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January 31, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 PM

ALLAWI'S BAD LUCK:

A Big Man To Watch In Baghdad (David Ignatius, February 1, 2004, Washington Post)

As Ayad Allawi recounts the story of how he was nearly hacked to death by Saddam Hussein's agents 26 years ago, he slips out of his earnest role as a member of the Iraqi Governing Council and into a narrative of flickering images and half-heard noises. Listen to his account and you begin to understand why the struggle to create a new Iraq is so brutal and frustrating. [...]

Allawi was part of the Shiite merchant class. With their links to the bazaars of Persia, the prominent Shiite families were often far wealthier and more cultivated than the Sunnis. Like his relative Ahmed Chalabi, another prominent Shiite opposition leader, Allawi was a secular man who wanted to build a modern country.

Allawi's apostasy began after he left Baghdad in 1971 and made his way to London to continue his medical studies. He resigned from the Baath Party in 1975, but Saddam initially tried to coax him back with a combination of threats and bribes. When these blandishments failed, friends told Allawi in January 1978 that his name had been placed on a "liquidation list."

Saddam's henchmen were right to be worried. "At that time," Allawi says, "I was in contact with high-ranking Baath officials and military officers who shared my view that Saddam had hijacked the party."

Before he left the hospital in Wales in 1979, Allawi had already begun organizing a network that he hoped would someday destroy Saddam, who had seized power from other Baathists in a coup that year. He continued his efforts through the 1980s, traveling as a businessman in the Middle East and meeting with Iraqis who might join his opposition network. [...]

Allawi arrived in Baghdad soon after the U.S. Army. He joined the interim Governing Council that was appointed by the U.S. occupation chief, L. Paul Bremer, and was named to its nine-member "presidential committee." For two decades, Allawi had argued that a stable post-Saddam Iraq could only be built on the foundations of the modern state the Baathists had created, including the army, police, and secular courts. And Allawi says he warned U.S. officials in May that they would make a terrible mistake if they disbanded the Iraqi army instead of using it to maintain order and begin a process of national reconciliation.

But Bremer rejected that advice, probably his biggest mistake. The army, like other institutions, was swept away over Allawi's protests in a surge of de-Baathification. [...]

The council's regular Wednesday meetings with Bremer also went badly. The Iraqis felt they were being treated as a rubber stamp for whatever the Americans decided to do. Bremer listened, but in the end he did what he wanted. Through all the bickering, Allawi focused on running the council's security committee, which was responsible for building up a new Iraqi army, a civil defense force, police and an intelligence service. These security issues are probably the most crucial task of the occupation, and it's too soon to judge whether Allawi will succeed.

It has been Allawi's bad luck to be disparaged by almost everyone: by opposition leaders as an ex-Baathist; by ordinary Iraqis as a CIA man or an exile; by the Americans as a critic of Bremer's tactics; by religious leaders as too secular. And yet, there's a power to his arguments about how to keep the country from falling apart.


Of all the mistakes we may have made, the belief that we had to thoroughly de-Ba'athify is the hardest to fault. Indeed, if anything, we should probably have been prepared to handle past beneficiaries of Ba'athist rule (mostly the Sunni) more harshly.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:35 PM

WHERE WAS THE MORALITY TO BE ANAESTHITIZED?:

Washing their Hands: a review of HITLER'S SCIENTISTS: Science, War, and the Devil's Pact By John Cornwell (Gregg Herken, January 28, 2004, Washington Post)

The question that Cornwell poses early in the book, and that becomes a leitmotif, is whether those technical experts who participated in Nazi depravities were Germans behaving as Germans, or Germans behaving as scientists. Those who think they know Cornwell's answer may be in for a shock. The author argues persuasively that the elements of pseudoscience that we have come to associate with the Nazis -- eugenics, phrenology, notions of "racial hygiene" -- had their roots in post-World War I Europe and were often promoted, or even invented, by German scientists with the aid of sympathetic industrialists. But Cornwell does not find the fault to be in the mystical German Seele (soul). As he points out, social Darwinism and euthanasia of the "unfit" were ideas likewise in vogue among intellectuals in the United States and Britain during this time. Nor were bizarre and inhumane experiments unique to the Nazis. A famous British scientist once recalled how, as a boy, he was lowered into a freezing lake in a leaking diving suit by his father, who wished to test a new breathing apparatus. American physicians injected charity patients with plutonium during the Second World War, just to discover where the substance went in the body.

Although the atrocities of Hitler's Germany are by now perhaps too familiar to shock, that does not make Cornwell's meticulous cataloguing of them any less disturbing or depressing. Even so, the author feels compelled to give the devil his due. Drawing on previous work by historian Robert Proctor, Cornwell points out that the Nazis, who already had drawn the connection between tobacco and cancer, actively campaigned against smoking, banning it in public buildings. In 1943 -- when they surely had more pressing concerns -- the Nazis decreed that German workers suffering from asbestos exposure had the right to receive compensation. For decades to come, Anglo-American companies would claim that the mineral was harmless, even suppressing evidence to the contrary.

This is not to say that Cornwell sees Allied and German science as morally equivalent. Yet it is not the well-known monsters such as Josef Mengele whom he finds most distressing, but rather the nearly wholesale "acquiescence of the German great and good in science": those scientists who became "morally anaesthetized" to the evil they served.


Diabolical science was not a function of Nazism--rather Nazism was a function of science.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:20 PM

YOU WOULDN'T THINK IT NEEDED SAYING, BUT...:

Top Saudi Cleric Assails Terrorists (RAWYA RAGEH, 1/31/04, Associated Press)

Saudi Arabia's top cleric called on Muslims around the world Saturday to forsake terrorism, saying those who claim to be holy warriors were an affront to the faith.

In a sermon that was remarkable not only for its strong language but also its timing - at the peak of the annual hajj - Sheik Abdul Aziz al-Sheik told 2 million pilgrims that terrorists were giving their enemies an excuse to criticize Muslim nations.

"Is it holy war to shed Muslim blood? Is it holy war to shed the blood of non-Muslims given sanctuary in Muslim lands? Is it holy war to destroy the possession of Muslims,'' he said.

A large number of the victims of suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq and elsewhere have been been Muslims.

Al-Sheik, who is widely respected in the Arab world as the foremost cleric in the country considered the birthplace of Islam, spoke at Namira Mosque, a televised sermon watched by millions of Muslims in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.


The Osamists have done the seemingly impossible--bombed Saudi Arabia and Pakistan into getting serious about terrorism.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:03 PM

LAW>ORDER>SURRENDER:

France-Minister Chased (AP, Jan 31, 2004)

A public appearance by France's law-and-order interior minister turned ugly on Saturday, as dozens of angry youths besieged his entourage following a visit to the Paris subway.

Nearly 50 youths chased Nicolas Sarkozy, surrounded by his security guards, as they emerged from a visit to Les Halles station in central Paris to tout new transportation security measures.

The tough-talking Sarkozy, one of France's best-known politicians, was whisked into a nearby police station and on to his car as the youths shouted insults at him.


Our grandchildren, when they think of France, will associate it with the crescent flag rather than the croissant.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:43 PM

CEO-STYLE:

Donors Advocated Change: Dean Supporters OK With Losing Trippi (Jodie Tillman, 1/31/04, Valley News)

Hours had passed since the votes came in, since the group of well-connected fund-raisers learned their man had finished second in the New Hampshire presidential primary. Returning to their Concord motel after a late-night rally, some of the 100 men and women who had traveled from near and far to work for Howard Dean headed straight to bed.

But a group of about 20 on the so-called “Dean's List” -- people who have raised at least $50,000 for the campaign -- stayed up in the hotel's breakfast area. Worried by Dean’s showing in New Hampshire and in Iowa the previous week, they wanted to figure out where the campaign was going.

“It turned into a very intense discussion,” said Norwich resident Bill Stetson, who is on the Dean's List. “There was a feeling that we were off track. We just felt there was something wrong in Burlington.”

From one session lasting into the wee hours of Wednesday morning emerged a consensus among these influential supporters: The campaign's management style had to change.

And several hours after Stetson and another supporter reported their recommendation to the Dean national campaign co-chairman, news broke that national campaign manager Joe Trippi had been replaced with a Washington insider.

Steve Grossman, Dean's national co-chairman, said the group's recommendations coincided with what Dean himself had been thinking since his third-place finish in Iowa: that the team-management style favored by Trippi needed to be replaced with a more hierarchical, “CEO-style.”


The truly staggering thing here is not just that they spent $41 million dollars blowing leads in IA and NH, but that they thought there was more where that came from. It was a campaign with no adult supervision and seemingly not the slightest acquaintance with reality.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:31 AM

RATHER SWITCH THAN FIGHT:

Arab-Americans switch: Bush to Kucinich: Prominent group that backed president in 2000 says they were 'stung' (WorldNetDaily.com, January 31, 2004)

Complaining it was betrayed, a key Arab-American group that endorsed George W. Bush in the 2000 election says it will back Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich for the Democratic nomination and stand behind that party's eventual nominee.

The endorsement of Kucinich was not based on who has the best chance to win, but on "principle," said Osama Siblani, head of the Arab-American Political Action Committee.

"The argument we had yesterday was should we stand by our principles or cast a vote based on electability," he said, according to the Associated Press. "But this was a group that voted for [President] Bush in 2000 and were stung by the Bush administration."


The very reasons that Arab-Americans are changing parties are those which should preclude a Democratic presidency.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:11 AM

NO, YOU'RE THE FRONTRUNNER...:

Electing the Electable: Let us review the Democratic presidential primaries so far. (DAVID BROOKS, 1/31/04, NY Times)

In the beginning, John Kerry surged to a big lead in the New Hampshire polls because he seemed so electable. He had plenty of experience, lots of money and big hair, and, as somebody said, he looks like an animatronic version of Abraham Lincoln. But then Howard Dean raised a lot of money, and New Hampshire voters figured that he was bringing so many new people into the process that he must be electable — and if he was electable, then they should probably support him because they wanted somebody who could beat George Bush.

So Dean's poll numbers rose, and the news media noticed his momentum, and other voters noticed how much great press he was getting. And that led to a self-reinforcing upward spiral of electability as more people concluded that he was electable because so many other people were concluding he was electable. People around the country saw that Dean was doing so well in New Hampshire they, too, concluded that he must be electable, a perception that led to an impressive rise in the national polls, which only enhanced his electability.

All this time, Kerry had not changed his views particularly, and he had not changed his campaign style, though he might have changed the bags under his eyes, depending on whom you ask. But savvy Democratic voters wanted to vote for somebody who could win the most votes in November, and they decided that since Dean was ahead of Kerry, therefore Kerry must be less electable, so voters moved away from Kerry. So Kerry's support plummeted, and the more his support plummeted the more he looked pathetically unelectable.

So Kerry fired his campaign manager and moved to Iowa, where fewer people had formed a conclusion about his electability


If it weren't so enjoyable it would be sad to see a once great party reduced to the point where the contest for its presidential nomination consists of staying one step ahead of the public scrutiny that will destroy your candidacy.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 AM

ONLT THE FOURTH "R" MATTERS:

Our Foreign Legions: Lessons and cautions from Europe on assimilating immigrants. (FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, January 31, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

Americans, looking at Europe, should be glad that they have made their country an assimilation powerhouse. But as the authors of a new volume on assimilation edited by Tamar Jacoby indicate, this is not something that we can take for granted. During the big immigration wave of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the largely Protestant native-born elites deliberately sought to use the public school system to assimilate the newcomers from southern and eastern Europe to their cultural values. The 1960s and '70s gave rise to multiculturalism, affirmative action and bilingualism, which sought to reverse course on assimilation. The '90s saw a backlash against this kind of divisive identity politics with the passage of Proposition 227 in California, which wiped out public school bilingual programs at a stroke. This was our version of the headscarf ban, one that worked well because it was supported by a great many Hispanic parents themselves who felt their children were being held back in a Spanish language ghetto.

It is in this context that we should evaluate President Bush's recent proposal to grant illegal aliens work permits. Many Americans dislike the policy because it rewards breaking the law. This is all true; we should indeed use our newly invigorated controls over foreign nationals to channel future immigrants into strictly legal channels. But since we are not about to expel the nearly seven million people potentially eligible for this program, we need to consider what policies would lead to their most rapid integration into mainstream American society. For the vast majority of illegal aliens, the law they broke on entering the country is likely to be the only important one they will ever violate, and the sooner they can normalize their status, the faster their children are likely to participate fully in American life.

It is no exaggeration to say that the assimilation of culturally distinct immigrants will be the greatest social challenge faced by developed democracies over the coming decades. Given the subreplacement fertility rates of native-born populations, high levels of immigration have become necessary to fund not just current standards of living but future social security benefits. Divergent immigration patterns will unfortunately deepen the wedge that has emerged between America and Europe in foreign policy. We cannot do much to affect European policy, but we can take steps to see that their problems do not become our own.


Turning our schools back into training grounds for fit citizens of the Republic would seem a cause around which nativist and immigrantophile could unite.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:58 AM

FOLLOW THE LONER?:

A Kerry Top 10 (National Journal, Jan. 30, 2004)

In making his own way in the Senate, Kerry has often stepped on the toes of fellow Democrats. He has campaigned against federal spending projects championed by both Republicans and Democrats. When he pursued his fraud probe of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, he didn't shy away from detailing the roles that former President Carter and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young played in the controversy.

Two former Senate staffers who worked for Kerry's colleagues describe another paradoxical side to Kerry -- his apparent aloofness and lack of focus on some important matters passing through the Senate, and his occasional fascination with causes, to the point of what one described as "obsession." The BCCI scandal was one example of his doggedness, but Kerry also spent years trying to terminate an obscure nuclear reactor research program. The program was based in Illinois and championed by that state's two Democratic senators, and Kerry's unrelenting effort to end the project did not please his colleagues. Kerry also crossed swords with the then-chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, J. Bennett Johnston, D-La., on the reactor issue and on Johnston's support for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but today Johnston is a Kerry supporter.

Another Kerry cause was eliminating federal subsidies for mohair production. The senator gave speech after speech against the subsidies, which cost taxpayers $60 million a year while creating very few jobs. Kerry got approving editorial coverage in The Boston Globe and The New York Times when the subsidies were phased out in the mid-1990s, but the senator didn't have much to say when the program was revived a few years later. He expressed chagrin, but showed little interest in tackling the issue again. Likewise, he campaigns now against Bush's tax cuts, but he skipped the 2001 vote on those cuts to deliver a commencement address.


This profile makes him sound kind of like Nixon, except pro-Communist.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 AM

YOU KNOW IT'S THE TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD WHEN...:

The Gift Horse (NY Times, 1/31/04)

n Thursday, Laura Bush announced that President Bush would ask for an $18 million increase in funds for the National Endowment for the Arts. If approved, this request will bring the N.E.A.'s annual spending to nearly $140 million. All but $3 million of the increase will go to create a new program called "American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius," which will include a mix of touring performances, local presentations and arts education in partnership with public and private organizations across the country.

It's impossible to argue with increased financing for such a valuable enterprise, although this announcement falls under the category of You Know It's an Election Year When. . . .


You'd think the paper of record could at least get its facts straight, seeing as how Mr. Bush secured more money for the NEA last year also and his appointment of Dana Gioia to head the Agency demonstrated that he was serious about transforming it.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 AM

THE DEMOCRATS' FRIENDS--THE KLEPTOCRATS:

Crisis for Chirac as Juppé is found guilty on funding (Philip Delves, 31/01/2004, Daily Telegraph)

A political crisis engulfed President Jacques Chirac last night after his closest ally and heir apparent, the former prime minister Alain Juppé, was found guilty of illegal party funding.

Juppé, who was once described by M Chirac as "the best among us", was barred from public office for 10 years and given an 18-month suspended prison sentence. [...]

While head of M Chirac's previous party, Rally for the Republic (RPR) and financial director at the town hall, Juppé arranged for the illegal payment of RPR employees with city money.

His conviction is extremely embarrassing for M Chirac, who has avoided similar charges of illegal party funding through bribes, expense fiddling and creating imaginary jobs at the Paris town hall only by changing the law on presidential immunity to protect him while in office. Juppé is seen by many to be taking the fall for his mentor.


Remind us again why the Democrats want to set up the French and Germans as our moral arbiters?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:06 AM

LET'S OBLIGE HIM:

Castro claims plot by Bush (Carlos Diaz, 1/31/04, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE)

Cuban leader Fidel Castro yesterday accused President Bush of ordering his assassination and vowed to "go down fighting" if there was a U.S. invasion.

In a five-hour speech, the 77-year-old communist president shot down rumors about his health and heightened his attacks on the "belligerent behavior" of the United States and its leader.

"We knew that Mr. Bush had made a commitment with the mafia of the Cuban-American Foundation to kill me. I accuse him of this," Mr. Castro told about 1,000 representatives from 32 nations attending a conference in Havana against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.

"This dead man can still talk. This dead man can make plans. This dead man ... is not dead yet." [...]

Mr. Castro said that Cuba does not want "a war [against] Yankee imperialism" but he insisted that the communist nation "will not budge at all from our principles."

The Cuban leader received thunderous applause when he said: "I am not asking to survive a war. I've already done my part and I still have to do what I have to do. With weapons in hand, I don't care how I die, but I'm confident that if they invade us, I will go down fighting."


How hard can it be to bomb a guy who gives five hour speeches?


MORE:
State Department: Chavez, Castro won't derail FTAA plans (The Associated Press, , Jan. 30, 2004)

The U.S. State Department's top official for Latin America said Friday the negotiations for the 34-nation Free Trade Area of the Americas would not be derailed by governments that don't fully support the trade bloc.

Roger Noriega, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, was asked at a business conference whether Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuban President Fidel Castro can influence other Latin American nations to lessen their support for the President Bush-backed free trade area.

''I don't think any one country constitutes a roadblock on the FTAA,'' Noriega said. ``We'll just go around them.''

Chavez, a friend of Castro, has expressed his opposition to many aspects of the FTAA and has been accused by U.S. officials of stoking anti-American sentiment in Latin America. Communist Cuba is not included in the FTAA talks, but Castro has been singled out by Noriega for promoting policies to destabilize democratic governments.

''None of us is ignoring the negative aspects and the penchant for some to fish in troubled waters and cause trouble for other countries,'' Noriega said.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:02 AM

CANADA’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE WAR ON KIDDIE-TERROR:

Top court sets limits on spanking (Kirk Makin, The Globe and Mail, 31/01/04)

Parents can spank or use force on their children provided it is minimal and not the product of frustration or rage, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled yesterday.

While the majority of judges were unwilling to prohibit the use of force altogether, they declared corporal punishment off-limits for children under the age of 2 and for teenagers. And they outlawed the use of objects such as rulers or belts, as well as slaps or blows to the head.

Teachers can no longer use any form of corporal punishment, the court added, although they may restrain pupils to gain compliance with their instructions.

The judgment went a long way toward meeting the concerns of critics of spanking, while at the same time leaving intact a Criminal Code defence that can be used by parents or teachers charged with assault who establish they used "reasonable force" on a child.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said the defence will apply only in cases of "sober, reasoned uses of force that address the actual behaviour of the child and are designed to restrain, control or express some symbolic disapproval of his or her behaviour. Degrading, inhuman or harmful conduct is not protected."

This is being widely played as a defeat for activists and the caring professions and a triumph for family and common sense. It undoubtedly is, as no one was betting on the outcome and much of Europe has now criminalized all corporal punishment. Who is going to lament the fact it is no longer legal to punch your kid in the head in a blind rage?

This is the latest skirmish in the long campaign to extirpate all physical violence from society, whether with strangers, spouses, animals or children. That is surely a mark of civilized progress, but does there come a point where the self-control this requires can only be attained through maintaining an emotional distance from our loved ones? Does permanently sublimating human anger require the building of emotional walls within? And, if so, does it matter?

Anyway, should this issue come before the U.S. Supreme Court with its new-found fealty to international precedent, American traditionalists will be able to cite their northern neighbour’s common sense for once. You are most welcome.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:01 AM

EVANGELIZE EUROPE:

Research Around the World Links Religion to Economic Development (FELICIA R. LEE, 1/31/04, NY Times)

Forget investment and savings rates, worker productivity and wage scales to determine which countries will become richer or poorer. What really stimulates economic growth is whether you believe in an afterlife — especially hell.

At least that's what two Harvard scholars have found after analyzing data collected in 59 countries between 1981 and 1999.

"Our central perspective is that religion affects economic outcomes mainly by fostering religious beliefs that influence individual traits such as honesty, work ethic, thrift and openness to strangers," the researchers, Robert J. Barro and Rachel M. McCleary, wrote in a recent issue of American Sociological Review. (They also happen to be married.) "For example, beliefs in heaven and hell might affect those traits by creating perceived rewards and punishments that relate to `good' and `bad' lifetime behavior." [...]

[O]ver the last 30 years, many East Asian countries, including Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea, have experienced both rapid economic growth and the spread of Christianity, Mr. Barro said.

"South Korea is a good example of that rapid growth and more religion," he said. There the number of converts from Confucianism and other Eastern religions to Christianity is growing rapidly, he explained. [...]

"I find that belief factors play a major role in economic growth, but here is one of the world's leading economists saying so," Mr. Inglehart said, referring to Mr. Barro. "When Weber argued that big breakthroughs in economic growth were in Protestant countries, it was at a time when many cultures were shaped by Protestant institutions. His notion in the broadest sense is that belief factors play a role in economic factors."

"This is a revised view of the Protestant ethic," he continued. He noted that many mostly Protestant, wealthy countries were now more interested in quality of life, and that many Eastern countries were now more focused on economic growth — with some populations even converting, as Mr. Barro noted, to Christianity and specifically to Protestantism.

"Confucian countries are now the most Protestant countries on earth, in terms of a moral imperative to work hard, save money, to do well," Mr. Inglehart said.


The future lies not in the West--where, excluding the U.S., Christianity is dying-- but where Christianity is growing.

Note that this fact is the dog not barking in another story from today's Times, On the Dark Side of Democracy
By EMILY EAKIN, 1/31/04, NY Times)

To most Americans, the notion that free markets and democracy are essential to curing the world's ills is an article of faith. If only Iraq and Afghanistan, Cuba and North Korea, Syria and Rwanda would adopt both, their people, not to mention the world, would be safer and richer.

Yet to Amy Chua, a professor at Yale Law School, such accepted wisdom is mostly evidence of a persistent and disturbing national naïveté. All too often, she says, bringing free markets and elections to developing nations leads not to stability or prosperity but to hate-mongering, discrimination and even genocidal violence.

The idea that political and economic liberty could trigger such atrocities is heretical to many Western liberals. That, Ms. Chua says, is because people here are blind to ethnicity. [...]

[C]ritics complain, America's approach is both precipitous and simplistic, encouraging political liberalization in nations that may not have the social and economic conditions necessary to sustain it. "We're not prepared to understand, assess and respond to the complexities of other societies," said the economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, who has served as an adviser to governments in Russia, Poland and Bolivia.

Mr. Stiglitz agreed, saying that democracy experts tend to ignore social variables like ethnicity and gender. In Malaysia, for example, he said, the local government created a successful affirmative action program to benefit the indigenous Malay majority — and ward off ethnic conflict with the prosperous Chinese minority — over the objections of Western advisers. And in Rwanda, he said, the transition from customary to formal law put land formerly controlled by women under male ownership, an outcome Western experts failed to anticipate.

Most critics are quick to stress that they are not against democracy, free markets or globalization per se; they merely object to the way these ideals have typically been pursued. "I'm an optimist," Ms. Chua said, summing up her position. "In the last 20 years, we have done things in many ways so badly, so foolishly, often with the best of intentions — like dropping a stock exchange in Mozambique or xeroxing copies of the U.S. Constitution. I think we can do better."

In her book, she argues that one way to reduce inequality and ethnic tension in democratizing nations is for market-dominant minorities to share some of their wealth by making "significant, visible contributions to the local economies in which they are thriving," by which she means building universities, hospitals or recreational facilities, supporting local schools and employing members of the indigenous majority in their companies.


They don't need money--they need missionaries.


MORE:
-World Values Survey (Prof. Ronald Inglehart, University of Michigan)
-ESSAY: American values: Living with a superpower: Some values are held in common by America and its allies. As three studies show, many others are not (The Economist, Jan 2nd 2003)
-Professor Robert J. Barro's Working Papers On The Web


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:42 AM

TOO MUCH TALK?:

Physics and Politics: or Thoughts on the Application of the Principles of "Natural Selection" and "Inheritance" to Political Society (1863) (Walter Bagehot, 1826-77)

CHAPTER V. - THE AGE OF DISCUSSION.

The greatest living contrast is between the old Eastern and customary civilisations and the new Western and changeable civilisations. A year or two ago an inquiry was made of our most intelligent officers in the East, not as to whether the English Government were really doing good in the East, but as to whether the natives of India themselves thought we were doing good; to which, in a majority of cases, the officers who wore the best authority, answered thus: 'No doubt you are giving the Indians many great benefits: you give them continued peace, free trade, the right to live as they like, subject to the laws; in these points and others they are far better off than, they ever were; but still they cannot make you out. What puzzles them is your constant disposition to change, or as you call it, improvement. Their own life in every detail being regulated by ancient usage, they cannot comprehend a policy which is always bringing something new; they do not a bit believe that the desire to make them comfortable and happy is the root of it; they believe, on the contrary, that you are aiming at something which they do not understand--that you mean to "take away their religion;" in a word, that the end and object of all these continual changes is to make Indians not what they are and what they like to be, but something new and different from what they are, and what they would not like to be.' In the East, in a word, we are attempting to put new wine into old bottles-to pour what we can of a civilisation whose spirit is progress into the form of a civilisation whose spirit is fixity, and whether we shall succeed or not is perhaps the most interesting question in an age abounding almost beyond example in questions of political interest.

