself within the Western-guided, globalized climate in the Middle East? In much of the Muslim world, this is one of the questions of greatest significance as the first few years of the new century have established an explosive atmosphere of radical change in the region. [...]

    The confluence of this force of discontent in the Muslim world fueled by those who transcend the profile of pigeon-holed extremists and the continued exposure to Western-style government and the boons of capitalism threatens to extinguish the old rule in much of the Middle East and beyond, especially in some of the more famous and entrenched instances, such as the House of
    Saud on the Arabian Peninsula. The addition of continuing US pressure for Arab regimes to reform only adds a sense of urgency to what many now feel is an inevitable process.

    It's kind of like a 12 Step program. The first step for Islam is to recognize that the Church can not run the State and the Church/State can't run the economy. That's not an easy step. But, Islam does have one great advantage over the West, if it chooses to exploit it: they can preserve the moral teachings of Islam so that they inform Church, society, politics, anbd economics. The US has largely done this with Judeo-Christianity, while Europe has largely abandoned its traditions--the differences are instructive.

    uslim Nobel Prize sends a powerful message (Ehsan Ahrari, 10/14/03, Asia Times)

    In a general sense, the blame for the absence of democracy in Muslim countries should be borne not by Islam, but by the authoritarian regimes and their sycophant Sunni religious scholars, and even the former colonial occupiers. The Shia religious establishment has proven itself to be much more sophisticated than its Sunni counterpart in this regard. The doctrine
    of quietism (ie, quiet protest regarding unjust political rule) of the Shia played an important role in this regard. Even though the late Ayatollah Khomeini rejected that doctrine by advocating the overthrow of a tyrant and establishment of a Vilayat-e-Faqih (rule of the clergy), there still exists powerful support within the Shia religious establishments of Iran and Iraq for quietism, which has also remained a basis for the separation of religion and politics - an important precondition for the evolution of democracy. The Sunni religious establishment, on the contrary, has a record of being easily coopted by the powers-that-be of each era, thereby legitimizing that power. [...]

    Fast forwarding to the present era, the emergence of Shirin Ebadi as a Nobel laureate might turn out to be just one more development in the direction of the much-desired renaissance, if not a social revolution, that in the foreseeable future would sweep the extant autocracies in the world of Islam into the dustbin of history. Her native Iran may still turn out to be a country ripe for another revolutionary change. Hopefully, this time the triumphant system will be true Islamic democracy.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 AM


    Three Days of the Hammer (NY Times, 10/14/03)

    After a five-month struggle that had resistant Democratic lawmakers fleeing the state, Mr. DeLay achieved a masterpiece of partisan gerrymandering: a map drawn up to net him as many as seven new Republican seats in Congress next year at the expense of incumbent Democrats. To have his way, Mr. DeLay, aptly nicknamed The Hammer in the Capitol, pioneered a new sort of out-of-season redistricting, which voters must hope does not prove contagious in statehouses across the land.

    Mr. DeLay had his loyalists scrap the current court-ordered, two-year-old map, based on the 2000 census, and hurry an egregiously pro-Republican map into place without waiting for the next census. And the congressman personally walked the Statehouse to nail down the final deal. Texas wasn't just gerrymandered; it was Hammermandered.

    The only thing they leave out, and it would seem significant, is that the districting plan that's being replaced was based on the 1990, not the 2000, census.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:04 AM


    House and Senate Weigh Co-Payment for Care at Home (ROBERT PEAR, October 14, 2003, NY Times)

    House and Senate negotiators working on Medicare legislation say they are seriously considering imposing a co-payment on home health care, one of the few Medicare benefits for which patients do not have to pay such charges.

    Congress eliminated the co-payment in 1972 in an effort to encourage the use of home care as an alternative to nursing homes and hospitals, which are generally more expensive.

    Just four days remain before a Friday deadline suggested by Republican leaders of Congress for completing work on the legislation, which would revamp Medicare and add prescription drug benefits, at an estimated cost of $400 billion over 10 years.

    Talk about counterproductive: instead the government should stop subsidizing any nursing home care at all. Old folks should stay in their families' homes.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 AM


    Poll: U.S. discontent increasing (Susan Page, 10/14/2003 , USA TODAY)

    Solid majorities of Americans support changes in the nation's political system, want the power to recall elected officials and are angry about the way some things are going in this country. [...]

    But that frustration isn't focused on the current President Bush or other elected officials, at least not yet. Bush scored a healthy job-approval rating of 56%, up from its low point of 50% last month.

    This should give the President much needed encouragement to avoid Ronald Reagan's mistake in 1984 and run on some big ideas. Among those should be Social Security privatization and a complete overhaul of the tax system -- transition to a value-added tax -- both presented as ways to transfer power from bureaucrats to the people.

    Posted by David Cohen at 7:52 AM



    A 15 year veteran of the Maui News, Harry Eagar follows the full range of business activity on Maui, with features on diverse industries like agriculture, high tech and tourism. He highlights issues impacting small businesses to inform readers on their contribution to a thriving economy. His daily “Money Matters” and the weekly “Tides of Commerce” columns highlight interesting local small businesses, individual business achievements and business related activity. Nominated by: Steve Williams, First Hawaiian Bank.
    Harry is the Maui SBA Small Business Journalist of the Year. And we thought living on Maui was reward enough.

    October 13, 2003

    Posted by David Cohen at 8:07 PM


    Bushism of the Day (Jacob Weisberg, Slate, 10/13/03)

    "[W]hether they be Christian, Jew, or Muslim, or Hindu, people have heard the universal call to love a neighbor just like they'd like to be called themselves."—Washington, D.C., Oct. 8, 2003
    Not only is "Bushism of the Day" easily worth a couple of percentage points in the President's column come election day, but Eugene Volokh does a great job of skewering Slate's misplaced condescension. This Bushism, however, is worth special notice. Slate is so eager to make fun that they miss what's really meaningful in this quote.

    For the last fifty years, American presidents have referred to our "Judeo-Christian" heritage. Recently, Muslims have been lobbying for including Islam in the litany, though this doesn't make much sense. I'm hard pressed to name a facet of American life or government traceable to Islam. None the less, after 9/11 the President has, from time to time, complied. But now, Bush has elevated Hinduism -- probably for the first time -- to the list. Given the relatively small Hindu population in the US and the fact that Hinduism's impact on American life is even smaller than Islam's (or Budhism, for that matter), it's hard to believe that this is driven by domestic politics, assuming that the President isn't subtly dipping into the Louisiana governor's race. This has to be a reflection of India's new importance both in the war on terror and as a counterbalance to Islam on the world stage. At the very least, it suggests that the President has been thinking about the subcontinent quite a bit lately.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 PM


    A Muslim Patriot's Call (Oubai Mohammad Shahbandar, October 13, 2003, Arizona Republic)

    Where is the outrage in the American Muslim community?

    Two years after 9/11, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American Muslim Council (AMC), the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and similar groups are still respectfully regarded as the voices of American Muslims, despite the fact that members of these organizations have been apologists for extremism and even linked to terrorist groups. Almost no one - Muslim or non-Muslim - dares criticize these groups for their positions or their associations.

    What's more, these groups shamelessly attack, demean and attempt to intimidate Muslims who are loyal to this great nation. They continue to attempt to persuade American Muslims to view themselves not as patriots but as victims.

    Muslim community newspapers are silent about these issues. They write nothing about the MSA-directed groups that stage anti-American rallies, attack people who speak out about the pernicious activities of the Saudis, or simply challenge the talking points of the establishment Muslim groups on anything taking place in the Arab and Islamic worlds.

    In particular, proud Muslims who are also proud Americans need to tell the truth about Wahhabism, the intolerant and militant brand of Islam being exported from Saudi Arabia and which is defended in the United States by CAIR, AMC and MSA.

    I know about these issues firsthand. As a Muslim student at Arizona State University who abhors Wahhabism, I've been the victim of MSA's hate campaigns.

    Nothing would better serve the cause of peace than for Muslims to take back their religion.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:32 PM


    On Columbus Day, Celebrate Western Civilization, And Not The Cruel Hoax of Multiculturalism (Michael Berliner, October 8, 2003, Capitalism)

    Prior to 1492, what is now the United States was sparsely inhabited, unused, and undeveloped. The inhabitants were primarily hunter-gatherers, wandering across the land, living from hand-to-mouth and from day-to-day. There was virtually no change, no growth for housands of years. With rare exception, life was nasty, brutish, and short: there was no wheel, no written language, no division of labor, little agriculture and scant permanent settlement; but there were endless, bloody wars. Whatever the problems it brought, the vilified Western culture also brought enormous, undreamed-of benefits, without which most of today's Indians would be infinitely poorer or not even alive.

    Columbus should be honored, for in so doing, we honor Western civilization. But the critics do not want to bestow such honor, because their real goal is to denigrate the values of Western civilization and to glorify the primitivism, mysticism, and collectivism embodied in the tribal cultures of American Indians. They decry the glorification of the West as "cultural imperialism" and "Eurocentrism." We should, they claim, replace our reverence for Western civilization with multi-culturalism, which regards all cultures (including vicious tyrannies) as morally equal. In fact, they aren't. Some cultures are better than others: a free society is better than slavery; reason is better than brute force as a way to deal with other men; productivity is better than stagnation. In fact, Western civilization stands for man at his best. It stands for the values that make human life possible: reason, science, self-reliance, individualism, ambition, productive achievement. The values of Western civilization are values for all men; they cut across gender, ethnicity, and geography. We should honor Western civilization not for the ethnocentric reason that some of us happen to have European ancestors but because it is the objectively superior culture.

    Freshman year of college I got stuck in an American Indian Life Histories seminar. It was me, three hippie chicks, a hockey player and a couple Native Americans, with an archaeology professor who worked on the Nazca Plains or some such. On the umpteenth consecutive day that the rest of the class was sitting around bitching and moaning about the beautiful cultures we'd destroyed (even the hockey player had worked on a reservation), I felt compelled to ask : "Do you people recognize that you're complaining about the loss of cultures so backwards they hadn't even figured out the wheel yet?" They couldn't have looked more astonished if Coyote God had walked in the room.

    Posted by David Cohen at 3:52 PM



    Set aside what it says about Hollywood that today even Disney thinks what the public needs is ever-more-graphic depictions of killing the innocent as cool amusement. Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice. But history is hardly the only concern. Films made in Hollywood are now shown all over the world, to audiences that may not understand the dialogue or even look at the subtitles, but can't possibly miss the message--now Disney's message--that hearing the screams of the innocent is a really fun way to express yourself.
    Other than his bizarre vendetta against SUVs, I have always enjoyed Gregg Easterbrook's reporting. He takes seriously many issues that very few reporters take seriously and, even when I disagree with him, I've found his reporting to be excellent. His coverage of the Bush environmental record has been particularly good. As a result, I'm trying hard to find an interpretation of this paragraph that I don't find offensive. So far, I can't really get past this interpretation: given that so many people think of Jews as money-grubbing parasites who would gladly undermine western civilization from within, it's too bad that the Jews Eisner and Weinstein are money-grubbing parasites who, while their country is at war, are undermining western civilization and inciting the enemy in order to make a few bucks.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:47 PM


    The European dilemma (Uwe Siemon-Netto, 10/9/2003, UPI)

    Syrian-born Bassam Tibi, who teaches political science in Goettingen, Germany, never ceases to remind his audiences around the world that Islam is a religion rich in facets but Islamism is a political ideology.

    This ideology, claims Hildegard Becker, is subverting the German equivalent of France's Muslim Council. A specialist on Islam, Becker warns of the movement's two-faced nature: "Vis-a-vis Germans, and in the German language, (the Muslim organizations keep insisting that they are abiding) by the Basic Law (constitution) and desire... the 'dialogue' (with the rest of society). But speaking to Turks in their language, demagogic slogans against German democracy, pluralism and the allegedly morally rotten German society prevail."

    As in other parts of Europe, a mushy liberalism, particularly in the judiciary and the churches, stands in the way of a democratic Islam taking root in Germany. As Ursula Spuler-Stegemann, an Islamic studies professor at the university of Marburg notes, "Our clergy have a goofy tendency to schmooze with Islamic umbrella organizations rather than talk to grassroots Muslims here."

    "In truth," she goes on, "these Muslim umbrella organizations are pushing purely national and Islamist ideologies, which in their countries of origin are justly suppressed."

    When mushy liberalism meets hard Islamicism, who would you bet on?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:40 PM


    Dean's 'Urban Legend' (WILLIAM SAFIRE, 10/13/03, NY Times)

    The persistence of a quotation he insists is an "urban legend" is evidently infuriating Howard Dean. [...]

    Before joining Dean in castigating McCain for putting words in his mouth, I went to Google and keyed in "ends justify the means" and "Dean." To my astonishment, amid the 368 hits was this Associated Press dispatch by Holly Ramer from Manchester, N.H., dated July 22, 2003:

    "Questioned about the deaths of Saddam's sons, Odai and Qusai, in Iraq, Dean dismissed suggestions that it was a victory for the Bush administration. `It's a victory for the Iraqi people . . . but it doesn't have any effect on whether we should or shouldn't have had a war,' Dean said. `I think in general the ends do not justify the means.' " [...]

    By repeatedly denying the words ever came out of his mouth -- thereby imputing inaccuracy to the A.P. reporter and blatant dishonesty to McCain -- he compounds the original blunder that all too tellingly revealed his mindset.

    We actually have a simpler question: how can the killing of Iraq's next ruler be a victory for its people but have no bearing on whether the war was justified?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:56 PM


    -ESSAY: Bring Back Hate: It’s a lost virtue in lost times. (Mark Gauvreau Judge, 9/10/2003, NY Press)

    All these years later, I still remember the woman’s face. It was the early 1990s and I was working for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, a liberal activist group in Washington, DC. My branch dealt with juvenile justice issues. One day we had a meeting with the head of a DC youth services advocacy group and a member of the DC government. The woman from the youth advocacy group was incensed that, due to some kind of bureaucratic logjam, teenage girls in the district had to wait several days to get abortions. The woman practically climbed out of her chair with venom. "These girls need to get these abortions!" she cried.

    I was a young, dumb liberal at the time, but I felt jolted. For days, then weeks, then months, now years, I never forgot her rage–a rage that more young girls were not killing their babies. I wrestled with the power of the emotion I felt. Today, older and wiser, I have come to embrace what I felt, and feel, as a good thing. I felt hate.

    It’s time to bring back hate. To be sure, as a Christian it is important that I try to separate my hate for evil from the person pushing evil, whether it’s a morally kneecapped woman screaming for abortion, a rapist or a thief. Hate the sin and love the sinner and all that. But increasingly in our culture, the rule is, psychoanalyze the sinner and explain away the sin through socioeconomics–either that or it spills vats of hate on silly targets, like the president. We are in desperate need of the real thing, saved for an appropriate target.

    One wonders, for instance, how it's possible that so many on the Left feel so little hatred for Saddam Hussein's reign of terror that they think it was wrong to end it?

    Posted by David Cohen at 12:14 PM


    Monkeys Control Robotic Arm With Brain Implants (Rick Weiss, Washington Post, 10/13/03).

    Scientists in North Carolina have built a brain implant that lets monkeys control a robotic arm with their thoughts, marking the first time that mental intentions have been harnessed to move a mechanical object.

    The technology could someday allow people with paralyzing spinal cord injuries to operate machines or tools with their thoughts as naturally as others today do with their hands. It might even allow some paralyzed people to move their own arms or legs again, by transmitting the brain's directions not to a machine but directly to the muscles in those latent limbs.
    This is good news for a bunch of obvious reasons. The difficulties, though, are underplayed. Sensory feedback into the brain is going to be more important than this article recognizes and also, I suspect, more difficult. This experiment is yet another paving stone on the road to our post-human future (assuming that we are not yet there). It would be nice to see a little bit more discussion of the issues raised by that future. Should we drive our cars by thought? Should we have implanted cell phones that turn thoughts into digital signals and then, in the recipient's brain, back into thought? How will it change life if brains can be hacked?

    But the best news is buried deep in the article. "[N]eurons not usually involved in body movements, including those usually involved in sensory input rather than motor output, were easily recruited to help operate the robotic arm when electrodes were implanted there." The implications of that fact -- for treatment, for future technologies and also for our understanding of our true nature -- are staggering.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:09 PM


    Okay. Indulge me. (James Lilek, Daily Bleat)

    At the risk of sounding like one of those trogs who dwells in a cave, shouts UGH when a strange clan shows up and waves monkey femurs, and must wait 75,000 years before Nuance is discovered, I’ll admit to being anti-enemy. At present, that enemy consists mostly of lunatic Islamic fundamentalists, many of whom are Arab. So? Before I was anti-Soviet. Didn’t mean I hated Russians.

    It’s the ideology, stupid.

    But why do they hate us? [Collen Rowley] knows:

    “Although it must be recognized that the origin of this problem was in the horror of the violent attacks themselves and that certain government leaders, such as FBI Director Robert Mueller, have undertaken efforts to reach out to affected Arab groups,”

    (deep breath; one only wonders how that read before it was edited)

    “ . . . the social scientists point to other government actions following 9/11 (including the government’s roundup and detention of illegal immigrants, the special registration requirements that single out students and visitors from Muslim nations, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) as sending ‘social signals’ that are worsening these biases.”

    To repeat: an FBI Special Agent is warning us that requiring Saudi students to register sends a “social signal” that enflames the biases that were intensified because . . . because . . . because . . .

    Because a bunch of Saudis on student visas came here, killed three thousand Americans?

    To repeat: an FBI Special Agent is warning us that arresting and detaining illegal immigrants sends a bias-worsening message to Americans.

    To repeat: an FBI Special Agent tells us that the Afghan and Iraqi campaign send these horrid “social signals.”

    To repeat: an FBI Special Agent.

    “A specialist in the issues of prejudice and stereotyping has noted that people who perceive themselves under threat -”

    Stop right there. Stop. Nevermind that we’ve just had another unnamed expert floated past, another member of the faculty of shades and spirits she summons for this colloquy (Oh, great, now I’ll be accused of calling her a witch, as well as a traitor.) People who perceive themselves under threat? I went to Ground Zero last week. I did not perceive myself as missing two buildings. They were gone, and that’s a fact whether I perceive it or not.

    “ - naturally tend to think of ‘who’s with me’ and ‘who’s against me.’ In any event, I doubt that many in the Arab-American segment of the population feel ‘freer today’ as Ashcroft’s generality suggests.”

    An utter non sequitur, that. First of all, Ashcroft’s “generality” certainly applies to Arab-Americans. What did he say, according to Ms. Rowley? Americans are “freer today than at any time in the history of human freedom.”

    Find me one moment in the history of the Middle East in which an Arab had all the rights he has in America today.

    I you take the paragraph seriously, however, it seems to imply that Arab-Americans are feeling less free, thanks to the actions of the government; this would suggest they might perceive themselves as "Under threat,” and that they would then naturally think “who’s with me” and “who’s against me,” and thus gravitate towards some sort of ethnic solidarity that opposes the United States government.

    Is that what she’s suggesting?

    Of course not. But it’s telling that she doesn’t even seem to recognize the implications of her own inconsistencies. Now, the killer quote:

    “I could go on in a more general, abstract way . . . .”

    Ma’am. If you were any more abstract you’d make Jackson Pollock look like Watteau.

    “ . . . about how ‘Free’ any of us truly is living with the ongoing terrorist threat that will be with us for a long time.”

    Spare me the metaphysics. We’re still a free people. Just because someone the FBI ignored detonates a bomb in Times Square doesn’t mean the people killed weren’t living free lives right up to the moment when the murderer pushed the button. To say that the threat of terrorism somehow itself curtails freedom is to say that no one in the West was free because the Soviets had nuclear-armed subs a few hundred miles off the coast.

    “For, distilled to their essences, security and liberty are very intertwined, if not the same thing.”

    It’s going to be hard to shave around the lump on my jaw I just got when it slammed the floor at Mach 2. If John Ashcroft said “Security and liberty as the same thing” these people would dump lunch in their drawers.

    Security and liberty are like beer and TV. They go well together, but they are completely different concepts. Pyongyang is very secure, for example. A Wild West town at sundown after the sheriff had been shot had liberty bustin’ out all over.

    For some reason the Wife has taken to watching The Crocodile Hunter even if the kids have gone to sleep. Last week he was on the parched plains of Africa. At one point he stumbled upon some zebu (or whatever) skeletons bleaching in the sun after being slain by a lion, crunched up by jackals, and picked cl;ean by buzzards and bugs. They had more flesh hanging on them than does Ms Rowley after this column. That he tops it off by differentiating between security and liberty is a bonus.

    Posted by David Cohen at 10:30 AM


    Kevin McCullough on World Net Daily, 10/10/03.

    "Mr. Asner, I do have a question – unrelated to the film," I said. "In your long and distinguished acting career, going back to your earliest days in Chicago all the way up to present days working with Will Farrell on 'Elf', you have had the chance to do almost anything you could ever wish to do. But if you had the chance to play the biographical story of a historical figure you respected most over your lifetime, who would it be?"

    Remembering the sad story he had told about the poor kids in Chicago, I half expected him to come out with a political name of some sort.

    "I think Joe Stalin was a guy that was hugely misunderstood," said Asner. "And to this day, I don't think I have ever seen an adequate job done of telling the story of Joe Stalin, so I guess my answer would have to be Joe Stalin."

    This has been up at Instapundit and Andrew Sullivan, so I wouldn't ordinarily post it here, but . . . wow! The right tends to bury its mistakes. The left embalms them and keeps them around so the masses can file lovingly by.

    UPDATE: 10/15/03

    Kevin McCullough now says that the conversation went like this:

    McCullough: "If you could portray an historical biography and you had an unlimited budget, unlimited support cast and everything you could ask for, who would it be?"

    Asner: "Well, you know something, they've played Hitler, nobody has ever really touched Stalin, it just occurred to me. It's not because I am a liberal or anything like that. Stalin is one big damn mystery, I wonder why nobody has tried it? Many people, you know, speak of the fact that he killed more people than Hitler – why does nobody touch him? It's strange. So, and he was about my size, my height – with a wig I probably could do it."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM


    Welfare Spending Shows Huge Shift (ROBERT PEAR, October 13, 2003, NY Times)

    New government figures show a profound change in welfare spending, shifting money from cash assistance into child care, education, training and other services intended to help poor people get jobs and stay off welfare.

    Cash assistance payments now account for less than half of all spending under the nation's main welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, federal officials say.

    The proportion has been declining steadily since 1996, when Congress revamped welfare and abolished the guarantee of cash assistance for the nation's poorest children. The 1996 law required most adults to work within two years of receiving aid and gave states sweeping authority to run their welfare and work programs with lump sums of federal money.

    "Welfare" used to mean a monthly check that could be immediately converted to cash. But statistics tabulated by the Department of Health and Human Services, at the request of The New York Times, show that the proportion of federal and state welfare money spent on cash assistance declined to 44 percent in 2002, from 77 percent in 1997. The proportion allocated to various types of noncash assistance shot up to 56 percent, from 23 percent in 1997.

    "The program has been fundamentally transformed," said Wade F. Horn, assistant secretary of health and human services in charge of welfare policy.

    For the most part, Newt Gingrich was an illustration of the Peter Principle in action. But there's one debt that all Americans owe him: he deserves the entire credit for the only serious reform of an entitlement program ever undertaken in the United States. It's been a fantastic success and has held up far better than expected even during a period of economic slowdown.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 AM


    Nuking the State Department (Joel Mowbray, October 12, 2003, Townhall.com)

    What had the normally staid diplomatic corps worked up into a lather? Robertson's flippant "suggestion" during an interview with me last week on his 700 Club TV show that "If I could just get a nuclear device inside (the State Department)... We've got to blow that thing up." Taken out of context-or simply read in transcript form-the comment could be seen as ill-advised or even worse.

    But seen in context, Robertson's remark hardly should have caused a fuss. It was clear to all watching that Robertson was not advocating the mass murder of thousands of innocents. [...]

    The real tragedy, though, is not that State explodes with rage whenever it is criticized-it's that State can't muster anywhere near as much emotion when it actually should.

    Responding to Robertson, Boucher moaned, "I lack sufficient capabilities to express my disdain." But when asked last July whether or not the United States had a message for thousands of Iranian protestors who want the freedom that many Americans regularly take for granted, Boucher flatly replied, "No."

    Refugees attempting to flee Kim Jong-Il's "paradise" in North Korea must wish that State merely ignores them. Efforts by Congress or various parts of the administration to make it easier for North Koreans to escape and seek refuge in the United States have been beaten back by the State Department. Refugees pouring out of North Korea could lead to the implosion of a nuclear tyranny-and supporting Iranian demonstrators could do the same there-but that's precisely why State plays obstructionist: it doesn't want "instability."

    State's desire for "stability" is so great that in cases of American children kidnapped to foreign lands, Foggy Bottom does precious little, if anything. Not only does State not fight for the safe return of abducted American children, but it generally does not even ask the foreign government to send the kids back to the United States. It's not that State doesn't care about the kids; the children just aren't important enough for State to "risk the relationship" over them.

    The point of any bureaucracy is to serve the needs of that bureaucracy, not the purposes of those who created and fund it.

    October 12, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 PM


    Suspected Penis Snatcher Beaten to Death (Reuters, 10/12/03)

    A 28-year-old man accused of stealing a man's penis through sorcery was beaten to death in the West African country of Gambia, police said.

    This appears to have been the motive in the Siegfried and Roy mauling too.

    Posted by David Cohen at 10:29 PM


    How Prayers Poll, Debunking myths about the religious right (Steven Waldman, Slate, 10/10/03)

    Many people, especially secular liberals, misunderstand the nature of religion in politics—which is, to be fair, ever shifting. To them, if it's not about Jerry Falwell or Joe Lieberman, it's kind of a blur. So, just in time for another religion-packed election, here is a guide to sorting through some common myths about God and American politics: . . .

    Myth 4: In this era, no candidate would lose votes just based on his or her religion. The same Pew study tried to assess which religions carried the most electoral baggage. When they asked people if they would be less likely to vote for someone because of religion, the big losers were not Jews or Catholics. Rather, the groups with the most political baggage were atheists, evangelicals, and Muslims. (Interestingly, many even atheists didn't like the idea of voting for an atheist.) We have become a much more tolerant country, but that doesn't mean we don't hold religious biases.

    Lies, Damn Lies, and Focus Groups, Why don't consumers tell the truth about what they want? (Daniel Gross, Slate, 10/10/03)
    Here's a paradox: Fifty million Americans have registered for the national Do Not Call list, suggesting they don't want to be bothered by telemarketers and won't buy if they are. Yet telemarketers want to keep calling them. Why? Because the marketers realize that what consumers say they want and what they actually do are not the same: Those who don't want to be called actually buy from telemarketers when they are called. This evidence of consumer untrustworthiness got Moneybox thinking about focus groups. If consumers lie, what good are focus groups?

    Evidence suggests focus group participants often lie. "The correlation between stated intent and actual behavior is usually low and negative," writes Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman in his influential book How Customers Think. After all, he notes, 80 percent of new products or services fail within six months when they've been vetted through focus groups. Hollywood films and TV pilots—virtually all of which are screened by focus groups—routinely fail in the marketplace.

    That people lie to pollsters as well as in focus groups, and will lie in particular about new products, will be obvious to anyone who has ever seen a poll suggesting that people will pay more for a product that serves some larger societal end. People don't pay more for "green" energy or to patronize local mom and pop's. People will even lie about New Coke. And people will certainly lie about whether Joe Lieberman's religion would be a factor in deciding whether to vote for him for President.

    But why would atheists rather not, all other things equal, vote for an atheist?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:01 PM


    Reminding the West that confronting tyranny is a tradition (Tony Parkinson
    October 11, 2003, The Age)

    Bronislaw Geremek was a major intellectual force in the events that brought an end to the Cold War. Today, less than 15 years on, the former Polish foreign minister is anxious to prevent the dispute between leading European powers and the United States over the war in Iraq becoming another dangerous and destabilising fault line in the history of Europe.

    On a visit to Melbourne this week, one of the giants of eastern Europe's liberation from communist rule spoke frankly of the dangers for the European project if feuding persists between France and Germany, on the one hand, and the US on the other. At stake was not just unity within an enlarged European Union, but the future of the Western alliance.

    For his part, Geremek believes there were incontestable grounds for removing Saddam Hussein's regime. "I can understand that some leaders in Europe were not convinced by America's justification for war in Iraq," he says. "But we will never understand that part of European public opinion that said it would be better for Saddam to have won the war than the Americans. Our experiences in Poland have given rise to a strong anti-totalitarian culture. For us, these are not theoretical questions. Even those Poles who were critical of the war were in no doubt that it was a good thing that one of the bloodiest dictators of the past century is no longer in power."

    Like his close friend and courageous French intellectual Jean-Francois Revel, Geremek is not about to let the current fashion for anti-Americanism in Europe obscure the fundamental human rights imperative at the heart of the Iraq debate. He sees parallels with the failings of the European Left in the 1960s and 1970s to acknowledge and accept the evidence of the brutality of the Soviet system.

    France was no help then either.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:45 PM


    Nobel Misfire?: Raymond Damadian gets snubbed (Ronald Bailey, 10/09/03, Reason)

    Did the Nobel committee overlook the first inventor of MRI? I bring this question up because I had thought that the idea that MRI could be used to image living tissue was first conceived by American physician Raymond Damadian. I formed this impression when, back in the mid-1980s I reviewed A Machine Called Indomitable by New York Times reporter Sonny Kleinfield, which was the story of how Damadian created the first MRI machine. A cursory Google search fairly clearly identifies Damadian as the first inventor of MRI scanning. In fact, Damadian's first MRI machine, Indomitable, is displayed at the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, on loan from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

    Damadian supporters are running a full page ad in today's Washington Post urging people to contact the Nobel committee to "express their outrage" at excluding Damadian. Why did the committee not cite Damadian's work when it awarded this prize? I have no inside information, but I wonder if the committee was swayed by the fact that Damadian, although a brilliant inventor, is apparently a creation science nut. In ironic contrast, Lauterbur's current research is on the chemical origins of life.

    We've often defended the right of religious faiths to punish heresy and, for those who have placed their faith in Darwinism and an entirely materialistic origin of the Universe, Mr. Damadian, with his belief that Creation required an intervening intelligence, is surely a heretic.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:49 PM


    Iran and North Korea: the next targets?: Despite its problems in Iraq, the United States continues to focus on the nuclear ambitions of the other two ‘axis of evil’ states, North Korea and Iran. In the context of its doctrine of pre-emption, and the reluctance of the eight existing nuclear weapons states to disarm, can another dangerous conflict be averted? (Paul Rogers, 9 - 10 - 2003, Open Democracy)

    Although the United States continues to face major difficulties in Iraq, the Bush administration’s attitude to the proliferation of nuclear weapons remains firm: if it considers a country to be a threat to the US or its interests, and if that country is developing nuclear weapons, then pre-emptive military action is one option that will be actively considered and even implemented. [...]

    One key aspect is a perception from Tehran that the attitude of the US and other western nuclear states is frankly hypocritical. Iran sees itself as a major and historic state of the region facing a heavily-armed United States which now has forces to its east (Afghanistan), west (Iraq) and south (the Gulf). Its leadership’s sense of vulnerability is increased by the fact that Israel shares the US’s hardline sentiments towards it. Indeed, Israel has made veiled threats of action against Iran if the United States itself refrains from military action against Iranian nuclear facilities, whether or not the latter’s purpose is energy supply alone.

    Iran also sees Britain and France content to pursue their own nuclear ambitions while ignoring the powerful Israeli nuclear forces, and having little to say about those of India and Pakistan. The end result of this is a degree of cynicism even among the more moderate opinion-formers in Iran; and a reinforced determination among conservative elements that Iranians must unite in the face of a stated threat from the United States and Israel.

    Any room for countries like Britain and France to ameliorate the excesses of Washington’s war on the “axis of evil” is limited by their own nuclear status and what is widely seen across the Middle East as a two-faced attitude. The tensions inherent in this situation would be eased substantially if these countries were more clearly willing to embrace multilateral progress towards nuclear disarmament as covered by the non-proliferation treaty.

    In the absence of such a move, there is a persistent perception in the Middle East that these two countries also operate according to a principle of “do as I say, not as I do”. This perception really does limit the ability of Britain, for example, to have much impact on Iranian policy. For the moment, there is not much prospect of change, but it is worth noting that one effect of the US tendency towards pre-emption may have been to propel North Korea down the very nuclear weapons path that it sought to avoid.

    Even though Iranian society and power politics are more complex than North Korean, a similar effect is possible there. This would make some form of military action by the United States or Israel against Iran an increasingly likely prospect. The dangerous consequences of such an outcome could greatly exceed even those now being experienced in Iraq.

    Mr. Rogers is right to this extent: it should be U.S. policy to deproliferate in Pakistan, China, and France, by force if necessary. Only those nations on the front line in the war on Islamicist terror need be allowed to retain nuclear weapons.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:35 PM


    Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill by Jessica Stern (C-SPAN, October 12, 2003, 8 & 11pm)

    For four years, Jessica Stern interviewed extremist members of three religions around the world: Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Traveling extensively -- to refugee camps in Lebanon, to religious schools in Pakistan, to prisons in Amman, Asqelon, and Pensacola -- she discovered that the Islamic jihadi in the mountains of Pakistan and the Christian fundamentalist bomber in Oklahoma have much in common.

    Based on her vast research, Stern lucidly explains how terrorist organizations are formed by opportunistic leaders who -- using religion as both motivation and justification -- recruit the disenfranchised. She depicts how moral fervor is transformed into sophisticated organizations that strive for money, power, and attention.

    Jessica Stern’s extensive interaction with the faces behind the terror provide unprecedented insight into acts of inexplicable horror, and enable her to suggest how terrorism can most effectively be countered.

    A crucial book on terrorism, Terror in the Name of God is a brilliant and thought-provoking work.

    -Jessica Stern: Lecturer in Public Policy (Harvard)
    -BOOK SITE: Terror in the Name of God (Harper Collins)
    -ESSAY: Meeting with the Muj (Jessica Stern, Jan/Feb 2001, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists)
    -ESSAY: The Protean Enemy (Jessica Stern, July/August 2003, Foreign Affairs)
    -ESSAY: How America Created a Terrorist Haven (Jessica Stern, 8/20/03, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: How Terrorists Hijacked Islam (Jessica Stern, October 1, 2001, USA TODAY)
    -ESSAY: Pakistan's Jihad Culture (Jessica Stern, November/December 2000, Foreign Affairs)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview with the Author Jessica Stern (foreignaffairs.org, November 2000)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Questioning Terrorists (Here and Now, October 09, 2003)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Hearts of Terrorists (On Point, August 22, 2003)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Faith and Terror (Leonard Lopate Show, August 20, 2003)
    -ARTICLE: In God's name, the most mortal of combat (Susan Page and Jack Kelley, 7/16/02, USA TODAY)
    -REVIEW: of Terror in the Name of God (Peter I. Rose , CS Monitor)
    -REVIEW: of Terror in the Name of God (Scott Bernard Nelson, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW: of Terror in the Name of God (Jack Fischel, Philadelphia Inquirer)
    -REVIEW: of Terror in the Name of God (Anne Grant, Providence Journal)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:34 PM


    Tory rebellion as MPs move to oust IDS: More than 25 will trigger leadership ballot (James Cusick, 10/12/03, Sunday Herald)

    IAIN Duncan Smith will face a challenge to his leadership of the Conservative Party later this week when it is expected that “substantially more than 25 Tory MPs” will call for a vote of confidence in the Tory leadership.

    In what is expected to be a bloody fight, with lawyers brought in to legally dissect the new election rules, the dissidents believe that a leadership challenge must be mounted almost immediately to allow any chance of fighting the next election under a new leader.

    To head off the threat of deselection, some of the plotters are understood to have taken legal advice, even before last week’s Blackpool conference, to see if an anonymous but verifiable “naming process” would be allowed under the new rules.

    This weekend, the party’s chief whip, David Maclean, has said he will subject any suspected plotters to a “career development interview” and report any “disloyal suspicions” to their constituency chairman.

    Six MPs are expected to be called in by Maclean this week including John Maples, Francis Maude, Andrew Mackay, John Bercow, Douglas Hogg and Michael Portillo.

    Putting new lipstick on your pig won't make her any more presentable. It's a putatively conservative party with no conservative convictions. It is not needed.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:07 PM


    Benefit of the Doubt: Good questions are better than bad answers. (Fred Reed, October 6, 2003, The American Conservative)

    [I] often meet a-to me-curious sort of fellow who simply cannot comprehend what religion might be about. He is puzzled as distinct from contemptuous or haughty. He genuinely sees no difference between religious faith and believing that the earth is flat. He is like a congenitally deaf man watching a symphony orchestra: with all the good will in the world he doesn't see the profit in all that sawing with bows and blowing into things.

    This fellow is very different from the common atheist, who is bitter, proud of his advanced thinking, and inclined toward a (somewhat adolescent) hostility to a world that isn't up to his standard. This is tiresome and predictable but doesn't offend me. Less forgivably, he often wants to run on about logical positivism. (I'm reminded of Orwell's comment about "the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike him.")

    Critics of religion say, correctly, that horrible crimes are committed in the name of religion. So are they in the name of communism, anti-communism, Manifest Destiny, Zionism, nationalism, and national security. Horrible crimes are what people do. They are not the heart of the thing.

    The following seems to me to be true regarding religion and the sciences: either one believes that there is an afterlife or one believes that there is not an afterlife or one isn't sure-which means that one believes that there may be an afterlife.

    If there is an afterlife, then there is an aspect of existence about which we know nothing and which may, or may not, influence this world. In this case the sciences, while interesting and useful, are merely a partial explanation of things. Thus to believe in the absolute explanatory power of the sciences one must be an atheist-to exclude competition. Atheists, of course, believe what they cannot establish as much as the faithful.

    Here is the chief defect of scientists (I mean those who take the sciences as an ideology rather than as a discipline): an unwillingness to admit that there is anything outside their realm. But there is. You cannot squeeze consciousness, beauty, affection, or Good and Evil from physics any more than you can derive momentum from the postulates of geometry: no mass, no momentum. A moral scientist is thus a contradiction in terms. (Logically speaking-in practice they compartmentalize and behave as well as anyone else.)

    It is that latter choice -- to not believe in morality -- that seems more daunting than to not believe in the after-life.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:58 PM


    Mosque and State in Iraq (Amitai Etzioni, October 2003, Policy Review)

    [O]verseas we are participating as a key architect and builder of new institutions; we are in what social scientists call "the design business." This is quite distinct from what we do at home: shoring up a solid social structure designed two centuries ago, careful not to rock the foundations or undermine the pillars on which it stands. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other Third World countries, we participate in the ground-breaking, foundation-laying stage, one in which elements we can take for granted at home -- such as a thriving religious life within civil society -- must be provided.

    The current U.S. position reflects, whether deliberately or unwittingly, the "end of history" conception that all ideologies are on their last legs as the world embraces the American (or Western) ideals of democracy, human rights, and free markets. This notion, in turn, is but an extension of the Enlightenment conceit that modernity is based on rational thinking, which religion is not, and hence religion is "history" while secularism (reason, science) is the future. Accordingly, societies in which religion is "still" playing a key role are considered behind the times, underdeveloped. As we are learning, however, all over the world people have spiritual needs that cannot be addressed, let alone satisfied, by Enlightenment ideals.

    We are witnessing an explosive growth of Christianity in East Asia (in 2000, China had 3.5 million Catholics, up from less than half a million in the mid-1980s); on the Korean peninsula, where nearly a quarter of the population is Christian, a 4,000 percent increase from the early part of the twentieth century; and in Africa (360 million Christians in 2000, compared to 10 million in 1900). We find an "outpouring of pent-up religious [fervor]," as sociologist Alan Aldridge put it, in Russia (which nearly doubled the number of adherents to the Russian Orthodox Church from 1970 to 2000) and other former communist nations in Eastern Europe. And there has been a rise in Islam not only in countries that were never modernized, but even in those that have had extensive secular, modern periods - such as, most tellingly, Turkey. In the United States, although there are continuous debates over the depth of American religious commitments and the possibility of a religious revival, no one doubts that religion is a major force in American life and that important elements of our civil society are faith-based. We should export to Iraq -- and to other countries challenged by fundamentalism -- our mixed secular and religious civil society.

    The reason religion cannot be suppressed, why religion is reasserting itself where it was formerly stifled or thriving where it was never held back, is that it speaks to profound questions to which many millions of people seek answers. These are transcendental questions such as why we are cast into this world, why we are born to die, and what life's purpose might be. In addition, there are moral questions such as what we owe to our children, to our elderly parents, and to our friends, communities, and nations. Neither democracy nor capitalism speaks to these issues. Secular humanism does provide some answers, but not ones all find compelling; the answers deal largely with moral issues but much less with the truly transcendent ones.

    The quest for spiritual answers of one kind or another is evident both in former communist countries and in Islamic countries in which the theocracy is breaking down (such as Iran) or has been ended (e.g., Afghanistan). In all these countries, the breakdown of tyranny precedes an explosive growth of new kinds of anti-social behavior. (I write new kinds of anti-social behavior because other kinds -- corruption or spying on one's friends, co-workers, and neighbors, for instance -- were, of course, quite common in the pre-liberation days.) These countries experience sharp rises in drug abuse, hiv, divorce, and crime. The New York Times Magazine published a particularly distressing account of the reemergence of pedophiles in Kabul, who did not dare act out during the Taliban days.

    The reason is obvious: Once police terror as the source of social order is removed, it must be replaced by some other source or else moral and social anarchy will arise. Order in a free society rests primarily on people choosing to refrain from anti-social behavior because of their moral upbringing and the informal enforcement of social norms. No free society can make police the mainstay of its social order; law enforcement's proper place is as a backup to an order largely undergirded by morality. Sending the military police into newly freed countries and training local cops are of course necessary, but they will not curb anti-social behavior unless accompanied by a new moral code. Religion has been and very much still is one major source of such mores. The religion we should promote is compatible with democracy and not oppressive in its own terms and institutions. Call it a "soft" religion.

    It's maddening that Mr. Etzioni and the other communitarians fail to extend this very sound analysis to modern America. If they advocated for this kind of "soft" religion here at home they'd be conservatives.

    -Iraq's new challenge: civil society: Ban Saraf, an Iraqi-American entrepreneur, navigates Baghdad daily, helping 88 new councils find their democratic voice. (Ilene R. Prusher, 10/08/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:29 AM


    Why Blue Collar Populism Works for the Republicans (Arlie Hochschild, 10/06/03, History News Network)

    George W. Bush is sinking in the polls, but a few beats on the war drum could reverse that trend and re-elect him in 2004. Ironically, the sector of American society now poised to keep him in the White House is the one which stands to lose the most from virtually all of his policies -- blue-collar men. A full 49% of them and 38% percent of blue-collar women told a January 2003 Roper poll they would vote for Bush in 2004.

    In fact, blue-collar workers were more pro-Bush than professionals and managers among whom only 40% of men and 32% of women, when polled, favor him; that is, people who reported to Roper such occupations as painter, furniture mover, waitress, and sewer repairman were more likely to be for our pro-big business president than people with occupations like doctor, attorney, CPA or property manager. High-school graduates and dropouts were more pro-Bush (41%) than people with graduate degrees (36%). And people with family incomes of $30,000 or less were no more opposed to Bush than those with incomes of $75,000 or more.

    We should think about this. The blue-collar vote is huge. Skilled and semi-skilled manual jobs are on the decline, of course, but if we count as blue-collar those workers without a college degree, as Ruy Teixeira and Joel Rogers do in their book Why the White Working Class Still Matters, then blue-collar voters represent 55% of all voters. They are, the authors note, the real swing vote in America. "Their loyalties shift the most from election to election and in so doing determine the winners in American politics."