Historical inquiries show that the feeling of the Hindoos is the old feeling, and that the feeling of the Englishman is a modern feeling. ' Old law rests,' as Sir Henry Maine puts it, 'not on contract but on status.' The life of ancient civilisation, so far as legal records go, runs back to a time when every important particular of life was settled by a usage which was social, political, and religious, as we should now say, all in one--which those who obeyed it could not have been able to analyse, for those distinctions had no place in their mind and language, but which they felt to be a usage of imperishable import, and above all things to be kept unchanged. In former papers I have shown, or at least tried to show, why these customary civilisations were the only ones which suited an early society; why, so to say, they alone could have been first; in what manner they had in their very structure a decisive advantage over all competitors. But now comes the farther question: If fixity is an invariable ingredient in early civilisations, how then did any civilisation become unfixed? No doubt most civilisations stuck where they first were; no doubt we see now why stagnation is the rule of the world, and why progress is the very rare exception; but we do not learn what it is which has caused progress in these few cases, or the absence of what it is which has denied it in all others.

To this question history gives a very clear and very remarkable answer. It is that the change from the age of status to the age of choice was first made in states where the government was to a great and a growing extent a government by discussion, and where the subjects of that discussion were in some degree abstract, or, as we should say, matters of principle. It was in the small republics of Greece and Italy that the chain of custom was first broken. 'Liberty said, Let there be light, and, like a sunrise on the sea, Athens arose,' says Shelley, and his historical philosophy is in this case far more correct than is usual with him. A free state--a state with liberty--means a state, call it republic or call it monarchy, in which the sovereign power is divided between many persons, and in which there is a discussion among those persons. Of these the Greek republics were the first in history, if not in time, and Athens was the greatest of those republics.

After the event it is easy to see why the teaching of history should be this and nothing else. It is easy to see why the common discussion of common actions or common interests should become the root of change and progress. In early society, originality in life was forbidden and repressed by the fixed rule of life. It may not have been quite so much so in Ancient Greece as in some other parts of the world. But it was very much so even there. As a recent writer has well said, 'Law then presented itself to men's minds as something venerable and unchangeable, as old as the city; it had been delivered by the founder himself, when he laid the walls of the city, and kindled its sacred fire.' An ordinary man who wished to strike out a new path, to begin a new and important practice by himself, would have been peremptorily required to abandon his novelties on pain of death; he was deviating, he would be told, from the ordinances imposed by the gods on his nation, and he must not do so to please himself. On the contrary, others were deeply interested in his actions. If he disobeyed, the gods might inflict grievous harm on all the people as well as him. Each partner in the most ancient kind of partnerships was supposed to have the power of attracting the wrath of the divinities on the entire firm, upon the other partners quite as much as upon himself. The quaking bystanders in a superstitious age would soon have slain an isolated bold man in the beginning of his innovations, What Macaulay so relied on as the incessant source of progress--the desire of man to better his condition--was not then permitted to work; man was required to live as his ancestors had lived.

Still further away from those times were the 'free thought' and the 'advancing sciences' of which we now hear so much. The first and most natural subject upon which human thought concerns itself is religion; the first wish of the half-emancipated thinker is to use his reason on the great problems of human destiny--to find out whence he came and whither he goes, to form for himself the most reasonable idea of God which he can form. But, as Mr. Grote happily said--'This is usually what ancient times would not let a man do. His GENS or his fratria required him to believe as they believed.' Toleration is of all ideas the most modern, because the notion that the bad religion of A cannot impair, here or hereafter, the welfare of B, is, strange to say, a modern idea. And the help of 'science,' at that stage of thought, is still more nugatory. Physical science, as we conceive it--that is, the systematic investigation of external nature in detail--did not then exist. A few isolated observations on surface things--a half-correct calendar, secrets mainly of priestly invention, and in priestly custody--were all that was then imagined; the idea of using a settled study of nature as a basis for the discovery of new instruments and new things, did not then exist. It is indeed a modern idea, and is peculiar to a few European countries even yet. In the most intellectual city of the ancient world, in its most intellectual age, Socrates, its most intellectual inhabitant, discouraged the study of physics because they engendered uncertainty, and did not augment human happiness. The kind of knowledge which is most connected with human progress now was that least connected with it then.

But a government by discussion, if it can be borne, at once breaks down the yoke of fixed custom. The idea of the two is inconsistent. As far as it goes, the mere putting up of a subject to discussion, with the object of being guided by that discussion, is a clear admission that that subject is in no degree settled by established rule, and that men are free to choose in it. It is an admission too that there is no sacred authority--no one transcendent and divinely appointed man whom in that matter the community is bound to obey. And if a single subject or group of subjects be once admitted to discussion, ere long the habit of discussion comes to be established, the sacred charm of use and wont to be dissolved. 'Democracy,' it has been said in modern times, 'is like the grave; it takes, but it does not give.' The same is true of 'discussion.' Once effectually submit a subject to that ordeal, and you can never withdraw it again; you can never again clothe it with mystery, or fence it by consecration; it remains for ever open to free choice, and exposed to profane deliberation.

The only subjects which can be first submitted, or which till a very late age of civilisation can be submitted to discussion in the community, are the questions involving the visible and pressing interests of the community; they are political questions of high and urgent import. If a nation has in any considerable degree gained the habit, and exhibited the capacity, to discuss these questions with freedom, and to decide them with discretion, to argue much on politics and not to argue ruinously, an enormous advance in other kinds of civilisation may confidently be predicted for it. And the reason is a plain deduction from the principles which we have found to guide early civilisation. The first pre-historic men were passionate savages, with the greatest difficulty coerced into order and compressed into a state. For ages were spent in beginning that order and founding that state; the only sufficient and effectual agent in so doing was consecrated custom; but then that custom gathered over everything, arrested all onward progress, and stayed the originality of mankind. If, therefore, a nation is able to gain the benefit of custom without the evil--if after ages of waiting it can have order and choice together--at once the fatal clog is removed, and the ordinary springs of progress, as in a modern community we conceive them, begin their elastic action.


The problem being--as Europe amply demonstrates and as we're in danger of following--that the tendency is to completely discard custom and order, leaving only choice, and the spring expands until the community is no longer bound by common interests.

If discussion is corrosive of custom and all topics are subject to discussion in a free society than how do you maintain at least the degree of custom that order requires?

MORE:
-INTRODUCTION: to Physics and Politics by Walter Baghot (Roger Kimball)
-BIO: Bagehot , Walter (Britannica Concise)
-BIO: Walter Bagehot (Ronald Hilton, WAIS Forum on Wais News)
-CARICATURE: Walter Bagehot by David Levine (NY Review of Books)
-Walter Bagehot Online
-Walter Bagehot, 1826-1877 (New School)
-The San Antonio College LitWeb Walter Bagehot Page
-Bagehot, W (1826.2.3-77.3.24) (Akamac)
-ETEXTS: Walter Bagehot (February 3, 1826 – March 24, 1877)
-ETEXTS: Walter Bagehot (Blue Pete)
-ETEXTS: Project Gutenberg Titles by Walter Bagehot
-ESSAY: John Milton (1859) (Walter Bagehot)
-ETEXT: Physics and Politics (Walter Bagehot )
-ETEXT: Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market Walter Bagehot (1826-1877) (Library of Economics and Liberty)
-REVIEW: of Principles of Political Economy, with some of their applications to Social Philosophy. By J. S. Mill (Walter Bagehot, 1848, The Prospective Review)
-ARCHIVES: "walter bagehot" (Look Smart)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:05 AM

DUNN DONE:

Dunn says she won't seek return to Congress (The Associated Press, 1/30/04)

U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn, Washington state's senior Republican in Congress and a favorite of the Bush White House, told The Associated Press tonight that she's retiring from politics.

Dunn, 61, who had been courted by President Bush to run for the U.S. Senate this fall, said she has decided to serve out her sixth House term and then retire from public life.

She cited family considerations — she's newly remarried — and a desire for one more career after politics. She endorsed no successor in her Republican-leaning 8th District in Seattle's eastern suburbs.


Too bad--she was always a class act.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:03 AM

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT:

No Evidence CIA Slanted Iraq Data: Probers Say Analysts Remained Consistent (Dana Priest, January 31, 2004, Washington Post)

Congressional and CIA investigations into the prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons and links to terrorism have found no evidence that CIA analysts colored their judgment because of perceived or actual political pressure from White House officials, according to intelligence officials and congressional officials from both parties.

Richard J. Kerr, a former deputy CIA director who is leading the CIA's review of its prewar Iraq assessment, said an examination of the secret analytical work done by CIA analysts showed that it remained consistent over many years.

"There was pressure and a lot of debate, and people should have a lot of debate, that's quite legitimate," Kerr said. "But the bottom line is, over a period of several years," the analysts' assessments "were very consistent. They didn't change their views."

Kerr's findings mirror those of two probes being conducted separately by the House and Senate intelligence committees, which have interviewed, under oath, every analyst involved in assessing Iraq's weapons programs and terrorist ties.

The panel chairmen, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), and other congressional officials said in recent interviews that they found no evidence that analysts shaded their findings to more closely fit the White House's known desire to create the strongest, most urgent case for war with Iraq.

The conclusion that analysts did not buckle under political pressure does not answer the question of why the intelligence reports were so flawed. Nor does it address allegations -- made by Democrats in Congress and Democratic presidential candidates -- that top Bush administration officials misused intelligence and exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq.


The problem isn't that the intelligence services were politicized but that they're incompetent.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:58 AM

WHAT WITCHES?:

Artefact recalls witches' shadow (Greig Watson, 1/28/04, BBC)

A chilling reminder of our superstitious past has been unearthed from a rural farmhouse.

The "witch bottle" was discovered buried in old foundations in the Lincolnshire village of Navenby.

Containing bent pins, human hair and perhaps urine, the bottles were supposed to protect a household against evil spells.

Dated to about 1830, it is evidence the fear of dark forces persisted far longer than previously thought.


January 30, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 PM

CAN'T FIGHT DESTINY:

Lewis & Clark helped rob American Indians (Robert J. Miller, January 28, 2004, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark sit high in the pantheon of American folk heroes. Even today, Lewis and Clark are viewed as brave adventurers who went where no one had gone before, exploring and conquering the wilderness for the betterment of America.

There is another way to view Lewis and Clark, however, which is nearer to the truth. Lewis and Clark were military officers serving American empire and manifest destiny and they were the vanguard of American policies that ultimately robbed the indigenous peoples of nearly everything they possessed. [...]

The ultimate goal, then, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was the subjugation of Indian property and commercial rights. The expedition helped the United States claim its discovery sovereignty over the Louisiana Territory, institute concrete plans to begin exercising that authority and extended America's claim to the Northwest. The expedition was a major part of Jefferson's plan to assimilate Indians and their assets into American society, to remove the tribes from the path of American continental expansion and, if necessary, to exterminate the tribes to advance the American empire.

Lewis and Clark opened the road to the domination of Indian tribes in the Northwest and the Louisiana Territory and to bringing Indian lands into the American empire. As a consequence, Indians lost valuable property and governmental rights and were ultimately subjected to official federal policies of forced removals, assimilation, armed conflicts, the reservation system and the termination of tribal governments.

The cultural, religious, family and governmental oppression that Indian people have suffered since the expedition is well documented. American Indians have obviously suffered the detrimental effects of "American empire."


The property wasn't valuable and there were no rights until we got there though.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:38 PM

OBLIGATORY HITLER COMPARISON OF THE WEEK:

Are Parallels To Nazi Germany Crazy? (Harley Sorensen, January 26, 2004, SF Gate)

The customers always write. I get about 400 e-mails in response to my columns every week, which might explain why I didn't answer yours. Here, slightly edited, is one of the more interesting ones from last week. It's from Herr Moellers in Germany:

"Dear Mr. Sorensen,

"I have many American friends and used to go on business travel to the U.S. a lot (I stopped doing that after even our European governments have given in to Uncle Sam's appetite for information about individuals traveling to God's Own Country), and I am shocked by the deterioration of democracy in a country that I used to love. This administration is a shame and the destabilization they have brought to the world is scaring the s** out of me.

"My father was a Nazi soldier and he realized during the war what he and most of his generation was led into. I have learned from him that a nation can be guilty and that we must stop the arrogance of the powers at the very beginning. To me, America is becoming truly scary and the parallels to the development in Germany of the thirties (although the reason behind it are totally different) are sickening.

"Thank you for writing about this development. The world is waiting for signs of opposition in the Unilateral States of America!"

Herr Moellers' e-mail is typical of a half dozen or so I've received over the past year from people with intimate knowledge of Nazi Germany.

I respect experience, so I'm inclined to believe what these people are telling me.


In a related story, I got an e-mail from someone today with intimate knowledge of how to make my breasts bigger. It worked for them and I respect experience.

Of course, if Mr. Sorensen were really interested in parallels to the rise of Nazism, he'd not have to look too far, Poll: Europeans 'tired of Holocaust victim games' (JENNY HAZAN, Jan. 27, 2004, Jerusalem Post):

Every third European feels Jews should stop playing "Holocaust victim" games, an Italian newspaper reported Monday. The poll came out on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a day Israel this year dedicated to combating anti-Semitism.

The Corriere della Sera survey of nine European countries also found that 46 percent of those interviewed feel Jews are "different," and 71% of them urged Israel to withdraw from the territories. Nine percent of respondents do not "like or trust Jews," and 15% would prefer that Israel not exist.

Just over 68% said they believed Israel has a right to exist but that the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is "making the wrong choices."

Forty-eight percent of Europeans polled in Italy, France, Belgium, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, and Britain said that Jews have "a particular relationship with money."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 PM

SHRUB DRUBBING:

Bush got nearly everything he wanted with 2004 budget (ALAN FRAM, January 29, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

President Bush is ready to roll out his 2005 budget just days after Congress finished this year's and demonstrated anew that the adage ''dead on arrival'' did not apply to most of his fiscal plans.

In what analysts and lawmakers agree was an impressive string of successes, Bush won most of the broad priorities he proposed in his $2.2 trillion budget for 2004.

He scored a major tax cut, new Medicare prescription drug benefits and money for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, the president held the spending that Congress controls to 3 percent growth. [...]

Lawmakers have not been rubber stamps for the current president, trimming his defense request while spending more than he asked for highways, public works and veterans. They ignored Bush's plan to make tax cuts permanent, scaled back his proposal to stop taxing corporate dividends, blocked his energy bill and pockmarked spending measures with thousands of home-district projects.

Even so, aided by a friendly Republican-run Congress and a political climate that has diverted attention from record federal deficits, the budget that Bush proposed last February fared as well on Capitol Hill as any president's in recent memory, said legislators and other observers.


Imagine what he'd accomplish if he weren't a moron?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 PM

TOLERANCE, THEY ORDERED:

Scarves and Symbols (GUY COQ, 1/30/04, NY Times)

With France on the verge of passing a law that would prevent Muslim girls from wearing their head scarves in class, Americans are asking why the French are so attached to secularism. I always want to respond to this question by asking another, a version of one asked by Montesquieu nearly three centuries ago: how can one be French? Our uneasiness about head scarves and other religious symbols in schools is a result of our long, often painful, history. If we bow to demands to allow the practice of religion in state institutions, we will put France's identity in peril.

The French word that is closest to secularism, laïcité, was invented in the late 19th century to express several ideas. Laïcité includes, foremost, tolerance. Tolerance had actually been around for a while. It was first instituted in 1598 under the Edict of Nantes — which allowed Protestants to practice their faith and ended our Wars of Religion. But the state and the Roman Catholic Church were so intertwined that tolerance wasn't enough. We had to take away the church's power to oppress minorities and make law.


In order that the State could oppress majorities and make law. France nicely illustrates the point that official tolerance is ultimately intolerant.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 PM

NOW THAT'S THE WAY TO BUY VOTES:

Givers and Takers (DANIEL H. PINK, 1/30/04, NY Times)

Each year, the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit research group, crunches numbers from the Census Bureau to produce an intriguing figure: how much each state receives in federal spending for every dollar it pays in federal taxes.

For example, according to the most recent data, for every dollar the average North Dakotan paid in federal taxes, he received $2.07 in federal benefits. But while someone in Fargo was doubling his money, his counterpart in neighboring Minnesota was being shortchanged. For every dollar Minnesotans sent to Washington, only 77 cents in federal spending flowed back to the state.

Using the Tax Foundation's analysis, it's possible to group the 50 states into two categories: Givers and Takers. Giver states get back less than a dollar in spending for every dollar they contribute to federal coffers. Taker states pocket more than a dollar for every tax dollar they send to Washington. Thirty-three states are Takers; 16 are Givers. (One state, Indiana, has a perfect one-to-one ratio of taxes paid and spending received. As seat of the federal government, the District of Columbia has no choice but to be a Taker, and is therefore not comparable to the 50 states in this regard.)

The Democrats' electability predicament comes into focus when you compare the map of Giver and Taker states with the well-worn electoral map of red (Republican) and blue (Democrat) states. You might expect that in the 2000 presidential election, Republicans, the party of low taxes and limited government, would have carried the Giver states — while Democrats, the party of wild spending and wooly bureaucracy, would have appealed to the Taker states. But it was the reverse. George W. Bush was the candidate of the Taker states. Al Gore was the candidate of the Giver states.


Easy enough to correct the imbalance: elect Republicans to Congress from the Blue states.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM

WHERE THE WAR ENDS:

Pakistan loses ground in Afghanistan (Syed Saleem Shahzad, 1/31/04, Asia Times)

Asia Times Online has learned from insiders within the security administration of President General Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad that strategists have bowed to pressure from Washington, and will end all covert support for the resistance in Afghanistan.

Up to now, Pakistan has aided some commanders in Afghanistan belonging to the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the veteran mujahideen leader now largely responsible for orchestrating the Afghan resistance.

Pakistan's purpose was not so much to damage US interests, but to establish a counter-force to the growing pro-India presence along the Afghani border areas with Pakistan. Pakistan's support, though limited, did, nevertheless, work against the interests of the US. As a result, US intelligence tracked HIA recruiting offices in Pakistani cities such as Karachi and Peshawar, and pointed to various locations in Pakistan where HIA volunteers were being given training, money and arms. And for example, legendary Afghan commander Jalaluddin Haqqani ( who joined the Taliban and became a minister and who is now the main force behind the resistance in Khost and Paktia) visited Miran Shah in Pakistan several times, but authorities turned a blind eye.

Confronted with this, and coming at a time of revelations of some Pakistani scientists being accused of nuclear proliferation to Iran, among other countries, Islamabad had little option but to pledge to pull out all of its operators and their proxy networks from Afghanistan.


War with Saddam handed us Qaddafi. Qaddafi handed us Pakistani nuclear dealings. Musharraf is handing us Western Pakistan...


MORE:
Pakistan Adopting a Tough Old Tactic to Flush Out Qaeda (DAVID ROHDEand ISMAIL KHAN, 1/31/04, NY Times)

At the start of the month, Pakistan massed several thousand troops in and around the town of Wana, near the country's mountainous border with Afghanistan. Using a harsh century-old British method, officials handed local tribal elders a list and issued an ultimatum.

If 72 men wanted for sheltering Al Qaeda were not produced, they said, the Pakistani Army would punish the tribe as a group, demolishing houses, withdrawing funds and even detaining tribe members.

Several days later, several thousand tribal elders held a jirga, or council, and agreed to raise a force of their own to find the wanted men. In the last two weeks, the tribes have handed over 42 of them. Tribal members, meanwhile, have bulldozed and dynamited the homes of eight men who refused to surrender.

The most wanted fugitives, including foreign Qaeda members, remain at large, although as an added incentive, Pakistani officials have promised not to hand over any fugitive Pakistanis to the United States.

American officials declined to comment on the policy, but Pakistani officials hope the British method, combined with the American-financed building of roads and schools, will show results.

"There is this age-old system of collective responsibility," said Lt. Gen. Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, the governor of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province and a key supporter of the new approach. "Tribes are supposed to help the government."


Live by the tribe...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:44 PM

PATIENCE, BUT NOT LIMITLESS:

Back in Baghdad (Steven Vincent, January 30, 2004, FrontPageMagazine.com)

Another element shoring up Iraqi goodwill and patience is Grand Ayatollah Ali Husani Sistani. Spiritual leader of Iraq’s 15 million Shia Muslims, Sistani has instructed his followers not to oppose the U.S. They continue to obey: last week, I attended a Shia political rally, and was probably the only Westerner at large religious festival—in neither did I detect anti-American sentiments. As we sat in Friday services at the al-Gailani mosque in central Baghdad, an Iraqi friend informed me that the sheikh was cautioning his listeners against violence. As he paraphrased the cleric’s words, “Anyone who shoots an American will be cut off from the people.”

Shia tribal leaders I’ve met seem willing to cooperate with the U.S., too. “America came and finished Saddam—that has changed our minds about them,” said Abdul Wahab Abdula al-Robeiey, chief of a council of 3,400 southern tribes. This support, they stress, depends on Uncle Sam’s trustworthiness. “If Americans are truly interested in the Iraqi people, then we are together in one body with them,” declared Mohammad al-Razzie al-Abdudi, sheikh of a 2,200-member tribe situated around Najaf.


The peace is eminently winnable.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:37 PM

ALWAYS AT YOUR THROAT OR AT YOUR FEET...WITH A FORK:

German Cannibal Gets Nearly Nine Years in Prison (AP, January 30, 2004)

A German who confessed to killing, dismembering and eating another man who allegedly agreed to the arrangement over the Internet was convicted Friday of manslaughter and sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison.

The "Nearly" in the headline is a nice touch, eh?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:30 PM

ELECTABILITY ISN'T SUBSTANCE:

The new target: How would the White House attack John Forbes Kerry? (Lexington, Jan 29th 2004, The Economist)

Mr Rove has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to tagging the senator as a tax-and-spend paleoliberal who believes in coddling drug addicts, abolishing the death penalty and protecting partial-birth abortion. Mr Kerry has offended against Americans' God-given right to cheap petrol by advocating a 50-cent increase on the tax on it; he has also called for steep cuts in funding for the FBI and restrictions on the CIA.

The fact that this is Rovan demagogy doesn't make it any less damaging. Besides, the second avenue of attack is that Mr Kerry has been a little too political himself, seldom showing the same mettle in internal Democratic politics that he did in the jungles of Vietnam. Whenever he has summoned up the courage to challenge the party's leftish interest groups—by questioning affirmative action, for example, or taking on the teachers' unions—he has always retreated in the end. His current stump speech panders to his party's worst instincts on everything from drug prices to American business moving jobs abroad. For all his faults, Bill Clinton shifted the Democratic Party's centre of gravity on free trade, and law and order. So far Mr Kerry has left no footprints in the Democratic snow.

The third avenue of attack is that Mr Kerry is a blue-blooded elitist who doesn't understand ordinary people. He is the richest man in a Senate full of rich people: a Boston Brahmin (his middle name is Forbes) who married an heiress and went to a Swiss boarding school. Of course, his fellow Skull and Bones man, Mr Bush, can hardly claim that he was born on the wrong side of the tracks. But many Americans get much more riled about elitist liberals than they do about elitist Republicans—particularly if those liberals embrace the teachers' unions while sending their own children to private schools, or go soft on crime while making sure that they live in the safest bits of town. Add to this Mr Kerry's haughty style, and you can see the makings of a populist caricature.


What precisely is the substance? Off the top of your head can you name one thing that Mr. Kerry wants to change--other than the regime?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:21 PM

WE ARE BECOME SHIVA:

While I Was Sleeping: Why my husband finally refused to end my life during my two-month coma. (Lindsey O'Connor, February 2004, Christianity Today)

My blood ran cold as I watched the video of Terri Schiavo. I shivered at the news that this brain-injured woman was comatose or in a persistent vegetative state while the video seemed to show otherwise. The chill was more than just my journalistic intrigue. People everywhere were debating the right to "die with dignity" and wondering what it would be like to be in Schiavo's place, but I didn't exactly have to imagine.

One year before the day Schiavo's feeding tube was pulled, I awoke briefly from a 47-day coma, only to go back under for several more weeks. Severe childbirth complications resulted in two emergency surgeries and the transfusion of 20 units of blood and blood products—about twice the blood volume of my body. I remained comatose and on life support in the ICU for two months.

My family expected my death repeatedly during my coma. I developed acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is often fatal, and it critically impaired my lungs. I had pneumonia, a toxic blood infection, blood clots, kidney failure, and life threateningly low blood pressure and oxygenation. My family was told I had anoxia—brain damage from oxygen deprivation. I lay hooked up to a ventilator and a feeding tube, receiving maximum doses of drugs to keep me alive. Heroic measures and life-and-death decisions were daily realities for my family.

My husband slept and ate little. Tim juggled his job with being constantly available to me, to doctors' consultations, and to our family. He described our surreal journey in e-mail updates that were forwarded by many people around the world. He also undertook "Caroline therapy": laying our mother-deprived newborn on my chest while I slept, so she would sleep too.

Tim learned to be an effective advocate for a critically ill patient by researching my diagnosis thoroughly and making the doctors make him understand. And on days when his faith was in shock and he was too numb to pray, the prayers of others and a Holy Spirit–inspired mind propelled him beyond his capacity. Yet the possibility of a brain-damaged wife, or the thought that he was about to be a single father of five, including our newborn baby, always hovered. [...]

Gradually I've begun to remember bits of my comatose state: [...]

These memories seeded a need for clarity in answers and—just as important—a passion to ask the right questions in life-and-death issues. William Temple, who was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1940s, wrote that the "church must announce Christian principles and point out where the existing social order is in conflict with them."

What then are the Christian principles at the heart of this argument? Two come to mind: "Thou shalt not murder" is a protective boundary whose removal would incite societal moral free-fall. And life is sacred and reflects God's image, with innate value regardless of its quality or productivity.

But if God values us, whole or brain-damaged, and there's value in being a loving caregiver to an incapacitated person, what about the seeming purposelessness of that patient's existence? A second biblically derived principle sheds light here: if our chief end is to glorify God, then we can find purpose and meaning in a life that society deems a mere existence. God can be glorified even through our suffering.

But how do we apply this truth in the modern hospital, especially when science can seem to be extending suffering while extending life? When is it morally right for a Christian to remove or refuse medical treatment? How do we determine when or if we can remove life support from our loved ones? When is it okay to issue a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order? Can we request that we not be kept alive artificially without violating the Sixth Commandment?

My family lived these agonizing questions.