    This fact has not been lost on Republican strategists who are now targeting right-leaning blue-collar men, or as they call them, "Nascar Dads." These are, reporter Liz Clarke of the Washington Post tells us, "lower or middle-class men who once voted Democratic but who now favor Republicans." Nascar Dads, commentator Bill Decker adds, are likely to be racing-car fans, live in rural areas, and have voted for Bush in 2000. Bush is giving special attention to steelworkers, autoworkers, carpenters and other building-trades workers, according to Richard Dunham and Aaron Bernstein of Business Week, and finding common cause on such issues as placing tariffs on imported steel and offering tax breaks on pensions.

    We can certainly understand why Bush wants blue-collar voters. But why would a near majority of blue-collar voters still want Bush? Millionaires, billionaires for Bush, well, sure; he's their man. But why pipe fitters and cafeteria workers? Some are drawn to his pro-marriage, pro-church, pro-gun stands, but could those issues override a voter's economic self-interest?

    Perhaps it's no herader to figure out than this: conservatives are trying to preserve the civilization created mostly by white Judeo-Christian men, so such men vote conservative.

    -Why the Democrats Need to Embrace Blue Collar Populism (DAVID GREENBERG, History News Network)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 AM


    Utopia theory: From theories of pedestrian movement and traffic flow to voting processes, economic markets and war, researchers are striving towards a physics of society (Philip Ball, October 2003, Physics World)

    To many physicists, the social sciences are a treasure trove of complex systems, for which there often exists mountains of data and next to no theory. They regard society as a fabulous experiment (although economists sometimes complain that the things that "econophysicists" want to do are simply not interesting). The aim of social sciences, however, has never really been just to understand, but to improve. Social science is often regarded as an adjunct and guide to policy-making. From Thomas Hobbes to Karl Marx, moral and political philosophers have used their ideas about the way society works to argue for ways of making it better. The trouble is, of course, that they seldom agree.

    Physicists are wary of making such interpretations - and with some justification, for attempts to construct a "rational" or "scientific" society have often produced ignominious results (witness Hobbes and Marx). "What has always made the state a hell on earth", says German philosopher and poet Friedrich Hölderlin, "has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven." So interpreting physical models of society in terms of social implications or policy recommendations is fraught with danger.

    Oh, goody, the Rationalists are back for another bite at the apple.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:07 AM


    Receive or take rights? Belgium¹s Arab European League: An ambitious movement led by a charismatic young leader is shaking Belgian political life. Not the anti-immigrant, Flemish nationalist Vlaams Blok, but a confident mobilisation of people of Arab descent. How will the Arab European League (AEL) reshape understanding of diversity and multiculturalism in 21st century Europe? (Dirk Jacobs, 10/09/2003, OpenDemocracy)

    In several European countries, immigrants have been confined to a status as the object of discussion rather than themselves participating in the debate. In the Belgian political arena, for instance, non-European Union ethnic minority groups went almost unheard until very recently. The latest round of federal, regional and local elections altered this state of affairs to some degree when several politicians of non-EU immigrant origin were elected. But the high-profile boost given to the ethnic minority voice in Belgian politics by the sudden rise of a controversial and ambitious immigrant organisation called the Arab European League (AEL) is of an entirely different order.

    This remarkable organisation, which actually combines a pan-Arabic nationalist ideology for the Arab world with an outspoken multicultural vision for the European arena, became a key player in the debate on immigrant integration in Belgium almost overnight. Its influence spread rapidly as far as to Belgium¹s neighbour, the Netherlands. Nor do the ambitions of the AEL stop there. Claiming members in as many as twelve European countries, the AEL does not rule out further expansion. Indeed it has targeted France for the launch of its next, major chapter. [...]

    The press has been puzzled and fascinated in turn by its combined pan-Arabic and Muslim identity claims; its promotion of a new concept of Arab-Europeanness (inspired by the African-American identity); and its flamboyant style and discourse. For their part, the political establishment has been Œtricked¹ into making the AEL one of its main adversaries in the Belgian immigration debate, thereby inadvertently granting it increased legitimacy.

    After 9/11, both Belgian and Dutch politicians and journalists have been tempted to label the Arab European League (AEL) an Islamist or radical Muslim organisation. The evidence for this is slight. Invocations of Muslim identity do play an important part in AEL mobilisation, but Arab nationalism is at least as strong an ideological influence on the AEL leadership. Indeed, Muslim claims only became prominent in AEL discourse after the 9/11 attacks.

    In fact, the AEL wins loyalty neither on Arab nor Muslim grounds. Rather, most of its followers are attracted mainly by an unwavering emphasis on the opposition between the excluded and the included. The AEL champions the "underdog": the excluded Muslim immigrants. In essence, it is less a transnational Arab nationalist or Muslim organisation than a local radical immigrant organisation demanding equal opportunities.

    This is revealed in the way the AEL pleads for the recognition of ethnic diversity. Its multicultural approach calls for Arab language and culture to be fostered in Europe and emphasises the opportunities this might open up for the continent's "Arab community". It argues that this community should be considered a "European minority" (or in the context of European nation-states as a "national minority").

    In the terminology of Canadian philosopher Will Kymlicka, the AEL insists on the "Arab community" being entitled to "multinational rights" (special rights for "historic" communities) and not merely "polyethnic rights" (special rights for immigrant communities). The AEL argues interestingly that due recognition and indeed strengthening of the culture of origin, is a precondition for the successful integration within and even loyalty to the host societies of Europe. [...]

    The AEL's stance on multiculturalism may be radical and unconventional. But, simply because its confrontational style unsettles the general public, no genuine liberal democracy worth the name can ignore the practical issues it raises. The problems of discrimination or of structurally unequal opportunities will not disappear on their own. When the policies of states across Europe do not live up to the secular, colour- and culture-blind principles they espouse, hard debate is necessary. Neglecting the issues
    raised by radical movements like the AEL - or merely "shooting the messenger" - might only fuel their radical mobilisation.

    Of course liberal democracies shouldn't ignore such issues; they should crush those who advocate such anti-assimilationist ideas. In the description of a Willmoore Kendall-esque character in his novel Redhunter, William F. Buckley characterizes the idea behind his initial support of McCarthyism as follows: "A vital democratic society has two functions, one is inclusive--bring in the new ideas, assimilate them. The other is exclusive, reject unassimilable ideas." Immigrant groups should be welcomed to precisely the extent that they are willing to conform to the existing society, which society will, in the process, incorporate the best of the traditions and ideas those immigrants bring with them. The notion that immigrant groups should be able to maintain their own culture unchanged is a recipe for divisiveness and social breakdown. It should be rejected utterly. The hard question for Europe is whether it needs the young workers who immigratioon brings more than it values its own societies.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:00 AM


    Hot to Get Real: Is Postmodernism finally on its deathbed?: Roger Caldwell examines the evidence and takes a look at its would-be successor: Critical Realism. (Roger Caldwell, Philosophy Now)

    For the last two decades of the twentieth century the dominant cultural paradigm was that of postmodernism. But at the beginning of the new millennium a new paradigm is on offer. Postmodernism is dead. It is to be succeeded by the age of critical realism. That at least is the promise that José López and Garry Potter hold out as propagandists of the new movement (they edited a collection of essays called After Postmodernism - An Introduction to Critical Realism. True, the two movements have much in common in their sheer scope - offering an overall view of science, social science and the arts, and all in the interests of an emancipatory politics. However, although postmodernism made an easy transition from academia to the media, critical realism has shown to date no signs of doing so. From this, however, no adverse inference should be drawn as to the quality of its thought.

    The talk of paradigms recalls the term used by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: for him long periods of 'normal science' were punctuated by crises leading to 'paradigm shifts'. For Kuhn competing paradigms were incommensurable: they involved looking at the world in radically different ways. Certainly, the world looked at through the eyes of critical realism is vastly different from that seen through the eyes of postmodernism - for a start, there is a single world again - but there is more to the matter than an irrational leap from one view to the other. For critical realism begins with the awareness that the postmodernist project is fatally flawed.

    There is the danger of anachronism here. Roy Bhaskar may be regarded as the founding father of critical realism, yet his first book, A Realist Thought of Science appeared in 1975 when postmodernism was still in its infancy. Nevertheless, the central targets of the book, Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, were undoubtedly (and perhaps unwittingly) forerunners of postmodernism in their questioning of scientific rationality. Of the two it was Kuhn who was the closest to realism - he held that even after a revolution at least part of the previously 'normal' science proves to be permanent, and that science offers us our surest example of sound knowledge. Indeed, it is hard to see in what way there could be a growth of scientific knowledge except from a realist stance, however finely nuanced that claim to realism may be.

    Feyerabend, acting as a gadfly to all scientific pretensions, held that there was no such thing as the scientific method and saw science as an essentially anarchic enterprise in which 'anything goes'. The one scarcely follows from the other, however. It is true that there is no single method that marks out science from any other form of rational enquiry but nonetheless there are a range of criteria - such as explanatory scope, predictive power, experimental repeatability, consistency with other well-established theory - that make it a different sort of enterprise to, say, astrology or alchemy. Feyerabend could scarcely have expected that his remark that "science is the myth of today", intended no doubt as a provocation, would so soon become orthodoxy, at least in the Humanities. [...]

    Critical realism...rescues us from the postmodernist nightmare and restores us to reality. We cannot manage without a concept of truth. There is (as most of us thought all along) a pre-existing external reality about which it is the job of science to tell us. True, we must be cautious about claims to objective reality, alert to ideological distortions, and aware that the world is a messier, more complicated place than the accounts of physicists would suggest. This does not mean that such claims cannot plausibly be made. A central plank of critical realism is that science can no longer be considered as just another myth or story.

    It's at least suggestive of our limitations that Man has made no progress in philosophy in the past 260 years, since David Hume wrote:
    But before I launch out into those immense depths of philosophy, which lie before me, I find myself inclin'd to stop a moment in my present station, and to ponder that voyage, which I have undertaken, and which undoubtedly requires the utmost art and industry to be brought to a happy conclusion. Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escap'd shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances. My memory of past errors and perplexities, makes me diffident for the future. The wretched condition, weakness, and disorder of the faculties, I must employ in my enquiries, encrease my apprehensions. And the impossibility of amending or correcting these faculties, reduces me almost to despair, and makes me resolve to perish on the barren rock, on which I am at present, rather than venture myself upon that boundless ocean, which runs out into immensity. This sudden view of my danger strikes me with melancholy; and as 'tis usual for that passion, above all others, to indulge itself; I cannot forbear feeding my despair, with all those desponding reflections, which the present subject furnishes me with in such abundance.

    I am first affrighted and confounded with that forelorn solitude, in which I am plac'd in my philosophy, and fancy myself some strange uncouth monster, who not being able to mingle and unite in society, has been expell'd all human commerce, and left utterly abandon'd and disconsolate. Fain wou'd I run into the crowd for shelter and warmth; but cannot prevail with myself to mix with such deformity. I call upon others to join me, in order to make a company apart; but no one will hearken to me. Every one keeps at a distance, and dreads that storm, which beats upon me from every side. I have expos'd myself to the enmity of all metaphysicians, logicians, mathematicians, and even theologians; and can I wonder at the insults I must suffer? I have declar'd my disapprobation of their systems; and can I be surpriz'd, if they shou'd express a hatred of mine and of my person? When I look abroad, I foresee on every side, dispute, contradiction, anger, calumny and detraction. When I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but doubt and ignorance. All the world conspires to oppose and contradict me; tho' such is my weakness, that I feel all my opinions loosen and fall of themselves, when unsupported by the approbation of others. Every step I take is with hesitation, and every new reflection makes me dread an error and absurdity in my reasoning.

    For with what confidence can I venture upon such bold enterprises, when beside those numberless infirmities peculiar to myself, I find so many which are common to human nature? Can I be sure, that in leaving all established opinions I am following truth; and by what criterion shall I distinguish her, even if fortune shou'd at last guide me on her foot-steps? After the most accurate and exact of my reasonings, I can give no reason why I shou'd assent to it; and feel nothing but a strong propensity to consider objects strongly in that view, under which they appear to me. Experience is a principle, which instructs me in the several conjunctions of objects for the past. Habit is another principle, which determines me to expect the same for the future; and both of them conspiring to operate upon the imagination, make me form certain ideas in a more intense and lively manner, than others, which are not attended with the same advantages. Without this quality, by which the mind enlivens some ideas beyond others (which seemingly is so trivial, and so little founded on reason) we cou'd never assent to any argument, nor carry our view beyond those few objects, which are present to our senses. Nay, even to these objects we cou'd never attribute any existence, but what was dependent on the senses; and must comprehend them entirely in that succession of perceptions, which constitutes our self or person. Nay farther, even with relation to that succession, we cou'd only admit of those perceptions, which are immediately present to our consciousness, nor cou'd those lively images, with which the memory presents us, be ever receiv'd as true pictures of past perceptions. The memory, senses, and understanding are, therefore, all of them founded on the imagination, or the vivacity of our ideas.

    No wonder a principle so inconstant and fallacious shou'd lead us into errors, when implicitly follow'd (as it must be) in all its variations. 'Tis this principle, which makes us reason from causes and effects; and 'tis the same principle, which convinces us of the continu'd existence of external objects, when absent from the senses. But tho' these two operations be equally natural and necessary in the human mind, yet in some circumstances they are directly contrary, nor is it possible for us to reason justly and regularly from causes and effects, and at the same time believe the continu'd existence of matter. How then shall we adjust those principles together? Which of them shall we prefer? Or in case we prefer neither of them, but successively assent to both, as is usual among philosophers, with what confidence can we afterwards usurp that glorious title, when we thus knowingly embrace a manifest contradiction?

    This contradiction wou'd be more excusable, were it compensated by any degree of solidity and satisfaction in the other parts of our reasoning. But the case is quite contrary. When we trace up the human understanding to its first principles, we find it to lead us into such sentiments, as seem to turn into ridicule all our past pains and industry, and to discourage us from future enquiries. Nothing is more curiously enquir'd after by the mind of man, than the causes of every phenomenon; nor are we content with knowing the immediate causes, but push on our enquiries, till we arrive at the original and ultimate principle. We wou'd not willingly stop before we are acquainted with that energy in the cause, by which it operates on its effect; that tie, which connects them together; and that efficacious quality, on which the tie depends. This is our aim in all our studies and reflections: And how must we be disappointed, when we learn, that this connexion, tie, or energy lies merely in ourselves, and is nothing but that determination of the mind, which is acquir'd by custom, and causes us to make a transition from an object to its usual attendant, and from the impression of one to the lively idea of the other? Such a discovery not only cuts off all hope of ever attaining satisfaction, but even prevents our very wishes; since it appears, that when we say we desire to know the ultimate and operating principle, as something, which resides in the external object, we either contradict ourselves, or talk without a meaning.

    This deficiency in our ideas is not, indeed, perceived in common life, nor are we sensible, that in the most usual conjunctions of cause and effect we are as ignorant of the ultimate principle, which binds them together, as in the most unusual and extraordinary. But this proceeds merely from an illusion of the imagination; and the question is, how far we ought to yield to these illusions. This question is very difficult, and reduces us to a very dangerous dilemma, whichever way we answer it. For if we assent to every trivial suggestion of the fancy; beside that these suggestions are often contrary to each other; they lead us into such errors, absurdities, and obscurities, that we must at last become asham'd of our credulity. Nothing is more dangerous to reason than the flights of the imagination, and nothing has been the occasion of more mistakes among philosophers. Men of bright fancies may in this respect be compar'd to those angels, whom the scripture represents as covering their eyes with their wings. This has already appear'd in so many instances, that we may spare ourselves the trouble of enlarging upon it any farther.

    But on the other hand, if the consideration of these instances makes us take a resolution to reject all the trivial suggestions of the fancy, and adhere to the understanding, that is, to the general and more established properties of the imagination; even this resolution, if steadily executed, wou'd be dangerous, and attended with the most fatal consequences. For I have already shewn, that the understanding, when it acts alone, and according to its most general principles, entirely subverts itself, and leaves not the lowest degree of evidence in any proposition, either in philosophy or common life. We save ourselves from this total scepticism only by means of that singular and seemingly trivial property of the fancy, by which we enter with difficulty into remote views of things, and are not able to accompany them with so sensible an impression, as we do those, which are more easy and natural. Shall we, then, establish it for a general maxim, that no refin'd or elaborate reasoning is ever to be receiv'd? Consider well the consequences of such a principle. By this means you cut off entirely all science and philosophy: You proceed upon one singular quality of the imagination, and by a parity of reason must embrace all of them: And you expressly contradict yourself; since this maxim must be built on the preceding reasoning, which will be allow'd to be sufficiently refin'd and metaphysical. What party, then, shall we choose among these difficulties? If we embrace this principle, and condemn all refin'd reasoning, we run into the most manifest absurdities. If we reject it in favour of these reasonings, we subvert entirely the, human understanding. We have, therefore, no choice left but betwixt a false reason and none at all. For my part, know not what ought to be done in the present case. I can only observe what is commonly done; which is, that this difficulty is seldom or never thought of; and even where it has once been present to the mind, is quickly forgot, and leaves but a small impression behind it. Very refin'd reflections have little or no influence upon us; and yet we do not, and cannot establish it for a rule, that they ought not to have any influence; which implies a manifest contradiction.

    But what have I here said, that reflections very refin'd and metaphysical have little or no influence upon us? This opinion I can scarce forbear retracting, and condemning from my present feeling and experience. The intense view of these manifold contradictions and imperfections in human reason has so wrought upon me, and heated my brain, that I am ready to reject all belief and reasoning, and can look upon no opinion even as more probable or likely than another. Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what condition shall I return? Whose favour shall I court, and whose anger must I dread? What beings surround me? and on whom have, I any influence, or who have any influence on me? I am confounded with all these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable, inviron'd with the deepest darkness, and utterly depriv'd of the use of every member and faculty.

    Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hours' amusement, I wou'd return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strain'd, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther.

    Here then I find myself absolutely and necessarily determin'd to live, and talk, and act like other people in the common affairs of life. But notwithstanding that my natural propensity, and the course of my animal spirits and passions reduce me to this indolent belief in the general maxims of the world, I still feel such remains of my former disposition, that I am ready to throw all my books and papers into the fire, and resolve never more to renounce the pleasures of life for the sake of reasoning and philosophy. For those are my sentiments in that splenetic humour, which governs me at present. I may, nay I must yield to the current of nature, in submitting to my senses and understanding; and in this blind submission I shew most perfectly my sceptical disposition and principles. But does it follow, that I must strive against the current of nature, which leads me to indolence and pleasure; that I must seclude myself, in some measure, from the commerce and society of men, which is so agreeable; and that I must torture my brains with subtilities and sophistries, at the very time that I cannot satisfy myself concerning the reasonableness of so painful an application, nor have any tolerable prospect of arriving by its means at truth and certainty. Under what obligation do I lie of making such an abuse of time? And to what end can it serve either for the service of mankind, or for my own private interest? No: If I must be a fool, as all those who reason or believe any thing certainly are, my follies shall at least be natural and agreeable. Where I strive against my inclination, I shall have a good reason for my resistance; and will no more be led a wandering into such dreary solitudes, and rough passages, as I have hitherto met with.

    These are the sentiments of my spleen and indolence; and indeed I must confess, that philosophy has nothing to oppose to them, and expects a victory more from the returns of a serious good-humour'd disposition, than from the force of reason and conviction. In all the incidents of life we ought still to preserve our scepticism. If we believe, that fire warms, or water refreshes, 'tis only because it costs us too much pains to think otherwise. Nay if we are philosophers, it ought only to be upon sceptical principles, and from an inclination, which we feel to the employing ourselves after that manner. Where reason is lively, and mixes itself with some propensity, it ought to be assented to. Where it does not, it never can have any title to operate upon us.

    At the time, therefore, that I am tir'd with amusement and company, and have indulg'd a reverie in my chamber, or in a solitary walk by a river-side, I feel my mind all collected within itself, and am naturally inclin'd to carry my view into all those subjects, about which I have met with so many disputes in the course of my reading and conversation. I cannot forbear having a curiosity to be acquainted with the principles of moral good and evil, the nature and foundation of government, and the cause of those several passions and inclinations, which actuate and govern me. I am uneasy to think I approve of one object, and disapprove of another; call one thing beautiful, and another deform'd; decide concerning truth and falshood, reason and folly, without knowing upon what principles I proceed. I am concern'd for the condition of the learned world, which lies under such t deplorable ignorance in all these particulars. I feel an ambition to arise in me of contributing to the instruction of mankind, and of acquiring a name by my inventions and discoveries. These sentiments spring up naturally in my present disposition; and shou'd I endeavour to banish them, by attaching myself to any other business or diversion, I feel I shou'd be a loser in point of pleasure; and this is the origin of my philosophy.

    Indeed, it seems that we can not manage without a conception of truth and can make no progress endlessly worrying at the ultimate falsifiability of that truth. We have to accept certain things as true on nothing but our faith and their functionality. Ideally, this would mean that we could use reason as a tool for comprehending those aspects of the physical world which it is competent to describe, even though we recognize that reason can ultimately disprove itself completely. Similarly, we could accept that we are Created beings beholden to a Supreme authority, and bound by morality, even though we recognize that these beliefs can never prove themselves. By happy twist of fate, we live in a culture which is the product of reason and faith and it seems to work fairly well, so long as one or the other doesn't try to claim more for itself than reality will bear. Meanwhile, doing away with either, unless you truly despise our culture, seems inadvisable.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:49 AM


    Dispute between Arafat and prime minister deepen, threatening new government (MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH, October 11, 2003, Associated Press)

    Yasser Arafat fought with his new prime minister Saturday over who should be the new Palestinian security chief, in a deepening dispute that threatens to bring down the government appointed less than a week ago.

    In an argument with Arafat two days ago, Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia hinted he might step down, a possibility that appeared more likely as their fight continued into the night Saturday. As it stands now, Qureia's Cabinet, which Arafat appointed by decree Oct. 5, will serve for one month as planned. [...]

    The argument between Arafat and Qureia centered on the appointment of Nasser Yousef as interior minister, a position that would make him the head of the Palestinian security forces. Arafat's refusal to give up full control of those forces led Mahmoud Abbas to resign as prime minister last month after only four months.

    Arafat, who named Yousef interior minister in an eight-member emergency Cabinet less than a week ago, withdrew his support for his longtime ally after Yousef refused to participate in a swearing-in of the Cabinet on Tuesday, Palestinian sources said Saturday.