Here's the question that confronts each and every one of us: if that were your spouse or parent or child, would they be dead now?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 AM

THE NORTH WILL RISE AGAIN:

A Northern Strategy (Stephen Schwartz, 01/20/2004, Tech Central Station)

[A] report in The Washington Post of January 15 included the following comment by Amir Mohebian, editor of the conservative Iranian newspaper Resalat: "In an Islamic society, selling wines is forbidden, but if somebody is drinking wine in his house, the question is, do we enter the house to arrest him or not? I think the system should apply only to the public sphere, not to the house. If somebody goes from the way of God in his house, that is a problem between him and God."

Can one extrapolate further from these latter remarks to the possibility of a personal Islam, without aggressive public expression? In an earlier Weekly Standard reportage, I quoted Arben Xhaferi, an Albanian political leader in western Macedonia, who told me, "We have our own history, our own culture, and our own Albanian model of Islam, based on interfaith respect and the understanding that religion is private." [...]

Taking off from the quote by Arben Xhaferi above, I would argue that a personal or private Islam is the dominant form of the faith, in a wide belt extending from the Balkans through Turkey to the countries of Central Asia. I have come to think of these as the "northern tier Muslim countries," and their form of religion as "northern Islam." As indicated by The Washington Post quote, Iran, notwithstanding its recent extremist history, also embodies comprehension, at least, of Islam as, potentially, a personal matter.

"Northern Islam" may even be somewhat inaccurate, in that a similar style of Islam was historically found in Pakistan -- before that country was assaulted by Saudi-funded extremists -- in India, and in Malaysia and Indonesia. Muslims from these countries refer to a "Turko-Persian-Indian" Islamic tradition.


The end of history and the inexorable force of globalization means that Islam is going to be Reformed--best if it can be done from within the tradition.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 AM

SADDAM'S WHORES:

Iraqi govt. papers: Saddam bribed Chirac (UPI, 1/28/04)

Documents from Saddam Hussein's oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The oil ministry papers, described by the independent Baghdad newspaper al-Mada, are apparently authentic and will become the basis of an official investigation by the new Iraqi Governing Council, the Independent reported Wednesday.

"I think the list is true," Naseer Chaderji, a governing council member, said. "I will demand an investigation. These people must be prosecuted."

Such evidence would undermine the French position before the war when President Jacques Chirac sought to couch his opposition to the invasion on a moral high ground.


"We've established what you are; now we're just determining your price."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM

THE CHOICE:

Leading His Flock: Has the new archbishop of St. Louis crossed a line? (Robert P. George & Gerard V. Bradley, 1/29/04, National Review)

The Catholic Church proclaims the principle that every human being — without regard to age, size, stage of development, or condition of dependency — is entitled to the protection of the laws. In line with the indisputable facts of human embryogenesis and intrauterine human development, the Church teaches that children "hidden in the womb" are human beings. It is the obligation of legislators and other public officials to honor and protect their inalienable right to life. Yet many Catholic politicians, including the Democratic leaders of both houses of Congress, are staunch supporters of a "right to abortion." What should the leaders of the Church do about such people?

Raymond Burke, who was installed this past Monday as archbishop of St. Louis, has an answer. He has declared that public officials who act to expose the unborn to the violence of abortion may not receive Holy Communion, the sacramental symbolic of Church unity.

Pro-life citizens of every religious persuasion have applauded the bishop's action. Many commented that it is long past time for religious leaders to show that they are serious about their commitment to the sanctity of human life. Believers in "abortion rights," by contrast, were quick to condemn Bishop Burke. They denounced him for "crossing the line" separating church and state. In one of the wire stories we read, the partisans of abortion branded the rather mild-mannered Burke a "fanatic."

The "crossing the line" charge is silly. In acting on his authority as a bishop to discipline members of his flock, Bishop Burke is exercising his own constitutional right to the free exercise of religion; he is not depriving others of their rights. No one is compelled by law to accept his authority. But Bishop Burke has every right to exercise his spiritual authority over anyone who chooses to accept it. There is a name for such people: They are called "Catholics."


Obviously no one need be a Christian, but if you're going to be one the minimal requirement would seem to be that you take Christ rather seriously and his commandment as gospel: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you..." That mandatum novum can in no way be reconciled with abortion, or the killing of any other innocent.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 AM

RIPE? HE'S WINDFALL:

Already, GOP framing a Kerry fight: The long-serving Massachusetts senator could be an especially ripe target for Bush. (Linda Feldmann, 1/30/04, CS Monitor)

So far, Sen. John Kerry has won only a fraction of the 2,162 delegates he needs to take the Democratic presidential nomination, but Republicans have already placed him in their sights as the party's most likely opponent in November. The label is already set: He is a Kennedy-Dukakis liberal from Massachusetts.

And unlike the seven Democratic candidates, who have burned through millions of dollars battling each other, the Bush reelection team is sitting on a growing mountain of campaign cash, ready to be deployed against President Bush's opponent in the form of ads, direct mail, and other methods. [...]

One veteran political operative, who has amassed a 700-page file on Kerry, cites the senator's votes against major weapons systems in the 1980s and '90s as a point of vulnerability. Kerry also voted against larger intelligence budgets, he says, "which doesn't look good post-9/11." He says Kerry could also face problems over his ties to the telecommunications industry and to various Washington-based lobbying groups. Kerry, with his populist campaign message, bills himself as a champion in the fight against special interests.

Part of the challenge Kerry would face, analysts say, is how to put his entire record in perspective. It would be easy for the Republicans to take Kerry statements and votes out of context, and paint a picture of him that Democrats would find unfair. The Democrats' challenge would be to counter that effectively. By some measures - such as the ranking system of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) - Kerry is among the most liberal members of the Senate. Over the course of his Senate career, Kerry gets a 92 percent rating from the ADA, while Edward Kennedy (D), the senior senator from Massachusetts, has a 90 percent career rating.


How is the fact that he's more liberal than Ted Kennedy over such a long timeframe dependent on context?


Posted by David Cohen at 7:52 AM

REPRESS 'EM, DON'T DEPRESS 'EM

Kausfiles (Mickey Kaus, Kausfiles, 1/29/04)

Psst: President Bush got 86% of the vote in the Republican primary. Isn't that not so good? Update: USA Today (print edition) has an explanation--Democrats who voted in the Republican primary last year [sic], drawn by John McCain, only to find themselves automatically registered as Republicans this year. Various emailers note that Reagan also got only 86% in 1984. ...4:45 A.M.
Here we have, in microcosm, the entire Democratic dynamic, in which President Bush looks vulnerable until you take into consideration the rest of American history. But the real reason I'm commenting on this is my amusement, having followed the links to the official election results, that the Republican results are in the file "rpressum.htm" while the Democratic results are in the file "dpressum.htm". Makes sense to me. [Isn't copying Kaus' whole comment a copyright violation? -- Ed. No, but this "Ed." bit might be unfair competition, if the idea wasn't so grandiose on my part.]


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:50 AM

FREDDIE'S DEAD:

Beyond Superfly: Ron O’Neal, actor and filmmaker (Emory Holmes II, 1/30/04, LA Weekly)

O’Neal and his friend Phil Fenty wrote Superfly and raised the $58,000 to finance the film themselves. For a time, it was the top box office draw in the nation, besting even The Godfather. But O’Neal’s silken portrayal of the Harlem coke dealer Priest also brought a bitter rebuke from both the mainstream and African-American press. In an interview with the Weekly in 1988, O’Neal protested, “I am not the character known as Priest in Superfly; I am the actor who made him come alive through my craft. But the press thought I was some n****r off the street who made a movie about his own dissolute life. I never used drugs in those days. And my film was about a dealer who quit selling drugs and got out of that system. Still, the negative press soured my career and, eventually, it soured me.”

Over the following three decades, O’Neal won only sporadic roles in movies and television. He survived drug addiction, a stabbing, poverty and occasional homelessness. Rediscovered by the hip-hop generation in the 1990s, he remarried and had reclaimed his optimism when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2000. On January 13, the day before he died at Cedars-Sinai, a special edition DVD of Superfly was released. He was 66.


If you grew up in the ghetto in the '70s there were really only two people on Earth you wanted to grow up to be the blaxploitation heroes Superfly and Shaft. Which you chose depended largely on which side of the law you preferred (though Isaac Hayes's theme song was superior to Curtis Mayfield's too).

Mr. O'Neal snagged a role in one iconic movie of the 80's also: Red Dawn.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:28 AM

TRIANGULATION IS BACK!:

Why the White House is pushing Cyprus solution: US sees reunification there as a model for Iraq and a way to mend ties with Europe. (Howard LaFranchi, 1/30/04, CS Monitor)

A US-promoted deal to reunify Cyprus would allow a united island to enter the European Union on May 1, and would open the door to an Islamic Turkey eventually joining the EU. But beyond that, experts say, sudden US interest in Cyprus exemplifies the administration's desire to show its "we're-all-in-this-together" side in the post-Iraq-war period. It also suggests the weight the White House places on ties with Turkey as a key to stability and reform in the Middle East.

"Turkey, Cyprus, and Iraq are related in a triangulated way that absolutely makes Cyprus a priority for the US because you're hitting the same nationalist and divided-community issues that are factors in Iraq," says Carole O'Leary, a Middle East expert at American University in Washington. "People are well aware that a reunification of Cyprus as a federal state would quickly be seen as a precedent for Iraq."


Apparently, Northern Ireland is the only decades long conflict that the Administration isn't on the verge of settling.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 AM

MOVING TO THE SIDE OF THE ROOM:

As US exits, can Iraqis deliver?: An occasional series following two local councils in Baghdad. (Dan Murphy, 1/30/04, CS Monitor)

Capt. Roger Maynulet didn't know that liberating Iraq would involve so many photo ops. Yet here he is in a baroque Arab wedding hall in Baghdad for the Hay Somer neighborhood council Christmas party, and he's just upstaged "Papa Noel." Sitting in the bower where newlyweds usually receive their guests, the burly Maynulet is besieged by excited kids clambering over him while laughing parents snap pictures. In between shots, council members and residents whisper in his ear, pressing ideas for neighborhood improvements but also eager to be seen with the American soldier.

This is the occupation the US war-planners had promised, tangible evidence of Iraqis and Americans working towards a better future. But the good feeling in Hay Somer conceals a looming danger for America's most ambitious nation-building project since the end of the cold war.

Across Iraq, the US military has set up hundreds of local councils to serve as the building blocks for Iraq's new political culture. But the Councils have been reliant on their military patrons for what little progress they've made.

A close look at two Baghdad councils - Hay Somer, a middle class neighborhood that is almost half Christian, and Sheikh Maruf, a scruffier and mostly Shiite area - shows that Iraq is filled with courageous people committed to the idea of democracy, but that their efforts are opposed by powerful institutions and habits that can't be changed overnight. [...]

In the months ahead, the Monitor will track these two councils as a window into this process. The slow withdrawal of the US presence in Iraq will change the way the councils work; Maynulet and his counterparts across the country are slowly pulling back from their councils, weaning them from their reliance on US military support.

But with some apprehension. In Hay Somer, Maynulet says he's been gratified by the steps taken so far. "When this started, it consisted of me sitting at the head of the table and basically telling people how things were going to be,'' he says. "As we've gone forward, they've taken more of the initiative and now I'm sitting at the side of the room."

But he's also worried about whether the council is ready to take the last step, and stand up to central government institutions designed to dictate to citizens, rather than to cooperate and listen. "The big question is how much authority the [councils] will be able to carve out for themselves," he says. "The refusal of the municipal government to work with them has been a recurring problem."


Not to suggest that the stages of democratic development are similar, but one does wonder how the Founders were able to hold the whole American experiment together when they were basically making it up as they went along.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:31 AM

NOW HE'S JUST TAUNTING THE RIGHT:

Farewell Mapplethorpe, Hello Shakespeare: The NEA, the W. way. (Roger Kimball, January 29, 2004, National Review)

[T]hings have changed, and changed for the better at the NEA. The reason can be summed up in two trochees: Dana Gioia, the distinguished poet and critic who is the Endowment's new chairman.

Within a matter of months, Mr. Gioia has transformed that moribund institution into a vibrant force for the preservation and transmission of artistic culture. He has cut out the cutting edge and put back the art. Instead of supporting repellent "transgressive" freaks, he has instituted an important new program to bring Shakespeare to communities across America. And by Shakespeare I mean Shakespeare, not some PoMo rendition that portrays Hamlet in drag or sets A Midsummer Night's Dream in a concentration camp. (Check the website www.shakespeareinamericancommunities.org for more information.)

Mr. Gioia is moving on other fronts as well. He has hired a number of able deputies who care about art and understand that what the public wants is more access to good art — opera, poetry, theater, literature — not greater exposure to social pathology dressed up as art. After a couple of decades of cultural schizophrenia, the NEA has become a clear-sighted, robust institution intent on bringing important art to the American people.

It's quite odd, really. People keep telling us — that is, professors and CNN commentators and Hollywood actors keep telling us — how very stupid President Bush is. Yet everywhere one looks he is supporting some of the most intelligent and dynamic people ever to occupy their cultural posts. Dana Gioia at the NEA, his counterpart Bruce Cole at the National Endowment for the Humanities, Leon Kass and his panel of distinguished scientists and philosophers at the President's Council on Bioethics (see their website www.bioethics.gov to get a sense of the good work they are doing on clarifying the enormous moral issues surrounding the debate over biotechnology). The Left keeps screaming about how dim George Bush is, but in the meantime, he has illuminated one area of public life after another with immensely talented and articulate people.


You can hear the bolts popping out of conservative necks already, but when Mr. Bush nominated someone as competent as Dana Gioia to the post, you knew it wasn't to fold up the agency. Since you can't get rid of the thing, it may as well at least do worthwhile work.


January 29, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:31 PM

ORIGINAL SIN:

The Case that Made the Court (Michael J. Glennon, Summer 2003, Wilson Quarterly)

Today, political activists of all stripes call themselves “Jeffersonians.” In Jefferson’s day, however, his political philosophy was distinctive. Jefferson was the original advocate of “small is beautiful.” He favored the states over the federal government and preferred a limited federal government and (until he became president) a weak presidency. He believed that an enlightened electorate was the path to good government, and that civic virtue lay more surely in small farms than in big business or citified commerce. Decen-tralized authority was essential, he thought, to keep government close to the people and responsive to their wishes. Many opponents of the new U.S. Constitution shared Jefferson’s views, though Jefferson himself, as American emissary to France during the 1787 Philadelphia convention, avoided formally having to resolve his own ambivalence toward the nation’s new charter.

Jefferson’s philosophical antagonist is less known to Americans, at least to those outside the legal profession. John Marshall was the longest-serving chief justice in the Court’s history, and easily the most influential. The rumpled, outgoing, athletic Virginian was the first grand master of the Court’s internal politics and oversaw the disposition of more than a thousand cases. He wrote the opinions for 508 of them.

Marshall’s power flowed from three sources: political canniness, disarming charm, and a riveted focus on his unvarying long-term strategic objective: establishing the supremacy of the federal judiciary. Before his appointment by President Adams in 1801, the Court’s six members wrote separate opinions, limiting the Court’s potential institutional strength. Mar-shall changed that. He encouraged his colleagues to speak with one voice. He even cajoled them into joining him in taking rooms at Conrad’s, a Capitol Hill boarding house, where they dined together, drank together, and argued together. (Justices in those days had no offices, and the unnoticed Court met in a small room on the first floor of the Capitol.) In his first three years on the Court, Marshall participated in 42 cases. The opinion of the Court was unanimous in every one of them, and John Marshall wrote every opinion. [...]

Part of Jefferson’s animus toward Marshall grew out of their diametrically different political philosophies, which traced in turn to very different life experiences. While Jefferson punctuated periods of service to state and country during the Revolution with interludes spent entertaining captured English and Prussian officers at Monticello, Marshall passed the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge. The stench, cold, and hunger were unbearable, and 3,000 men-one-fourth of the Contin-ental Army-died. The misery left an indelible impression on the 22-year-old Marshall. The troops knew, as did he, that the colonies were not poor and that there was no shortage of foodstuffs. But the Continental Congress had no power to requisition supplies. It’s hardly surprising that Mar-shall’s every effort throughout his 34 years as chief justice would be directed at solidifying the authority of the federal government over the states, and the authority of the judiciary over Congress and the executive branch. [...]

While they waited for the Court’s decision, the Jeffersonians must have believed that Marshall was boxed in, and that neither of his apparent options would be attractive to him. Marshall could order Madison to deliver the commissions, but Jefferson might then direct Madison simply to ignore the Court’s order, thus leaving Marshall with no means of enforcement-and creating a precedent that the executive branch is not subject to judicial direction. Such a course, moreover, might well play into the Repub-licans’ impeachment plans and make it possible to replace the entire Court-thereby establishing, perhaps, the even broader precedent that a change in administration carries with it the right to appoint new, sympathetic Supreme Court justices. Marshall’s second option-to decide in favor of Madison and hold that, for one reason or another, he was not required to deliver the commissions-was no better. It, too, would have been a devastating victory for the Jeffersonians, not merely a triumph on the law but a highly visible political capitulation of the Supreme Court in the face of apparent political threats.

On February 24, 1803, two weeks after the Marbury trial ended, Marshall delivered the opinion of the Court. It was, as usual, unanimous, and was, as usual, signed only by him. The text lacks the sweep and flow of Marshall’s more majestic opinions, such as McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), or the timeless logic of Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), but it is a masterwork of calculated restraint, feint, and cunning, an opinion that laid claim for the courts to the greatest of governmental powers-the final say as to what the law is-even as it left Marshall’s opponents no effective response.

The opinion is pure Marshall in its gradual, almost imperceptible movement from the obvious to the arguable, and in the understated, inexorable, syllogistic force of its reasoning. The chief justice began with the undisputed facts that the plaintiffs’ commissions were signed by the president and sealed by the secretary of state (himself); therefore, he concluded, because the appointments were made and the commissions were complete, the plaintiffs had a right to them.

For every abridgement of a right, he continued, there is a remedy. This is “the very essence of civil liberty.” If the government of the United States should provide no remedy for the deprivation of a vested legal right, it should cease to be a “government of laws and not of men.”

Whether the plaintiffs were entitled to the remedy they sought-a writ of mandamus-depended upon the nature of the writ and the power of the Court. Marshall moved into more dangerous territory. “It is not by the office of the person to whom the writ is directed,” he wrote, “but the nature of the thing to be done, that the propriety or impropriety of issuing a mandamus is to be determined.” In other words, there was nothing in the Constitution that precluded the Supreme Court from telling the secretary of state-or the president of the United States-to do what the law required. At issue was what the Court would order to be done. Here, Marshall said, the test was whether the administration’s action had been discretionary or non-discretionary: If the action was purely discretionary, the question presented would be political and not within the Court’s power. But if the action had not been discretionary, then there would be no ground on which a court could refuse to order it to be carried out. Delivering a completed commission incident to a valid appointment, Marshall noted, was something that Madison was directed by law to do; it was therefore a non-discretionary act, which the Court could properly order Madison to carry out.

By this point in the opinion, then, Marshall had thoroughly excoriated the Jefferson administration for violating the law and suggested in plain terms that Madison’s failure to deliver the commissions was nothing less than a breach of duty. Would he take the final step and order that the commissions be delivered? That depended, Marshall continued, in a neat tactical twist, upon whether the Court had power to decide the case.

Jurisdiction was granted, remember, by section 13 of the 1789 statute that conferred original jurisdiction upon the Court in cases such as this. The Constitution, however, also conferred original jurisdiction upon the Court in specified cases. It provided that the Court could sit as a trial court in “all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be a party.” Was it within Con-gress’s constitutional power to expand that list by law, as it had done in 1789, and did the Court therefore have jurisdiction to hear this case?

Marshall’s stunning answer was no-stunning because the issue of Con-gress’s power to expand the list in the Con-stitution had not been raised in the briefs presented, or even in passing in the oral argument; stunning because Marshall himself, in an earlier case, had relied upon section 13 in finding valid jurisdiction; stunning because section 13 was written by Oliver Ellsworth, one of the framers of the Constitution-who, as chief justice before Marshall, had also relied upon the statute to find valid jurisdiction; stunning because nearly half the members of the Congress that approved section 13 had been members of the Philadelphia convention. But there it was: Congress had acted beyond the scope of its constitutional power in enacting this statute. Any contrary interpretation, Mar-shall wrote, would render the Consti-tution’s list of specified cases mere surplusage. The consequence, Marshall went on to conclude, was that the 1789 law was of no force and effect: An “act of the legislature, repugnant to the Constitution, is void.” Then came the monumental point: “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” In other words, the Supreme Court has the power to determine whether a law is repugnant to the Constitution.

Marshall thus succeeded in publicly labeling the Jefferson administration as a lawbreaker, lecturing Jefferson on his obligation to obey the Constitution, and establishing a precedent for judicial supremacy. He accomplished all this, moreover, in a manner that immunized him and his fellow justices from retribution, because the Court itself, after all, was the “victim” of its own abnegation.

The opinion is not a paragon of logic; much of it is circular, in particular the question-begging final argument that the Court has the power to invalidate a statute at odds with the Constitution. Nothing in the constitutional text directly supported that conclusion. None-theless, as many commentators have pointed out, the opinion was a small step backward (Mar-bury and his fellow Federalists never got their jobs as justices of the peace) and a huge step forward in Marshall’s lifelong quest to establish the United States Supreme Court as the final arbiter of the meaning of the Constitution.


Obviously there has to be some final determination of whether Congressional action may have transgressed the Constitution, but the very worst place to have that determination occur is in the most dangerous branch. Far better to allow another bite at the apple after the Court issues an opinion, perhaps by submitting said opinion to the Congress (requiring a supermajority?), Executive, and maybe even the state legislatures, which could then overturn the Court.


MORE (via Paul Cella):
-The True Story of Marbury v. Madison (David Forte, Winter 2003, Claremont Review of Books)

Of all the excuses for the abuse of judicial power offered by leftist judges and their defenders, none is more disingenuous than, "John Marshall made me do it."

Though normally not friends of original intent or legal tradition, today's judicial "activists" like to trace their lineage back to the (purported) original judicial activist, to the great Chief Justice who was the first to persuade the Supreme Court to strike down a law of Congress.

According to this conceit, which is now the standard interpretation enshrined in countless histories and hornbooks, Marbury v. Madison was the breakthrough that demonstrated how truly powerful the judiciary could be. In this famous case, decided 200 years ago, Marshall supposedly showed that the Constitution is an elastic document or at least could be turned into one. Therefore, the "living Constitution" is nothing new: John Marshall's own example and authority prove that judicial activisim is as American as apple pie.

Strangely, many conservatives accept this strained interpretation, though for different reasons. They agree that judicial activism is an exaggerated form of judicial review and that the problem is endemic to the Constitution. Reluctantly, they conclude that judicial review is an undemocratic flaw in the constitutional order that needs to be excised or constrained, perhaps by a constitutional amendment that would empower Congress to overrule the Court.

Yet both liberals and conservatives are mistaken, because the prevailing account of Marbury on which they rely is itself wrong.

This is what happened.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 PM

"THE" LORD:

Friend Jim Siegel delivered the following Torah commentary at a meeting this Monday at Central Synagogue in Manhattan, where he's a member:

Exodus 10-13:16 -- "Bo" (note: Torah portions are named after the first Hebrew word of the portion.) (Jim Siegel, 1/26/04, Central Synagogue in Manhattan

This week’s Torah portion – Bo from the book of Exodus -- is a very familiar one. In it he Lord punishes Pharoah and the Egyptians with the final three plagues -- swarms of locusts strip the land of all vegetation, three days of darkness blanket the land so that no Egyptian can see another, and God slays all the Egyptian first-born – that of “Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the first-born of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; and all the first-born of the cattle.”

With the last plague, of course, Pharoah finally relents; he lets the Israelites go.

This Torah portion and the previous one Va’era cite a number of times language that intrigues me – it says that the Lord stiffened or hardened the heart of Pharaoh.

Now, we know that Pharaoh was an evil and stubborn man. What bemuses me is the repeated statement that God causes him to act this way. Because this contradicts what I believe to be a fundamental human trait -- that we have free will.

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and Dennis Prager write in their book The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism that “Judaism posits that people have freedom of choice.” And, “(each person) makes his or her moral choice to sin or not to sin.”

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who survived the Nazi death camps, says in his classic book Man’s Search for Meaning: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of his human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

So with this in mind, you may ask – did Pharaoh exert free will and free choice and harden his own heart? Or was he a puppet and a pawn to serve God’s will?

I think the answer is both. Pharaoh chose to say no to God’s command to free the Jews, because Pharaoh thought that he Pharaoh was a god. And who was this unseen Lord of these slaves to defy him!

But God does tell Moses why He has used Pharaoh in this way: “I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his courtiers, in order that I may display My signs among them, and that you may recount in the hearing of your sons and your sons’ sons how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I displayed My signs among them – in order that you may know that I am the LORD.”

So God did all this to convince the people of Israel, a beaten down people who understandably were skeptical after being enslaved for hundreds of years. He gave them yet another sign when they stood terrified before the Red Sea as Pharaoh had changed his mind once more, and had sent his horsemen, warriors and chariots rushing after the Jews. The Israelites cried out to Moses, “What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt?…It is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

The Torah says, “Thus the LORD delivered Israel that day from the Egyptians. Israel saw the Egyptian dead on the shore of the sea. And when Israel saw the wondrous power which the LORD has wielded against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD; they had faith in the LORD and in His servant Moses.”

God’s revelations to our ancestors have meaning for us today.

Every time Jews worship we recite in Hebrew the words of the Sh'ma prayer – “Hear, O Israel: the Eternal One is our God, the Eternal God alone!” We say the words, but do we truly feel them as faith? We’re human. We forget easily. We have a lot to do and a lot on our minds. Maybe one thing we take for granted is our faith in God. Maybe we need to refresh that faith. Because today we are not reminded of the wondrous and unfathomable power of God with plagues that persuade us, nor in crashes of thunder that convince us, nor with balls of fire that singe us. God’s power lies in the quiet miracles and quiet blessings of everyday life. We know it’s so easy to take these for granted.