    Yousef said he wanted to wait until the government had parliamentary backing. Some saw that as a brazen slight to Arafat, who presided over the ceremony, and a signal of independence to U.S. officials, who hoped to marginalize Arafat and convince the new Cabinet to crack down on militant groups, in line with the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan.

    It's disgraceful that Israel and the U.S. continue to demand regime change in Palestine but then refuse to provide more help those who are trying to wrest power from Arafat.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:33 AM


    Republicans Run From Risk in Some Senate Fights (CARL HULSE, 10/12/03, NY Times)

    On paper, Harry Reid looks beatable, not least because he won his last United States Senate race in Nevada by 428 votes. In a recount.

    He is a fierce partisan, the No. 2 man in the Senate Democratic leadership, providing Republicans plenty of fodder for their conservative base in a state President Bush won easily in 2000. Mr. Reid has even received some bad press lately about his relatives' lobbying in Washington for Nevada interests.

    He seemed a good bet to draw a strong opponent in 2004, as Republicans are looking to pad their majorities in Congress and have Mr. Bush to lead the way. Yet Representative Jim Gibbons, the party's top choice to challenge Mr. Reid, chose to seek re-election to the House, choosing a sure thing over rolling the dice. Mr. Reid, at this point, has little to worry about.

    Nevada is not the only state where Republicans are having trouble recruiting strong Senate candidates. In a handful of states where incumbent Democratic senators would seem vulnerable — including the Dakotas, Arkansas and Washington — big-name Republican prospects are bowing out, reducing the party's hopes for big Senate gains.

    Democratic analysts say the Republicans' hesitancy suggests nervousness in the ranks about the party's momentum going into 2004. But it is a simple truth that professional politicians are reluctant to commit to a campaign unless they know they have a good chance of winning. The promise of party support is not enough to coax officeholders out of safe seats into difficult races, even when Republicans are supposed to be ascendant.

    The problem with the failure to recruit excellent candidates doesn't come in the election year--the GOP will win the seats in NV and AR regardless of how marginal their actual candidate is--but when it comes time to run for re-election. Thus, Ronald Reagan's victory in 1980 enabled a group of genuinely underwhelming Republicans to knock off some of the Democrats most powerful and respected senators, but nearly half of them lost in their first bid to hold their seats.

    The GOP seemed to have learned this lesson when it recruited such outstanding candidates for the mid-term election last Fall -- including even former presidential hopefuls, like Liddy Dole and Lamar Alexander. If anything, the prospects for winning those races seemed even bleaker, so it's hard to figure why they're struggling now.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:19 AM


    The Building That Isn't There (TOM WOLFE, 10/12/03, NY Times)

    Does the municipal log duly show that Brad Cloepfil, the architect about to transform Edward Durell Stone's historic white marble Huntington Hartford museum on Columbus Circle, means to render it "more ephemeral?"

    "Ephemeral" is Architect Cloepfil's own word, I hasten to add, as in here today and gone tomorrow, and the nouveau-named Museum of Arts and Design, originally the homely old dosey-doe American Craft Museum, now on West 53rd Street, is busy raising more than $50 million to have him do it.

    The average savant might assume Architect Cloepfil (rhymes with "hopeful") was trying to say "ethereal" or perhaps "inimitable" when his tongue slipped to "ephemeral"; but the average savant avoids the coherently challenged theoryspeak of contemporary architecture like a brain-invading computer virus — and is therefore unlikely to know that Ephemeralism was once (1994) This Year's Architectural Style of the Century. There were countless This Year's Styles of the Century from 1950 to 2000: the New Brutalism, the New Minimalism, Deconstructivism, Conceptualism, Contexturalism, Rationalism, three kinds of Postmodernism (White, Gray and Silver) and on and on. But I will mention only a couple that had succeeded Ephemeralism before the century was even over: Blobism and Infrastructuralism.

    Ephemeralism's big moment arrived in 1994 with Jean Nouvel's Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris. Well outside the real glass walls, Mr. Nouvel, a French architect, put other glass walls that extended beyond the building and were meant to create disorienting reflections and general confusion as to where the museum itself really was, thereby "dematerializing" it (Mr. Nouvel's favorite word at the time) and making it difficult for what theoryspeakers call "the dominant regime" to find. I could try to tell you why this is an important goal, but it would make your head hurt as much as mine.

    In due course, Ephemeralism embraced 1) transparency — using plain glass walls or, preferably, confusing layers of glass like Mr. Nouvel's; 2) voyeurism — people outside on the street observing what people are doing inside and vice versa; and 3) branding — making the exterior design remind you of the enterprise within. All this was supposed to return architecture to a certain messianic moment, to the original vision of Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier — the White Gods!

    Hard to top Mr. Wolfe's own opening line from Bauhaus to Our House: "O beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, has there ever been another place on earth where so many people of wealth and power have paid for and put up with so much architecture they detested as within they blessed borders today?"

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:07 AM


    Ministering to the Enemy (TED CONOVER, 10/12/03, NY Times Magazine)

    I spoke with Captain Yee only once and never met al-Halabi or Mehalba. But the situation of all three reminded me of another American Muslim I met, in Lackawanna, N.Y. Lackawanna, of course, is the suburb of Buffalo from which hail a handful of young men who a year after 9/11 were discovered by the government to have spent time at a camp for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan the preceding summer. My acquaintance -- who does not wish to be named -- proudly served in the U.S. military during the first gulf war and organized an American flag-raising in Lackawanna after 9/11. He is also a devout Muslim. It pained him to learn what his childhood friends had done, made this ''knuckleheaded trip'' inspired by another neighborhood kid who returned from a stay in Yemen a religious zealot. But he was dismayed to see the way federal agents then stormed through his neighborhood, roughed up and frightened people and set up a surveillance camera outside his mosque. I can think of few things that are harder to be right now than a Muslim and an American patriot. There seems to be less and less space for that crucial middle ground.

    "Crucial middle ground?" Are being a Muslim and being a patriot really extremes? This seems a dangerous idea. Because if they are polar opposites, there are an awful lot more of the latter than of the former.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:59 AM


    Notion Building (MATT BAI, 10/12/03, NY Times Magazine)

    ''The rise of the machinery of ideas on the right has been impressive,'' Podesta told the gathering, to nods of assent. ''People have noticed it, and we have talked about it. But we haven't really found the vehicles to compete with what's coming at us.''

    Going back to Barry Goldwater, Podesta said, conservatives ''built up institutions with a lot of influence, a lot of ideas. And they generated a lot of money to get out those ideas. It didn't happen by accident. And I think it's had a substantial effect on why we have a conservative party that controls the White House and the Congress and is making substantial efforts to control the judiciary.''

    Podesta laid out his plan for what he likes to call a ''think tank on steroids.'' Emulating those conservative institutions, he said, a message-oriented war room will send out a daily briefing to refute the positions and arguments of the right. An aggressive media department will book liberal thinkers on cable TV. There will be an ''edgy'' Web site and a policy shop to formulate strong positions on foreign and domestic issues. In addition, Podesta explained how he would recruit hundreds of fellows and scholars -- some in residence and others spread around the country -- to research and promote new progressive policy ideas. American Progress is slated to operate with a $10 million budget next year, raised from big donors like the financier George Soros.

    ''The question I'm asked most often is, When are we getting our eight words?'' Podesta said. Conservatives, he went on, ''have their eight words in a bumper sticker: 'Less government. Lower taxes. Less welfare. And so on.' Where's our eight-word bumper sticker? Well, it's harder for us, because we believe in a lot more things.'' The Center for American Progress, Podesta said, was concerned with articulating these principles carefully, over time, rather than rushing out an agenda to help win an election in 2004. ''We're trying to build an idea base for the longer term,'' he said, to bring about ''an enduring progressive majority.''

    The problem for the Left is that everyone knows what those eight words are and they just aren't terribly popular in much of America: "More government. More Taxes. More welfare. And so on." The more forthright the Democratic Party is about what it believes in, the more it becomes a party of those groups that depend on government and, on the one hand, that's enough to remain a force in politics because enough people do so, but, on the other, it's hard to form a governing majority out of groups that really only care about receiving their own checks, not about broader ideological issues.

    October 11, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 PM


    Secrets of the Scandal (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, October 11, 2003, NY Times)

    [N]ow a few pertinent facts:

    First, the C.I.A. suspected that Aldrich Ames had given Mrs. Wilson's name (along with those of other spies) to the Russians before his espionage arrest in 1994. So her undercover security was undermined at that time, and she was brought back to Washington for safety reasons.

    Second, as Mrs. Wilson rose in the agency, she was already in transition away from undercover work to management, and to liaison roles with other intelligence agencies. So this year, even before she was outed, she was moving away from "noc" -- which means non-official cover, like pretending to be a business executive. After passing as an energy analyst for Brewster-Jennings & Associates, a C.I.A. front company, she was switching to a new cover as a State Department official, affording her diplomatic protection without having "C.I.A." stamped on her forehead.

    Third, Mrs. Wilson's intelligence connections became known a bit in Washington as she rose in the C.I.A. and moved to State Department cover, but her job remained a closely held secret. Even her classmates in the C.I.A.'s career training program mostly knew her only as Valerie P. That way, if one spook defected, the damage would be limited.

    Sounds like Bob Novak was the last, not the first, to know.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 PM


    Williams reignites row over gay bishop (Jamie Doward, October 12, 2003, The Observer)

    Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is set to reignite the ferocious row surrounding the appointment of an openly gay man as an Anglican bishop in the United States - by arguing that it defies the Church's established position.

    Williams is expected to tell Church leaders meeting in London on the divisive issue that the impending consecration of Canon Gene Robinson - an openly gay man with a long-term partner - as Bishop of New Hampshire is in breach of the Church's position on homosexuality as set out in 1998.

    Williams, spiritual head of the 70 million-strong global Anglican community, will dismay modernisers who had hoped he would encourage a more liberal agenda than his predecessor, George Carey. [...]

    Earlier this month Williams hinted at the way he was thinking when he told the Vatican radio station that he would be 'very surprised indeed' if his Church's position on the ordination of homosexuals had changed by the end of the conference.

    Boy, that "Come to Jesus" meeting with the Pope worked wonders, no?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:14 PM


    Doubts tearing France apart: An orgy of breast-beating in print claims the French 'piss off the planet', Paul Webster reports from Paris (Paul Webster, October 12, 2003, The Observer)

    [I]t is the suave De Villepin who is mocked with iconoclastic vigour for his vanity in L'Arrogance française, as a cypher for this state-moulded super-class and who is never forced to admit being wrong.

    And it is De Villepin who is blamed in particular for persuading a malleable President to take such an uncompromising stand on Iraq although other advisers correctly warned of the long-term damage of taking no account of US hegemony and offending the emerging EU Eastern bloc.

    It is not just the elites that come in for criticism; by implication it is the considerable number of ordinary Frenchmen who have put their faith in the rural campaigner, José Bové, a neo-Poujadist.

    Much of this wave of populism, say the declinists, is fed by an insistence of both Left and Right on l'exception française, a modern form of chauvinism in which legal fences are built around French language and culture.

    It is an 'exception' that is mocked in L'Arrogance française as a hallucinatory drug that spills over into all facets of life from haute cuisine to the heavily subsidised and introverted cinema industry.

    It is all pretty apocalyptic stuff. But in one respect the declinists may be right: that their political masters seem somewhat blinkered to the way in which many, from the Murdoch press to the Bush White House, regard La Belle France.

    And it is De Villepin who is most exposed in this regard. 'Abroad,' he writes in his answer to declinists: 'France rests a pole of thought and culture, a major economic, military and political power.'

    It's hardly fair to blame Mr. De Villepin for the historic faults of the entire French race. After all, they've been in decline but with pretensions to greatness at least since Napoleon was defeated.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:22 PM


    California Gov.-Elect Arnold Schwarzenegger Says He Looks Forward to Working With President Bush (The Associated Press, 10/10/03)

    Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger is arriving in Sacramento with hopes of getting along better with one of California's biggest enemies: the Bush administration.

    If you're going to toss around words like "enemies", don't you have to concede that CA disposed of its biggest enemy on Tuesday?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:13 AM


    College Dems Anger Indian-Americans for Attack on GOP Candidate (CNSNews.com, 10, 03)

    In an e-mail Tuesday, College Democrats President Ashley Bell, a law student at Louisiana State University, informed students of the upcoming governor's election between Democrat Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco and former Bush administration official Bobby Jindal, who was born a Hindu.

    "On Saturday - we nominated Kathleen Blanco the Lt. Governor to be our nominee to take on Bush's personal 'Do Boy' Bobby Jindal," Bell wrote. "Jindal is Arab American and the Republicans [sic] token attempt to mend bridges long burnt with the Arab American community."

    The fact that Bell called Jindal an Arab-American caused alarm, but Indian-Americans told CNSNews.com it was shameful for the College Democrats to label him as a token candidate because of his ethnicity.

    "Playing the race card is just despicable," said Harin Contractor, an Indian-American student at the University of Georgia. "If that happened to the Jewish-American community or the African-American community ... there would be a huge backlash. But [Bell] doesn't care because we're Indian-American and we don't matter."

    Arab, Indian, whatever...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 AM


    'A Gift From God' Renews a Village: Iraqi Engineers Revitalize Marshes That Hussein Had Drained (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, October 11, 2003, Washington Post)

    The surging water from the Euphrates River first quenched the desiccated soil around this village. Then, with a steady crescendo, it smothered farming tracts, inundated several homes and enveloped the landscape to the horizon.

    "Hamdulillah," intoned Salim Sherif Kerkush, the stout village sheik. Thank God.

    Thin reeds now sprout on the glassy surface. Aquatic birds build nests on tiny islands. And lanky young boys in flowing tunics spend the first few hours of each day as generations of adolescent males in their families have: gliding across the water in narrow wooden boats to collect fish trapped in homemade nets.

    "The water is our life," Kerkush said as he gazed at the marsh that now comes within a few feet of his house and stretches as far as the eye can see. "It is a gift from God to have it back."

    A dozen years after Saddam Hussein ordered the vast marshes of southeastern Iraq drained, transforming idyllic wetlands into a barren moonscape to eliminate a hiding place for Shiite Muslim political opponents, Iraqi engineers have turned on the spigot again.

    Actually it's a gift from the Allies, but why be picky.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:38 AM


    A rift worse than schism? (Uwe Siemon-Netto, 10/6/2003, UPI)

    The crisis in the Anglican Communion seems to foreshadow a rift worse than a schism for world Christianity. It does not only divide denomination from denomination. Worse, its fault lines cut straight through many branches of the body of Christ.

    Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, is reported to have been shaken by his encounters with Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, last weekend in Rome.

    These were difficult meetings highlighting acute dangers for the ecumenical movement. "Obviously, these exchanges were conducted in a courteous, fraternal manner," a Vatican insider told United Press International Monday, "but their substance was very clear: Rowan was told, in effect, that if he did not act against the impending consecration of an openly homosexual cleric as an Episcopal bishop in the United States, it will be all over between the Catholics and the Anglicans." [...]

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines schism as "the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him." That applies to the Eastern Orthodox and the Protestants. However, they still accept the basic tenets of the Christian faith.

    But in the eyes of the Catholic hierarchy -- and others, including the majority of the world's Anglicans - the Episcopalians' decision to consecrate an active homosexual as overseer in his denomination and to bless same-sex unions points to a much deeper question: what coordinates must the Church follow -- Scripture or the mushy postmodern obligation to canonize any form of human desire, even when it is utterly unbiblical?

    Clearly, the liberal-revisionist wing of contemporary Christianity, including many Western Catholics, is at the losing end of this global struggle within the Body of Christ.

    Imagine being one of those mushy postm,odern clerics who doesn't believe in much and trying to explain what you're doing to your church to Pope John Paul II. No wonder the chief druid was shaken.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 AM


    Thomas Jefferson And Freedom Of Religion (Ecclesiastical Review)

    For his notes on Christianity as a system, Jefferson did not go directly to the Scriptures themselves, but to John Locke's treatise on The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures. This author had found "little Satisfaction . . . in most systems of Divinity" and so betook himself "to the sole reading of the Scriptures (to which they all appeal) for the understanding of the Christian Religion." The results of his "attentive and unbiassed Search" Locke set forth as "the sense and tenor of the Gospel." It was this that Jefferson summarized as Locke's system of Christianity, beginning with Adam's sin punished by the loss of immortality and the redemption of mankind by the Son of God. Its fundamentals were to be found primarily in the Gospels, which give the preaching of our Savior, and only incidentally in the Epistles where fundamentals are mixed with other truths, written occasionally for edification and explanation, adapted to the notions and customs of the people addressed. Assent to these other truths, though written by inspired men, ought not to be demanded, according to Locke, for admission into the communion of the Christian Church here or to God's Kingdom hereafter inasmuch as "the Apostles' Creed was by them taken to contain all things necessary to Salvation, and consequently to a communion."

    Jefferson, furthermore, found Locke reducing the fundamentals of Christianity in the Gospels to two things: to faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah, and to repentance sincerely proved by good works. Now those who did not have the Gospels were not therefore lost to salvation; for "the Jews had the law of works revealed to them . . . and a lively faith in God's promises to send the Messiah would supply defects;" "the Gentiles have the law written in their hearts, i.e., the law of nature to which adding a faith in God . . . that, on their repentance, he would pardon them, they also would be justified." While Jews and Gentiles could thus be saved even without the Gospel, the Savior's mission brought mankind the following advantages, as Jefferson summarized them:

    1. The knowledge of one God only.

    2. A clear knowledge of their duty, or system of morality delivered on such authority as to give sanction.

    3. The outward forms of religious worship wanted to be purged of that farcical pomp and nonsense with which they were loaded.

    4. An inducement to a pious life by revealing a future existence in bliss, and that it was to be a reward of the virtuous.

    Despite all effort to put Christianity into a system, Thomas Jefferson then noted that there was no uniformity, but dissent from every religious establishment in Christendom. [...]

    The question of Church Polity in the controversy between Episcopalians and Presbyterians moved Jefferson also to collect some notes on the subject. From Milton's two tracts of 1641: The Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty and Of the Reformation in England and the Causes that hitherto have hindered it, Jefferson took Patristic texts and other historical notes. According to Milton these established that the title of clergy belonged to all God's people at first and not only to priests; that Bishops were originally elected by the whole Church, had no certain diocese, and were not lords over fellow presbyters; that consequently "a modern bishop, to be moulded into a primitive one, must be elected by the people, undiocest, unrevenued, unlorded."

    In principle, a Protestant should not have bothered with tradition at all, but should have relied on Scripture alone. One of Jefferson's notes did, in fact, collect texts from the Epistles of St. Paul to Timothy and to Titus and from the epistle of St. James, to which were added the original Greek words used to designate the ministers of the Church in Apostolic days. From the occasional use of Bishop and Presbyter as synonyms in Scripture there is drawn here an inference that there is not only identity of names, but also of office, which is a bad fallacy.

    Although such study seemed to have undermined Jefferson's Episcopalian Faith, it did not make a Presbyterian of him. The Notes on the Trinity are clearly anti-Trinitarian, and he himself became a professed Unitarian in course of time.

    It may well be fair to say that the rationalism of several Founders made them skeptical of much of Christianity, but one thing above all seems to have kept men like Jefferson and Franklin quite tightly tethered to it, that for a moral system to have authority it required God. That remains true today and is one of the main means of rational access to faith. If you believe morality must exist beyond your own opinion of right and wrong, you must believe in God.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 AM

    THIS ISN'T SELF-PARODY EITHER (via Political Theory): :

    The Secular Humanist Prospect: In Historical Perspective (Paul Kurtz, Free Inquiry)

    Secular humanism holds great promise for the future of humankind. But disturbing changes have occurred in recent years, particularly in the United States, that make its promise harder to fulfill. The cultural wars no doubt will continue to intensify. Though we have made progress—as recent Supreme Court decisions testify—we face unremitting challenges to the secular humanist outlook.

    If I can flash back more than half a century, clearly most political and intellectual leaders of that time were sympathetic to scientific naturalism and humanism. I vividly remember John Dewey’s ninetieth birthday celebrations in 1949 (Dewey was then the leading American humanist philosopher). One such event was attended by the president of Columbia University (and future president of the United States), General Dwight D. Eisenhower. I recall Eisenhower declaring in admiration: “Professor Dewey, you are the philosopher of freedom, and I am the soldier of freedom.” Can we even imagine a soon-to-be U.S. president so praising a humanist intellectual today?

    In those days, thoughtful Americans had great confidence in the United Nations and its efforts to transcend nationalism and build a world community. We sought to develop institutions of international law and a world court, enhancing our ability to negotiate differences based on collective security. Emerging from the Second World War, Americans displayed a strong desire to go beyond ancient rivalries, accompanied by confidence in the ability of science to understand nature and to solve human problems. [...]

    In the early 1970s, I was invited to Washington, D.C., on more than one occasion. I recall attending a reception at Mrs. Dean Acheson’s house and meeting, among others, Hubert Humphrey. I had been a strong supporter of Mr. Humphrey. I was the editor of the Humanist magazine at that time; Mr. Humphrey read my nametag and said to me, “Oh, Paul Kurtz! How nice to see you! Ah, the Humanist magazine, what a great magazine! I wish I had time to read it!” Walter Mondale, who was later to become vice president of the United States, and many other people identified approvingly with humanism. Indeed, in a very real sense humanism was the dominant intellectual theme on the cultural scene. On another occasion, I was invited to Washington by Senator Edward Kennedy (who was planning to run for the presidency). I spent a weekend at Sargent Shriver’s home. His wife, Eunice Shriver, was one of the Kennedys. I also visited the home of Mrs. Robert Kennedy. Everyone thought that the humanist outlook was important. And indeed, many of that era’s intellectual leaders of thought and action were humanists: B.F. Skinner, Albert Ellis, Herbert Muller, A.H. Maslow, Carl Rogers, Thomas Szasz, Jonas Salk, Joseph Fletcher, Betty Friedan, Sidney Hook, Rudolf Carnap, W.V. Quine, and Ernest Nagel come to mind. Many leaders in the Black community were humanists, not ministers, such as James Farmer, Bayard Rustin, and A. Philip Randolph; they worked hard for minority rights. Humanism and modernism were considered synonymous. In one sense the 1970s marked a high point of humanism’s influence—at least in the United States.