I suggest that we remind ourselves that God has given us a purpose in life. Rabbi David Wolpe summarizes it so well :

“The Jewish people came out of Egypt bearing a message and a mission. The message was the highest truth – of one God, a God who cares for human beings and is passionately concerned about what we do. The mission was to bring the world to recognize that highest truth. Judaism is a system for realizing that truth in the world. God is not something we can know. But a relationship with God is something we can develop, and godly action, something we can achieve. We reach God in spiritual search and in moral behavior. Judaism teaches both. That is its mission and its message.”

No matter what religion we have chosen or beliefs we hold -- may each of us in all that we do choose to act, to learn, and to grow as God wants us to.

Amen.

MORE:
Bo knows God: Do you?: God is in complete control. Did you know that? (Dr. Elliot I. Berlin, January 27, 2004, Jewsweek)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:50 PM

ABSTINENCE NATION:

What Do Parents Want Taught in Sex Education Programs? (Robert E. Rector, Melissa G. Pardue, and Shannan Martin, January 28, 2004, Heritage.org)

This paper presents the results of a recent poll on basic issues concerning sex education. The poll questions seek to measure parental support for the themes and values contained in abstinence curricula as well as support for the values embodied in comprehensive sex education.

The data presented are drawn from a survey of parents conducted by Zogby International in December 2003. Zogby conducted telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,004 parents with children under age 18. Parents were asked 14 questions concerning messages and priorities in sex education; the questions used were designed by Focus on the Family. The margin of error on each question is plus or minus 3.2 percent points. The responses to the questions showed only modest variation based on region, gender of the parent, or race.1 The poll questions were designed to reflect the major themes of abstinence education. The descriptions of the messages contained in abstinence and comprehensive sex-ed curricula in the following text are based on a forthcoming content analysis of major sex-ed curricula conducted by The Heritage Foundation.

The exact wording of and responses to each of the 14 poll questions are presented in Charts 1 through 14. Overall, the poll shows that parents are extremely supportive of the values and messages contained in abstinence programs. By contrast, very few parents support the basic themes of comprehensive sex-ed courses. Responses to the individual questions are discussed below. [...]

Some 47 percent of parents want teens to be taught that "young people should not engage in sexual activity until they are married." Another 32 percent of parents want teens to be taught that "young people should not engage in sexual intercourse until they have, at least, finished high school and are in a relationship with someone they feel they would like to marry."

When these two categories are combined, we see that 79 percent of parents want young people taught that sex should be reserved for marriage or for an adult relationship leading to marriage. Another 12 percent of parents believe that teens should be taught to delay sexual activity until "they have, at least, finished high school." Only 7 percent of parents want teens to be taught that sexual activity in high school is okay as long as teens use contraception.

These parental values are strongly reinforced by abstinence education programs, which teach that sex should be linked to marriage and that it is best to delay sexual activity until marriage. By contrast, comprehensive sex-ed programs send the message that teen sex is okay as long as contraception is used; the underlying permissive values of these programs have virtually no support among parents.

Parents want teens to be taught that sex should be linked to love, intimacy, and commitment and that these qualities are most likely to occur in marriage.


Boy, real-life America is just nothing like libertarians and the Left want it to be, huh?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:11 PM

I DID WHAT? WITH WHO?:

How ‘None of the Above’ won: Mark Steyn says that New Hampshire picked the uninspiring John Kerry because he was the least unelectable of the contenders (Mark Steyn, 1/31/04, The Spectator)

According to the exit polls, the Ketchup Kid won because Democrats were looking for someone with ‘electability’. What this means is they settled on Kerry because he has less obvious unelectability than Dean (too angry), Lieberman (too Joe-ish), Clark (too freaky) and Edwards (too unknown). As I said here months ago, this was a race to find ‘None of the Above’, and the trick was always to position everybody else as ‘The Above’ and you as the ‘None’. On Tuesday, Kerry pulled that off. [...]

Traditionally, the role of the New Hampshire electorate is to rattle the front-runner and thereby make him a better candidate, as they did with Bush in 2000. But this time round the candidates seem to have rattled the electorate. Kerry is this year’s Bob Dole — the guy you make do with. It’s summed up by one of the Senator’s campaign buttons: ‘Dated Dean, Married Kerry’ — i.e., sure, Dean’s great for a few drinks and a couple of wild parties, but when you want to settle down for keeps you go with a solid citizen like Kerry.

Well, maybe. But I’ll bet on Wednesday morning more than a few of those voters who ‘married Kerry’ woke up feeling like Britney Spears. If Kerry clobbers Edwards in South Carolina next week, there’s no way to annul.


Here's where you see the danger of front-loading the primaries--as Mr. Steyn says, if John Kerry has a big night on February 3rd, it's over and they're stuck with the guy.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:43 PM

"SHOULDN'T WE ALL BE CRYING?":

From: JWR_Editor-in-Chief (Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2004 14:20:52 -0500

To: jwr-today@jewishworldreview.com
Subject: IMPT. PLEASE READ!

Dearest readers:

A few moments ago, my heart sank.

Going through my e-mail, I learned that one of this publication's periodic contributors, Chezi Goldberg, who dedicated his life to working with "at risk" teens and who was originally from Toronto and living in Jerusalem, was killed in today's bus bombing.

But what is so eerie was not his death --- that stung and I'm still feeling sick over it. And I mean SICK! What stung were the near prophetic words in one of his essays.

It's the middle of the day. I understand many subscribers are busy. But PLEASE take a moment and read these essays.

And then forward them to somebody you know --- and ask them to do the same.

It's important that his words move over the web no less that the jokes we always forward!

I'm CERTAIN that after reading the two articles you will agree with me.

PLEASE do it for Chezi. Do it for all of us. PLEASE

Binyamin L. Jolkovsky,
Editor in Chief
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/


-261 dead (Chezi Goldberg, Dec. 8, 2002, Jewish World Review)
I was riding a Jerusalem bus Thursday when news of the intended missile attack against the Arkia flight from Kenya came across the airwaves. For a moment the passengers were in shock. Then we all breathed a sigh of relief.

That was our mistake.

Minutes later, news of the attack on the Paradise Hotel came across the radio waves. There were casualties. There was no sigh of relief.

When we here look at a miraculous escape from a deadly attack and breathe a sigh of relief, we lose the war on terrorism. Our attitude should be: The terrorists intended to down a plane with 261 innocent commercial air travelers aboard. They did not succeed, thank G-d. However, their intentions were clear. We must consider their intentions and take action with a state of mind, as if they had succeeded.


-Because, if you don't cry, who will? (Yechezkel Chezi Goldberg, Dec. 3, 2001, Jewish World Review)
He walked into shul, synagogue. I nodded my acknowledgement, as I always do. He made some strange gesture, which I didn't comprehend. I continued praying.

A few minutes later, he walked over to me and said: "Didn't you hear?"

"Hear about what?" I replied.

He grew impatient, almost frustrated. "Didn't you HEAR?"

I understood that he was talking about last night's terror attack on Ben Yehuda Mall, a trendy night spot frequented not only by Israelis, but also Western tourists.

I assumed that he obviously was intimating that someone we knew was hurt or killed.

I replied: "About who?"

He looked at me as if I had landed from another planet. "About who? About everyone who was attacked last night."

I nodded. "Yes, of course I heard."

"Then why aren't YOU crying?"

His words shot through me like a spear piercing my heart. Our sages teach that "Words that come from the heart, enter the heart." He was right, of course. Why wasn't I crying?

I could not answer. I had nothing to say.

He pointed around the shul. "Why aren't all of my friends crying?"

I could not answer. I had nothing to say.

"Shouldn't we all be crying?"

I could not answer. I had nothing to say.

What has happened to all of us, myself included? We have turned to stone. Some would call it "numbness." Some would call it "collective national shock." Some would say that we all have suffered never-ending trauma and it has affected our senses.

Frankly, the excuses are worthless. All the reasons in the world don't justify our distance from the real pain that is burning in our midst.


Let us, this once, look into the dark places and shed tears today for the victims of terrorism in Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan before we do turn to stone.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:38 PM

MODERNITY IS CENTRIFUGAL, NOT CENTRIPITAL:

The Anti-Federalist Society: Why Turkey, Iran, and Syria all have worries about Iraq's new federalist outlook. (Gerald Robbins, 01/28/2004, Weekly Standard)

Generally speaking, Turks are wary about federalism. It is a concept at variance with the nation's administrative infrastructure. History explains why: The Ottoman Empire's decentralized character was a major factor in its eventual downfall. Loose management of a multiethnic population resulted in constant rebellions and general instability.

Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey's founding father, saw autonomy's detrimental effects and sought to rectify it. His solution was to create a strong, centralized system, largely derived from the French model of governance. This structure has remained intact throughout the past 80 years, warding off all attempts at reform.

THE ISSUE of the Kurds substantiates Turkey's centralist nature. Fears that a centralized Iraq can augment separatist notions among Turkey's estimated 13 to 16 million Kurds (approximately 20 to 25 percent of the nation's 67 million inhabitants) are based on precedent. From the early 1980s to mid 1990s, the Turkish government fought a Kurdish insurrection which claimed 37,000 lives. Turkey's national psyche is still scarred.

Yet comparing Turkey's Kurds with their Iraqi brethren is mixing apples and oranges. The Kurdish populace is a collection of different tribes and dialects that are often at cross-purposes with one another. This even extends to the political sphere--Turkey's Kurdish separatists adhere to Marxist-Leninist precepts while Iraq's Kurdish leadership reflects a meshing of clan affiliation with social democratic thought.

It can be further argued that a de facto federalism already exists in Kurdish Iraq. A U.N.-sponsored Kurdish enclave was established after the 1991 Gulf War ended. Cognizant of Turkey's cross-border concerns, it hasn't turned into a staging area for Kurdish separatism. Trading thrives between this landlocked entity and the Turkish interior.

FEARS ABOUT FEDERALISM aren't a uniquely Turkish phenomenon. The very idea of decentralization also worries Iraq and Syria. In Teheran's case, the prospect of a federalist structure succeeding within the region is particularly vexing. It not only possesses a sizeable minority of 6.5 to 8 million Kurds, but nearly one quarter of Iran--66.5 million people--are Azeri Turks. When Arab, Baluchi, and other groups are further added to Iran's ethnic picture, it turns out that only 51 percent of the country's total population is of Persian descent.


The alternative to federalism is not continued centralization but eventual separation, which you'd think they'd care for even less.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:27 PM

THE HAWKS ARE RIGHT AGAIN:

Iraqi self-rule splits White House (JONATHAN S. LANDAY, 1/27/04, Knight Ridder Newspapers)

[P]rivately, President Bush's national security aides are debating a number of U.S. and British fallback options, including acceding to a demand by Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, that the assembly be directly elected.

Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld favor a proposal to turn over power early - by April 1 - to the Governing Council, a body of U.S.-installed Iraqi leaders, said senior U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The council would be expanded from its current 25 seats to include more Shiites. The aim would be to persuade Sistani to agree to delaying elections, they said.

"This proposal came up in September and Bremer shot it down," said one senior U.S. official. "It has come back to life."

Adnan Pachachi, who holds the council's rotating presidency, heavily promoted the idea during a visit to Washington earlier this month.

But the State Department, the National Security Council staff and the CIA oppose the idea, the officials said.


State and CIA are always wrong and Condi happens to be wrong in this instance.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:07 PM

NOW COACHING THE WASHINGTON GENERALS... (via mc):

DEMOCRATS OFFER PLAN ON ALIENS (Amy Fagan, 1/29/04, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

House Democrats yesterday proposed granting legal residency and the eventual option of U.S. citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants now working in the United States.

Laying out their own principles for revamping the nation's immigration laws in response to what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called President Bush's "political ploy," Democrats went beyond Mr. Bush's plan for a temporary-worker program and called for a system of "earned legalization" for illegal aliens.

At a Capitol Hill press conference, Democrats proposed allowing illegal immigrants who have worked in the United States for a yet-to-be-determined minimum period of time to stay here and be granted permanent legal residency, creating a "pathway" to eventual citizenship.

"The president's proposal is a political ploy, and not the solid foundation on which we can build an improved immigration policy," said Mrs. Pelosi of California. "Democrats have a better way." [...]

"The president wants to give [illegal aliens] a lot, but the Democrats want to give them the jackpot," said Steve Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies.

Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican sponsor of legislation that essentially mirrors Mr. Bush's proposal, said requiring workers to eventually return to their home country will reduce future illegal immigration by strengthening struggling foreign economies.

"In my recent visit with government leaders in Mexico City, I was repeatedly told that they want their workers to come back, to return home with capital and skills," he said. "They need those small-business owners, those entrepreneurs to strengthen a weakened middle class."


There's no greater blessing in politics than to be given incompetent enemies. In that regard, at least, God has been generous to President Bush. The immigration plan that Mr. Bush recently announced is good policy but terrible politics, as pro-immigrant programs always are. This was a moment for Democrats to either hold their tongues or push the President's proposal in order to embarrass him when his own party killed it.

Instead they've come to his rescue, providing him the middle ground and a chance to oppose the Democrats' "too liberal" immigration scheme. When next he sees her, Karl Rove should kiss Ms Pelosi right on her Botox, if not her buttocks.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:44 PM

I'VE LOOKED AT LIFE FROM BOTH SIDES NOW:

Waffling on War: John Kerry’s split personality. (Ramesh Ponnuru, October 25, 2002, National Review)

John Kerry, the junior senator from Massachusetts and a candidate for president in 2004, is renowned for his foreign-policy expertise — at least in certain circles. "[N]o Democrat has offered a more coherent criticism of the Bush national security policies," wrote Al Hunt in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. So much the worse for the Democrats, one might conclude. Kerry spent the run-up to the Iraq vote taking shots at President Bush from right and left before finally voting with him. Hunt quotes Kerry remarking of Bush's national-security team: "These guys are fakers."

On the subject of fakers, Kerry surely knows whereof he speaks. Consider his record on the first Gulf War, which he voted against. In early January 1991, constituent Walter Carter sent Kerry a letter urging him to back the war. He received two responses. A January 22 letter from the senator, addressed to Carter as though he were an opponent of the war, indicated that Kerry favored sanctions and opposed war. A January 31 letter said, "From the outset of the invasion [of Kuwait by Iraq], I have strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush's response to the crisis and the policy goals he has established with our military deployment in the Persian Gulf."


It's not helpful that he was just as two-faced about Vietnam and the second Iraq War--at least he was consistent in his support for the Sandinistas even when they made a fool of him.


MORE:
Taking one prize, then a bigger one (Brian C. Mooney, 6/19/2003 , Boston Globe)

Before making the leap to the Senate, Kerry had to deftly navigate the treacherous terrain of Democratic Party politics in Massachusetts, surviving two primaries -- for lieutenant governor in 1982 and for the Senate two years later -- that could have buried his Washington ambitions.

In 1982, the party had split along conservative-liberal lines for the grudge rematch between Governor Edward J. King and Dukakis, the man King had ousted from the corner office four years earlier. But at the endorsement convention in Springfield that May, the Kerry forces were ready for any outcome. In a crowd of Democrats straining for attention in the race for lieutenant governor, the Kerry camp offered delegates a choice of lapel buttons -- "King/Kerry" or "Dukakis/Kerry."


-War Hero -- and Waffling Windbag (Max Boot, January 29, 2004, LA Times)
Kerry gave his biggest foreign policy address to date at the Council on Foreign Relations on Dec. 3. He made some excellent points about the need to improve homeland security, combat money laundering, do more in Afghanistan and hold the Saudis accountable for their support of terrorism. And he was right on the money in criticizing the current administration for not sending its senior officials overseas to sell Washington's case.

But a lot of Kerry's speech was pure partisan windbaggery. "The Bush administration," he claimed, "has pursued the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in modern history." Really? More inept than Jimmy Carter's, Lyndon Johnson's or Woodrow Wilson's? Kerry also rapped Bush for failing to achieve peace between Israel and its neighbors. He pledged to appoint as "presidential ambassador to the peace process" someone like Bill Clinton.

Why Clinton would have more success brokering a settlement as an ex-president than when he was president remains a mystery.

Those minor problems paled, however, next to Kerry's positions on Iraq. To his credit, he was one of the Democrats who voted Oct. 11, 2002, for the resolution giving President Bush the authority "to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate" in Iraq. This has caused Kerry a lot of grief among Deaniac Democrats, and he's twisted himself into a pretzel to explain away this vote.

He claims that "I voted for the resolution to get the inspectors in there, period," and that he had no idea that Bush would use the authority granted to him to actually go to war. If you believe this, Kerry is too naive to be president. A likelier explanation is that he's trying to be pro-war and antiwar at the same time.

That impression was reinforced in his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. He said that "we had to hold Saddam Hussein accountable," but only if we had united "the international community." He was asked: "Do you think you really could have brought the Germans, the French along in a commitment to use force?" Kerry brazenly answered "yes" but offered no credible explanation of how, beyond saying that he would have shown a lot of "patience and maturity." As if Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair hadn't spent six months dickering at the United Nations. Does Kerry also think that he could have gotten U.N. approval for military action in Kosovo — something that Clinton failed to achieve in 1999?

Then Kerry had the nerve to criticize the Bush administration for a "cut and run strategy" in Iraq.

That's pretty rich coming from someone who voted against the $87-billion aid package that's essential to our nation-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kerry's inconsistency is stunning: He (like Sen. John Edwards) supported the war — kind of — but then refused to give our troops the resources necessary to finish the job.


-Judgement Call: John Kerry's patriotism isn't the issue--it's his judgement on the big decisions. (Hugh Hewitt, 01/29/2004, Weekly Standard)
A vote for the Democrats isn't a vote for the Baathists, but it surely is a vote for the United Nations. A solid majority of Americans aren't going to support a side which believes that legitimacy resides only in recurring consents from the Security Council and recoils from the use of force even when the Security Council is onboard.

John Kerry voted against the Gulf War in 1991. Had Kerry had his way, Saddam would now be a member of the nuclear club, and the WMDs he had in '91 would have doubled and tripled in scope and lethality. Kerry was absolutely, positively, and enormously wrong about the most important vote of his public life. His judgement was flawed then and remains flawed now. A vote for Kerry is a vote for the Security Council, except in 1991 when that Council wanted war.

A vote for Kerry is thus a vote for American paralysis.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:02 PM

CAN'T RULE IT OUT:

Firing the Manager (Howard Kurtz, January 29, 2004, Washington Post)

A few weeks ago, I was in Howard Dean's Burlington headquarters when campaign chief Joe Trippi gave the staff a pep talk.

They had just presented Trippi with a celebratory cake in the shape of Tennessee, in honor of the Al Gore endorsement, and he warned everyone--including his wife, who worked on the staff--that the nomination was far from sewn up. The other campaigns had made the mistake of underestimating Team Dean, he said, and they shouldn't make the same mistake.

He was right. And now, to my surprise, he's been forced out, the first victim of Dean's losses in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Suddenly, Trippi went from the strategic genius profiled on the front page of the New York Times and the cover of the New Republic to chief scapegoat? The man who pioneered Dean's Internet strategy is tossed out like the manager of a losing baseball team? Was it Trippi who suggested that Dean start yelling during his Iowa concession speech?


Mr. Dean's IA speech was so deranged seeming that its content didn't get much analysis, but William Saletan noticed a fascinating passage that suggests a level of calculation to what he said, Howard Dean's Remarks to His Supporters (January 19, 2004):
...we're going to win in Massachusetts. And North Carolina. And Missouri. And Arkansas. And Connecticut.

It's possible, of course, that even in the middle of his Miltown moment he just happened to string together the home states of John Kerry, John Edwards, Wes Clark, Dick Gephardt, and Joe Lieberman off the top of his head, but one must wonder....


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 AM

WE GAVE THEM THE VOTE, GET OVER IT:

The end of feminized politics? (George Will, January 28, 2004, Townhall)

Kerry's ``patrician aloofness'' may be manly reticence. But he has embraced today's confessional ethos by making autobiography serve as political philosophy, and reducing his narrative to a war story. Riding his Harley, gunning for Iowa pheasants and playing hockey in New Hampshire have expressed his campaign's subtext: manliness.

Feminized politics, according to Carnes Lord of the Naval War College, justifies all policies with reference to their impact on children. In his book "The Modern Prince: What Leaders Need to Know Now,'' Lord says leadership is a problematic concept in today's democracies. Modern technology has produced prosperity, which has produced a middle class growing in size, competence (education), security (homeownership, 401(k)s, etc.) and self-confidence (assertion of rights). All this, plus the egalitarian, anti-hierarchical spirit of the age, plus the rarity of great wars, threatens to make politics seem unimportant and leaders seem dispensable.

Leadership, Lord says, presupposes some element of ``such traditionally manly qualities as competitiveness, aggression or, for that matter, the ability to command.'' Because ``leadership that is not prepared to disadvantage anyone is hardly leadership at all.''


Conservatives like Mr. Will seem to have a hard time wrapping their minds around the fact that women's suffrage and nature's imbalanced gender ratio means we have and will have a feminized politics (at least until gender selection abortion takes hold). In times of war it is possible to sell manliness, because physical security becomes more of a concern to women than economic security, but as a general principle our politics reflects feminine concerns.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM

100% PROCESS:

The Dead Center (ROBERT B. REICH, 1/29/04, NY Times)

Democrats have seen what the Republican Party has been able to accomplish over the years. The conservative movement has developed dedicated sources of money and legions of ground troops who not only get out the vote, but also spend the time between elections persuading others to join their ranks. It has devised frames of reference that are used repeatedly in policy debates (among them: it's your money, tax and spend, political correctness, class warfare).

It has a system for recruiting and electing officials nationwide who share the same world view and who will vote accordingly. And it has a coherent ideology uniting evangelical Christians, blue-collar whites in the South and West, and big business — an ideology in which foreign enemies, domestic poverty and crime, and homosexuality all must be met with strict punishment and religious orthodoxy.

In contrast, the Democratic Party has had no analogous movement to animate it. Instead, every four years party loyalists throw themselves behind a presidential candidate who they believe will deliver them from the rising conservative tide. After the election, they go back to whatever they were doing before. Other Democrats have involved themselves in single-issue politics — the environment, campaign finance, the war in Iraq and so on — but these battles have failed to build a political movement. Issues rise and fall, depending on which interests are threatened and when. They can even divide Democrats, as each advocacy group scrambles after the same set of liberal donors and competes for the limited attention of the news media.


Folks like Mr. Reich and the various Democratic candidates--Howard Dean, John Kerry, John Edwards--seem to believe that you build a political movement by building a political movement. They are focused exclusively on process, to the exclusion of ideas. It's instructional that Mr. Reich offers no vision whatsoever of what ideas a new movement of the Left would be built around. Of course, the dirty secret behind this silence is that those ideas would be profoundly unpopular with the American people--at least until the next Depression.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:26 AM

WHY CAN'T WE MOVE AS FAST AS KHATAMI?::

SISTANI'S WAY: Part 2: The marja and the proconsul (Pepe Escobar, 1/29/04, Asia Times)

Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Iranian President Mohammed Khatami expressed what hundreds of millions of Muslims are feeling all over the world: "The American administration invaded Afghanistan to find [Osama] bin Laden, where is bin Laden? The Americans occupied Iraq under the pretext of installing democracy and finding weapons of mass destruction. Where are these weapons and where is democracy?" Khatami also revealed how Iran is closely monitoring the confrontation between the proconsul and the marja: "Ayatollah Sistani demanded direct democracy, and the Americans refuse it. That's what we have always proposed, one man, one vote." Also in Davos, John Ruggie, professor of international affairs at Harvard and an adviser to Annan, has been far from enthusiastic: "The Bush administration has not changed. The Americans' attitude does not incite anybody to cooperate with them." [...]

Even with all its military might, the US has never looked so fragile and discredited in Iraq. An occupying power which refuses democratic elections using all manners of excuses is being judged by the Islamic world - and the international community - for what it is: a neo-colonial power. It has now been proved there were never any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - much less the means to deliver them. It is now being proved the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with introducing democracy to the Middle East.

The UN mission - "driving under the [Washington] influence" - may estimate that direct elections are impossible before the American-imposed deadline of July 1. US President George W Bush will then be left with two extremely unsavory options. The caucuses will proceed in Iraq's 18 provinces, and 15 million Shi'ites will smash - by any means necessary - the legitimacy of any government that might emerge. Or the Americans may hold direct elections - and in this case Sunnis, not only in the Sunni triangle - will upgrade their already ferocious guerrilla war to code red, because they will never accept losing power to Shi'ites. Jihad or civil war: these are the options ahead.


Mr. Escobar is one of those guys who hates America so much he's started to believe his own rhetoric about us. There are going to be elections and Iraq is going to be a Shi'ite state. The pace at which that happens is the only question here, and the desire of the U.S. and UN to ensure that the process functions as smoothly as possible hardly represents a new colonialism. The difference between an election on July 1st and one on November 1st, or whenever, is not the difference between democracy and dictatorship, and to hold it so is an emotion, not a thought.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 AM

SUNSET THE CIA:

'We were almost all wrong' (John Diamond, 1/28/04, USA TODAY)

Pre-war U.S. intelligence warnings about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were wrong, former chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay told a Senate committee Wednesday. Kay said the lapse constitutes a massive intelligence failure, but one with many accomplices.

"We were almost all wrong — and I certainly include myself here," said Kay, a veteran weapons inspector who along with many other experts said before the March 2003 invasion that Iraq possessed banned weapons.

Although Kay's testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday echoed statements he has made in interviews during the past several days, his detailed, four-hour account under questioning was the most comprehensive declaration by the former administration official that a central tenet of the war on Iraq was based on faulty information.

Kay defended President Bush and laid blame on the intelligence community, but he also suggested that an outside, nonpartisan commission will be needed to sort out the intelligence failure. His testimony fueled new criticism of the White House.


Mr. Bush is wasting a golden opportunity to blow up the intelligence services--which have been wrong more often than right, and massively wrong on every big issue, since their formation in and after WWII--and start over with a clean slate and someone like Porter Goss or Bob Graham or both in charge.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 AM

NET LOSS:

In Shake-Up, Dean Names Gore Ally to Run Campaign (JODI WILGOREN and GLEN JUSTICE, 1/29/04, NY Times)

After spending nearly $40 million only to face devastating defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire, Howard Dean named a longtime friend of former Vice President Al Gore as his campaign chief on Wednesday, prompting the abrupt resignation of his campaign manager, Joe Trippi.

Dr. Dean said he had tapped Roy Neel, who was given the title of chief executive officer, to streamline day-to-day decision making as the Democratic presidential contest enters a lightning round of multistate contests. He said he had hoped to keep Mr. Trippi on as senior strategist.

But after a year of building the Dean juggernaut, from a staff of seven to what he has often called "the greatest grass-roots movement in the history of American politics," Mr. Trippi refused to be sidelined, and walked out after what aides described as an emotional staff meeting here.

"You're going to see a leaner, meaner organization," Dr. Dean, who has asked his 500 staff members to skip their paychecks for two weeks, told reporters on an 8 p.m. conference call. "We had really geared up for what we thought was going to be a front runner's campaign. It's not going to be a front-runner's campaign. It's going to be a long war of attrition. What we need is decision making that's centralized."


Seems like just yesterday that everyone in the media was telling us how Mr. Trippi had revolutionized politics by tapping into the Internet. What they never seemed able to grasp is that it was such a limited base as to badly distort the campaign. First, the Internet isn't America--it's wealthy white youngish America (which just happens to include most of the media). Second,
because of this the initial $40 million they raised was not a sign of things to come because more contributors weren't coming. Third, maybe worst of all, the online world in which the campaign dwelt was concerned about only their own issues and their take on those issues which aren't shared by many outside this limited social milieu.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 AM

YOU CAN'T BLAME THEM FOR EVERYTHING:

France's Neocon Assimilation Policy (Steve Sailer, January 25, 2004, V-Dare)

As I noted in last week's review of Tamar Jacoby's essay collection "Reinventing The Melting Pot," neoconservatives proclaim faith in assimilation as an excuse for not thinking hard about the quantity and quality of immigrants.

That assumption has allowed many neocons to endorse enthusiastically the Bush-Rove Illegal Alien Amnesty and Unlimited Guest Worker plan, which has otherwise proven about as popular as a case of salmonella.

But look at Europe. Its experience shows that the different assimilation approaches of the host countries matter less than what the immigrants bring with them. In particular, one European country has already tried out just about the entire neocon bag of assimilative tricks -- with deeply mixed results.


Mr. Sailer is simply wrong that pro-immigrationists aren't considering the quality of the immigrants. For instance, does anyone believe neo-conservatives would sound any different than the most wild-eyed nativists if Mexicans were Muslims?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 AM

A WORTHWHILE WEBLOG:

'Why I turned Pepys' diary into a weblog': If the diarist Samuel Pepys were alive today, he may well have used the web to record his thoughts. So Phil Gyford has turned his daily musings into a weblog. (BBC, 2 January, 2003)

When the idea of making a website out of Samuel Pepys' diary first occurred to me it seemed so obvious that I was worried someone would beat me to it.

For nearly 10 years from 1660 Pepys wrote about his experiences day by day: his own intriguing private life, his professional rise through the ranks and important events of the day such as The Great Fire and the Plague.

This journal of both large and small scale events often happens in public view today, on weblogs. Known as blogs, a few years ago these sites were the sole domain of web geeks but now an ever-increasing number cover thousands of topics.

Copyright isn't a problem; the remarkable Project Gutenberg, a community effort to make electronic texts of copyright-free books available to everyone, has produced a version of the diary dating from 1893. This Victorian edition misses out a few of the juiciest phrases but it is free to use and comes with explanatory footnotes.

One of the reasons for the recent boom in weblogs is that the tools to create and manage them are generally free and increasingly easy to use. I chose Movable Type because it allows readers to post comments next to each entry.

It all seemed too perfect: this could be a fascinating site and would be simple and cheap to create. I couldn't believe I was alone in thinking this, so I didn't tell even my closest friends about it.

After a few months thinking about how best to tackle it, I spent a few weekends and evenings creating the site, which was ready a week before Pepys' first entry on 1 January.

Although the diary text came with footnotes, these assume a level of knowledge about British history, geography and language that few have in the 21st Century.

This is where the ability to post comments on the site has proved crucial. Entries and footnotes are already being annotated by readers who provide explanations and additional information, creating a more communal experience than conventional publishing allows. So rather than simply publishing a dead - albeit fascinating - text, I now find myself in charge of a far more exciting living read.


This is a brilliant idea.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 AM

THE NATURE OF THE PLACE:

Charity begins at home (Justin Webb, 17 January, 2004, BBC Correspondent, Washington)

Even the fire and ambulance service in the Washington suburb where we live is provided on a voluntary basis by local people.

The Bethesda and Chevy Chase Rescue Squad has an annual fund-raising drive and in return for your donation, you get a sticker with their number. If fire breaks out, or if you need an ambulance, you have bought yourself cover. And if you haven't paid your dues and ring them, well they'll probably come anyway, out of charity.

Charity is the obverse of the self-reliance coin. I am not talking of the odd cake donated to a Women's Institute fete or a tenner to Children In Need.

Charity here is woven into the fabric of American life. In 2002, individual Americans gave $180bn away.

At my children's school, the three-year-olds were introduced to the American way just before Christmas. They spent a rather enjoyable day painting shoeboxes.

The parents then went to a bargain warehouse and bought a hundred pairs of children's socks and assorted cheap glittery items to put in the boxes. This was for the Washington poor.

At the same time the school had its own wish list to which parents were invited to contribute. The total was many thousands of dollars.

As a family we were somewhat discomforted by this contrast, between what we gave to ourselves and what we gave to those who were genuinely needy.

But Americans are not worried in the slightest. They are not into changing society, only keeping it going; giving what is surplus and keeping what is necessary for wealth to be maintained. [...]

In the progressive state of Washington, a car tax was introduced whereby you paid more if your car was more expensive.

This socialistic experiment was highly controversial and was put to a state-wide vote. It was struck down.

Apparently a victory for the rich. But when the exit poll data was examined, it was discovered that this was in fact a victory for the poor.

Wealthier people had voted in large numbers to keep the tax. Unusually for Americans, they thought it was fair that they should pay more. But poorer people had voted to get rid of it.

Why? Because in the heart of every American beats the belief that wealth lies around the corner, with a new job or a change of luck.

They too would be able to own a more expensive car and they didn't want to pay the extra taxes when they got it.

Americans do not approve of safety nets. They fly high and fall hard. That is the nature of the place.


The played this on the BBC last night and it was the most pro-American thing not read by Alistair Cooke they've had on in months.


January 28, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 PM

SIMPLE SCIENCE (via Glenn Dryfoos):

Decoding Columbia: A detective story: In an inquest fraught with questions of guilt and shame, scientists unravel the mystery of a shuttle's demise. (Robert Lee Hotz, December 21, 2003, LA Times)

James Hallock discovered just how little it takes to bring down a space shuttle.

He did it by playing with pencils.

As a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, the pear-shaped, bewhiskered expert on flight safety had a New Englander's flinty skepticism and a physicist's distaste for untested accident theories.

On this day, Hallock, 62, scowled at specifications for the reinforced carbon panels that shielded the leading edge of Columbia's wings from the heat of reentry.

If one of the $800,000 panels had cracked, it might have been the flaw that on Feb. 1 caused the $1.8-billion spacecraft and its crew of seven astronauts to plummet in a shower of molten debris across six states.

Hallock brooded over a simple question: What would it take to break one?

Engineers gave him the original 25-year-old NASA specifications, which said the panels must withstand an impact equal to the kinetic energy of 0.006 foot-pounds.

What did that mean? Hallock twiddled a yellow No. 2 pencil between his fingers. How far, for instance, would he have to drop the pencil to generate that kind of impact?

In the mailroom at the board's makeshift headquarters in Shirlington, Va., he found a box of pencils and a postal scale.

He weighed the pencils, then calculated the mass of the average pencil. With that number, he worked out how much punch each pencil would pack.

"The answer," he would say later, "is that a No. 2 pencil dropped from about 6 inches equals the kinetic energy number they had."

The panels, in actual manufacture, were much stronger. But that remarkably low standard, Hallock believed, was a tangible measure of how confident NASA engineers were that nothing would hit the leading edge of the wing.

"The number didn't matter to them," Hallock said, "because they assumed nothing would ever hit the shuttle."


Eeerily reminiscent of the famous incident when Richard Feynman demonstrated the effect of cold on the O-rings in Challenger:
After one too many tutorials in doctoral-level dissembling from Lawrence B. Mulloy, then head of NASA's solid-fuel booster rocket project at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., Feynman famously clamped a piece of O-ring material and dipped it into a glass of ice water. There was, as national television audiences saw repeatedly, no resilience. Talk about smoking guns.

"I believe that has some significance for our problem," Feynman observed dryly.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 PM

BARGAIN WITH TERRORIST, JUST DON'T KEEP YOUR END OF THE DEAL:

Germany's `bargaining chips' for Arad - Hezbollah operatives and Iranian agents (Aluf Benn, January 27, 2004, Ha'aretz)

The "bargaining chips" who are slated for release from European prisons, in exchange for disclosure about the fate of missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, are Hezbollah operatives and Iranian agents who were involved in international terror attacks. One of them was convicted of murdering an American naval officer; he took orders from Imad Mughniyeh, who coordinates international terror strikes for Hezbollah. In exchange for the return of Arad or his remains to Israel, the German government is prepared to release two "bargaining chips," terrorists who murdered Kurdish opponents of Iran's regime in Berlin in autumn 1992. These assassinations, which are known as the "Mykonos Affair (after the Berlin restaurant where the attack took place)," seriously damaged relations between Germany and Iran. The German court which convicted the assassins ruled that the murders were authorized by top spiritual and political figures in Tehran. [...]

Germany has promised to release another "bargaining chip," Lebanese national Muhammad Ali Hamadi, a Hezbollah operative who is serving a life sentence for the murder of American navy diver Robbie Stethem, from Waldorf, Maryland, in Beirut in June 1985. Stethem was a passenger aboard a TWA plane that was hijacked in Athens; he was tortured and murdered in Beirut's airport. Hamadi was arrested two years later in Germany, while trying to smuggle explosives. An indictment was issued against Mughniyeh as well for the Stethem murder; and the U.S. government offered a $25 million reward to anyone responsible for the capture of the Hezbollah terror mastermind.


When Mr. Hamadi is released there should be a Predator waiting for him.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 PM

MEMORY UNBIDDEN:

BETTY ANN ONG, AMERICAN HERO (Edward Driscoll, 1/28/04)

I ran out to pick up the mail at my office a little while ago, and one the way back, while flipping stations on the car radio, came across the Sean Hannity Show. Hannity played the audio tape of Betty Ann Ong, the stewardess on American Airlines Flight #11, who called in to request help--any help--after terrorists maced the passengers in first class, stabbed the crew in the galley, and barricaded themselves in the cockpit of the plane, which they eventually crashed into the World Trade Center. [...]

Listening to that tape left me feeling like I punched in the gut. But Jonah's right: This stuff needs to be played over and over again. We shouldn't forget the horror--and the evil men that caused it.


It's the damndest thing, we're far enough removed from the events of that day that we can refer to 9-11 without tapping every time into the memories that are stored away somewhere in our viscera. But then you hear something or see something or read something--as happened to Brother Driscoll--and it does indeed hit you like a physical assault. What may be most interesting about the whole phenomena is that it seems to demonstrate that we may be almost too decent a people. Rare, maybe even unique, is the culture that would consciously choose to put away the most inflammatory images, sounds, and stories of that day, even as it pursues the perpetrators and wars with their comrades in terror.

Imagine the effect, even the cheap effect, to which such remembrance could be put. Recent criticism of the President--particularly in the wake of the Paul O'Neill book--has dwelt on the notion that 9-11 merely provided a convenient excuse for him to act out some kind of psychodrama whereby he got to settle his father's score with Saddam and introduce fascist rule under cover of the Patriot Act. How about an address to the nation where he just plays the tape of the two planes crashing into the WTC and then says: "History may one day show that Saddam Hussein was less of a threat than we thought he was, but what we did we did because this must never happen again." Whether something like that would work or might instead backfire doesn't even matter, because the fact is it is somehow not in the American grain to use the tragedy in that way. It's almost as if we share some kind of collective intuition about just how terrible--though not necessarily unjustified--are the things we might do if we were to exploit the darker demons of our nature.

But does that make sense? Can an entire people know (and fear) themselves at such a level? Or is there some other explanation for the way in which the central event in our recent history has been carefully stored away, only to be encountered in almost accidental fashion?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:22 PM

NUANCE? (via Jeff Guinn):

Do as I Say: Dr. Laura's counsel is caustic and oftentimes hypocritical, but it is also persuasive: a review of The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger (Caitlin Flanagan, January/February 2004, The Atlantic Monthly)

In a nutshell, Dr. Laura believes that many of the aspects of adult life that I had always considered complicated and messy and finely nuanced are in fact simple and clear-cut; that life ought to be neatly fitted around duty and responsibility rather than around the pursuit of that elusive old dog, happiness. This is what makes her the most compelling advocate for children I have thus far encountered, because the well-being of children often depends upon the commitment and obligation of the adults who created them. If you want to know whether the divorce culture has been a disaster for children, tune in to the Dr. Laura show one day. The mainstream media have a cheery name for families rent asunder and then patched together by divorce and remarriage: they are "blended families." But the day-to-day reality of what such blending wreaks upon children is often harsh. The number of children who are being shuttled back and forth between households, and the heartrending problems that this engenders in their lives, is a sin. Every June, Dr. Laura fields multiple calls having to do with transporting reluctant children across vast distances so that court-ordered visitation agreements can be honored. Whereas an article in Parents magazine or the relentlessly upbeat family-life columns in Time might list some mild and generally useless tips for dealing with such a situation (have the child bring along a "transitional object," plan regular phone calls home, and so forth), Laura throws out the whole premise. What in the world are the parents doing living so far away from each other? One of them needs to pick up stakes and move. "I can't do that," the caller always says. "Yes, you can," Laura always replies, and when you think about it, she's right.

The first time I heard her tell a divorced father that he should give up on his first chance at real love—he had met his soul mate during a trip out of state and wanted to move and marry her—so that he could stay close by his children, I almost couldn't believe what I was hearing. She actually wanted the man to drop by his ex-wife's house every afternoon to help with homework and the yard work and play some ball with his sons, which struck me as a radical notion—as indeed it is. A conventional psychotherapist would proceed from the assumption that the man's happiness is the primary consideration in this scenario. Dr. Laura doesn't give a whit about his happiness; she cares only that he fulfill his obligation to his children. Happiness, she might argue, may be a by-product of doing the right thing; but even if it's not, all that matters is that you behave yourself. Her insistence (often shrill, sometimes hopelessly hypocritical) that certain of life's obligations must be honored at almost any cost is refreshing. For the first few years that I listened to her show, I never failed to be impressed by the notion that old-fashioned morality—inflexible and unforgiving—is sufficient unto any FUBAR situation human beings can dream up. I didn't always agree with her: she opposes legal abortion, which I support; she's against premarital sex, of which I dimly recall being distinctly and unapologetically fond. She once harangued a mother who was clearly at sheer wits' end that she shouldn't hire an afternoon babysitter—advice I could hardly bear to listen to, I felt so keenly the mother's desperation and exhaustion. But more than once I wondered if she might have been right about one or another of the points on which we differed. [...]

To a person, just about, my friends are liberals, and when I try to talk to them about Dr. Laura, they think I've gone completely cuckoo. I took her first book on a family vacation a few years back, and my father read it one night and then sat me down for a very serious and disappointed discussion about my declining literary and political tastes. But none of my loved ones, if they could tease Laura's central argument about children and marriage from the tissue of arrogance and crackpot harangue in which it is embedded, would disagree with it in the least. Part of Laura's problem is that she has been a victim of her own poor advance. If she had admitted up front that as a young woman she lived a life of sexual liberty and experimentation (rather than waiting for the press to discover and reveal this past, one humiliating episode at a time), and if she had explained that motherhood had produced profound changes in her, she would have earned herself a lot less derision and ire. There are many of us who understand that once you have children, certain doors ought to be closed to you forever. That to do right by a child means more than buying him the latest bicycle helmet and getting him on the best soccer team. It means investing oneself completely in the marriage that wrought him, for there isn't a person in the world who won't date his moments of greatest happiness to the time his family was the most intact, whole, unshakable. I wish there was someone a bit more hip and glamorous than Laura standing up for this simple truth, but in our time and place there isn't.


One of the comforting lies we modern men tell ourselves is that morality is terribly complex and that it's hard to know what is the right thing to do. In fact, as Ms Flanagan notes, and as Dr. Laura constantly reminds people, we know full well what we should do, but it requires putting the interests of others above our own, so we don't much care to do it. We've built (?) a culture where plenty of people are willing to tell you that you shouldn't have to do any such thing, that you need to take care of you first. Dr. Laura is a whack-job, but a very useful one, just because she won't tolerate such nonsense.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:39 PM

DOING NOTHING:

Japan's graduates losing faith in corporate icons: Even electronics giant Sony has stumbled. (Bennett Richardson, 1/29/04, CS Monitor)

A closely watched survey by D&L Co., a Tokyo research firm, found late last week that the carmaker Toyota was the new champion, while Sony, which is undergoing a series of radical reforms, had fallen to an ignominious third place.

The survey results speak to the changing aspirations - and heightened sense of anxiety - that many young job seekers in Japan who grew up during a protracted economic slump hold about the workplace. If Sony can stumble, they ask, where can I find job security?

Some graduates are opting for smaller, forward looking firms and are keenly aware of the implications of entering a firm with a shaky business plan. "It'll be tough to get ahead in the world unless you enter a company where the earnings are going to improve in the future, rather than a company which has good earnings now," says one Japanese university student.

Others have shed long-term career aspirations altogether, according to labor analysts. Flying in the face of the traditionally strong Japanese work ethic, young people now tend "to not enthusiastically look for work and [instead] become itinerant part-time workers or do nothing after graduation," says Reiko Kosugi, assistant research director at the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training.


Maybe it's just because none have done so yet that so few can comprehend that several developed nations are headed for collapse. But these dying nations have lessons to teach us, if only we pay attention.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:06 PM

BILD BILE:

RAF bombers 'ignored Auschwitz' (Kate Connolly, 20/01/2004, Daily Telegraph)

Germany's best-selling newspaper has accused the Royal Air Force of insufficient zeal in its campaign against Nazi targets after reconnaissance pictures of Auschwitz were made public for the first time.

"Why were the concentration camp thugs not bombed?" a headline in yesterday's Bild asked, above an aerial photograph of Auschwitz in southern Poland, where about one million people - mainly Jews - were murdered.

The numerous wartime photos of Auschwitz taken by RAF reconnaissance pilots have been published on the internet by The Aerial Reconnaissance Archive based at Keele University.


The Allies deserve to be criticized for ignoring German and Russian atrocities in WWII, but not by those who committed them. And, given that it's a German paper, one gets the creepy feeling that they wish the RAF had bombed and killed the Jews for them.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:51 PM

WHERE THE WAR ENDS (continued) [via mc]:

U.S. plans Al Qaeda offensive: Sources say military is mapping operation to strike inside Pakistan (Christine Spolar, January 28, 2004, Chicago Tribune)

The Bush administration, deeply concerned about recent assassination attempts against Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and a resurgence of Taliban forces in neighboring Afghanistan, is preparing a U.S. military offensive that would reach inside Pakistan with the goal of destroying Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network, military sources said.

U.S. Central Command is assembling a team of military intelligence officers that would be posted in Pakistan ahead of the operation, according to sources familiar with details of the plan and internal military communications. The sources spoke on the condition they not be identified.

As now envisioned, the offensive would involve Special Operations forces, Army Rangers and Army ground troops, sources said. A Navy aircraft carrier would be deployed in the Arabian Sea.

Referred to in internal Pentagon messages as the "spring offensive," the operation would be driven by certain undisclosed events in Pakistan and across the region, sources said. A source familiar with details of the plan said this is "not like a contingency plan for North Korea, something that sits on a shelf. This planning is like planning for Iraq. They want this plan to be executable, now." [...]

An offensive into Pakistan to pursue Al Qaeda would be in keeping with President Bush's vow to strike wherever and whenever the United States feels threatened and to pursue terrorist elements to the end.

"The best way to defend America . . . is to stay on the offensive and find these killers, one by one," Bush said last week. "We're going to stay on the hunt, which requires good intelligence, good cooperation, good participation with friends and allies around the world." [...]

Sources said the plan against Al Qaeda would be driven by events in the region rather than set deadlines and that delays could occur. But military sources said the push for this spring appeared to be triggered by the assassination attempts on Musharraf, both of which came in December, and, to some extent, the capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Hussein was captured after eight months of an intense military and intelligence effort on the ground in Iraq. Pentagon and administration officials, buoyed by that success, believe a similar determined effort could work in Pakistan and lead to the capture or killing of bin Laden, said sources familiar with the planning.

Thousands of U.S. forces would be involved, as well as Pakistani troops, planners said. Some of the 10,600 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan would be shifted to the border region as part of regular troop movements; some would be deployed within Pakistan.

"Before we were constrained by the border. Musharraf did not want that. Now we are told we're going into Pakistan with Musharraf's help," a well-placed military source said.


Many story lines converge here:

(1) President Bush understands that the war ends in Western Pakistan.

(2) Al Qaeda is its own worst enemy: President Musharraf feared his own extremists enough to restrain us instead of them, but theu bombed him into changing his mind.

(3) The Democrats have been harping on how they support going after al Qaeda but not war in Iraq--now what do they say when the war shifts back to a full scale assault on al Qaeda?

(4) Anyone who thought the Administration had been chastened by the difficulties of the post-war situations in Afghanistan and Iraq was just kidding themself.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:05 PM

CONVERGENCE:

America Tugs at French-Accented Lands: It's Not Peanuts (SOMINI SENGUPTA, 1/28/04, NY Times)

With the advent of the campaign against terrorism [...] things began to change. Africa once again figured in Washington's strategic thinking, and there was something to be gained for an overwhelmingly Muslim country by cozying up to the Americans and, not coincidentally, threatening the French with a loss of influence.

These days, because of a swirl of additional circumstances ranging from a drop in French foreign aid to bitterness over French immigration policy to the power of American hip-hop to a variety of slights and perceived slights, Senegal is marching headlong into the arms of a new empire run out of Washington.

This is by no means a line in the sand, ending French influence here. It's more as if the dunes are shifting, slowly but perceptibly. France remains the biggest donor and trade partner, but Senegal's relations with the United States have already created some Paris-Dakar frisson.

Publicly, both sides say all is well. Africa-watchers are fond of likening it to a difficult moment in the life of an old couple, a love-hate dialectic born of an intimate familiarity.

"It's a period of friction," said Mamadou Diouf, a historian at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and Senegalese by origin, "where two partners are trying to adjust to a new moment."

The "moment" that Mr. Diouf refers to has as much to do with the global primacy of American power as the diminution of French power in the shadow of a united Europe. Complicating matters, just as the former colonies on the continent still need France, France still needs its former colonies: French influence in Africa allows it to punch above its weight in the world.

Influence, of course, comes at a price. And the price of supporting a swath of destitute countries in Africa has lately proved to be too much. French aid to its former colonies has plummeted.


The simple truth is that Africa matters more than France now and, unlike France, has a future


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 AM

C-SPAN 2 VS. CABANA BOY:

The End of the Road: As the 1996 election waits to repeat itself, New Hampshire marked the end of the road for most of the field. (Fred Barnes, 01/28/2004, Weekly Standard)

If history prevails (and it often does), Kerry will be the Democratic nominee. Every candidate, Republican or Democrat, who has won both the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary has gone on to capture the nomination. Sure, Kerry is capable of screwing up so badly that he defies history, but it's not likely.

So the stage has been set for a Kerry versus President Bush race this fall. That match-up is reminiscent of the Bob Dole versus President Clinton election in 1996. Hold your applause. It would be a conventional presidential contest between two party regulars.

Kerry is Dole without the wit. Like Dole, he's an establishment figure, an old political horse with little pizzazz. He's not identified with any particular issue or cause. His ideology is basically liberal but flexible, just as Dole's was conservative but pragmatic. Kerry is acceptable across the center-left breadth of the Democratic party, a mirror image of Dole's standing among moderate and conservative Republicans.


The most interesting question in such a case would be whether Mr. Kerry, like Bob Dole, would demonstrate his commitment to the race by giving up his Senate seat. The problem for Mr. Kerry is that his party is in the minority and the Senate split evenly enough that they badly need his vote. One assumes that MA law would allow Republican Mitt Romney to name his successor (?)--former governor Paul Cellucci seems most likely--which makes stepping down problematic. However, staying and casting more controversial votes can't possibly help him, not to mention having to be there to cast them instead of out campaigning. He'd also have to speak in the Senate chamber about every position he's taking, which leaves a large margin for error and allows Republican firebrands to follow him to the floor and pummel him. Not to be indelicate or anything, but he's well and truly screwed.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:25 AM

WE WANT WHATSHISFACE (via Kevin Whited):

Shooting the Wounded (John Ellis, 01/27/2004, Tech Central Station)

Let's be blunt about John Forbes Kerry; he's a cold fish and coldly calculating as well. Former Massachusetts State Senate President William Bulger (D) once said that the initials "JFK" stood for "Just for Kerry." Bulger's view is widely shared at the national level. In Massachusetts, Kerry fans are hard to find. To know him is not to love him. And the more you know him, the more you understand why.

More important, Kerry is not a constituency politician. He's self-created and actualized. There is no safety net beneath him, as there was for Reagan when he faltered in Iowa, as there was for Mondale when he lost New Hampshire, as there was for George W. Bush when he lost New Hampshire four years ago. Kerry has a base, but it's psychographic, not demographic. If he begins to slide, aging yuppies will not be the only ones to cut him loose.

So he needs to be the winner, because everybody loves a winner. And in order to be the winner, he has to make sure that no one else wins. And that is why the decisions he makes today will largely determine whether or not he leverages his success in Iowa and New Hampshire into becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, or whether he lets his remaining rival, Senator Edwards, back up off the floor.

Strategically, Kerry has to throw every dollar, every organizer, every surrogate and all of his paid media at South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri and (to a lesser extent) the others. He has to shoot the wounded everywhere they twitch. If he does, then it will be over next Tuesday night. If he doesn't, then the game goes on. The longer it goes, the better it is for Sen. Edwards.