    Now, I raise these points because there has been a radical shift today, particularly in the United States. Let me focus for a moment on this country, because of its enormous influence in today’s world. America is undergoing a fundamental transformation, one which in my view betrays the ideals of the Founding Fathers. Jefferson, Madison, Washington, and Franklin were humanists and rationalists by the standards of their day, heavily influenced by the Enlightenment. How different is the national tone today. We hear calls for the nation to become more religious; we see unremitting attempts to breach the separation of church and state, such as the financing of faith-based charities. Since the tragedy of 9/11, the momentum of change has accelerated. The so-called PATRIOT Act and the relentless pursuit of “Homeland Security,” I submit, are drastically undermining civil liberties.

    The United States is the preeminent scientific, technological, economic, and political power of the world, far outstripping any other nation. Today the military budget of the United States is virtually equal to that of the rest of the world combined. Why has America’s former idealism on behalf of democracy and human rights declined, to be replaced by militant chauvinism? Why has its commitment to humanism, liberal values, and the First Amendment eroded?

    These changes began in the late 1970s and gathered force in the 1980s.

    How can anyone who lived through the 70s, the admitted pinnacle of humanism but the nadir of America, honestly wonder why there's been a hostile reaction?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 AM


    George W. Bush's Medieval Presidency (Neal Gabler, October 5, 2003, LA Times)

    It should have been an embarrassing admission for him and a flabbergasting one for us: President Bush told Fox News recently that he only "glanced" at newspaper headlines, rarely reading stories, and that for his real news hits, he relied on briefings from acolytes who, he said flippantly, "probably read the news themselves." He rationalized his indifference by claiming he needed "objective" information. Even allowing for the president's contempt for the press, it was a peculiar comment, and it prompted the New York Times to call him "one of the most incurious men ever to occupy the White House."

    But in citing this as a personal deficiency or even as political grandstanding, critics may have missed the larger point. Incuriosity seems characteristic of the entire Bush administration. More, it seems central to its very operation. The administration seems indifferent to data, impervious to competing viewpoints and ideas. Policy is not adjusted to facts; facts are adjusted to policy. The result is what may be the nation's first medieval presidency - one in which reality is ignored for the administration's own prevailing vision. And just as in medieval days, this willful ignorance can lead to terrible consequences.

    At least since the Progressive era, America has been an empire of empiricism, a nation not only of laws but of facts. As heirs of the Enlightenment, the Progressives had an abiding faith in the power of rationality and a belief in the science of governing. Elect officeholders of good intent, arm them with sufficient information and they could guide the government for the public weal. From this seed sprang hundreds of government agencies dedicated to churning out data: statistics on labor, health, education, economics, the environment, you name it. These were digested by bureaucrats and policymakers, then spun into laws and regulations.

    Reader warning: this is not self-parody. Despite the evidence of the 20th Century, Mr. Gabler apparently thinks that bureaucrats can "guide" government for our own good. This is the very core of the intellectual fallacy

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:50 AM


    Russia: the impact of Islamic parties on the elections (RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies, 9 October 2003)

    There are about 20 million Muslims in the Russian Federation, or 15 percent of the population. Researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies say the figure could be anywhere from 6 million to 30 million, depending on the political and religious agendas of those counting, but the number of 20 million is now widely accepted, and used to determine Russia's quota for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, or the hajj.

    Experts say that by 2010, if present trends continue, 40 percent of Russia's 18-year-old men will come from historically Islamic peoples within the Russian Federation. They will be of draft age -- and also of voting age. Their brand of Islam may be cultural and moral rather than spiritual. Only 4 million to 5 million of all Muslims in Russia are said to regularly practice their religion, experts say, although the higher birthrate of Muslims means they are likely to become more visible and active in politics. This growing Muslim population was a major factor cited in Russia's recent announcement that it intended to join the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), whose membership of 56 countries plus Palestine includes the Central Asian nations.

    Manifest Destiny anyone?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:34 AM


    E.T. and God: Could earthly religions survive the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe? (Paul Davies, September 2003, The Atlantic Monthly)

    The recent discovery of abundant water on Mars, albeit in the form of permafrost, has raised hopes for finding traces of life there. The Red Planet has long been a favorite location for those speculating about extraterrestrial life, especially since the 1890s, when H. G. Wells wrote The War of the Worlds and the American astronomer Percival Lowell claimed that he could see artificial canals etched into the planet's parched surface. Today, of course, scientists expect to find no more than simple bacteria dwelling deep underground, if even that. Still, the discovery of just a single bacterium somewhere beyond Earth would force us to revise our understanding of who we are and where we fit into the cosmic scheme of things, throwing us into a deep spiritual identity crisis that would be every bit as dramatic as the one Copernicus brought about in the early 1500s, when he asserted that Earth was not at the center of the universe.

    Whether or not we are alone is one of the great existential questions that confront us today. Probably because of the high emotional stakes, the search for life beyond Earth is deeply fascinating to the public. Opinion polls and Web-site hits indicate strong support for and interest in space missions that are linked even obliquely to this search. Perceiving the public's interest, NASA has reconfigured its research strategy and founded the NASA Astrobiology Institute, dedicated to the study of life in the cosmos. At the top of the agenda, naturally, is the race to find life elsewhere in the solar system.

    Hard to see why microbes would matter, though the discovery of intelligent life would certainly present some questions. More interesting, for now, is why faith in science survives the absence of such life?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:29 AM


    'Too little' oil for global warming (New Scientist, 05 October 03)

    Oil and gas will run out too fast for doomsday global warming scenarios to materialise, according to a controversial analysis presented this week at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. The authors warn that all the fuel will be burnt before there is enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to realise predictions of melting ice caps and searing temperatures.

    Defending their predictions, scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say they considered a range of estimates of oil and gas reserves, and point out that coal-burning could easily make up the shortfall. But all agree that burning coal would be even worse for the planet.

    The IPCC's predictions of global meltdown provided the impetus for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an agreement obliging signatory nations to cut CO2 emissions. The IPCC considered a range of future scenarios, from profligate burning of fossil-fuels to a fast transition towards greener energy sources.

    But geologists Anders Sivertsson, Kjell Aleklett and Colin Campbell of Uppsala University say there is not enough oil and gas left for even the most conservative of the 40 IPCC scenarios to come to pass.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 AM


    Free markets can hit economic growth (New Scientist, 11 October 03)

    If developing countries join the global economy too soon, they risk becoming trapped in a cycle of poverty and corruption, a new analysis suggests.

    A number of empirical studies have shown that poorer countries experience higher levels of corruption. Badly paid officials are easily tempted by bribes, the reasoning goes, while the well paid officials in richer nations risk losing their comfortable salaries if they are caught taking backhanders. But if corruption so bedevils developing nations, how do they escape and become rich?

    Daniele Paserman, an economist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and his colleagues say they have found a simple answer. If a poor country opens up its economy to the outside world too quickly, the flow of money across its borders encourages corruption, which in turn hampers growth.

    But those countries with closed economies can grow until they can afford to pay their officials well. This runs counter to the conventional wisdom that free markets across borders encourage development and cut corruption. "We are highlighting one of the dangers of being more open," says Paserman. "But there are other benefits."

    This would tend to provide empirical support for the intuitive notion that a period of authoritarianism--as in Spain, Chile, Taiwan--smooths the transition to democratic capitalism.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:22 AM


    Tantalising evidence hints Universe is finite (New Scientist, 08 October 03)

    Perplexing observations beamed back by a NASA spacecraft are fuelling debates about a mystery of biblical proportions - is our Universe infinite? Scientists have announced tantalising hints that the Universe is actually relatively small, with a hall-of-mirrors illusion tricking us into thinking that space stretches on forever.

    However, work by a second team seems to contradict this, and scientists are now busy trying to resolve the conundrum. "Whether space is finite is something people have been asking since ancient times, and probably before that," says mathematician Jeffrey Weeks from Canton, New York. "If we resolved this and confirmed that space is finite, this would be an enormous step forward in our understanding of nature."

    At the centre of the debate are observations by NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which was launched in 2001. The probe measures temperature ripples in the "cosmic microwave background", the afterglow radiation from the big bang fireball.

    Astronomers are interested in how strong different sizes of ripples are, as this reveals vital information about the early Universe, and might tell us how big the Universe is today. Many astronomers suspect that the Universe is infinite.

    In that case, the microwave background ripples should have an unlimited range of sizes. But while WMAP's observations of small-scale ripples have matched predictions for an infinite Universe almost perfectly, the large-scale measurements have not. On the largest scales, WMAP has shown that the ripples almost disappear.

    The only thing in the Universe that is certainly infinite is our ignorance.

    Universe is Finite, "Soccer Ball"-Shaped, Study Hints (Sean Markey, October 8, 2003, National Geographic News)

    "What makes it exciting now is it's not a matter of idle speculation," said Jeffrey Weeks, a freelance mathematician in Canton, New York, and study co-author. "There's real data to look at and the possibility of getting a definite answer."

    Weeks, recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship or so-called "genius award," arrived at the model with a team of French cosmologists while studying cosmic background radiation observed by NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP).

    It would be the French who came up with this.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:40 AM


    In State's Last Bastion Of Liberals, Recall Lost: San Francisco Bay Area Stunned by Actor's Victory (Evelyn Nieves, October 11, 2003, Washington Post)

    When friends back home in London ask Lionel French what it's like to live in the States, he tells them he wouldn't know -- he lives in San Francisco.

    "I tell them this is another country altogether," said the graphic artist, sipping green tea Friday afternoon at the Dolores Park Cafe in the city's bohemian Mission District. "I don't know anyone who supported the war in Iraq or the recall of Gray Davis," said French, 29, who moved here two years ago. "And it would certainly be a day's work to find anyone who voted for bloody Arnold Schwarzenegger."

    Yes, the San Francisco Bay Area is different. The recall proves it, once and for all. The nine counties of the Bay Area, which includes the famous liberal bastions of Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco, distinguished themselves as the main swath where the recall lost. And here on Planet San Francisco, the recall that won with 54 percent statewide lost by 80 percent.

    Compare that with the state's other Democratic bastion, Los Angeles, where 51 percent of voters opted against the recall, and the Bay Area becomes the last place in the state where the Democratic Party has a stronghold, or the Republican Party has no new clout.

    And so, the city has been moody since Tuesday's vote. The shock of the new governor is still as raw and painful as a fresh fall off a concrete curb. While voters elsewhere have celebrated, San Francisco's bruised electorate is more than a little depressed.

    "People are disgusted, embarrassed, fearful and wanting to secede from the rest of the state," said Van Jones, founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which advocates education over incarceration for troubled juveniles.


    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:18 AM


    If Bush won't ask for sacrifices to pay for war, Congress should (Jonathan Coopersmith, October 7, 2003, Dallas Morning News)

    I confess I have a dog in this fight. I have two small children, and I am worried about the world we are creating for them. Perhaps my biggest concern is the mismanaged postwar occupation of Iraq.

    My usual reaction when someone mentions national prestige is to guard my wallet. But regardless of what we think about the decision to invade Iraq, our country now is waist deep in that briar patch and can't leave until some serious semblance of order and sovereignty are restored.

    The military occupation is costing about $1 billion a week – or roughly $50 billion for the year. That's a lot of money – nearly as much as all veterans' benefits ($58 billion), not quite twice the federal budget for public education ($34 billion), more than three times the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's budget ($15 billion) and 10 times the FBI's budget ($5 billion). That's how much the Iraq war is costing – on top of the nearly $400 billion defense budget.

    How much money is $50 billion? Let's be cynical and assume the war was about oil. Since gasoline is our nation's main use of oil, let's put the burden of paying for the war on drivers. Americans consume 372 million gallons of gas daily. To pay that $1 billion a week would require a gas tax of 43 cents a gallon. To pay the entire $87 billion the president requested would demand a gas tax of 64 cents a gallon.

    Historically, wars have been very expensive and usually force the imposition of new taxes to pay for them, such as the income tax, first used in the Civil War. Not paying for wars can have devastating financial consequences.

    One of the more risible themes of recent years is that of the Greatest Generation and the unique sacrifices they supposedly made. It's worth noting that in 1946 the federal debt hit its all-time peak of 127.5% of GDP. For some sense of comparison, consider that the current debt is $6.8 trillion on a GDP of $11 trillion. My math's not good, but, what's that? About half of the Greatest Generation's debt?

    There are perfectly good reasons to try and trim the deficit and the debt -- and there are decent reasons to put higher taxes on gasonline -- but matching the fiscal responsibility of our elders isn't one of them. And it makes no sense to trash the economy in the middle of a war by cranking up taxes.

    The Deficit Chicken Hawks (Robert J. Samuelson, October 10, 2003, Washington Post)

    Almost everything you think you know about budget deficits is probably wrong or misleading. For starters, they don't automatically cripple the economy. If they did, America would be a much poorer country. Since 1961 the federal government has run deficits in all but five years (1969, 1998-2001). Over the same period, the economy's output (gross domestic product) has expanded by almost a factor of four, the number of jobs has grown by 72 million and per-capita incomes have increased about 150 percent.

    Indeed, rising deficits are sometimes helpful. They are now. It is possible to dislike parts of President Bush's tax cuts -- and to see the White House's budget rhetoric as hypocritical -- but it is not possible to think that on balance these policies have hurt the economy. From fiscal 2000 to 2003, the budget has moved from a surplus of 2.4 percent of GDP to a deficit of 3.7 percent of GDP; the shift is worth about $650 billion annually. Tax cuts didn't cause all of this swing. Still, the massive stimulus helped offset the depressing effects of the stock market, Internet and telecom bubbles. Higher deficits didn't raise interest rates. In 2000, rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 7.5 percent; this year, they've been under 6 percent.

    But the biggest misconception about deficits is that, by themselves, they threaten the economy's long-term vitality. Not true. The real threat is rising government spending. The reason is simple. Government spending must be paid for by either taxes or borrowing (a deficit). If spending rises too high, economic growth may suffer from either steeper taxes or heftier deficits. Spending is the real culprit.

    Consider the long-term budget outlook. Federal spending is now about 20 percent of GDP, which is roughly the average since 1960. Homeland security and higher defense spending have undone much of the post-Cold War "peace dividend." [...]

    As a nation, we need to change the conversation. It has to become respectable to talk about limits, not just wants and needs. In the next few years, large deficits are tolerable; indeed, trying to reduce them too quickly might ruin the fragile recovery. But Republicans need to admit that, once the economy strengthens, large deficits falsely promise something for nothing.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:59 AM


    Muslim Students at Penn Sponsor Nazi (Jonathan Calt Harris, October 9, 2003, FrontPageMagazine.com)

    This week the University of Pennsylvania’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) is celebrating its “Islam Awareness Week.” For the keynote address on Thursday, October 9, the MSA invited “Reverend” William W. Baker, a former chairman of a racist and anti-Semitic organization, the Populist Party.

    Baker, the founder and director of Christians and Muslims for Peace (CAMP) will be one of two invited speakers and the first non-Muslim ever invited to speak at this annual week-long event.

    Baker’s selection as speaker is bad enough, but the use of university funds to pay for it is a scandal; the Office of the Chaplain and the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life helped MSA come up with nearly $5,000 for the week-long program. [...]

    Baker promotes himself as an “inter-faith leader” but his inter-faith work seems to be limited to a close relationship with Ahmad Kuftaro, the grand mufti of Damascus and a functionary of the Assad regime who parrots its line. (Kuftaro, for example, called the war in Iraq an “American, British, and Zionist aggression” and called on all forms of “resistence” from Muslims, “including martyrdom operations.”)

    Islam Awareness Week co-chairman, UPenn junior Anjum Cheema, stated recently, “The main purpose is to get a big non-Muslim audience to come out and hear what Islam is all about,” he said. Baker’s purpose would seem to be quite different: misrepresenting both Christianity and Islam in an effort to build an anti-Semitic alliance.

    That would seem sub-helpful.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:49 AM


    The Real Face of Indonesian Islam: Islamism, whose proponents favor an Islamic state, appears
    to be losing ground in Indonesia, not gaining it. (R. WILLIAM LIDDLE and SAIFUL MUJANI, 10/11/03, NY Times)

    Are Muslim conservatives likely to make a comeback in the 2004 elections? A national poll we conducted in November 2002 for the Center for the Study of Islam and Society at Indonesia's State Islamic University found that only 14 percent of the Muslim respondents share the values of the pro-Islamic-state parties.

    These figures are unlikely to have been affected by the American invasion of Iraq, which angered many Indonesian Muslims but has little to do with their conception of the relation of Islam to domestic politics. Secular nationalism is deeply rooted in Indonesian history, even among pious Muslims.

    The poll results also indicate that Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, the bulwarks of moderate Islamic civil society, continue to command considerable loyalty among Muslim voters. Fully 75 percent of Muslim respondents consider themselves a part of or attached to either group. Membership in these two giant organizations also correlates positively with participation in secular civil society organizations and with participation in democratic politics.

    Those numbers could obviously be worse, but you have to be worried about any fledgling democracy where 15-20% of the people are avowed totalitarians.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:30 AM


    What My Husband Saw (JEANNE STEIG, October 11, 2003, NY Times)

    I'd say that Bill was a tragicomic artist, surely a difficult thing to be. You have to feel both the truth and the grief of the truth, and find a way to present them with redeeming delight. Bill's books, including the ones for children, never shied away from the truth. He talked about death and cruelty and God. He never condescended. He always gave you the whole thing, and always left you something to wonder about when it was over. He wondered himself. Often, after what looked like long consideration, he would ask whoever happened to be around, "What's it all about?" He really wanted to know. But if you thought you had the answer, he'd say, "Really?" — and then go on considering.

    October 10, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 PM


    Arnold Taps Tammy Bruce for Transition Team (NewsMax, Oct. 10, 2003)

    Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger has tapped leading feminist and best-selling author Tammy Bruce to be part of his transition team.

    Bruce - a regular contributor to NewsMax.com - said late Thursday that she was "thrilled when I was asked to take part in what is clearly one of the most important and historic political transitions not just for California, but for the nation."

    "There's a great deal of work to do," she told NewsMax. "I'm honored to be able to play a small part in making California, once again, the greatest state of the greatest nation on Earth."

    Tammy Bruce was head of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women during the 1990s, but split from the organization when it continued to support President Clinton after he stonewalled his way through the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.

    In a column for NewsMax.com last week, Bruce explained what she saw as key differences between how Schwarzenegger has conducted himself when hit by allegations that he groped women and the ex-president.

    "[Arnold] admitted it, and apologized! He did not shake his finger in the air and deny having ‘sexual relations’ with any woman. His wife, Maria, did not go on a morning show to blame the accusations on a vast left-wing conspiracy. No, he admitted his bad behavior and said he now realizes what he did was wrong."

    If nothing else, choosing Ms Bruce and rape victim Susan Estrich for his team demonstrates that Mr. Schwarzenegger knows he has a problem, a political one anyway, with the way he treats women. He continues to show awfully good political dexterity, especially for a novice.

    -A Deplorable October Surprise (Susan Estrich, 10/03/03, LA Times)
    -The Rundown: Arnold hands in his transition lineup card. It's got a few surprises . . . (Bill Whalen, 10/10/2003, Weekly Standard)
    -Governor-elect names transition team (October 9, 2003, Sacramento Bee)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 PM


    Breeding perfection: Investigative journalist Edwin Black has an explosive new book about the eugencis movement and explains how America taught Hitler and Mengele to systematically kill a nation. (Edwin Black, October 11, 2003, Jewsweek)

    Hitler and his henchmen victimized an entire continent and exterminated millions in his quest for a co-called "Master Race." Mengele's madness was part of that quest.

    But the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race was not Hitler's. The idea was created in the United States two to three decades before Hitler came to power, the product of the American eugenics movement. Eugenics was the racist American pseudoscience determined to wipe away all human beings except those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype. The philosophy was enshrined into national policy by forced sterilization and segregation laws, as well as marriage restrictions, enacted in 27 states. Ultimately, eugenics coercively sterilized some 60,000 Americans, barred the marriage of thousands, forcibly segregated thousands in "colonies," and persecuted untold numbers in ways we are just learning.

    Only after eugenics and race biology became entrenched as an American ideal was the campaign transplanted into Germany, where it came to Hitler's attention.

    Hitler studied American eugenic laws and rationales and preferred to legitimize his innate race hatred and anti-Semitism by medicalizing it, and wrapping it in a more palatable pseudoscientific fa?ade -- eugenics. Indeed, Hitler was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side. While Hitler's race hatred sprung from his own mind, the intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were strictly American.

    Eugenics would have been just bizarre parlor talk had it not been for massive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Harriman railroad fortune. They were all in league with America's most respected scientists hailing from such prestigious universities as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. These academicians faked and twisted data to serve eugenics' racist aims.

    Give scientists a rational theory and remove the moral constraints provided only by religion and you can be damn sure they'll run the experiment.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 PM


    Philadelphia Society Keynote Address (Forrest McDonald, October 3, 2003)

    [O]ne cannot leap from the framers' belief in the sanctity of private property to the conclusion that they advocated either capitalism or a free market economy. The very thinkers whom Americans looked to for their ideas about private property placed limitations on the right. John Calvin opined that a man might choose among many callings but was bound by God's law to follow the one that promised the greatest public good. John Locke taught that a man could accumulate property, but only insofar as he could consume it and none went to waste; the rest belonged to the public. Sir William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England famously defined property as “that sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of this world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe"; but after formulating that definition on the second page of book two of the Commentaries, Blackstone devotes the remaining 518 pages of the volume to qualifying and specifying exceptions to it.

    In addition to the many such qualifications that Americans had inherited from the mother country, the states or local governments fixed the prices of bread, regulated rates charged by millers and innkeepers, and interfered in buying, selling, and lending. They routinely set aside private contracts on the basis of the medieval concept that everything had an intrinsic "fair value" and therefore a "just price." A modern market definition of contracts was yet to appear in America.

    Overcoming these obstacles to the emergence of a free market order was made difficult by two ideological considerations. The first was the commitment to a republican form of government. Most Patriots had come by their republicanism willy-nilly, as a by-product of the general reaction against the supposed excesses of George III and with neither a historical nor a philosophical understanding of what they were embracing. Between 1776 and 1787, however, increasing numbers of public men took the trouble to learn about the history of republics and to study the writings of theorists of republicanism. Two distinct species of republican ideology arose as a result--one, the more nearly classical, may be described as puritan, and was concentrated in New England; the other, the more modern, may be described as agrarian and was concentrated in the tobacco belt.

    The two varieties held a number of attitudes in common, the most crucial being preoccupation with the mortality of republics. The vital, which is to say life-giving, principle of republics was that of public virtue. It is important to understand that these two words are both derived from Latin roots signifying manhood. The public did not comprehend everybody, only independent adult males. Public virtue entailed firmness, courage, endurance, industry, frugal living, strength, and above all unremitting devotion to the weal of the public's corporate self, the community of virtuous men. It was at once individualistic and communal: individualistic in that no member of the public could be dependent on any other and still be reckoned a member of the public; communal in that every man gave himself totally to the good of the public as a whole. (That, by the way, is what the phrase in the Declaration "the pursuit of happiness," meant; one found happiness or fulfillment in service to the public well-being.) If public virtue declined too far, the republic died. Philosophical historians had worked out a regular life cycle, or more properly death cycle, of republics: manhood gave way to effeminacy, republican liberty to licentiousness; licentiousness, in turn, degenerated into anarchy, and anarchy led to tyranny.

    As for puritanical republicanism, almost nothing was outside its purview, for every matter that might in any way contribute to strengthening or weakening the virtue of the public was a thing of concern to the public--a res publica-and was subject to regulation by the public. Republican liberty was totalitarian: one was free to do that, and solely that, which was in the interest of the public; the liberty of the individual was subsumed in the freedom or independence of the political community. Lest this seem an overstatement, listen to the words of John Adams, writing to Mercy Warren. Republican government, he informed her, could be supported only "by pure Religion or Austere Morals. Public Virtue cannot exist in a Nation without private, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics. There must be a positive Passion for the public good, the public Interest, Honour, Power and Glory, established in the Minds of the People, or there can be no Republican Government, nor any real liberty." The public passions, he emphasized, "must be Superiour to all private Passions. Men must . . . be happy to sacrifice their private Friendships and dearest Connections, when they stand in Competition with the Rights of Society."

    Of course, Adam Smith himself, the great prophet of capitalism, shared the puritan totalitarian view of republican liberty (or whatever you want to call it), which seems to be a necessary prerequisite of a healthy democratic capitalist society. Folk now like to think that both democracy and capitalism are premised on the exaltation of the individual and his unchecked desires, but quite the opposite is true. Both require citizens in whom virtue is cultivated, so that they keep others in mind as they act.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:38 PM


    On This They Do Agree: Evangelicals take the lead in human-rights activism. (ALLEN D. HERTZKE, October 10, 2003, Wall Street Journal)

    [I]n a Sept. 26 New York Times story,...the war in Sudan was described as a "pet cause of many American religious conservatives." Would the Times have similarly described the plight of Soviet Jewry as a "pet cause" of American Jews or apartheid a "pet cause" of African-Americans?

    Such patronizing illustrates how the Sudan cause becomes "tainted" by association with evangelical Christians, whose efforts keep pressure on the Khartoum regime by documenting and publicizing its depredations. It isn't only the efforts of evangelicals, of course. Jewish leaders, Catholics, Episcopalians and African-American pastors from many denominations all contribute. Former Sudanese slaves speak at synagogues and black churches; lay evangelicals from the heartland travel to Washington to join with civil-rights leaders in demonstrations; and campus activists have helped organize a divestment campaign that has resulted in plummeting stock prices for oil companies doing business in Sudan.

    This story of human-rights activism offers one example among many of a new generation of evangelicals quite comfortable in forming coalitions with those they may oppose on some hot-button domestic concerns. Leaders like Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals worked closely with liberal Jews and Tibetan Buddhists to press landmark international religious freedom legislation in 1998. They joined with Gloria Steinem and all the major feminist organizations to pass the Victims of Trafficking and Protection Act of 2000 and with the Congressional Black Caucus for passage of the Sudan Peace Act of 2002. In 2003 they worked with Ted Kennedy and civil-liberties groups such as the NAACP, La Raza and Human Rights Watch to pass legislation targeting prison rape.

    Evangelicals are now leading similar coalitions on behalf of North Korean refugees, and their activism represents the main bulwark against granting further license to the Pyongyang regime to perpetuate its internal human-rights atrocities in return for "concessions" on the international front.

    Who else is going to campaign for human dignity but the folks who still believe in it?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:29 PM


    New Tactic: U.S. Soldiers Lured Into Ambush by Iraqi Civilians, Says U.S. Official (ABC News, Oct. 10, 2003)

    U.S. soldiers were lured into a deadly ambush during a routine patrol in a restive Baghdad neighborhood in what could be a new attack tactic, said a U.S. military official today.

    Two U.S. soldiers were killed and four others were wounded during the ambush in the impoverished Sadr City district of Baghdad, U.S. military and hospital officials said today. At least seven Iraqis were also injured in the attack.

    U.S. troops in three Humvees were on a routine patrol in Sadr City on Thursday night when they were lured into the ambush, U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Col. George Krivo told reporters in Baghdad.

    "A group of people, civilians, met with U.S. forces and said, `Please come in, we need to show you something important,"' said Krivo.

    But when the troops left their vehicles and followed the Iraqis into the densely populated slum, they came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades, small arms and makeshift explosives, said Krivo.

    Although an Army quick reaction force responded and helped extricate the patrol, Krivo said the attack lasted for about two hours.

    Krivo said the luring tactic was not something U.S. forces in Iraq had experienced so far, but he said U.S. troops hoped to "learn and evolve from it."

    If only we were the kind of people these folks accuse us of being, you could just call in the air strikes. We aren't.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:17 PM


    Misuse of Pain Drug Linked to Hearing Loss: Doctors in L.A. and elsewhere have identified at least 48 cases of deafness tied to prolonged misuse of Vicodin and other comparable prescription medicines. (LINDA MARSA, September 10, 2001, LA Times)

    A powerful and potentially addictive painkiller used by millions of Americans is causing rapid hearing loss, even deafness, in some patients who are misusing the drug, according to hearing researchers in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

    So far, at least 48 patients have been identified by doctors at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles and several other medical centers who have treated patients with sudden hearing loss. The hearing problems appear to be limited to people who abuse Vicodin and other chemically comparable prescription drugs by taking exceptionally high dosages for several months or more, doctors said.

    Vicodin, one of the most commonly prescribed painkillers, is frequently used improperly.

    "This has become such a popular drug of abuse," says Dr. John W. House, president of the House Institute in Los Angeles, one of the nation's leading centers of hearing-related research.

    The one thing Rush had going for him with even folks on the Left was his hearing loss. Now it looks like he may possibly have caused that himself. One day at a time, big fella.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:05 PM

    THE GOP'S SECRET PLOT (via Daniel Weintraib: California Insider):

    After the Quake (New Dem Daily, 10/08/03, DLC)

    [I]t's clear the success of the recall effort was no mere right-wing conspiracy. Californians are deeply frustrated by what they perceive as a political establishment -- in both parties -- that's not listening to their concerns, acting on their needs, or paying much attention to anyone who does not belong to a bedrock partisan constituency group.

    Some of the factors that have fed this frustration are to some extent beyond the control of California government. Those factors include economic and budget crises that are simply larger versions of the crises afflicting many other states that are coping with declining revenues, bigger demands for public services, rising health care, education and homeland security costs, and a Republican-controlled federal government bent on shifting costs and responsibilities down to governors and state legislatures.

    Those dastardly Republicans, shifting governing responsibilities to the states--why, they're trying to secretly restore the Constitional Republic.

    Posted by M Ali Choudhury at 6:30 PM


    Germans Criticize Leaders, Admire 'Arnold Effect' (Erik Kirschbaum, Reuters\Yahoo News, October 10, 2003)

    Call it the "Arnold Effect."

    The straight-talking Hollywood action star's election win in California has had an electrifying impact on Germany, leading to calls Friday for top politicians to voice clear ideas in simple language or be swept away at the polls.

    "The more confused we are by what they say, the greater our longing for a man or woman with simple words," wrote Bild newspaper columnist Franz Josef Wagner. "The only problem is that it's the wrong ones who usually master simple language."

    Schwarzenegger's victory in the California race for governor has led to editorials calling for German politicians to abandon their barely comprehensible speaking style in favor of "Klartext" (straight talk).

    But Wagner and others also warn of the dangers of falling for simple remedies from loud Austrians who enthrall the masses. Austrian-born Adolf Hitler still casts a long shadow in Germany.

    "My first thought was 'Oh my God, not another Austrian emigrant -- the first one caused enough damage"' wrote Peter Boenisch, a former government spokesman and newspaper editor, in an analysis on Schwarzenegger for the tabloid Bild.

    "But Germany urgently needs something Schwarzenegger-like: a can-do spirit, unconventional thinking, courage, strength and vision. We're facing the worst crisis since the war," he wrote.

    Manfred Guellner, managing director of the Forsa polling institute, said there is widespread discontent with politicians.

    "The dissatisfaction is growing every day," he told Reuters. "Germany and Europe are ripe for the same sort of phenomenon. People feel they're being messed with. They want simple language and simple remedies."

    "People want to be entertained and not bothered with problems," wrote the liberal Sueddeutsche Zeitung. "People want a strong leader."

    Ronny Zibinski, a 19-year-old Berlin technician, said he liked the idea of a Schwarzenegger-type chancellor for Germany. "We need someone like that to clean up the mess and blow away the lousy politicians," he said.

    How long will the population put up with a failing economy and the submergence of their national identity into a European blancmange before some Le Pen type figure comes along however much this horrifies the political, media and intellectual elites?

    Probably wise to keep in mind Churchill's "The Hun is either at your feet or at your throat" line.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:14 PM


    No Exit Strategy (Howard Kurtz, October 10, 2003, Washington Post)

    It's like being a little bit pregnant.

    Election Day arrives. You've got this hot inside stuff. You can't tell anyone -- hey, you gave your word -- for many hours. But it's too juicy to keep under wraps.

    So it's time for the old wink and a nod.

    That's the situation the networks found themselves in again on Tuesday, when the country was abuzz, atwitter and practically aflame about the California recall, and the TV types were sitting on some very tempting exit polls (which they fervently hoped were more accurate than the Florida '00 surveys).

    The dilemma is that news organizations (including The Post and other papers) have given their word that they won't put out the exit-poll figures (except to really good friends) until the polls have closed in a given state. That was particularly frustrating with the Golden State polls remaining open until 11 p.m. Eastern. The rationale is that if you broadcast that Candidate X has won, or has a commanding lead, Candidate Y's supporters won't bother to vote, thus changing the outcome. Local politicians go nuts when this happens. But it puts the press in the awkward position of suppressing news.

    We should know as soon as they do. If people don't want to go vote after hearing, tough.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:43 PM


    Novak Leak Column Has Familiar Sound (Dana Milbank, October 7, 2003, Washington Post)

    Let's review: Syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak gets a leak of classified information from foreign-policy hardliners. The column he writes causes a huge embarrassment for the Republican White House and moderates throughout the administration. Capitol Hill erupts with protests about the leak.

    Sound familiar? Actually, this occurred in December 1975. Novak, with his late partner Rowland Evans, got the classified leak -- that President Gerald R. Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were ready to make concessions to the Soviet Union to save the SALT II treaty. Donald H. Rumsfeld, then, as now, the secretary of defense, intervened to block Kissinger.

    The main leak suspect: Richard Perle, then an influential aide to Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D-Wash.) and now a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and a confidant of neoconservatives in the Bush administration. The account was described in a 1977 article in The Washington Post, noting Perle's "special access" to Evans and Novak.

    Evans and Novak, the National Journal wrote in 1979, were among the three "chief recipients" of classified leaks from Perle. "Several sources in Congress and the executive branch who regard Perle as an opponent said that he and his allies make masterful use of the Evans and Novak column," The Post reported 26 years ago. "One congressional aide who tries to counter Perle's and Jackson's influence on arms issues said the Evans and Novak 'connection' helps Perle create a 'murky, threatening atmosphere' in his dealings with others."

    There is no indication that Perle, though a prominent administration adviser, has any connection to the current leak, that of the identity of a CIA agent.

    Perle wouldn't even be covered by the law making such a leak illegal, would he?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:36 PM


    Street Fight (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris, Clothilde Ewing and Sean Sharifi, Oct. 10, 2003, CBS News)

    : Armed with a warrant, FBI agents seized Philadelphia Mayor John Street’s handheld BlackBerry computer Thursday, hours after city police discovered a planted bug in the mayor’s office, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. In its investigation of possible corruption in City Hall, the FBI also raided the accounting office of Jeanice Salter on Wednesday, where the accounting books of leading city officials and politically active non-profits are located.

    Raids were also conducted on the offices of a financial firm headed by two Street associates. Street says the FBI has told him he's not a "target" of the investigation, but legal experts say that he could be a "subject" of the investigation even if he’s not the target. [...]

    Street is up for reelection in November. Rep. Robert Brady, who heads the Democratic city committee, called for the federal government to reveal the details of the investigation. "The innuendos are killing us," Brady said. "How can it not be related within a month of the election? What’s it going to do? Boost his chances?"

    That's a bit stronger than "innuendo", isn't it?

    Posted by John Resnick at 12:41 PM


    [Saddam's] WMD Lies (Daniel Pipes, 10/10/2003)

    Suppose for an instant that no weapons of mass destruction ever turn up in Iraq. Of course, they might well still appear, but let's imagine that Saddam Hussein did not have an advanced program for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as the missiles to carry them.

    [....]Why would a leader who reached the top of a slippery pole through supreme guile, persist in so counterproductive a policy? His biographers, Efraim Karsh and Inari Rautsi, describe Saddam Hussein's characteristics as "obsessive caution, endless patience, tenacious perseverance, impressive manipulative skills and utter ruthlessness." How could he not have cut his losses, acknowledged the nonexistence of his WMD program, and thereby have saved his dictatorship?

    This mistake can best be explained as the result of Saddam inhabiting the uniquely self-indulgent circumstance of the totalitarian autocrat, with its two key qualities:

    Hubris: The absolute ruler can do anything he wants, so he thinks himself unbounded in his power.

    Ignorance: The all-wise ruler brooks no contradiction, so his aides, fearing for their lives, tell him only what he wants to hear. Both these incapacities worsen with time and the tyrant becomes increasingly removed from reality. His whims, eccentricities and fantasies dominate state policy. The result is a pattern of monumental mistakes.

    Two historical examples make this point. Hitler was winning World War II until he insisted, against the muted advice of his generals, to begin a two-front war by attacking the Soviet Union. Stalin responded to the buildup of Nazi forces along his border by pretending the whole thing was not taking place.

    Hitler's mistake is seen as one of the turning points of World War II and a key reason for Germany's defeat. Stalin's error caused the deaths of many millions of his subjects. The Nazi-Soviet war was the largest, most brutal, and most deadly in human history, and it resulted primarily from the hubris and ignorance of two dictators.

    Saddam Hussein already has a comparable record of mistakes (recall his disastrous invasions of Iran and Kuwait), so clinging to a nonexistent WMD program even as it led to his own perdition should come as no surprise. We on the outside can only imagine the ambitions and distortions that prompted his faulty decisions.

    The propensity of totalitarian demigods to self-inflicted wounds has direct implications for dealing with North Korea, Libya, and other rogue states. Their rulers' vanity and isolation can lead toward a catastrophe that makes no sense to the outside world, but which has a vast capacity to do harm.

    Despite the major media's effort to the contrary and despite the as-yet-unlocated WMD, the good news slowly seeping out of Iraq appears to be just a trickle of what will surely be a flowing river in due time. In fact, it may be enough to drown the cries from the "yeah, but there's still no WMD" crowd.

    If WMD are located, what will be really laughable is the audacity of the Kerrys, Deans, Clintons, Kennedys, et al re-repositioning themselves to take credit somehow.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 AM


    Just Supposin': In defense of hypothetical questions. (Michael Kinsley, October 2, 2003, Slate)

    Hypothetical questions are at the heart of every election in a democracy. These are questions the voters must answer. Voters are expected to imagine each of the candidates holding the office he or she is seeking and to decide which one's performance would be most to their liking. Every promise made by a candidate imposes two hypothetical questions on the voter: If elected, will this person do as promised? And if this promise is kept, will I like the result? The voter cannot say, "I don't answer hypothetical questions." And voters cannot sensibly answer the hypothetical questions they've been assigned without learning the answers to some hypothetical questions from the candidates.

    Hypothetical questions are essential to thinking through almost any social or political issue. In law school they're called "hypos," and the process is called "salami slicing." Imagine this situation, and tell me the result. Now change the situation slightly--does the result change? Now change it in a different way--same result, or different one? It's just like an eye exam, where you peer through a series of alternative lenses until you zero in on the correct prescription.

    A refusal or inability to answer hypothetical questions is nothing to be proud of. In fact, it ought to be a disqualification for public office. Anyone who doesn't ponder hypothetical questions all the time is unfit for the task of governing. In fact, it's hard to see how any halfway intelligent person can manage to avoid taking up hypothetical questions a dozen times a day.

    But we can all name a few politicians we suspect are up to this challenge.

    What we could really use is a campaigner who tells questioners to get stuffed and tells the various organizations that regularly extract pledges from candidates--including the no tax pledge--to buzz off. The Founders would find the entire process that Mr. Kinsley defends here to be ridiculous. Representative democracy is premised on electing people whose judgment we can trust, not automatons who are bound to a series of speculative answers to hypothetical questions. Mr. Kinsley's vision of democracy could be accomplished more simply by just letting the people vote on every issue themselves and binding the government to do as it's told. Some might favor such a system, but it's not America's...yet...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:03 AM


    U.S. drug czar says Canadians ashamed of PM (Sheldon Alberts and Janice Tibbetts, October 10, 2003, CanWest News Service)

    The White House's drug czar lashed out yesterday at Jean Chretien for relaxing marijuana laws and said Canadians are "ashamed" at the Prime Minister's recent jokes about smoking pot when he retires.

    John Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy Office, said Mr. Chretien was being irresponsible when he said last week that he might try marijuana when he leaves office next February.

    Canadians "are concerned about the behaviour of their Prime Minister, joking that he is going to use marijuana in his retirement," Mr. Walters told the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    "They're ashamed."

    Canada is "the one place in the hemisphere where things are going the wrong [way] rapidly," he added. "It's the only country in this hemisphere that's become a major drug producer instead of reducing their drug production."

    We're thinkin' you don't want to bet your lunch money on the existence of a Canadian sense of shame these days.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 AM

    BUY AN "E" AND AN "A":

    Unhappy Times for the Tories and Their Lackluster Leader (WARREN HOGE, October 9, 2003, NY Times)

    The despair afflicting the Conservatives this week stems largely from their inability to capitalize on the Labor lapses, and Mr. Duncan Smith is being held responsible by party members because of his unquestioning support of the war and his overall lack of impact.

    The Tories have slipped slightly ahead of Labor in some polls, but their approval numbers have remained stuck in the low 30's, far from the 40 to 45 percent following they would need to have a chance of winning the next election.

    Beyond its leadership battle, the party confronts longer range problems. It is deeply split between a traditional law and order wing known in political shorthand as authoritarians and a group with a more tolerant attitude known as modernizers who preach "compassionate conservatism."

    Having lost all their seats in Wales, all but one in Scotland and many in urban areas throughout Britain, the Tories are in danger of becoming representative only of the English countryside or, as one of their leading figures, Archie Norman, warned Tuesday, "a rural minority interest on the opposition benches." Membership numbers are down to 250,000, the lowest in decades, and their average age is 65.

    The path back to power goes through the cities and it depends on appealing to the nationalism of the working classes. The Tories, as Margaret Thatcher told them over ten years ago, need to be the anti-European party. Then tie the war on terror into people's fear of Britain's own radical Islamicist immigrant element. Top it all off with a campaign to privatize the welfare state, giving Brits control over their own retirement funds the same way Lady Thatcher made them homeowners. All of this will get the Tories to the Right of Labour for the first time since Tony Blair became party leader.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:59 AM


    Two Civilized Men Among the Barbarians (Glen Ford and Peter Gamble, October 9, 2003, The Black Commentator)

    The character of much of what passes for debate in the United States signals that the nation has become the moral equivalent of Tobacco Road, a backwater of civilization.

    Humankind has traveled a long journey since the time when some folks walked out of Africa, and others decided to stay. Yet at the American center of the Earth's material wealth and military power, human progress has been short-circuited -- smothered -- by a ruling group bent on dragging the rest of the species toward a social and moral dead end.

    This hyper-aggressive group maintains an iron grip on both the mechanisms and the terms of civil discussion, retarding the rest of the citizenry's ability to think and speak like other humans privileged to live in the developed countries. American political conversation is becoming nonsensical, divorced from the very purposes of life.

    Measured by the most minimal standards of the modern, industrial world, only two of 10 Democratic candidates for President passed civilized muster at a recent debate in New York City: Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Rev. Al Sharpton. The rest of the field, to varying degrees, fail to even comprehend modern assumptions of what it is to be human, living among other humans.

    Why do we work? What is the purpose of industry and commerce? Do other peoples have rights that stronger nations are bound to respect? Only Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton appear prepared to take part in the evolving global discussion on the central issues facing humanity, Americans included.

    Any candidate who fails to address the key question of "What is the purpose of commerce" will surely pay a very high price at the polls.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 AM


    Why America Needs Turkey in Iraq (ASLA AYDINTASBAS, October 10, 2003, NY Times)

    Because they are Sunni Muslims from the same neighborhood, Turks are attuned to the cultural concerns and needs of the conservative (and by now irate) population in central Iraq. Sunni leaders remain alienated from the transition process in Baghdad, fearing Kurdish and Shiite domination and wary of Washington's motives. Some are convinced they will be punished for Saddam Hussein's misdeeds; others find "infidels" searching their homes and policing their towns an affront.