All right, I finally figured out the ideal presidential candidate for the Democrats: whoever that guy was who just got elected of San Francisco. In a race where the better you know a candidate and the longer his record the less chance he has of being elected, what the party needs is a total cypher. I've even got a campaign slogan for him: "I'm not Bush!"


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 AM

SPEAKING OF LACKING...:

What the Democrats Lack on Iraq (Fred Hiatt, January 26, 2004, Washington Post)

To appreciate the Democrats' evolving case against the war in Iraq, there is no better place to look than Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's impassioned denunciation. The senator's case, laid out in a recent speech and an article on this page Jan. 18, is comprehensive and angry. It says the war may prove to be "one of the worst blunders in more than two centuries of American foreign policy." It accuses the Bush administration of being dishonest as well as wrong.

And, in what it does not contain, it points to a gap in the Democratic message that whoever emerges as presidential nominee eventually will have to fill.

Kennedy's most inflammatory accusations have to do with alleged political motivations for the war or its timing. "Soon Karl Rove joined the public debate, and war with Iraq became all but certain," the senator says. And: "Election-year politics prevail, but they should not have prevailed over foreign policy and national security." And: "There was no imminent threat, no immediate national security imperative and no compelling reason to go to war. . . . But the election timetable was clearly driving the marketing of the product." If Karl Rove -- that is, politics -- drove Iraq policy, then President Bush would merit not only defeat, as Kennedy says, but impeachment. But much of the rest of Kennedy's indictment undercuts the idea of a politically motivated war. For, in his effort to show that the attacks of Sept. 11 were an excuse for war, the senator argues that much of the Bush administration had believed for years that Saddam Hussein had to go.


Say what? If we went to war because that's what the country wanted then the President should be impeached? Is democracy now a High Crime?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM

CONGRATULATIONS, RAYMOND:

THE BROTHERS JUDD NH DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY PROGNOSTATHON

97% Precincts Reporting:
At the suggestion of a reader smarter than ourselves, we've decided to use a "least squares analysis" to rank the entrants prognostications. Essentially, we took the difference between the entrants guess and the results as reported by the NH ABC affiliate WMUR and squared it. We then summed these values for the total least squares difference.

Raymond appears to have won the contest with a truly prescient set of picks. We'll be sending him Lee Harris's terrific book, Civilization and Its Enemies, but thank you to everyone who participated. If we can figure out how to structure a contest for the next set of primaries, and folks are interested, we'll rustle up another fabulous prize (or two...).


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:42 AM

WASN'T EMERSON THE BOOZER?:

How to campaign on a faraway planet (DAVE BARRY, Jan. 27, 2004, The Miami Herald)

[V]oters were hard to find on Sunday when Sen. Joe ''Joe'' Lieberman, accompanied by the media, went campaigning door to door with his wife, Hadassah. Lieberman is trailing in the polls, but surging, at least according to his campaign headquarters, which sent out a press release that begins, quote: ``The energy on the ground in New Hampshire is incredible.''

With all due respect, somebody at Lieberman headquarters is smoking crack. There is no energy on the ground in New Hampshire. New Hampshire is currently the same temperature as Pluto.

Nevertheless, Lieberman was upbeat as he prepared to canvass a residential neighborhood.

"We're feeling . . . JOE-mentum!'' he said. Really.


Apparently, that Joementum is the same affliction Joe Namath has.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 AM

UNPOPULARITY CONTEST:

In Next Round, No Certainties (TODD S. PURDUM, 1/28/04, NY Times)

[M]r. Kerry has only begun to be tested on the national stage. He has yet to compete among black and other minority voters, or in the South and the big swing states that tend to decide general elections. The quirks of personality, pedigree and policy that left him struggling to connect with audiences for much of last year still leave him vulnerable to assaults from Democrats and President Bush.

Mr. Kerry spent five austere and not always popular years of his adolescence boarding at St. Paul's School, just up the road in Concord, and it was there that he first displayed the hot political ambition as well as the cool personal reserve that have marked his career and this race. He has spent much of the past five months in a grinding effort to reintroduce himself to voters here, many of whom have known him for nearly two decades as the junior senator from neighboring Massachusetts but seemed drawn instead to Dr. Dean's fresh face.

"I'm all that's left standing of the Old Man in the Mountains!" Mr. Kerry declared Monday in Portsmouth, comparing his craggy Yankee profile to the famous granite rock formation at Franconia Notch that crumbled last year. Mr. Kerry hopes that he will soon loom alone on the political landscape, but, as Robert Frost memorably wrote, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall."


There's something profoundly odd about a political party that thinks its most electable candidate is someone who is described--either openly or implicitly--in every profile as unlikable.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM

SAVING FRANCE FROM THE FRENCH?:

Is France on the way to becoming an Islamic state? (Barbara Amiel, 26/01/2004, Daily Telegraph)

France is facing the problem that dare not speak its name. Though French law prohibits the census from any reference to ethnic background or religion, many demographers estimate that as much as 20-30 per cent of the population under 25 is now Muslim. The streets, the traditional haunt of younger people, now belong to Muslim youths. In France, the phrase "les jeunes" is a politically correct way of referring to young Muslims.

Given current birth rates, it is not impossible that in 25 years France will have a Muslim majority. The consequences are dynamic: is it possible that secular France might become an Islamic state?

The situation is not dissimilar elsewhere in the EU. Europeans may at some young point in the 21st century have to decide whether they wish to retain the diluted but traditional Judaeo-Christian culture of their minority or have it replaced by the Islamic culture of the majority. [...]

Tribal friction has only two solutions: groups will either unite in the manner of Normans and Saxons, melding into a society that may have different religious practices but subscribes to the same laws and values - in which case headscarves, beards and demographics don't matter a fig. Or they will follow the pattern of warring tribes throughout history.

The question is not whether French and Muslims can co-exist with each other so long as Muslim schoolgirls are bareheaded. Rather, it is the fundamental question of whether Muslim groups will become part of the French nation. This is not one of those old "querelles gauloises" that Barzini so loved. It is the fundamental dilemma of the new century.


Actually, the question is a bit different: it is whether an Islamic France is not preferable to a secular one.

MORE:
Europe Resisting Islam's Dark Ages (Alexis Amory, January 28, 2004, FrontPageMagazine.com)

The first international figure to vocalize the threat of fundamentalism to his own country was Holland’s Pym Fortuyn, a flamboyant millionaire businessman turned politician.   Holland had long been the ne plus ultra of a tolerant, libertarian society preaching a multicultural message that was not necessarily endorsed by its citizenry.  

Despite the “tolerance” required of the Dutch themselves, the Muslim immigrants were granted special rights and favors that did nothing to encourage assimilation.  The government encouraged immigrant children to speak Turkish, Arabic or Berber in primary schools rather than insisting they learn in Dutch.  Funding was provided for “ethnic diversity projects”, including 700 Islamic clubs that were sometimes grabbed as showcases by radical clerics.

Assimilation?  Forget it!  Even now, 30 years later, between 70 and 80 per cent of Dutch-born members of immigrant families import their spouse from their “home” country, mostly Turkey or Morocco, perpetuating a fast-growing Muslim subculture in large cities, according to London’s Daily Telegraph.  This means Dutch Muslim men are rejecting Muslim women born in Holland and trawling for someone more ignorant and more obedient from their “home” country.   The ones marrying female Dutch-born Muslims are foreign males who pay the girl’s family to use marriage as a ticket into the West .

Fortuyn played a strong hand.  A homosexual with a multi-hued history of amours, and with a deputy party leader who was not just black, but an immigrant,  the left couldn’t credibly accuse him of racism.  He was the first to understand that the rigid and conservative immigrants, who kept themselves apart, wished to demolish the freedoms and tolerance of which Holland was so proud and were thus a threat to Dutch liberal society.   He spoke to the fears of a large number of the Dutch who had kept quiet for fear of being branded “racist”.  Within a scant three months of forming his conservative party, which called for a moratorium on all immigration until those already in situ were assimilated, the party had already laid claim to 26 of Holland’s 150 seats.

Had he lived, it is likely that he would have won the upcoming election and been Holland’s prime minister today.  But he was murdered almost two years ago – ironically, by a leftie animal rights activist, although what animal rights had to do with anything was never explained.  So great was the sense of loss, that Fortuyn’s funeral in Rotterdam drew vast crowds and outpourings of grief in an eerie echo of Princess Diana’s funeral in Britain three years previously.


The election of Mr. Fortuyn, an advocate of pedophilia, illustrates the question nicely. In what sense would his morally debased Holland have been preferable to one dominated by Islam?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:14 AM

HUTTONMANIA:

Weblog special: the Hutton inquiry (The Guardian)

Those of you who read the entire Pentagon Papers will love this resource the Guardian has put together on the Hutton inquiry. One interesting aspect of the Guardian's effort is that they link to their rival's coverage of the story. The Guardian's politics is typically terrible, but they do get the Web.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 AM

THE 52ND STATE:

An American president of the Philippines? (Marco Garrido, 1/29/04, Asia Times)

Much is unclear; much is ironic. It is unclear whether Fernando Poe Jr (FPJ), the front-runner in the Philippine presidential race, is even qualified to run. His citizenship at birth, one lawyer contends, was actually American. If this is found to be the case, Poe could be disqualified for not meeting the constitutional requirement of the president being "a natural-born Filipino".

This would be ironic indeed. A revelation of US citizenship would probably bolster FPJ's appeal among an electorate that, by and large, considers tangible ties to the United States an unqualified positive. The perennial presidential candidate Ely Pamatong banks on this allure, campaigning, as he does, on a platform of US statehood for the Philippines.


Isn't the whole world supposed to hate us?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM

WHERE THE WAR ENDS:

US draws a line on Pakistan's nuclear program (Syed Saleem Shahzad, 1/29/04, Asia Times)

Parallel to this Pakistani investigation, though, the US has launched its own independent probe into Pakistan's links to the nuclear programs of Iran, Libya and North Korea, and, depending on the results, according to insiders in the Pakistani administration, Washington could lean on Islamabad to completely abandon its program. Such action would conform with the US's broader agenda to defuse tension on the sub-continent. Already the US has forced India and Pakistan, not quite kicking and screaming, to the peace negotiating table, and for this peace process to last, Pakistan, a perennial meddler in Afghanistan and Kashmir in particular, would need to be tamed.

The US hand has been strengthened by the weekend announcement by President General Pervez Musharraf, who for the first time admitted that "some individual or individuals" may have been involved in proliferating Pakistan's nuclear technology.


America is notoriously awful at seeing wars through to their logical conclusions--turning the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq I from military victories into geo-strategic losses--and if the war on terror concludes without our depriving Pakistan and North Korea of their nuclear weapons, and/or without our rooting al Qaeda out of Western Pakistan, it too will be a defeat.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:52 AM

I'M BAD, I'M NATIONWIDE:

A shift to national stage will change the dynamic (Yvonne Abraham, 1/28/2004, Boston Globe)

Today, the race for the Democratic presidential nomination goes national. And national changes everything.

Iowa and New Hampshire, those temples of retail politics, are history. The candidates have logged thousands of hours in those states, flipping pancakes and placing gentle hands on elderly shoulders in hopes of attracting every voter personally. For months they belonged to the voters of those two states, who have now delivered their 67 delegates, out of 2,162 needed to secure the nomination.

Retail is over. From now on, it's wholesale all the way.

And it's going to cost all the candidates now as they race back and forth from South Carolina to Arizona, seeking votes and buying television time. All of the campaigns are strapped for cash after the battles in Iowa and New Hampshire.

John Kerry, now the clear front-runner after his two victories, has had some fund-raising success over the past week, but some of his rivals are nearly broke at a time when they have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to air television commercials to be competitive in the next stage of the primary.

Just six days from today, primaries will be conducted in Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. New Mexico and North Dakota will hold caucuses. A total of 336 delegates will be up for grabs.


That's a pretty good test to see if Democrats across the entire country buy the Kerry campaign's "electability" theory.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 AM

THERE IS A SHI'ASTAN, GET OVER IT:

SISTANI'S WAY: Part 1: Democracy, colonial-style (Pepe Escobar, 1/28/04, Asia Times)

Bush and his neo-conservative entourage did everything in their power to bypass the UN to get inside Iraq. Now they need the UN to get out. But it's not the UN that holds the magic key. It is Grand Ayatollah Sistani. If he issues a fatwa (religious edict) condemning the caucuses and the future, indirectly-appointed national assembly, 15 million Shi'ites will follow - and whatever government chosen indirectly will be considered a fake. Sistani has also made it very clear that only a government chosen by free, direct elections will have the legitimacy to negotiate the crucial issue with the Americans: when the occupying troops will actually leave.

But what do Sistani and the Shi'ites ultimately want? It is not a theocratic state modelled on Iran, where the principle of Velayat-e-Faqih - politics subordinated to religion - is paramount. They want a democracy, with Shi'ite politicians holding most of the levels of power - something consistent with the fact that Shi'ites make up 62 percent of the national population. And crucially, they want no political involvement by Islamic clerics. But no one in Washington seems to be listening.


The Administration is obviously reluctant to see its plans hijacked by Sistani, but in the end he's doing what we want and helping us get out, so we'll yield.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 AM

HOW HAS THE WAR MADE US MORE SECURE?

Libya hands over WMD equipment: US (AFP, Jan 27, 2004)

The White House announced Tuesday that Libya had shipped parts crucial to its quest for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to a secure US location, calling it "real progress" towards disarmament.

A transport plane carrying some 55,000 pounds of documents and equipment, including centrifuge parts used to enrich uranium and missile guidance sets, landed in Tennessee at 8:37 a.m. Monday, said spokesman Scott McClellan.

"The shipment is now at a secure facility in Tennessee," said the spokesman, who added that "the most sensitive" documents ties to Libya's nuclear weapons program had been aboard a similar flight last week.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 AM

THERE IS A KURDISTAN, GET OVER IT:

Kurds, divided, face new future: Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan will meet with President Bush Wednesday; Iraq's Kurds will be on the agenda. (Nicholas Birch, 1/28/04, The Christian Science Monitor)

Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan is visiting the White House Wednesday, in part to dissuade President Bush from giving too much autonomy to the Kurdish parties running northern Iraq. Ankara claims that if other states give their Kurds an inch, Turkey's own much larger minority will try to take a mile. But the antipathy between Turkish and Iraqi Kurds calls into question the basis of Ankara's continued opposition to Iraqi Kurdish calls for a federal Iraq.

The reasons for the lack of solidarity between Turkish and Iraqi Kurds are numerous. They have been divided by borders for over 80 years. Most Iraqi Kurds speak a dialect incomprehensible to the Kirmanci-speakers in Turkey's southeast.

Above all, though, Turkish Kurdish perceptions of Iraqi Kurds have been clouded by memories of their own nationalist struggle. As Mahmud, sitting next to Abdulaziz in the cafe, puts it: "We have no faith in [Iraqi Kurdish leaders] Talabani and Barzani - the Kurds' only real hope is in prison in Imrali."

He's referring to PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, in solitary confinement since 1999 on an island off Istanbul, and largely remembered as a violent advocate of Kurdish separatism. An ex-Marxist, he targeted not just the Turkish authorities, but also local tribal leaders he considered responsible for southeastern Turkey's poverty.

In the eyes of many Turkish Kurds still sympathetic to Mr. Ocalan, Massoud Barzani, son of a charismatic tribal leader, symbolizes the feudal, tribal structures they would like to see eradicated from Kurdish society.

The distaste is mutual.


Turkish worries are perfectly understandable, but the Kurds have had a de facto state for over a decade and they aren't coming out of the war with less autonomy.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 AM

ENLIGHTENING THE DARK CONTINENT:

Signs of tolerance amid religious strife in Sudan: Muslim-Christian tensions are softening in Sudan - which could set the tone for Africa. (Abraham McLaughlin, 1/28/04, The Christian Science Monitor)

[A]n end to Sudan's 20-year civil war - between mostly Muslim northerners and Christian and traditional southerners - is in sight. Conciliation is in the air. Officials appear to be moderating their religious policies.

Now the test is whether Sudan can morph from an ethno-religious killing ground into a modern melting pot with robust religious tolerance. The outcome will deeply affect the future of Africa's vastest country. And it could set a tone of religious civility for the nearby Middle East, and for Africa, where Muslim-Christian tensions are rising.

"The government is beginning to support all faiths," the Bishop of Khartoum, Ezekiel Kondo, tells the congregation. "But we will not succeed unless we continue knocking on the door," he says, meaning they must raise money, scout land, and lobby for permission to build.

Whether they succeed - and whether Sudan succeeds - matters for Africa. Growing numbers of Africans are converting to Islam and Christianity. There's an inflow of Islamic fundamentalism. Both trends are adding to - and sometimes causing - strife.

In neighboring Chad, low-level fighting continues between Arab northerners and black African southerners. In Nigeria, the government is fending off political and armed attacks from disaffected Muslims. In Kenya, some Islamic leaders want strict sharia, Islamic law, imposed. They threaten to secede if it's not. "If a pluralist, democratic Sudan can be created," says a senior Western diplomat here, "it can be a model for the rest of Africa."

From Eritrea to Djibouti to Morroco to Libya to Sudan to Kenya to Uganda...improvements in Africa, however tenuous, continue to be a great untrumpeted story.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 AM

WHERE'S THE BEEF?:

Weeknight Kitchen: Lynne's Super Stuffed Turkey Burger (Lynne Rossetto Kasper, January 27, 2004, The Splendid Table)

Makes 2 generous burgers; multiplies easily

1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Small handful tasty grape tomatoes, halved
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound raw ground turkey
2 tablespoons dry wine (white or red)
1 to 2 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes
2 large hamburger buns
Condiments such as catsup, mustard, etc.

1. Put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet and heat over high. Add onions and tomatoes with generous sprinkles of salt and pepper. Sauté over high, stirring frequently, until onions begin to brown. Add garlic and cook until onions are wilted and soft. Remove from heat. Set aside half of the onion mixture for topping burgers.

2. Blend ground turkey with remaining onion mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Shape into 2 balls. Make a deep hole with your thumb and insert half of the cheese into each ball. Pinch hole closed and flatten ball into 3/4- to 1-inch thick patties with no sign of cheese on the outside. Patties will be very soft and sticky.

3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium high. Sear burgers about 30 seconds on each side until browned. Turn carefully with a pancake spatula as patties are soft and can break easily. Lower heat to medium-low and cook about 5 minutes per side, or until there is no pink at center of burger and an instant-read thermometer measures at least 150°F. Serve hot on buns, topping with reserved onions and your favorite condiments.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 AM

WHERE'S THE PART WHERE HE DESERTS?:

Operation Desert Guard: Bush's War Record: Missing, Inaction (James Ridgeway, January 28 - February 3, 2004, Village Voice)

What are the facts? The single best rundown on this issue was contained in an article by Walter V. Robinson of The Boston Globe on May 23, 2000. On May 28, 1968, Bush enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard's 147th Fighter-Interceptor Group at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston and was selected for pilot training. In July of that year a board of officers said he should be commissioned as a second lieutenant; he left for six weeks of basic training and was commissioned that September 4. Then he took off for eight weeks to work on a Florida Senate campaign. Next he attended and graduated from flight school (November 25, 1968, to November 28, 1969). He trained full-time to be an F-102 pilot at Ellington, where from July 7, 1970, to April 16, 1972, he attended frequent drills and alerts.

From this point on, his record is murky. Bush's records reveal no sign he showed up for duty during his fifth year as a guardsman, according to the Globe. On May 24, 1972, Bush had moved to Alabama to work on a Senate race and received permission to serve with a reserve unit there. Headquarters ordered that he serve with a more active unit, and on September 5, 1972, he got permission to perform his Guard duty at the 187th Tactical Recon Group in Montgomery. But there is no record of his turning up, and the unit commander says he never did. From November 1972 to April 30, 1973, Bush was in Houston but didn't go to his Guard duties. In May 1973, two lieutenant colonels in charge of Bush's Houston unit were unable to rate him for the prior 12 months, claiming he had not been at the unit during that time. From May to July 1973, Bush logged 36 days on duty after special orders for active duty were issued to him. His last day in uniform was July 30, 1973, and that October 1, after beginning Harvard Business School, this weekend warrior was discharged from the Texas Air National Guard. That was eight months before his Guard tour was scheduled to expire.

If the president wasn't a deserter, what was he?


A well-connected Guardsman, who appears to have done his duty, but not one smidge more?


Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:39 AM

EUROPE’S ADDICTION:

Europeans are not cowards. It's that we know war (Fletcher Crossman/International Herald Tribune/Jan 28, 2004)

Listening to Richard Perle on the radio recently was a little hard for a European like me. Perle, a former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, stated that European nations "do not have the most courageous of instincts," with the implication that America has to intervene in international affairs because Europeans are afraid to. Perle's comments take place against a chorus of similar sentiments to be heard on America's airwaves in recent months. An average listener would be forgiven for believing that Europeans are a cowardly bunch of ungrateful wimps, whose anti-American bombast is a merely a cover for their complicity with evil regimes. It may be true. But as a European myself - I'm from Britain - it doesn't feel true. And I wonder if our cultural disconnect comes from two very different experiences of war. Let's be clear: Europeans don't run away from war. Even the most fleeting look at our history will tell you that we love war, we want war, we will find almost any excuse for a war. In 1914...

Our cities were flattened, a genocide was committed, a whole civilization was brought to its knees. But World War II was mercifully different for America. Despite its debilitating losses - and its astonishing selflessness in prioritizing the European theater ahead of its own mission in the Pacific - America emerged from the devastation in a pre-eminent position, its infrastructure intact. Culturally, politically and economically, America stood like a gleaming Colossus above an impoverished world. If America had believed that by use of force, Good could prevail over Evil, then it had been proved right. War had saved Freedom and defeated Tyranny.

And this is now burned into the American psyche in much the same way that cynicism is for the European. America is the brave young soldier, with shining eyes and a firm jaw, marching towards a battle that will make the world a better place. Europe is the bitter old veteran sitting on the sidewalk, his medals collecting dust somewhere, shaking his head knowingly as the young soldier marches by.

It is heartening to hear a European put their case without rancour or disdain. He even openly acknowledges America's historical selflessness and the nobility of her goals. We are all guided by our history to an extent and it is needlessly insulting to link modern European pacifism to individual European cowardice. Yet this image of the tired, battle-scarred European looking sadly and knowingly at the naive and idealistic American is itself becoming pretty tired.

Four times in a dozen years the U.S. has traveled half way around the world to defeat three genocidal, sabre-rattling tyrannies. Each time it was done with precision planning, astonishing speed, few casualties and far fewer victims than even supporters feared. Mission accomplished, the Americans went home or, in the case of Iraq, are trying to. This is very strange behaviour for a naive and cocksure imperialist power. More to the point, it calls into question the idea that war is unthinkable or the ultimate evil.

Europe’s post-war wisdom has evolved into a psychic addiction. Like many recovering addicts, it becomes confused and hostile when life does not evolve in accordance with the world view it constructed to give meaning to its destructive folly. It is like the alcoholic who finally conquers his demons but who deeply resents those who drink without encountering them. It is one thing to be cautious and hard-headed about war, quite another to hide from it desperately while raging at those who don’t but who both escape and avoid inflicting its full destructive potential.


January 27, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:47 PM

SECOND CRISIS DODGED:

Hutton: The verdict: IT WAS the call every journalist in Westminster was waiting for — and Britain’s top political editor TREVOR KAVANAGH got it. (Trevor Kavanagh, 1/28/04, The Sun)

For days the big question at the Commons has been the verdict of Lord Hutton’s report on the death of Dr David Kelly.

And before MPs and the Cabinet got to hear the conclusions of Lord Hutton, Trevor noted them all down from a trusted source — then set about writing the Scoop of the Year.

TONY Blair is today sensationally cleared of any “dishonourable or underhand” conduct leading to the suicide of tragic scientist David Kelly.

Lord Hutton’s long-awaited report into Dr Kelly’s death also exonerates ex-Downing Street media boss Alastair Campbell.

And it makes only passing criticism of the Defence ministry headed by embattled Geoff Hoon.

But the document — top secret until it is published officially at noon today — is a devastating indictment of the BBC and its defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan.


Not a bad 48 hours for Mr. Blair, eh?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:43 PM

MORE EARNEST THAN REALISTIC? (via mc):

GOP deficit angst rises: $4.2 trillion outlook emboldens party's fiscal conservatives (Alexander Bolton, 1/27/04, The Hill'

Republicans expect the battle over spending to begin in earnest this week at the retreat, just days before President Bush is due to submit his 2005 budget next Monday. They hope to resolve all intraparty disputes on spending before the spending bills reach the House and Senate floors this summer and avoid the rebellions that in the past have ground the appropriations process to a halt.

Conservatives say that their list of reforms includes across-the-board non-defense budget cuts, spending caps with real teeth and requirements that efforts to waive House budgetary rules be voted on by the GOP caucus behind closed doors in order to reach the floor.

Some conservatives have threatened to vote against a GOP-written budget that does not cut the deficit to below current projections.

However, the fractious lawmakers agree with their leadership on one thing: The deficits are not to be trimmed by raising taxes or failing to make permanent the 2001 tax cuts. This is in line with the position Bush took in his State of the Union address last week.

"The real battle will be in the coming weeks," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who led conservative opposition last year to the $400 billion Medicare bill that budget hawks criticized as the type of bloated federal entitlement they came to Congress to curtail.

Pence said that if priorities the House adopts in its federal budget plan reflect fiscal discipline, then "I don't expect that we'll have a contentious year on the floor. If not, I think you'll have a large number of the members ready to be heard if need be on fiscal discipline on the floor."


More power to them if they can do it, but the prospect of getting any kind of fiscally responsible bills through a Senate where a few Democrats can kill any spending cut they don't like seems highly dubious, and there's no point having an intraparty bloodletting only to fail in the end.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 PM

ALL THE WAY WITH JFK:

CBS News estimates that Sen. John Kerry is the winner of the New Hampshire primary.


UPDATE:

Did Senator Kerry just refer to businessmen who outsource jobs as traitors to their country ("Benedict Arnolds")?