    But Sunnis are as critical to Iraq's stability as the Pashtun were to Afghanistan. Whatever structure emerges in Iraq cannot be hostile to this ancient elite. In this, Turks can serve as a bridge between the Sunnis and American troops, helping to ease the resistance to intervention and potentially overcoming the Saddam Hussein holdouts in the area. During meetings in Ankara and Iraq over the summer, Sunni clerics and tribal leaders told Turkish officials that, if it's a question between American forces and Turks, they'll take the latter.

    Sending Turkish soldiers would also be the only real way to repair the Turkish-American alliance, much damaged since the Turkish Parliament's decision in March to stay out of the war. Yes, there have been other "lows" in this half-century partnership, the strength of which was a crucial asset for Washington during the cold war and in containing Saddam Hussein over the last decade. But this time, Ankara not only lost a good deal in American aid, but was also sentenced to remain on the margins of events at the birth of a new Iraq.

    Senior Defense Department officials openly blamed the Turkish military for "failing to provide leadership." Turkish companies were left out of major reconstruction bids. But what's the point of shunning the most powerful democracy in the region when the United States has very few allies in Iraq? Critics of Turkish troop deployment should bear in mind that Ankara has made a strategic decision that "U.S. success in Iraq is in Turkey's long-term interests," as told to American officials by the Turkish foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, in a visit to Washington. This sets Turkey apart from Iraq's other neighbors -- and much of the Middle East and Europe.

    Prosperity in Iraq would mean Turks could do business there; democracy would finally usher in a second Muslim parliamentary model; stability would guarantee that northern Iraq is no longer a staging ground for attacks against Turkish citizens by Turkey's own Kurdish guerrillas, the Kurdistan Workers Party. Are there ulterior motives here? Yes, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was unstable, poor and dangerous for Turkey. Now there is a chance to change that.

    They are more than welcome to take on the Sunni triangle.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 AM


    Democrats slam Clark during Arizona debate (Jim Drinkard, 10/09/03, USA TODAY)

    The field of Democratic presidential contenders trained its fire on an insurgent newcomer, former general Wesley Clark, in a debate Thursday night in Phoenix, accusing him of inconsistency about U.S. policy in Iraq.

    Sens. John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and John Edwards and former Vermont governor Howard Dean pummeled Clark for being critical of the war now after earlier backing the administration's approach.

    Clark denied ever supporting war without United Nations approval. "I would have voted for a resolution that took the problem to the U.N., but not that took us to war. It's that simple," he said.

    So, what's more amusing about this: (1) watching the Democrats, whose main problem in foreign affairs is that no one trusts them to defend the nation, tear apart the most decorated soldier since Alexander; or (2) the attack on his "inconsistency" being led by three guys who voted for the war but now oppose it?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:08 AM


    Iraq Math: Visible Gains Minus Losses (IAN FISHER, 10/10/03, NY Times)

    [T]he events of today underscored the limits of the huge American effort here, illustrating how the steady beat of violence and uncertainty overshadows many of the very real American advances here.

    That mixed record is reflected in the view of many Iraqis. They believe that the United States has, in fact, made Iraq better than under Mr. Hussein but that American promises, so far, have been greater than what has been delivered. [...]

    In his news conference, Mr. Bremer listed what he called America's achievements (although many of his comparisons were from immediately after the war, when services were far worse than before it began): 40,000 police officers on the streets; 13,000 new reconstruction projects; more electricity generated now than before the war; 1,500 schools renovated; 22 million vaccinations; 4,900 Internet connections ó not to mention freedom of speech, virtually nonexistent under Mr. Hussein, and an end to torture, which was commonplace.

    "I am optimistic," Mr. Bremer said. "We have made an enormous amount of progress here in six months, more than I think anybody could have safely predicted, in many places beyond what our plan was."

    The changes are visible. The streets are cleaner. Shops are flooded with goods pouring into Iraq now that the borders are open again. Those who have jobs -- and tens of thousands are working for the Americans, directly or indirectly -- are largely paid better than they were.

    But as the attack on Thursday again showed, there is another list of statistics: 92 American soldiers killed in combat since President Bush declared major hostilities over in May; nearly 100 dead at a suicide bombing at a Shiite shrine in Najaf; 22 dead at a bombing at the United Nations headquarters here; at least 17 dead in a bombing at the Jordanian Embassy.

    Something interesting seems to have happened at the Times. Mr. Fisher, whose story on Shi'ite pilgrims and their relatively good interactions with US troops we noted earlier in the week, appears from his by-line to have just been rotated into Iraq in September, maybe even just in late September, and it looks like he may have been surprised not to find a complete disaster there or else just went in with an open mind and found both positives and negatives to report. At any rate, it's worth watching to see if they may have a frontline correspondent who's going to provide balanced, sometimes even upbeat coverage. Given that all of America's opinion makers rely on the Times, a more positive angle on Iraq in its pages really does matter.


    Iraqi Army Takes Shape as Recruits End Training
    (IAN FISHER, October 5, 2003, NY Times)

    October 9, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 PM


    The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Yossi Klein Halevi & Leon Wieseltier, 10/03, New Republic)

    I'll get to the fence later in our exchange, though I have little of interest to say about it. Now I want to pursue your thoughts about the Yom Kippur War. I do not recall the people of Israel consumed by post-'73 guilt about a failure of Israeli dovishness. Quite the contrary. I remember that the shock and the anger were directed not at a failure of diplomacy but at a failure of intelligence, I mean military intelligence. Unlike the Six Day War, which left many Israelis feeling tough, the Yom Kippur War left many Israelis feeling afraid; and that was the condign emotion. Israel really could have been destroyed. (This is not a threat that Hamas and Islamic Jihad will ever pose. In my view, there are only two serious threats to Israel's security now: Iran's nuclear program, which no Israeli government can watch idly for much longer, and the fertility rates of Arabs between the river and the sea, which will undo Israel by demographic means unless a Palestinian state comes into being.) The lesson of 1973 is that security is as morally and historically primary as peace. It is the condition of peace.

    The difficulty is that the definition of security is not so clear. (The only thing that outraged me about Ehud Barak's offer at Camp David was his casual attitude toward the Jordan Valley.) No, dovishness at the highest Israeli levels would not have prevented the Yom Kippur War. But one must be careful about the implications of such a statement for the present situation. I do not agree that there is a contradiction between the Israeli aspiration to safety and the Israeli aspiration to peace. Quite the contrary. Morally speaking, Israel's efforts at peace are among its glories; proof that Israel is not, and never was, an ugly state. (I think that those 27 pilots are wrong, but I think that they are a credit to the society that produced them, in which moral reasoning has almost always attended tactical reasoning.) But the matter is not just a moral one. Israeli peacemaking was always premised on Israeli power and Israeli vigilance. In this sense, it was the very opposite of naïve. Yes, the withdrawal from Lebanon was a momentous blunder--but it was done for the sake of politics, not for the sake of peace; and it was a blunder because it sent exactly the wrong "signal" to those with whom Barak wished to make peace. We can argue endlessly about whether it was Oslo or the collapse of Oslo that is responsible for the present calamity; but it is a fact that almost 900 Israelis have been murdered since the collapse of Oslo. So what person, living in these unbearable circumstances, would not want to be always testing the chances for decency and reconciliation? Otherwise all that remains is ideology for the few and despair for the many, which rightly worries you.

    I do not object to Sharon's fierce response to the terrorists: Even if the problem of terrorism does not have a military solution, the problem of terrorists does. And the methods have to be effective, obviously; self-defense is not a highway to innocence. (Though it was a dark day in Israeli history when the air force dropped a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in Gaza to get that fiend Shehadeh.) What bothers me about Sharon's approach is its lack of political imagination. It should be possible to strike terrorists in Jenin and announce a peace plan on the very same morning. All the parties in the Israeli debate always claim to be for peace and security; but none of them seems to know quite how to pursue both objectives simultaneously. I read in Yediot the other day that at Peres's grotesque birthday party for himself, Sharon elegantly described him as "the man who does not despair." Was he implying that he, Sharon, is the man who does despair? I pray not.

    The idea that "Jewish fate depends on Jewish initiative" is not quite as obsolete as you think. You are correct to remember that this is the supreme axiom of classical Zionism--Dr. Pinsker's great proclamation of Jewish historical agency, the revolutionary sloughing off of the centuries of political quietism. Like all the emboldening ideas of all the revolutions, it was of course an exaggeration, a myth, a necessary fiction. (Leszek Kolakowski once observed to me, about the apparent lack of realism of the Solidarity movement in Poland in the early 1980s, that there are situations in which nothing is possible unless you believe that everything is possible.) It is certainly the case that its mythic character has been exposed by the present savagery, in which Israel is discovering the limits of its power. There is an internecine struggle taking place within the Palestinian community, a civil war really, and Israel cannot determine the outcome of this struggle. Israel cannot tell the Palestinians who they are or how they should govern themselves. Certainly no amount of Israeli concessions will satisfy the God-intoxicated, blood-lusting Jew-haters among them. So the historical agency of the Palestinians turns out to be as real and as irreversible as the historical agency of the Jews.

    But I warn you, my friend, against resigning your analysis of the Israeli predicament to a pre-Zionist understanding. (Well, not only pre-Zionist: You are describing the return of the ein breirah mentality.) Israel is not helpless, to put it mildly. If it is ridiculous to think that Israel can determine the character of Palestine, it is equally ridiculous to think that Israel cannot influence the character of Palestine. Sharon's indifference to the needs of Abu Mazen was a scandal, whatever Sharon's expectations of the hudna. The Israeli policy of expanding settlements now is simply mindless, a perverse exercise in defiance that finally defies only Israel's own interests. And so on. If it is not completely true that Jewish fate depends on Jewish initiative, it is also not completely true that Jewish fate depends on non-Jewish initiative. Just because the Palestinians are inflaming themselves does not mean that Israel should also inflame them. There are intelligent and unintelligent ways to fight Palestinian terrorism. The unintelligent way is to do so in a manner that robs the future of political options. Of course there are some Israelis who would like to see the future robbed of political options (Sharon used to be quite explicit that this was the objective of the Israeli settlement in the territories), who believe that this is the future. But the belief that the present is the future is the very hallmark of the apocalyptic mind, which is supremely useless for the needs of politics, of strategy, of reason, of security. I do not see most Israelis thinking apocalyptically, even when their spirits are crushed. They are keeping their heads, for which my head is admiringly bowed.


    Mr. Wieseltier touches on three important points:

    (1) The complete failure of Israel's revered intelligence services in 1973, something which Malcolm Gladwell has discussed in depth.

    (2) Ariel Sharon's failure to move quickly and impose a sovereign Palestine on Abu Mazen's watch may prove to be disastrous. Because...

    (3) Israel's only hope for the future lies in a two-state solution. Demographics and Western morality are the real enemies here--once Palestinians are a majority in a single Israeli/Palestinian state they will be considered entitled to rule it.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:59 PM


    How direct should democracy be?: Schwarzenegger prepares for office, but some see recall as part of a broken system. (Mark Sappenfield, 10/10/03, The Christian Science Monitor )

    To some, the Golden State's travails are part of the inevitable evolution of democracy, as the people take the full power kindled in the Constitution's opening words, "We the people...." To others, California voters are the prime culprits in their own mess, as they malign the very lawmakers needed to make government work. Indeed, California's experiment is challenging some basic assumptions underlying American democracy since the writing of the Federalist Papers, particularly the idea that elected officials should use their judgment to act on voters' behalf. In recent decades, Californians' deep distrust of politicians has increasingly led them to limit politicians' power and discretion through ballots - and now the recall.

    That, say experts, is the aspect of the recall that could resonate nationwide. Across the country, as here, the heightening stakes of politics has led to greater partisanship. Yet across the country, as here, people have never been less partisan, with registering voters eschewing both parties in record numbers. The result is a decline in respect for government and a new willingness to reshape it. In this context, California will go some way toward determining if there are limits to a government "by the people."

    To Larry Gerston, the answer is already apparent: The recall is but the latest example that California's political system is broken. Many of the problems predate the era of the ballot initiative, which essentially began when voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978 to cap property taxes. But voters' best intentions have only compounded the problem.

    "We attempt to solve a problem, and we create another one that is unforeseen," says Dr. Gerston, a political scientist at San Jose State University.

    Take term limits. More than a decade ago, California voters passed Prop. 140, establishing term limits for state legislators. In response, the Legislature passed a redistricting plan two years ago that made every seat safe for incumbents, in part so they wouldn't have to spend their limited time in Sacramento worried only about getting reelected. The result, however, has been an increasingly polarized Legislature representing districts dominated by the political extremes - meaning that voters played a significant role in creating the partisanship that helped fuel the recall.

    "I don't think [term-limit] reformers even considered that," says Gerston, who suggests that California's political problems are so entrenched that the state needs to convene a constitutional convention.

    NPR did an excellent interview yesterday, Recall and Democracy (Talk of the Nation, Wednesday, October 08, 2003)
    The recall election is just one tool in the arsenal of the democratic system. We'll look at how the recall fits into American democracy.

    Howard Ernst
    *Assistant Professor of Political Science at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
    *Author, Dangerous Democracy? The Battle Over Ballot Initiatives in America

    Given that there are few more significant issues in American life than our overdemocratization and that the Left, which foisted it on us, has begun to get burned by it, now would seem the moment to try and get it under control again.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 PM


    Texas Republicans end wrangling over congressional map (R.G. RATCLIFFE and POLLY ROSS HUGHES, 10/09/03, Houston Chronicle)

    A Republican logjam over congressional redistricting broke Wednesday with an "agreement in principle" over how to draw a new district for House Speaker Tom Craddick's hometown of Midland. [...]

    U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, negotiated the deal amid three days of cross-rotunda shuttle diplomacy. DeLay declined to speak about the proposal or the negotiations, but he expressed pleasure at the result.

    "Yes, you could say I'm very satisfied," DeLay said.

    The new map, if used in the 2004 elections, should give DeLay at least five more Republican seats in the U.S. House from Texas. Details of the proposal will not be released until today.

    Democrats currently hold a 17-15 majority in the state's congressional delegation. At least five would find their new districts unwinnable. Three other Democratic incumbents also might lose their seats to Republicans.

    First, California. Then, Texas. In early November may come gubernatorial races in LA, KY and MS. Meanwhile, the recovery is picking up steam and the Turks and Japanese are headed for Iraq. But they'll always have Jeffords...maybe.


    Iraq Aid Figure Gives Donors New Confidence
    (STEVEN R. WEISMAN, October 9, 2003, NY Times)

    A team of World Bank economists has concluded that, as a practical matter, Iraq can absorb only about $6 billion in aid next year for its infrastructure needs. That conclusion sets a target that Bush administration officials said Wednesday could be met from American and international assistance.

    The $6 billion figure for Iraq has been circulating among policy makers at the World Bank, the United Nations and the Bush administration as they struggle to plan for an international donors' conference this month that they fear could be judged a failure for lack of pledges. [...]

    A month ago, administration officials said they would have a difficult time raising more than $1 billion for Iraq for 2004 at Madrid. Now officials say Japan itself is considering roughly $1 billion for next year and several billion in later years.

    "The Japanese are talking in the billions," said a senior administration official. "The Europeans are revisiting their earlier numbers. They're all beginning to look at this as a security issue, not a development issue, and they're scrounging for money from other places in their budgets."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 PM


    The Right Comic: Jay Leno’s embrace of Arnold (Nikki Finke, 10/10/03, LA Weekly)

    CNN called it "Leno’s big political moment." Now, he’s a big political target.

    The reason is that these days America expects its late-night comedians to be evenhanded when it comes to political humor. These hosts don’t invade bedrooms around the country; they’re invited. And if even the faintest whiff of unfairness taints their jokes, it’s time for viewers to reach for the remote and change the channel.

    Which is why Leno’s oh-so-obvious partisanship is so perplexing. Even a dope knows the country is more divided politically now than it’s been in recent decades. So why in the world is Leno suddenly taking sides? Undoubtedly, Leno will brush aside the criticism with a lame explanation that he was there purely out of friendship with Arnold. [...]

    But the real truth is that, for some time now, Leno has been leaning right and going soft on President Bush, judging by jokes on The Tonight Show.

    Let us assume that popular entertainers are not on average more politically courageous than the rest of us, but that they do have a more highly developed sense of what their audiences want. Is not the most likely reason for Mr. Leno to be more openly leaning conservative that he understands his fans to have tilted that way?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:20 PM


    Did Arnold Matter?: In the end, the recall was all about Gray (Harold Meyerson, 10/10/03, LA Weekly)

    Democrats constituted just 39 percent of voters in the recall, while Republicans made up 38 percent. By contrast, Democrats outnumbered Republicans 42 percent to 37 percent in the gubernatorial race of 1998, and by a full 10 points — 44 percent to 34 percent — in the higher-turnout presidential vote of 2000.

    In the recall, Republicans voted like there was no tomorrow. Democrats voted like there was no election.

    A quarter of the Democrats who did vote, moreover, voted to recall their governor, and fully one-third of Democrats who classified themselves as moderates or conservatives. The increase in the vehicle-license fee certainly didn’t help Gray among working-class Democrats nor, save among Latinos, did the bill granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. But Gray’s approval rating, and the percentage of people telling pollsters they’d vote No on the recall, were pretty much the same before he signed these bills as they were after. [...]

    Just about the only clear progression apparent in the exit polling on Tuesday’s election correlated support for the recall with level of education. High school grads backed the recall at a rate of 61 percent; voters with some college at a rate of 59 percent; college grads at a rate of 57 percent; and voters with postgraduate study at a rate of 45 percent. What this may refract is the differing levels of access to sources of information and misinformation about California politics. It may help explain why unions, which have had an impressive record of steering their members into the Democratic column over the past decade, were able to persuade just 55 percent of their members to oppose the recall.

    Mr. Meyerson can't bring himself to say it, but the implications are fairly obvious: populism favors the GOP, not the Democrats, why are by and large the Party of intellectual elites combined awkwardly with some dependent demographic groups that are paid out of the public treasury to vote with them.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 PM


    It's Even Worse Than You Think (HOWELL E. JACKSON, 10/09/03, NY Times)

    Were the federal government to account for its Social Security obligations under the rules of accrual accounting, which govern public companies, its financial outlook would be far worse. By the end of last year, the Social Security system owed retirees and current workers benefits valued at $14 trillion. The system's assets, in contrast, were only $3.5 trillion. These assets include not only the trust funds' current reserves ($1.4 trillion), but also the present value of the taxes that current workers will pay over the remainder of their working lives ($2.1 trillion).

    In other words, the system's current shortfall -- its assets minus its liabilities -- is $10.5 trillion. Unless Congress chooses to rescind Social Security benefits that have already been earned, this shortfall must be shouldered by future generations.

    As we've just seen in California, the one thing that can galvanize Americans into action, even revolutionary action, is an unreasonable tax burden. The notion that twenty or thirty years from now the young -- who by definition will have no stake in the Social Security system -- will be content to fund it, seems awfully naive.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:56 PM


    Pope's legacy of curbing anti-Semitism (James Carroll, 10/7/2003, Boston Globe)

    John Paul II is known as a conservative pope. On matters of sexual morality, the rights of women, the prerogatives of an all-male, celibate priesthood, religious pluralism, and the dictatorial authority of the hierarchy, he has been reactionary. He attempted to stop most reforms begun by Vatican II. He condemned condoms even to slow the spread of AIDS. He protected a clerical system that preferred church power over the welfare of children.

    In resisting Stalinist communism, ultimately helping to defeat it, he defined Catholicism more as a source of opposition than affirmation. Catholics who had moved on from his narrow, 19th-century view of the church were deemed disloyal. Christians of other denominations and adherents of other faiths were branded as religiously inferior. Pope John Paul II, a fierce traditionalist, spent himself opposing theological change.

    Yet this pope has personally set in motion the single most significant change in the history of the church -- in its relations with the Jewish people.

    You have to be almost totally obtuse to think that opposing anti-Semitism is in some sense contradictory to opposing Communism and abortion and vindicating traditional sexual morality. All proceed from the same core belief, one unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition: that Man is created in God's image and therefore imbued with dignity. If these views are reactionary it is only because men treat each other with so little dignity in the modern world. Of course, Mr. Carroll has in the past amply proven his obutseness.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 PM


    Same-sex marriage chapel demolished (Julius Strauss, 09/10/2003, Daily Telegraph)

    The Russian Orthodox Church has demolished a chapel where a priest conducted a marriage ceremony between two men.

    The Chapel of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was apparently knocked down after local churchmen decided it had been defiled.

    The "marriage" of Denis Gogolyev and Mikhail Morozev in Nizhny Novgorod scandalised the Orthodox Church and created outrage among ordinary Russians. The priest, Fr Vladimir Enert, was unfrocked after the men said they paid him a £300 bribe to ignore a ban on same-sex marriages.

    Now that's taking sinfulness seriously...

    Posted by David Cohen at 4:37 PM


    Impact of prenatal screening on the birth status of fetuses with Down syndrome at an urban hospital, 1972-1994. (Caruso TM, Westgate MN, Holmes LB, Genet Med. 1998 Nov-Dec;1(1):22-8)

    PURPOSE: This hospital-based study has determined the change over time (1972-1974 and 1979-1994) in the methods of prenatal detection of fetuses with Down syndrome and the impact of elective termination on the portion that were liveborn. METHODS: Using a malformations surveillance program, all 265 affected fetuses and infants were identified among 161,560 births and elective terminations during the aforementioned period at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA. RESULTS: From 1972 to 1974, Down syndrome was not diagnosed in any affected infants prenatally. In the early 1980s, amniocentesis was the primary method of diagnosis; later, maternal serum screening and ultrasonography were as likely to be the first method of detection. Most couples (86%) elected to terminate pregnancies with affected fetuses. CONCLUSIONS: The effect of prenatal detection and the choice of elective termination produced a significant decrease, between 1972 and 1994, in the portion of fetuses with Down syndrome who were liveborn.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:36 PM


    Iraq's electricity supply is finally restored to pre-war level (Jack Fairweather, 08/10/2003, Daily Telegraph)

    After six months and an outlay of £80 million, Iraq's American-led administration said yesterday that it had finally restored the electricity supply to pre-war levels.

    The milestone is one the administration has been eager to reach after a summer of blackouts and deepening resentment among Iraqis over the time taken to restore basic services.

    Increasing the nation's power supply further is now at the centre of reconstruction efforts.

    Two years after WWII, Europeans were living on something like 800 calories a day.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:01 PM


    Back From Babylon He's just one Marine, but this returning trooper saw no quagmire in Iraq (CARLTON STOWERS, 10/09/03, Dallas Observer)

    Sitting at the kitchen table in his parents' comfortable DeSoto home, looking out on the line of miniature American flags his father has placed on the front lawn, Marine Corporal Lee Strange is relaxed and smiling. Now into the second week of his 30-day leave after lengthy service in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the war, for the moment, is a million miles away and a young lifetime ago. [...]

    The war Strange saw and was part of differs from that many back home have been hearing and reading about. "Morale [among the troops] isn't low," he firmly insists. "In fact, it is very good." Why? "Once you become aware of how much you're helping people who not only need it but want it," he says, "you feel good about what you're doing. I saw a lot of happy faces along the way. That's the kind of thing that kept us going."

    Reluctant to discuss the political furor the war has generated stateside, the young Marine says he's avoided reading newspapers or watching the news since returning home. Only when prodded will he suggest that the media reports he's been made aware of in recent months "have put out things a little differently" from what he saw and experienced. Words like "quagmire" clearly are not part of his vocabulary.

    Now, briefly back in the civilian world where electricity and running water and the smell of mother Donna's cooking are taken for granted, it is "the journey" that Strange remembers; being at the wheel of an armored Humvee for long stretches, then alternating with a gunner and, finally, being ordered to the back of the lengthy line of advancing military vehicles for a brief catnap and an MRE. They rarely stopped, except to dig foxholes in the hardened Iraq soil and engage in a battle.

    The names of the cities and hamlets soon became a blur--An Nasiriyah, Ash Shatrah, over the Euphrates to Ad Diwaniyah--as they advanced northward. "You could tell," he says, "that at one time it had been a beautiful country, before Saddam took all the money for himself. By the time we arrived, the towns were run-down, and living conditions were obviously not what they should have been."

    It is, in fact, the people that have stayed with the young Marine, the faces of waving children peering from behind a mother's dress or hefted onto a father's shoulders as the American motorcade passed. Strange enjoyed handing out the small gifts he and his fellow soldiers carried with them. "You realize pretty quickly that all kids, regardless of their language or the country in which they live, love candy. And soccer is the main sport over there, so when we'd pitch a new soccer ball into a crowd of little boys, eyes just lit up."

    His mother, he remembers, had sent him a small stuffed turtle with a request that he pass it along to one of the Iraqi children. "I wish she could have seen the smile on the face of the little girl I gave it to," he reflects.

    Those, he says, were the good times. "The little things like that were what made me feel good about what we were doing. At first, I was a little surprised at the welcome we were receiving. But, quickly, it became obvious that the vast majority of the Iraqis were glad we were there, glad we were helping them."

    Are there two Iraqs?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:11 AM


    Lost in Translation: Democrats think the recall revolution was about incumbents and the economy. Their reaction last night suggests they're in for a surprise in 2004. (Hugh Hewitt, 10/08/2003, Weekly Standard)

    Howard Dean had the message on his website 18 minutes after the polls closed:

    "Today's recall election in California was not about Gray Davis or Arnold Schwarzenegger. This recall was about the frustration so many people are feeling about the way things are going. . . . Tonight the voters in California directed their frustration with the country's direction on their incumbent governor. Come next November, that anger might be directed at a different incumbent . . . in the White House."

    This delusional spin is great news for Republicans across the country. Gray Davis was booted from office because he imposed a massive tax hike on all California drivers while fecklessly allowing illegal aliens to get drivers' licenses. Davis was all Clinton-Carville when it came to the politics of personal destruction, and he didn't bother to disguise his total dependence on Sacramento's iron triangle of special interests: Indian gambling, trial lawyers, and public employee unions.

    All of which is obvious. But when Democrats reflexively reject even the obvious conclusions, they demonstrate a capacity for political suicide reminiscent of Britain's Labour party in the late '70s and early '80s. The refusal of Dean and other senior Democrats to understand Tuesday's vote is an almost certain indication of electoral disaster ahead.

    It still seems best not to try and draw too broad conclusions based on this unusual election, but Mr. Hewitt is most likely right that the signs coming out of California are not favorable for the Democrats' message of hatred, tax hikes, and amnesty for illegal aliens.

    Posted by David Cohen at 10:58 AM


    Stocks Surge After Jobless Claims Fall (REUTERS, 10/9/03)

    Stocks popped at Thursday's open after solid earnings news from companies like Yahoo Inc. (YHOO.O) and an unexpectedly big drop in weekly jobless claims boosted expectations an economic recovery is in the works.
    Stocks go up on good news.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 AM


    Neo-con fingerprints on Syria raid (Jim Lobe, 10/08/03, Asia Times)

    It was the neo-cons who in 1982 defended Israel's invasion of Lebanon and the bloody siege of Beirut that followed. While then-president Ronald Reagan went along with the original invasion, his administration never publicly endorsed it and eventually distanced itself from the Israelis as the siege wore on.

    Bush's explicit embrace of Israel's attack on an alleged Palestinian training camp in Syria, on the other hand, is a striking departure from decades of US Middle Eastern diplomacy. Washington even denounced Israel's 1981 attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq and, unlike the present, joined with other members of the UN Security Council in condemning it.

    Indeed, Bush's statement on Monday that he had told Sharon that "Israel must not feel constrained defending the homeland" was almost breathtaking in its implied license, particularly considering that it was Sharon who not only led the invasion of Lebanon but is also widely believed to have rolled all the way to Beirut without Begin's approval. Many experts and historians believe that Begin was intending a more limited military action and that Sharon took the initiative to take it much further.

    Reagan and Begin were wrong, weren't they? The Lebanon War should have ended in Damascus, particularly since Syria was at that point a Soviet client state. It might not have made the Middle East any less violent but certainly wouldn't have made it appreciably more so, and Lebanon would not have been dominated by the Assads for these two decades.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:31 AM


    AMERICAN MORNING: Interview With Former Defense Secretary William Cohen (CNN, October 7, 2003)

    HEMMER: Another question on politics. Wesley Clark was NATO commander at the same time you were secretary of defense. He's now running for the White House. There is a lot of talk inside of Washington that there was friction between you and Wesley Clark at the time. Whether that is true or not, do you believe he would make a good president?

    COHEN: Well, there was friction between General Clark and myself. And frankly, I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on his political aspirations. I made a judgment during the time that he was serving as head of NATO, SACEUR, and I felt that the ax, as such, when it fell spoke for itself.

    Does anyone who ever worked with him think Wesley Clark would be a good president?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:47 AM


    Great myths about the great depression (Thomas Sowell, October 9, 2003, Townhall)

    It is painfully obvious that President Roosevelt himself had no serious understanding of economics, any more than his Republican predecessor, Herbert Hoover, had. The difference was that Roosevelt had boundless self-confidence and essentially pushed some of the misconceptions of President Hoover to their logical extreme.

    The grand myth for decades was that Hoover was unwilling to use the powers of government to come to the aid of the people during the Great Depression but that Roosevelt was more caring and did. In reality, both presidents represented a major break with the past by casting the federal government in the role of rescuer of the economy in its distress.

    Scholarly studies of the history of these two administrations have in recent years come to see FDR's New Deal as Herbert Hoover's policies writ large and in bolder strokes.

    Those who judge by intentions may say that this was a good thing. But those who judge by results point out that none of the previous depressions -- during which the federal government essentially did nothing -- lasted anywhere near as long as the depression in which the federal government decided that it had to "do something."

    In FDR's Folly, author Jim Powell spells out just what the Roosevelt administration did and what consequences followed.

    For those of us of a certain age, it's quite heartening to see the degree to which such analyses are becoming rather standard issue, as in David Kennedy's Freedom from Fear : The United States, 1929-1945 from the Oxford History of the United States series. Likewise, in Army at Dawn Rick Atkinson is rightly critical of FDR's demand for Germany's unconditional surrender. When he announced the murderous and war-prolonging policy, FDR compared himself to Ulysses "Unconditional Surrender" Grant, apparently oblivious to the fact that Grant applied those unprecedented conditions only at Fort Donelson and that the Confederate surrender at Appomatox was handled with great generosity. Imagine the reaction if George W. Bush made such a profound mistake concerning the central policy of the war today?

    As regards the question of whether voters intentionally choose the less intelligent candidate in American presidential elections, in FDR we got the worst of both worlds: a "second rate intellect" who thought he could use government to perfect the world anyway.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 AM


    U.S. may withdraw its U.N. resolution (Bill Nichols, 10/9/2003, USA TODAY)

    [A] U.S. official heavily involved with negotiations on the resolution said the vote by Turkey's parliament Tuesday to send thousands of troops to reinforce U.S. soldiers in Iraq has caused the administration to consider whether another divisive Security Council fight over Iraq is worth the effort. [...]

    "The goal of this resolution has always been getting expanded international support. The goal has never been passing a resolution," said the U.S. official, who requested anonymity.

    "Now we're seeing that countries are willing to help without a resolution and that countries we're negotiating with on the resolution still aren't going to help even if it passes. Those two facts tell us to work on expanding the international coalition to help the people of Iraq and not to get bogged down in pushing for a resolution."

    If the administration does pull the resolution, it would mark another diplomatic defeat at the United Nations for Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    Isn't it far more of a defeat for the UN than for Mr. Powell?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:23 AM


    Weeknight Kitchen: Grilled Autumn Glazed Pork Steaks (The Splendid Table, October 7, 2003, MPR)

    Serves 4 to 6

    About 2 pounds pork steaks (from shoulder or butt, if possible), cut 1-inch thick and
    trimmed of excess fat
    1/2 cup maple syrup
    1/3 cup cider vinegar
    6 large cloves garlic
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    Extra-virgin olive oil
    Salt to taste
    About 1 cup water

    Spread the pork steaks on a large platter. In a blender or food processor puree together
    the maple syrup, cider vinegar, garlic, and pepper. Pour over the steaks and turn them
    to coat with the mixture. The steaks can wait in the refrigerator for a couple of hours
    if necessary.

    Lightly film the bottom of a large sauté pan with olive oil. Heat over high. Wipe
    steaks of marinade, but reserve whatever you can of it. Sear the steaks on both sides,
    sprinkling them with salt.

    Immediately lower heat to medium to medium-low. Cook steaks about 5 minutes per side, or
    until they are firm when pressed with your finger. Remove to a serving platter and keep
    warm. Add the bits of marinade to the pan along with the water. Boil down by two-
    thirds, scraping up any brown bits from the pan. When sauce tastes rich, pour over
    steaks. Serve hot.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 AM



    Congratulations to:

    First Place: Mike Morley, who will receive the magnificent new Illustrated edition of James M. McPherson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom

    Second Place: Dave in LA, who will receive Rick Atkinson's Pultizer Prize-winning An Army at Dawn

    Third Place: Chris Rohlfs, who will receive Edmund Morgan's marvelous biography, Benjamin Franklin

    Thanks to everyone who took part and a particular thanks to FSB Associates and Jeffery Anderson who provided the 1st and 2nd place prizes.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:33 AM


    Will ripsnorting rebound continue? (Adam Shell, 10/8/2003, USA TODAY)

    After three tough years, Wall Street finally has an anniversary worth celebrating.

    A year has passed since the stock market bottomed on Oct. 9, 2002. Since then, the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 has gained 33%. The Dow Jones industrials are up 2,345 points, or 32%, and the Nasdaq composite has soared 70%.

    You hear the Democrats compare the current economy to Herbert Hoover's. If he'd had an economy recovering like this by late '31 he'd have been re-elected.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 AM


    Excerpt from a letter by J.R.R. Tolkien to his son Christopher, 10 April 1944 (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter)

    I sometimes feel appalled at the thought of the sum total of human misery all over the world at the present moment: The millions parted, fretting, wasting in unprofitable days - quite apart from torture, pain, death, bereavement, injustice. If anguish were visible, almost the whole of this benighted planet would be enveloped in a dense dark vapour, shrouded from the amazed vision of the heavens! And the products of it all will be mainly evil - historically considered. But the historic version is, of course, not the only one. All things and all deeds have a value in themselves, apart from their "causes" and "effects." No man can estimate what is really happening sub specie aeternitatis*. All we do know, and that to a large extent by direct experience, is that evil labors with vast power and perpetual success - in vain: preparing always the soil for unexpected good to sprout in.

    Posted by David Cohen at 8:06 AM


    One down, three to go, Red Sox clout 3 homers, beat Yankees, 5-2, in ALCS opener (Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe, 10/9/03)

    Red Sox fans needn't overreact. Think of this seven-game series as a presidential election. Your candidate just won the New Hampshire primary, but the race is far from over.
    Every other paper uses sport's metaphors in political stories.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:15 AM


    Odious activities (William F. Buckley, October 8, 2003, Townhall.com)

    An odious debt was defined in 1927 by the Russian theorist of international obligations Alexander Sack as one incurred by a "regime," not "a nation." When Saddam Hussein went to France and Russia to borrow money, was that money turned to the use of the Iraqi people, or was it for self-aggrandizement?

    The Democratic high command in Congress has joined forces with the White House in taking the position that the debts should be repaid. But that view of things hasn't been highly ventilated, and the political season is one that would certainly welcome a public debate on the question. Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York and Jim Leach of Iowa have introduced legislation, the Iraqi Freedom Debt Act, which encourages the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to set aside the $150 billion debt incurred during Saddam's years in power.

    At the end of October, Madrid will host a conference at which the question of contributions toward the recovery of Iraq will be discussed. One can of course expect that France and Russia will be there insisting that their loans to Iraq must not be segregated as odious debts, not repayable by the new Iraq. As things now stand, the U.S. government will simultaneously argue (1) that the debts should be repaid, and (2) that other nations should contribute to the cost of restoring Iraq.

    Consider the $150 billion to be their contribution to rebuilding.

    October 8, 2003

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 PM


    Big cities struggle to hold onto new immigrants as costs rise (Sara B. Miller, 10/09/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

    Every day, new immigrants pour into America's largest metropolitan areas, swelling the population and diversifying the culture. There's only one problem. An increasing number of those immigrants are later picking up and moving somewhere else. And unlike the middle-class whites of the 1960s and '70s, they're not fleeing to the suburbs, they're moving to entirely different cities that are more affordable.

    This migration bodes well for the assimilation of these immigrants and the diversification of middle America. [...]

    The rising cost of living and lack of job opportunity are driving the outmigration. In the last two years, for example, thousands of immigrants have left the densely packed, well-established "Little Guyana" section of Queens, N.Y. Their destination: Schenectady, a former manufacturing town in upstate New York. [...]

    That immigrants are increasingly moving to nontraditional gateways is a sign of hope, for many, since it can be viewed as a measure of their assimilation.

    "It shows that immigrants are not remaining a separate class for long," says Ann Keating, a professor of urban history at North Central College near Chicago. "They are adopting the mores of American society.... They, too, are searching for more opportunity."

    We'll melt with you.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 PM


    Gunman's Mom Wants Worker Compensation (Reuters, 10/08/03)

    The mother of a man who killed three co-workers before shooting himself in a workplace rampage has asked the company to compensate her for her son's death because it occurred at work, the company said on Tuesday.

    Modine Manufacturing Co. has turned down the request by Nina Tichelkamp-Russell, the mother of the 25-year-old gunman Jonathon Russell, company spokesman Mick Lucareli said. But the claim must still be reviewed by the state, he said.

    Russell's mother filed a claim seeking death benefits under the workers' compensation system, which provides financial payments to injured workers or the families of workers killed on the job, Lucareli said.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:59 PM


    A friend wrote this for us last year and we'd like to share it again:

    Yom Kippur - What's Jonah and the Whale Got To Do With It? (Jim Siegel, September 9, 2002)

    Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur's theme is that it is the day that God seals the books in which He has decided for the next year who will live and who will die, whose life will go well, whose life will be difficult.

    On Yom Kippur we atone for the sins we've committed in the past year. We pledge to act better this year. We ask God to judge us favorably before the books close.

    We fast -- abstain from all food and drink - for two reasons. Fasting is a 24-hour, difficult act of self-restraint that underscores the need to restrain ourselves everyday from actions that hurt others, that hurt God, that hurt ourselves. Fasting reminds us to appreciate the many blessings we do have and reminds us as well that they all come from God.

    The Yom Kippur liturgy includes the entire yet short text of the story of the prophet Jonah:

    NOW THE WORD of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying:

    1:2 'Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me.'

    1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord; and he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish, from the presence of the Lord.

    1:4 But the Lord hurled a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

    1:5 And the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god; and they cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it unto them. But Jonah was gone down into the innermost parts of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

    1:6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him: 'What meanest thou that thou sleepest? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.'

    1:7 And they said every one to his fellow: 'Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.' So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

    1:8 Then said they unto him: 'Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us: what is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?'

    1:9 And he said unto them: 'I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who hath made the sea and the dry land.'

    1:10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him: 'What is this that thou hast done?' For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

    1:11 Then said they unto him: 'What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us?' for the sea grew more and more tempestuous.

    1:12 And he said unto them: 'Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you; for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.'

    1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not; for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them.

    1:14 Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said: 'We beseech Thee, O the Lord, we beseech Thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood; for Thou, O the Lord, hast done as it pleased Thee.'

    1:15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging.

    1:16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly; and they offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.

    2:1 And the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

    2:2 Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly.

    2:3 And he said: I called out of mine affliction unto the Lord, and He answered me; out of the belly of the nether-world cried I, and Thou heardest my voice.

    2:4 For Thou didst cast me into the depth, in the heart of the seas, and the flood was round about me; all Thy waves and Thy billows passed over me.

    2:5 And I said: 'I am cast out from before Thine eyes'; yet I will look again toward Thy holy temple.

    2:6 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul; the deep was round about me; the weeds were wrapped about my head.

    2:7 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars closed upon me for ever; yet hast Thou brought up my life from the pit, O the Lord my God.

    2:8 When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thy holy temple.

    2:9 They that regard lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

    2:10 But I will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving; that which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is of the Lord.

    2:11 And the Lord spoke unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

    3:1 And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying:

    3:2 'Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and make unto it the proclamation that I bid thee.'

    3:3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city, of three days' journey.

    3:4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he proclaimed, and said: 'Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.'

    3:5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

    3:6 And the tidings reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

    3:7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying: 'Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing; let them not feed, nor drink water;

    3:8 but let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and beast, and let them cry mightily unto God; yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

    3:9 Who knoweth whether God will not turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?'

    3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, which He said He would do unto them; and He did it not.

    4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.

    4:2 And he prayed unto the Lord, and said: 'I pray Thee, O the Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in mine own country? Therefore I fled beforehand unto Tarshish; for I knew that Thou art a gracious God, and compassionate, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy, and repentest Thee of the evil.

    4:3 Therefore now, O the Lord, take, I beseech Thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.'

    4:4 And the Lord said: 'Art thou greatly angry?'

    4:5 Then Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

    4:6 And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his evil. So Jonah was exceeding glad because of the gourd.

    4:7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd, that it withered.

    4:8 And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die, and said: 'It is better for me to die than to live.'

    4:9 And God said to Jonah: 'Art thou greatly angry for the gourd?' And he said: 'I am greatly angry, even unto death.'

    4:10 And the Lord said: 'Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow, which came up in a night, and perished in a night;

    4:11 and should not I have pity on Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle?'

    (Source: Jewish Publication Society)

    Often congregants read the Jonah text out loud from the pulpit with no discussion of its meaning. I've always found story rolls past me. That it comes in the afternoon worship service, 20 hours or so into the fast when one's energy and attention are low, makes it worse.

    I belong to Central Synagogue in Manhattan, a terrific Reform Jewish institution and community of 1,700 families. (Learn more at http://www.centralsynagogue.org.)

    Recognizing that many of us don't see the relevance of the Jonah story, Central's clergy asked a professor at Union Theological Seminary, Bob Seaver, to direct a small group of congregants who will give a dramatic reading of Jonah to the entire congregation on Monday afternoon. I'm one of this group.

    Bob is one talented teacher, brimming with insights and great at drawing out new understanding from his cast.

    God gives Jonah the task to warn Ninevah, because Jonah is a holy man. But Jonah is so human. He's stubborn and oblivious, impatient and selfish, full of contradictions. He runs from God's command, the only biblical prophet to do so.

    He's sure - correctly so -- that God will let the people of Ninevah off the hook if they repent. Then Jonah's prediction of doom will fall flat. He'll look like a fool. And shouldn't the wicked be punished for their abominable acts? Jonah is furious that God forgives them. He ignored that God forgave his own flight and saved him from the whale.

    Jonah's self-absorption and rigidity extend to a plant which God gives him for shade and then makes to wither to test Jonah's reaction.

    In God's final words to Jonah, you can hear His tone-of-voice: "Jonah, don't you get it?!"

    What God tells Jonah is that you are how you act. Behavior is what counts. Your intention is not important. Nor is what you think. Only God will decide whether one deserves His ultimate compassion. But without right action one does not.

    The people of Ninevah repented on the chance that God would not destroy them. Their hearts may not have changed; the text is ambiguous about that. But they turned away from the acts that violated His morality.

    They did the right thing.

    So did Jonah when he took responsibility for the squall that endangered the ship by telling the sailors to save themselves by casting him into the sea. The sailors were honorable men who did not wish to harm Jonah. But he gave them no choice.

    Deep in the belly of the whale Jonah prayed for deliverance. God granted it to him. Then Jonah did follow through and warn Ninevah, though he got it over with as fast as he could.

    The Jonah story is rich in interpretations. But its lesson is simple.

    We read Jonah on Yom Kippur, because we ask God to be merciful towards us - despite all our flaws and inconsistencies. We can choose how we act and what we say, to choose to live as much as we can by the moral standard that God has set for us - to treat each other decently.

    Then twelve months from now at Yom Kippur we will again pray for His mercy.

    Because, after all, we're human.

    We Protestants, of course, take an even dimmer view of human nature, as in these lines from Paul: "For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the g