UPDATE II:

Did Howard Dean, in what is apparently part of his stump speech, just say that the biggest loss America has suffered since George W. Bush was elected is our unity? How about losing our fellow citizens on 9-11?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 PM

WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?:

Death of a Salesman:
Can John Kerry sell John Kerry? (William Saletan, Jan. 27, 2004, Slate)

If the polls are right, John Kerry will win the New Hampshire primary today and head South and West as the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee. "Dated Dean, Married Kerry," goes the slogan of the hour. But before this rebound relationship drifts to the altar, maybe Democrats should ask what they're getting in Kerry. After watching him for a year and seeing him work New Hampshire, here's my warning: You're getting a guy who has plenty of selling points but can't make the sale himself.

Like my colleague Chris Suellentrop, I've watched the Kerry surge with amazement. I've asked myself how Kerry is persuading previously skeptical voters to change their minds about him. The answer is, he isn't. Other people are doing the persuasion. Other people are doing the testimonial ads, as first lady Christie Vilsack did for Kerry in Iowa. Other people are firing up his crowds. Other people are telling his story. Other people are touting his virtues at rallies because he doesn't reliably display those virtues himself. The man who stood up to serve his country as a soldier is being propped up as a candidate.


One of the things you hear alot these days is that the Left's hatred of George W. Bush is no different than was the Right's hatred of Bill Clinton. You also hear that the main consideration of the primary voters this time around is therefore to find someone who can beat President Bush. So they appear to be willing to vote for guys they don't particularly like or agree with much or even know much about, just so long as they are perceived as "electable".

Now, what's interesting about this is that GOP voters, who presumably would have wanted to beat Bill Clinton and Al Gore just as badly, handed the '96 nomination to Bob Dole, whose turn it was in the much more hierarchical and orderly Republican Party, and to George W. Bush in 2000, even though John McCain polled far better in head-to-head matchups against Gore. Electability seemed a rather secondary issue. In the case of Bush vs. McCain in particular, the nomination went to the guy who seemed more comfortable being a conservative Republican. This did pretty nearly backfire--so maybe it proves once and for all that the GOP is the Stupid Party--but it meant that when Mr. Bush did pull out the election the party had the guy it wanted most, instead of a guy who'd have won easier but about whom they weren't terribly enthusiastic.

That the Democrats are doing the opposite is obvious even in the unofficial slogan of the Kerry campaign--"Dated Dean, Married Kerry". Not just Senator Kerry but General Clark and Senator Edwards have all made a conscious decision to market themselves as candidates you settle for, instead of ones you love. Strange.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:35 PM

NORTH AFRICA:

France fails immigrants, says official study (Jon Henley, January 27, 2004, The Guardian)

France is failing miserably to assimilate immigrants, a government commission said yesterday, painting what it called a "morbid picture" of ghettos, soaring unemployment, inadequate education, sexual inequality and rising fundamentalism in a "socially and professionally disadvantaged" community.

The High Council on Integration said in a damning report that an "enormous effort" was needed to assimilate adolescents of immigrant origin, who have been "abandoned" and constitute a "significant challenge for the republic".

The report comes as tensions mount over government plans to ban Islamic headscarves from schools, a move meant to protect France's strictly secular state, but which many fear will spark more resentment in its large Muslim community and hinder, rather than help, integration.


France no longer has a coherent culture of its own to assimilate immigrants into and is taking in the least assimilable of the lot anyway. But its rapid demographic decline and insistence on maintaining the welfare state means it has no choice but to keep bringing them in. It's a recipe for disaster.

MORE:
More people attend mosques than Church of England: Census (Nabanita Sircar, January 26, 2004, Hinustan Times)

More people in Britain attend mosques than the Church of England. It is for the first time that Muslims have overtaken Anglicans. According to figures 930,000 Muslims attend a place of worship at least once a week, whereas only 916,000 Anglicans do the same. Muslim leaders are now claiming that, given such a rise of Islam in Britain, Muslims should receive a share of the privileged status of the Church of England. [...]

Immigration from Eastern Europe and conversions are believed to be adding to the number of Muslims. Lord Ahmad Patel, a Labour peer said 10 extra seats should be allocated to other religions. The Church of England has 26 seats in the House of Lords. However, the recent figures do not include Catholics. The Catholic church has 1.5 million British worshippers.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:47 PM

ONE CRISIS DOWN, ONE TO GO:

Government wins top-up fees vote (Matthew Tempest, January 27, 2004, The Guardian)

The government tonight narrowly won its vote on top-up fees - giving Tony Blair a brief window of respite before he defends himself against the conclusions of the Hutton report tomorrow.

After a six-hour debate, the government won the vote by minuscule margin of just five, with 316 voting for the bill and 311 against.

That still means the government has turned around a seemingly unstoppable rebellion by Labour backbenchers - for which many will give the credit to Nick Brown and his namesake, the chancellor.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:43 PM

LOOKING FOR ELECTABLE, FINDING DESPICABLE:

Vetting the Vet Record: Is Kerry a proud war hero or angry antiwar protester? (Mackubin Thomas Owens, 1/27/04, National Review)

Kerry hooked up with an organization called Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Two events cooked up by this group went a long way toward cementing in the public mind the image of Vietnam as one big atrocity. The first of these was the January 31, 1971, "Winter Soldier Investigation," organized by "the usual suspects" among antiwar celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Dick Gregory, and Kennedy-assassination conspiracy theorist, Mark Lane. Here, individuals purporting to be Vietnam veterans told horrible stories of atrocities in Vietnam: using prisoners for target practice, throwing them out of helicopters, cutting off the ears of dead Viet Cong soldiers, burning villages, and gang-raping women as a matter of course.

The second event was "Dewey Canyon III," or what VVAW called a "limited incursion into the country of Congress" in April of 1971. It was during this VVAW "operation" that John Kerry first came to public attention. The group marched on Congress to deliver petitions to Congress and then to the White House. The highlight of this event occurred when veterans threw their medals and ribbons over a fence in front of the Capitol, symbolizing a rebuke to the government that they claimed had betrayed them. One of the veterans flinging medals back in the face of his government was John Kerry, although it turns out they were not his medals, but someone else's.

Several days later Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His speech, touted as a spontaneous rhetorical endeavor, was a tour de force, convincing many Americans that their country had indeed waged a merciless and immoral war in Vietnam. It was particularly powerful because Kerry did not fit the antiwar-protester mold — he was no scruffy, wide-eyed hippie. He was instead the best that America had to offer. He was, according to Burkett and Whitley, the "All-American boy, mentally twisted by being asked to do terrible things, then abandoned by his government."

Kerry began by referring to the Winter Soldiers Investigation in Detroit. Here, he claimed, "over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."

"It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit, the emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam, but they did, they relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told their stories. At times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."

This is quite a bill of particulars to lay at the feet of the U.S. military. He said in essence that his fellow veterans had committed unparalleled war crimes in Vietnam as a matter of course, indeed, that it was American policy to commit such atrocities.

In fact, the entire Winter Soldiers Investigation was a lie. It was inspired by Mark Lane's 1970 book entitled Conversations with Americans, which claimed to recount atrocity stories by Vietnam veterans. This book was panned by James Reston Jr. and Neil Sheehan, not exactly known as supporters of the Vietnam War. Sheehan in particular demonstrated that many of Lane's "eye witnesses" either had never served in Vietnam or had not done so in the capacity they claimed.


And he thinks he's fit to command that same military?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:29 PM

YOU MEAN WE DON'T LIVE IN A POLICE STATE?:

Justice investigators find no abuses of anti-terrorism Patriot Act (CURT ANDERSON, January 27, 2004, Associated Press)

A Justice Department investigation into possible civil rights and civil liberties abuses under the anti-terrorism USA Patriot Act found no abuses but a few instances of mistreatment of Muslim and Arab people, mainly at U.S. prisons, according to a report released Tuesday.

Among the 1,266 recent civil rights and civil liberties complaints received between June 14 and Dec. 15, 2003, only 17 involved Justice employees and merited a full investigation, according to the report by Glenn A. Fine, the department's inspector general.

Of those, most involved excessive force, verbal abuse and other alleged mistreatment at Bureau of Prisons facilities. [...]

Most of the complaints -- 720 -- were found to be "unrelated" to civil liberties or civil rights. These included people who claim the government is broadcasting harmful signals to people or that its agents are intercepting their dreams, according to the report.


81% of those latter complaints come from Dennis Kucinich and his supporters.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:17 PM

GOOD NEWS FOR TYRANTS:

Report: Humanitarian reasons didn't justify Iraq war: Human Rights Watch dismisses one of the Bush administration's main arguments for the invasion. (Matthew Clark, January 27, 2004, csmonitor.com)

As the months roll by without any discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Bush administration has increasingly emphasized Saddam Hussein's brutality and human rights violations as an important justification for the preemptive war it launched to overthrow his regime. After former chief US weapons inspector David Kay announced over the weekend that Iraq did not possess any WMD stockpiles before the war, the White House has backed off the claim that had been its main justification for the war.

But a leading advocacy group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), released a report Monday challenging the administration's other main justification. The report said that the war in Iraq should not be justified as a defense of human rights. In its annual report, the independent, nongovernmental organization argues that, because there was no ongoing or imminent mass killing when the conflict began, the war was not necessary to stop such atrocities.

"The Bush administration cannot justify the war in Iraq as a humanitarian intervention, and neither can Tony Blair," said Kenneth Roth, the group's executive director. The mass killing of Kurds in 1988 (often cited by US President George W. Bush) would have justified humanitarian intervention, Mr. Roth said.

"But such interventions should be reserved for stopping an imminent or ongoing slaughter," he said. "They shouldn't be used belatedly to address atrocities that were ignored in the past."


Reflexive opposition to America and to war has made a lot of folks on the Left say a lot off stupid things, but a purported human rights organization suggesting that a genocidal dictatorship need only pause in its killing in order to make its sovereignty inviolable has to take the cake.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:33 PM

HEAVY TURNOUT IN HANOVER ANYWAY:

Just went and voted--George W. Bush for president, Condi Rice for vice president--they've already run out of Democratic ballots once and had to send for more.


MORE:
If early projections hold up--with Dean closing to within 5 points of Kerry and Edwards and Clark far back--Dean can emerge as the big winner here. Not only did he battle back but he's got the money and organization to run everywhere. Most importantly, John Kerry doesn't look like he can take a punch and the Doctor looks ready to throw a few again, Candidates trade jabs as New Hampshire votes (CNN, January 27, 2004):

"I was the front-runner in this race for a long time. Everybody threw everything they could at me," Dean told CNN's "American Morning."

"One of the things John will have to learn as a front-runner is (to) stop whining when people say something different about him."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:15 PM

FAB FIVE FIX-UP?:

Kerry hit on cosmetic issue (Lloyd Grove, 1/27/04, NY Post)

The down and dirty New Hampshire primary ends tonight - not a moment too soon for front-runner John Kerry.

Since the Massachusetts senator's Iowa victory last week, operatives for rival Democratic campaigns have been insinuating that Kerry is getting Botox injections, paralyzing the muscles that produce worry lines.

Yesterday - the same day I received such a call from a hardened spin doctor versed in the black arts of negative campaigning - Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter told me she has been busy denying the rumor for the past week.

"Have you looked at him?" Cutter demanded, referring to her creased, droopy-eyed candidate. "He looks like a 60-year-old man who has been working too hard running for President, with little time for sleep and no time to worry about what he looks like."

The Botox attack apparently wasn't dismissed from the get-go because Kerry's 65-year-old wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, openly touts her regular use of the wrinkle-fighting treatments. The Chicago Tribune put the rumor into public circulation with a story last week, and the Boston Herald followed up with a Sunday editorial noting that "Kerry does look a darn bit shinier than usual."


It definitely looks like he had something done around his eyes.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 PM

FRANKINCENSED:

AL FRANKEN KNOCKS DOWN DEAN HECKLER (VINCENT MORRIS, January 27, 2004, NY Post)

Wise-cracking funnyman Al Franken yesterday body-slammed a demonstrator to the ground after the man tried to shout down Gov. Howard Dean. [...]

Franken said he's not backing Dean but merely wanted to protect the right of people to speak freely. "I would have done it if he was a Dean supporter at a Kerry rally," he said.

"I'm neutral in this race but I'm for freedom of speech, which means people should be able to assemble and speak without being shouted down."

The trouble started when several supporters of fringe presidential candidate Lyndon Larouche began shouting accusations at Dean.


That's a shockingly sensible view of free speech from Mr. Franken--such freedoms have consequences, one of which should be that people can beat the tar out of you.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:03 PM

KEEP THE PEDAL TO THE METAL:

Iran to end vote dispute: Many barred candidates will be reinstated (The International Herald Tribune, January 27, 2004)
 

TEHRAN A bitter political dispute over the mass disqualification of reformist candidates for Iran's parliamentary elections next month is close to being resolved, the Parliament speaker, Mehdi Karroubi, said on Tuesday.

"In the next couple of days we will witness a very good understanding between the government and the Guardian Council," Karroubi told reporters.

He said the Guardian Council would announce by Friday the reinstatement of many of the candidates it had barred from running in the Feb. 20 race.

The candidate bans imposed by the hard-line Guardian Council - an unelected 12-member body of clerics and jurists with sweeping powers - plunged Iran into its worst political crisis in years and prompted international concern over the legitimacy of the coming vote.

The vast majority of those barred were President Mohammad Khatami's reformist allies, whom hard-liners accuse of undermining the values of the Islamic Republic and trying to shift Iran from clerical to secular rule.

Reformist Parliament members, dozens of whom have been holding a 16-day sit-in, said they would resign on Sunday if the Guardian Council did not reinstate the candidates. Reformist parties also said they might boycott the vote, and government officials have threatened not to organize the vote.

But Karroubi said around 500 disqualified candidates, including many current Parliament members, would be reinstated on Tuesday and more would be reinstated by the end of Thursday.


It's remarkable the degree to which the adoption of the rhetoric and the forms of democracy can force even the unwilling to behave in democratic ways, but those who genuinely want reform in Iran should keep pressing their advantage.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:44 AM

IRON LADY VS. WOBBLY MAN:

Tea with Mrs. Thatcher (YEHUDA AVNER, Jan. 26, 2004, Jerusalem Post)

THE FIRST Gulf War had just about ended, and between sips of tea and cucumber sandwiches Thatcher resorted to salvos of reminiscences about how she had first heard of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait the August before.

"I was still prime minister last summer, of course," she recalled wistfully, "and was attending a conference in Aspen, Colorado, with president Bush. When I heard about the invasion of Kuwait I went to see him in his suite. He asked me, 'Now, Margaret, what's your view?' I told him I had experienced aggression in the Falklands, so I had no doubt how to deal with an aggressor.

"Aggressors had to be stopped, thrown out, destroyed. And when he began to chew this over, I said, 'Look George, this is no time to be wobbly. No half-measures. Liberate Kuwait. Go into Iraq. Destroy Saddam Hussein and his National Guard utterly. Britain will be by your side.'"

Her voice suddenly acquired a serrated edge: "George Bush promised me two things," she said grimly. "He promised to destroy the Iraqi forces, and he promised to capture Saddam Hussein and have him tried as a war criminal. Well, as far as I am concerned, what happened in fact "

She was interrupted in mid-sentence by the little servant's cough of her maid, who had obsequiously entered the room to hand her a note. Thatcher shot her a sharp glance, read the note with ferocious concentration and, rising, said, "You'll have to excuse me a moment. I have to take a call in the study."

She strode to the door, opened it, paused, turned, and glowered back, "So yes, what happened in fact is that George Bush failed on both counts. He neither destroyed the National Guard, nor did he capture Saddam Hussein."

She said this with an emphatic lifting of the head and a lowering of the eyelids for added veracity. Then, with a cold, hard stare, she walked back into the room, laid a confiding finger on my arm, and said, "I've telephoned Number 10 only once since leaving, and that's when I saw what savagery Saddam Hussein was inflicting on the Kurds and the Shi'ites.

"I simply could not hold my tongue. They were doing exactly what George Bush had asked them to do – rise up against Saddam Hussein – and then he left them hanging in the lurch."


It's hard to think of a stronger indictment of multilateralism than that it required that Saddam be left in power in 1991.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM

CONTEST CLOSING AT 10AM:

Be sure to get your entries in for the BROTHERS JUDD NH DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY PROGNOSTATHON. The prize this time is especially appealing--the good people of FSB Associates are once again kicking in a book and this time it's the great Lee Harris's Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History. If you're unfamiliar, his essay, Our World Historical Gamble, may have been the best thing written last year about the role of America in the present danger.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:56 AM

NO ONE EVER TAKES THE PONY AWAY:

Perpetual Debt: From the British Empire to the American Hegemon (H.A. Scott Trask, January 27, 2004, Mises.org)

Bush officials have suggested that their "war on terror" will last many decades. Less than a month after 9-11, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld compared it to the "50-years, plus or minus" of Cold War with the Soviet Union. In March 2002, Secretary of State Powell warned that the war "may never be finished, not in our lifetime." A month later, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge warned that the threat of terrorism "is a permanent condition to which this country must permanently adapt."

Thus, if the ruling elite has its way, and it shall, as the American people have no opinion on the matter, or can even be bothered to think about it, we are faced with at least half a century of intermittent war and a further augmentation of the national security state that has been draining our
wealth like a voracious vampire since 1950. There is no secret as to how they will finance it--by borrowing and inflating. If the Democrats are the party of "tax and spend," the Republicans are the party of "borrow and spend."

Since Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole's introduction of the funding system in England during the 1720s, the secret was out that government debt need never be repaid. Just create a regular and dependable source of revenue and use it to pay the annual interest and the principal of maturing bonds. Then for every retired bond, sell a new one. In this way, a national debt could be made perpetual. Walpole's system proved its worth in financing British overseas expansion and imperial wars in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The government could now maintain a huge peacetime naval and military establishment, readily fund new wars, and need not
retrench afterward. The British Empire was built on more than the blood of its soldiers and sailors; it was built on debt. The ever-growing debt had the ancillary benefit of attaching the interests of wealthy creditors to the government. This example was not lost on some leaders of the infant
American Republic, Alexander Hamilton for one.

The triumph of the funding system and its corollary of perpetual debt is undeniable. It rules the world. While there is some expressed concern about the size of the Bush deficits, almost no member of either the intelligentsia or the ruling elite has suggested, or even considered, paying
the debt down. Just consider the likelihood of congressmen agreeing to set aside $400 billion a year in a sinking fund instead of spending it on programs, projects, and overseas adventures designed to get him, or her, reelected. The possibility of it happening is as remote as that of an
American mountaineer summitting the highest peak on Mars.


This reminds us again of the passage 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.

Apparently even Austrian economicsists can eventually be shamed into accepting reality.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:44 AM

IF REGIME CHANGE IS INEVITABLE...:

POWER RANGERS: Did the Bush Administration create a new American empire—or weaken the old one? (JOSHUA MICAH MARSHALL, 2004-01-19, The New Yorker)

Last March, after Jacques Chirac, the French President, announced that he would veto any new United Nations resolution sanctioning war against Iraq, the White House saw a chance for a different sort of victory. If a majority of the fifteen Security Council members voted for a new resolution and France vetoed it, the United States could claim that the problem was not American unilateralism but French obstructionism. And that hope set the United States scrambling to line up the votes of Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, and a trio of impoverished states from the west coast of Africa. “No matter what the whip count is, we’re calling for the vote,” President Bush said at a news conference broadcast worldwide on March 6th. “It’s time for people to show their cards, let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam.”

But, apart from Britain, Spain, and Bulgaria, the countries on the Security Council declined to side with the United States. Emissaries threatened and cajoled, to no avail. Pakistan, admittedly, had a restive Muslim population to contend with. But Mexico and Chile said no, too, and so did Cameroon and Guinea and Angola, a country that is heavily dependent on American trade and good will. In the end, Bush didn’t call for a vote.

At the time, this moment of mortification received scant attention; the outbreak of war was imminent. It was a curious spectacle, though. No country in the world could stand in the way of America’s determination to remove Saddam. But the United States seemed powerless to persuade even the smallest nations to legitimatize its power with a symbolic vote.

As hard-liners in the Bush Administration saw it, the real humiliation was that we had sought the approval of a quarrelsome international body in the first place. During the previous year, a growing number of them had become fascinated with the notion of empire. It was time for America, unabashedly and unilaterally, to assert its supremacy and to maintain global order. The U.N. debacle—the mismatch between our diplomatic sway and our military might—could be taken as confirmation of this view. And yet, if our overtures carried so little weight, just what was the nature of our imperial power? [...]

The Bush doctrine, with its tenets of preëmptive war, regime change, and permanent American military primacy, promised a new global order. The best way to think of that order is by analogy with the internal organization of a nation-state. What makes a state a state is its monopoly over the legitimate use of force, which means that citizens don’t have to worry about arming to defend themselves against each other. Instead, they can focus on productive pursuits like raising families, making money, and enjoying their leisure time. In the world of the Bush doctrine, states take the place of citizens. As the President told graduating cadets at West Point in 2002, America intends to keep its “military strengths beyond challenge, thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace.” In other words, if America has an effective monopoly on the exercise of military force, other countries should be able to set aside the distractions of arming and plotting against each other and put their energies into producing consumer electronics, textiles, tea. What the Bush doctrine calls for—paradoxically, given its proponents—is a form of world government.

The new order envisaged by the Bush doctrine hasn’t quite worked out as it was meant to. That’s because, from the beginning, the White House has acted on the assumption that bold action would make our allies rally behind us and our enemies cower. Building a consensus with our friends before we acted only encouraged quarrelsomeness. The point wasn’t that dictation was superior to consensus; the point was that it created consensus. [...]

Conservative ideologues, in calling for an international order in which America would have a statelike monopoly on coercive force, somehow forgot what makes for a successful state. Stable governments rule not by direct coercion but by establishing a shared sense of allegiance. In an old formula, “domination” gives way to “hegemony”—brute force gives way to the deeper power of consent. This is why the classic definition of the state speaks of legitimate force. In a constitutional order, government accepts certain checks on its authority, but the result is to deepen that authority, rather than to diminish it. Legitimacy is the ultimate “force multiplier,” in military argot. And if your aim is to maintain a global order, as opposed to rousting this or that pariah regime, you need all the force multipliers you can get.


Perhaps we've been living in an alternate reality from Mr. Marshall, but from what we saw no one opposed the American use of force in Iraq except for Saddam himself. Sure, some nations refused to sign on for the task of regime change, but none of them did anything about it. After all, Frenchmen don't show much interest in dying to protect France--they certainly aren't going to fight to preserve the concept of a foreign dictator's sovereignty.

What's more, the regime no sooner was changed than the war became de facto legitimate. No one refuses to recognize the new Iraq and those who were owed money by the old Iraq have been forced to abandon hope of collecting, while the rush is on to enter into new business deals in the new nation. Cheap rhetoric yielded rather quickly to geopolitical reality.

Obviously if America were to start toppling governments just because they're annoying--France, Germany...--it could lose legitimacy. But so long as we bring our power to bear exclusively on regimes that are genuine threats to the lives and liberties of their own people and of their neighbors, there'll be some grumbling from the usual quarters but our neo-imperialism will be essentially consensual.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM

ECO-IMPERIALISM:

Green movement is morally bankrupt (Roger Bate, Jan 27 2004, Business Day)

THE view most people have of colonialism and imperialism is largely negative. So any charge that a group, individual or government is guilty of them is bound to be resisted strongly by the recipient.

Recently, in New York City, a broad charge of eco-imperialism was laid at the feet of the environmental movement. The Congress of Racial Equality (Core ) blames government officials, aid agency bureaucrats as well as sandal-wearing greens for mass disease and death in the poorest countries of the world because they export their most vile regulatory policies.

According to Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore: "The environmental movement has lost its objectivity, morality and humanity". Last week he said: "The pain and suffering it inflicts on families in developing countries can no longer be tolerated." So far the green movement has ignored the criticism, but it will soon have to respond, since "eco-imperialism" is becoming a more widely heard, if not yet fully appreciated, term. [...]

Paul Driessen, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power Black Death, hopes, like Innes, that eco-imperialism becomes a household word. Driessen says: "It's time to hold these groups accountable and compel organisations, foundations, courts and policymakers to understand the consequences of the policies they are imposing on our Earth's poorest citizens."


Mr. Driessen's book is terrific.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 AM

BROWN BRINGS BLAIR BACK FROM BRINK?:

Fee rebel leader switches sides (Tom Happold, January 27, 2004, The Guardian)

Leading rebel Nick Brown is to back the government's controversial plans to let universities charge students variable fees in tonight's Commons vote, Guardian Unlimited can reveal.

The former chief whip told the site: "The concessions that the government have made are good enough for me. I'll be supporting the government tonight."

Mr Brown's change of heart will provide a major boost to the government's chances of winning tonight's knife-edge vote.

He was the main organiser of the rebellion, along with his former deputy, George Mudie, and other rebels are likely to follow his lead.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 AM

NO SALLY RAND THEY:

Europe's Wishful Thinking: The European Union wants to have a bigger economy than America and their welfare state, too. (Irwin M. Stelzer, 01/27/2004, Weekly Standard)

IT IS FOUR YEARS since E.U. leaders met in Lisbon and set out a strategy for economic reform that they claimed would enable Europe to outstrip the United States as the world's leading economic power. Britain's Tony Blair liked the idea of reform, and France's Jacques Chirac liked the idea of besting the United States. So reform it was to be.

One need only dip into the new report to understand that the seeds of American entrepreneurialism cannot successfully be planted in the hostile soil that is today's Europe. The tools that the European Commission would use to catch up with America, and move European GDP up from its present 72 percent of the U.S. level, include such winners as passing a "Framework Directive on eco-design of energy-using products;" devising "social inclusion strategies" and establishing "National Action Plans (NAPs) . . . to set national targets" to improve social cohesion; and developing a "new industrial policy approach." There's more, lots more, including new regulations and taxes.

Meanwhile, back in America, President Bush is trying to reduce both the level of taxation and the burden of regulation. In short, the European Union aspires to American performance, and sees increased involvement of both Brussels' and member states' bureaucracies as the path to that goal, while U.S. policy is to reduce the role of government in business affairs.


The one concrete step they've taken, boosting their real interest rate to such an absurd level as to make the euro appear artificially competititive with the dollar, is killing them and was the result not of any economic policy but the need to seem a plausible world power even as they sat out the Iraq War. The Europeans just aren't a serious people anymore.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:55 AM

THE DUKE OF DIXVILLE:

Clark ëcarriesí Dixville Notch (LORNA COLQUHOUN, 1/27/04, Manchester Union Leader)

Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark and his wife Gert celebrate in front of the tally board at the Dixville Notch polling station shortly after midnight Tuesday. Clark won the town of Dixville Notch with eight out of 15 Democratic votes cast. (AP) DIXVILLE ó Itís Wes Clark, by a handful.

As tradition would have it, New Hampshireís tiny hamlet of Dixville Notch had their say last night, casting the first 26 votes in the stateís Democratic Primary election around midnight.

George W. Bush swept up for the Republicans with 11 votes, not bad since there are only 10 registered Republicans in the Notch.

But this was a night for Democrats, and Clark ó the only candidate in history to actually show up for the annual occasion -- got plenty of loud cheers when his 8 votes were announced.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 AM

HEY, WAFFING BOY, NO MOWE BUWWETS:

Employees union pours $1.3 million into pro-Dean campaign (SHARON THEIMER, January 26, 2004, Associated Press)

Rather than hoarding its money to spend against President Bush, a public employees union has spent at least $1.6 million on get-out-the-vote efforts for Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees political action committee is spending the money independently of Dean's campaign, which allows it to devote as much as it wants to the efforts.

It has spent at least $1.3 million over the last two weeks on mailings, polling, phone banks, ads and other primary spending in several early-voting states. Those include Iowa, which held its presidential caucuses last week; South Carolina, New Mexico and Arizona, which vote Feb. 3; Michigan, which has its primary Feb. 7; and Wisconsin, which votes Feb. 17. [...]

The AFSCME PAC raised at least $4.5 million last year and spent at least $3.9 million. Its latest campaign finance report, covering November, showed it started December with about $1.4 million on hand to spend.


This is the kind of massive strategic error that the more experienced industrial labor movement would never have made.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 AM

ISLAM'S EVANGEL:

How Arabs are reacting to Bush's State of the Union (Walid Phares, PhD, January 26, 2004, Townhall)

[T]he most significant reaction was the less seen in the West. That is the voice of the underdogs, the dissidents and the had-enough-of-it people. Kuwait applauded the speech. So did the Governing Council in Iraq. But beyond these two liberated countries, other civil societies expressed their support to the State of the Union. In a sense, it was their state of misery acknowledged in Washington. Students and reformist in Iran sheered. Opposition in Syria and Lebanon breathed better. Southern Sudanese and Nubians reinforced their will. Berbers and liberal seculars in Algeria clapped hands. And from the deepest underground of activism, dissident web sites, with writers around the Arab world, including women in Saudi Arabia, started to count the days. In short: the lowest layers in the region's make-up received their state-of-affairs with the voice of the most powerful man on Earth, the President of the United States.

How ironic. Inside Byzantium (read Washington's beltway), the debate had no respite. It is still about "where are the WMDs?" and "what are we doing in Iraq?" But down-under, in what will become the future generations of the entire Middle East, Shiites, Kurds, liberal Sunni, democratic Arabs and oppressed minorities, women and students are reading President Bush's speech in disbelief. "Who among our own Presidents-for-life and Fundamentalist Monarchs have ever mentioned the mass graves and our vanished human rights?" Let it come from the American President. And if he is not serious, it doesn't matter. What matters is that the Truth was said." This is from the underground chat rooms. The people have hope.


Anyone who still isn't convinced that Howard Dean isn't fit to lead the Free World need only read
these words:
"You can say that it's great that Saddam [Hussein] is gone, and I'm sure that a lot of Iraqis feel it is great that Saddam is gone, but a lot of them gave their lives, and their living standard is a whole lot worse now than it was before."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:50 AM

RUN THE EXPERIMENT:

One Iraqi, One Vote? (DILIP HIRO, 1/27/04, NY Times)

Mr. Bremer and the American-appointed Iraqi Governing Council give many reasons for ruling out quick elections: the electoral rolls are not up to date; the political parties are not functioning properly; and the security situation is not conducive to election campaigns. All of these arguments fall apart on closer scrutiny.

For one, the voter rolls may be outdated, but since 1991 all Iraqis have been issued food ration cards that could be used as identification at polling stations. Mr. Bremer and some governing council members object that using ration cards would disenfranchise exiles who have returned since Saddam Hussein's fall. Yet there are only about 250,000 Iraqi returnees and all should have documents from the countries of their exile that would suffice as identification.

Some Iraqi families had their cards taken away by the Baathist regime because a family member deserted the army. But another identification document exists, a "census card" provided to all Iraqis when they reached school age, giving the student's name, address and age. It is worth noting that within two months of the overthrow of the shah of Iran in February 1979, the revolutionary government used the fallen regime's identification cards to hold a referendum on whether Iran should be an Islamic republic.

As for the argument that political parties are needed, Iran offers another precedent. In August 1979, the Islamic authorities held elections to the constitutional Assembly of Experts. Almost all of the candidates ran as individuals rather than as party affiliates, yet they were able to campaign and get their messages out to voters.

Critics also say that Iraqis have no recent tradition of elections. Actually, Iraq had five elections for its 250-member Parliament from 1980 to 2000. Though all the candidates were pre-approved by the regime, voters did get a choice between Baathists and non-Baathists (the Baathists' share of seats ranged from 142 to 183). The point is, some people felt free to express a personal preference.

Perhaps the central criticism is that Iraq is simply not secure enough to have a fair vote. But this is not sufficient grounds to deprive Iraqis of their say in their own political future. In May 1992 the Kurdish parties operating in Iraq's no-flight zone held elections for their new regional Parliament under conditions that were pretty grim. Only by holding that poll did the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan achieve the legitimacy they hold to this day.


Conditions are never ideal for a first democratic election.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 AM

LESS MONEY, BETTER CHOICES:

Seattle Schools Learn Money Doesn't Buy Grades (Fox News, January 27, 2004)

Seattle school officials (search) are learning a valuable but surprising lesson — throwing money at schools doesn't always help kids achieve. And spending more money on some students rather than others does little more than cause trouble.

Under Seattle's weighted student formula, schools with kids who are poor, not fluent in English or have special needs get more money to help them compete. Only it doesn't seem to work.

"If money is the only thing we need to make better schools — to increase academic achievement for students — then we would have seen that by now," said Lynn Harsh of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, an Olympia-based group that focuses on state budgets and tax policy, welfare reform, health-care reform, education and governance issues. "Instead we're seeing the opposite results."


In a related story: the sun rose in the East today.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:30 AM

SUPERWEDGIE:

American Public Opinion About Gay and Lesbian Marriages (Gallup News Service, January 27, 2004)

A Jan. 9-11 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans if they would favor or oppose a law that would allow homosexual couples to legally get married, or if they have no opinion on the issue at all. The results show that a majority of Americans, 53%, oppose such a law, and 44% of respondents oppose it strongly. Twenty-four percent of Americans say they would favor such a law, and 23% do not have an opinion about gay marriage.

Results to a similar question asked in a mid-December poll (but without an explicit "no opinion" response) show that 65% of Americans said marriages between homosexual couples should not be recognized as legally valid, while 31% said they should.


In other words, because of party dynamics Democrats are pushing an issue on which they have a 3-1 disadvantage.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 AM

FOLLOW THE MONEY:

More and More Autism Cases, Yet Causes Are Much Debated (ERICA GOODE, 1/26/04, NY Times)

No one disputes it. Cases of autism, the baffling and often devastating neurological disorder that strikes in early childhood, are rising sharply.

In California alone, the number of children receiving special services for autism tripled from 1987 to 1998 and doubled in the four years after that.


One needn't be as cynical as we to believe that the last sentence above explains the increase in and of itself.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:22 AM

THEY'RE THEIR OWN GOEBBELS:

Palestinians shocked at use of suicide mother (Chris McGreal, January 27, 2004, The Guardian)

Hamas has defied widespread criticism among Palestinians for using a young mother as a suicide bomber by publishing photographs of Reem Riyashi and her two small children posing with weapons.

Mrs Riyashi, 22, blew herself up and killed four Israelis at a Gaza border crossing a fortnight ago after faking a disability to bypass a security check.

She was the first female suicide bomber for Hamas, leading to considerable speculation as to her motives, and criticism of the organisation even among some supporters.

Mrs Riyashi left behind two young children: a three-year-old son, Obedia, and her daughter, Doha, who is 18 months. In the photographs, the boy is clutching what appears to be a mortar shell and, like his mother, is wearing a Hamas headband. Another picture shows her gazing at both children.


It's rather unusual for an oppressed people to seek to dehumanize themselves and destroy any symnpathy to which that might theoretically be entitled.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 AM

I REACHED OUT ONE NIGHT AND YOU WERE GONE:

Democrats switching to GOP: Kentucky trend accelerates after Fletcher's victory (TOM LOFTUS and AL CROSS, The Courier-Journal)

After Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher's election on Nov. 4, Kentucky's long-term trend of Democrats becoming Republicans accelerated, especially among those closest to the state capital.

In Frankfort and surrounding Franklin County between Election Day and the end of December, 147 Democrats went Republican while 29 Republicans went the other way, records show.

The new Republicans in the county include about 50 state employees, and some high-level political appointees of former Gov. Paul Patton's administration who live elsewhere and want to stay on under Fletcher.

Even former state Democratic chairman Bill Patrick, who works for the state but lives in Lexington, became a Republican.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:02 AM

BURY HIM WITH HIS BOOTS ON:

Own missteps, Iowa results hurting Clark (Jill Lawrence, 1/25/04, USA TODAY)

Retired general Wesley Clark skipped last week's Iowa caucuses to focus on Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. He hoped for a blast of momentum going into the Southern states that vote next week.

Instead, Clark's Democratic presidential bid could be in serious trouble. [...]

Clark's struggle is due in part to his own missteps on issues as basic as abortion and the Iraq war. He also has fumbled routine tasks such as making sure introductions of him aren't embarrassing.

But the unexpected Iowa results also have thwarted Clark's progress. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was galvanized by his upset victory in Iowa and now leads here. Former Vermont governor Howard Dean is on a damage-control mission after his Iowa debacle and may be staging a comeback. North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' strong second place in Iowa has translated into new credibility and huge crowds here.


Skipping IA was understandable, given how organization reliant it was thought to be, but the General might very well have won had he contested it. Now he's toast.


January 26, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:59 PM

THE RACE TO BEAT LYNDON:

Candidates Talk to Women: Dean, Lieberman and Kucinich in Dartmouth Forum (Sonia Scherr, 1/26/04, Valley News)

Kucinich also said he would bring a “feminine perspective” to the Oval Office... [...]

Lieberman said he thinks it's important to consider women for nontraditional posts, such as secretary of defense and secretary of treasury. He also said he would put more than one woman on his short list of running mates. “My administration will reflect America,” he said.


Hard to be certain which of these guys is less in touch with reality.


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:42 PM

SO WHEN DO WE GIVE UP ENGLISH?:

You are what you speak (Janadas Devan, Straits Times, 1/25/2004)

Western philosophers long assumed the alphabet represented a distinct advance in civilisation....

But they ... would be wrong....

As 20th century philosophers, linguists and logicians have established, a great number of the errors and confusions of Western thought are due to the structure of Indo-European languages, including their adoption of phonetic writing.

The world view inscribed in Chinese characters - as well as the peculiar features of their grammar - turns out to be far closer to the reality that modern science has disclosed. An ancient language - using a combination of pictograms, ideograms and phonograms, like Egyptian hieroglyphs - appears to be the most modern.


I suspect those 20th century philosophers, linguists and logicians were Chinese; and that philosophers employed by the Clay Workers Union will soon prove that clay tablets are more modern writing implements than computers.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 PM

THE MIDDLE KINGDOM:

Chinese middle class? It's just a myth, study finds: Although nearly half of mainlanders consider themselves middle class, only 4% meet the criteria, research shows (Chua Chin Hon, 1/27/04, Straits Times)

Nearly one in two mainland Chinese considers himself 'middle-class', according to a new study, although the researcher found that only 4.1 per cent of 5,860 people interviewed made the cut.

The study by Dr Li Chun- ling of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences appeared to debunk the widespread hype in the Chinese and international media about China's burgeoning middle class, which is expected to change everything from travel trends to consumer habits in the country and beyond.

'The so-called Chinese middle class is nothing but a myth and a bubble conjured up by some media organisations and researchers,' Dr Li was quoted as saying in a recent issue of the China Newsweek magazine. She could not be contacted for this report.

She also raised concerns that this false sense of optimism and 'achievement', fuelled in part by the hype and the country's sterling economic performance, may overshadow some of the very real and pressing problems in China, such as the rising income gap, unemployment and environmental degradation.

Between the end of 2001 and 2002, when the hype about the Chinese middle class was probably at its zenith, she and her team conducted a study of 5,860 people aged 16 to 70 in 12 regions, including Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Heilongjiang, Sichuan and Inner Mongolia.

Despite the lack of a recognised or widely accepted yardstick for being middle class, the study set out four criteria: profession, monthly income, consumption and lifestyle, and subjective identity.


China's structural problems are plentiful, but the false belief of the majority that they are middle class is hard to see as one of them. Such belief seems likely to alleviate an awful lot of political pressure on any government.


Posted by David Cohen at 8:54 PM

THE WHITEST MAN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Landslide Kerry The mystifying appeal of the Massachusetts senator. (Chris Suellentrop, Slate, 1/26/04)

At a firehouse in Hampton yesterday, a man told Kerry that he thinks it's unfair that people say a New Englander can't connect with people from varying backgrounds. And to prove that you can do it, he says, explain the importance of the icon on my hat. Kerry is mystified. "The Latin? The Ten?" he asks. Malcolm X, the man explains.
It would be nice to be hipper than the President again.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 PM

TWO-FER:

EU snubs Paris over arms for China (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Philip Delves Broughton, 27/01/2004, Daily Telegraph)

A French attempt to lift the European Union arms embargo against China was rejected by ministers yesterday amid concern over Beijing's human rights record and belligerent attitude to Taiwan.

President Jacques Chirac has led the drive to ease sanctions imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre of students in 1989, hoping to benefit from China's economic growth and draw Asia's rising power into strategic "multipolar" alliance with the EU to counter American hegemony.

But EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels agreed by 14 to 1 that China's deployment of up to 650 missiles in a war of nerves against Taiwan made it a hazardous moment to lift the arms boycott.

The decision is a blow to Beijing, which has been seeking a strategic partnership with the EU to obtain high-technology weaponry.


Anytime you can smack down France and China at the same time is a particularly good deal.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:17 PM

HOW ABOUT "NONE OF THE ABOVE"?:

Knowns, unknowns and the Ketchup Kid (Mark Steyn, 27/01/2004, Daily Telegraph)

Here's my sense of how things will go today, based on nothing more scientific than a weekend winter-sports break over on the eastern side of the state and a chat with the waitress in the Littleton Diner on the way back to my pad in western New Hampshire. She'd had pretty much every candidate host events at the diner except Dean and Lyndon Larouche, whose campaign wanted to hold a shindig there but got turned down. Larouche is the guy who thinks the Queen is an international drugs kingpin (or, in this case, queenpin) secretly running the world on her cocaine profits. Compared with some of the wackier utterances of Dean and Clark, the House of Windsor drug cartel is one of the less fanciful notions this primary season. At the rate the white knights are tripping over their feet of clay, Larouche could well be the frontrunner by March, with his face on the cover of Newsweek and a poll showing he'd beat Bush 49 per cent to 46 per cent, if Prince Philip doesn't have him taken out by a hit team first.

But, barring a Larouche surge, my bet for today's vote is as follows:

1) Senator John Kerry 29 per cent
2) Governor Howard Dean 28 per cent
3) Senator John Edwards 19 per cent
4) Senator Joe Lieberman 12 per cent
5) General Wesley Clark 10 per cent
6) Everybody else 2 per cent

You can have a good laugh about these predictions tomorrow morning.


Especially after the debate the other night, it looked like the electability mantle had descended on Mr. Kerry so completely that he could walk with this thing, and he still may. But if Howard Dean really is reclosing the gap on him it would be a stunning demonstratio of just how weak a candidate the Senator is--unable to stand just four days of press scrutiny and frontrunner attention. General Clark having shown himself to be unelectable too, John Edwards may be the next big thing as we head to his birth state of South Carolina.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 PM

TRAPPED IN SOMEONE ELSE'S FANTASY:

(via Jeff Guinn):
What Makes a Terrorist? (James Q. Wilson, Winter 2004, City Journal)

Ideological terrorists offer up no clear view of the world they are trying to create. They speak vaguely about bringing people into some new relationship with one another but never tell us what that relationship might be. Their goal is destruction, not creation. To the extent they are Marxists, this vagueness is hardly surprising, since Marx himself never described the world he hoped to create, except with a few glittering but empty generalities.

A further distinction: in Germany, left-wing terrorists, such as the Red Army Faction, were much better educated, had a larger fraction of women as members, and were better organized than were right-wing terrorists. Similar differences have existed in the United States between, say, the Weather Underground and the Aryan Nation. Left-wing terrorists often have a well-rehearsed ideology; right-wing ones are more likely to be pathological.

I am not entirely certain why this difference should exist. One possibility is that right-wing terrorist organizations are looking backward at a world they think has been lost, whereas left-wing ones are looking ahead at a world they hope will arrive. Higher education is useful to those who wish to imagine a future but of little value to those who think they know the past. Leftists get from books and professors a glimpse of the future, and they struggle to create it. Right-wingers base their discontent on a sense of the past, and they work to restore it. To join the Ku Klux Klan or the Aryan Nation, it is only necessary that members suppose that it is good to oppress blacks or Catholics or Jews; to join the Weather Underground, somebody had to teach recruits that bourgeois society is decadent and oppressive.

By contrast, nationalistic and religious terrorists are a very different matter. The fragmentary research that has been done on them makes clear that they are rarely in conflict with their parents; on the contrary, they seek to carry out in extreme ways ideas learned at home. Moreover, they usually have a very good idea of the kind of world they wish to create: it is the world given to them by their religious or nationalistic leaders. These leaders, of course, may completely misrepresent the doctrines they espouse, but the misrepresentation acquires a commanding power.

Marc Sageman at the University of Pennsylvania has analyzed what we know so far about members of al-Qaida. Unlike ideological terrorists, they felt close to their families and described them as intact and caring. They rarely had criminal records; indeed, most were devout Muslims. The great majority were married; many had children. None had any obvious signs of mental disorder. The appeal of al-Qaida was that the group provided a social community that helped them define and resist the decadent values of the West. The appeal of that community seems to have been especially strong to the men who had been sent abroad to study and found themselves alone and underemployed.

A preeminent nationalistic terrorist, Sabri al-Bana (otherwise known as Abu Nidal), was born to a wealthy father in Jaffa, and through his organization, the Fatah Revolutionary Council, also known as the Abu Nidal Organization, sought to destroy Israel and to attack Palestinian leaders who showed any inclination to engage in diplomacy. He was hardly a member of the wretched poor.

Alan B. Krueger and Jitka Maleckova have come to similar conclusions from their analysis of what we know about deceased soldiers in Hezbollah, the Iran-sponsored Shiite fighting group in Lebanon. Compared with the Lebanese population generally, the Hezbollah soldiers were relatively well-to-do and well-educated young males. Neither poor nor uneducated, they were much like Israeli Jews who were members of the “bloc of the faithful” group that tried to blow up the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem: well paid, well educated, and of course deeply religious.

In Singapore a major terrorist organization is Jemaah Islamiyah. Singaporean psychologists studied 31 of its members and found them normal in most respects. All were male, had average to above-average intelligence, and held jobs ranging from taxi driver to engineer. As with al-Qaida and Hezbollah members, they did not come from unstable families, nor did they display any peculiar desire toward suicidal behavior. Though graduates of secular schools, they attached great importance to religion.

Of late, women have been recruited for terrorist acts—a remarkable development in the Islamic world, where custom keeps women in subordinate roles. Precisely because of their traditional attire, female suicide bombers can easily hide their identities and disguise themselves as Israelis by wearing tight, Western clothing. Security sources in Israel have suggested that some of these women became suicide bombers to expunge some personal dishonor. Death in a holy cause could wash away the shame of divorce, infertility, or promiscuity. According to some accounts, a few women have deliberately been seduced and then emotionally blackmailed into becoming bombers.

That terrorists themselves are reasonably well-off does not by itself disprove the argument that terrorism springs from poverty and ignorance. Terrorists might simply be a self-selected elite, who hope to serve the needs of an impoverished and despondent populace—in which case, providing money and education to the masses would be the best way to prevent terrorism.

From what we know now, this theory appears to be false. Krueger and Maleckova compared terrorist incidents in the Middle East with changes in the gross domestic product of the region and found that the number of such incidents per year increased as economic conditions improved. On the eve of the intifada that began in 2000, the unemployment rate among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was falling, and the Palestinians thought that economic conditions were improving. The same economic conditions existed at the time of the 1988 intifada. Terror did not spread as the economy got worse but as it got better.

This study agrees with the view of Franklin L. Ford, whose book Political Murder covers terrorist acts from ancient times down to the 1980s. Assassinations, he finds, were least common in fifth-century Athens, during the Roman republic, and in eighteenth-century Europe—periods in which “a certain quality of balance, as between authority and forbearance” was reinforced by a commitment to “customary rights.” Terrorism has not corresponded to high levels of repression or social injustice or high rates of ordinary crime. It seems to occur, Ford suggests, in periods of partial reform, popular excitement, high expectations, and impatient demands for still more rapid change.

But if terrorists—suicide bombers and other murderers of innocent people—are not desperate, perhaps they are psychologically disturbed. But I cannot think of a single major scholar who has studied this matter who has found any psychosis. Terrorists are likely to be different from non-terrorists, but not because of any obvious disease.

In short, recruiting religiously inspired or nationalistically oriented terrorists seems to have little to do with personal psychosis, material deprivation, or family rejection. It may not even have much to do with well-known, high-status leaders. Among West Bank and Gaza Palestinians, for example, there is broad support for suicide bombings and a widespread belief that violence has helped the Palestinian cause, even though as late as June 2003 only about one-third of all Palestinians thought Yasser Arafat was doing a good job. Indeed, his popularity has declined since the intifada began.

The key to terrorist recruitment, obviously, is the group that does the recruitment.


This view jibes with that of Lee HarrisAl Qaeda’s Fantasy Ideology (Lee Harris, August 2002, Policy Review)
On September 11, 2001, Americans were confronted by an enigma similar to that presented to the Aztecs — an enigma so baffling that even elementary questions of nomenclature posed a problem: What words or phrase should we use merely to refer to the events of that day? Was it a disaster? Or perhaps a tragedy? Was it a criminal act, or was it an act of war? Indeed, one awkward tv anchorman, in groping for the proper handle, fecklessly called it an accident. But eventually the collective and unconscious wisdom that governs such matters prevailed. Words failed, then fell away completely, and all that was left behind was the bleak but monumentally poignant set of numbers, 9-11.

But this did not answer the great question: What did it all mean? In the early days, there were many who were convinced that they knew the answer to this question. A few held that we had got what we had coming: It was just desserts for Bush’s refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty or the predictable product of the U.S. decision to snub the Durban conference on racism. Others held, with perhaps a greater semblance of plausibility, that the explanation of 9-11 was to be sought in what was called, through an invariable horticultural metaphor, the “root cause” of terrorism. Eliminate poverty, or economic imperialism, or global warming, and such acts of terrorism would cease.

Opposed to this kind of analysis were those who saw 9-11 as an unprovoked act of war, and the standard comparison here was with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. To this school of thought — ably represented by, among others, the distinguished classicist Victor Davis Hanson — it is irrelevant what grievances our enemy may believe it has against us; what matters is that we have been viciously attacked and that, for the sake of our survival, we must fight back.

Those who hold this view are in the overwhelming majority among Americans. And yet there is one point on which this position does not differ from the position adopted by those, such as Noam Chomsky, who place the blame for the attack on American policy: Both points of view agree in interpreting 9-11 as an act of war, disagreeing only on the question of whether or not it was justifiable.

This common identification of 9-11 as an act of war arises from a deeper unquestioned assumption — an assumption made both by Chomsky and his followers on one hand and Hanson and National Review on the other — and, indeed, by almost everyone in between. The assumption is this: An act of violence on the magnitude of 9-11 can only have been intended to further some kind of political objective. What this political objective might be, or whether it is worthwhile — these are all secondary considerations; but surely people do not commit such acts unless they are trying to achieve some kind of recognizably political purpose.

Behind this shared assumption stands the figure of Clausewitz and his famous definition of war as politics carried out by other means. The whole point of war, on this reading, is to get other people to do what we want them to do: It is an effort to make others adopt our policies and/or to further our interests. Clausewitzian war, in short, is rational and instrumental. It is the attempt to bring about a new state of affairs through the artful combination of violence and the promise to cease violence if certain political objectives are met.

Of course, this does not mean that wars may not backfire on those who undertake them, or that a particular application of military force may not prove to be counterproductive to one’s particular political purpose. But this does not change the fact that the final criterion of military success is always pragmatic: Does it work? Does it in fact bring us closer to realizing our political objectives?

But is this the right model for understanding 9-11? Or have we, like Montezuma, imposed our own inadequate categories on an event that simply does not fit them? Yet, if 9-11 was not an act of war, then what was it? In what follows, I would like to pursue a line suggested by a remark by the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen in reference to 9-11: his much-quoted comment that it was “the greatest work of art of all time.”

Despite the repellent nihilism that is at the base of Stockhausen’s ghoulish aesthetic judgment, it contains an important insight and comes closer to a genuine assessment of 9-11 than the competing interpretation of it in terms of Clausewitzian war. For Stockhausen did grasp one big truth: 9-11 was the enactment of a fantasy — not an artistic fantasy, to be sure, but a fantasy nonetheless.


And what's important about it is the implication that, because al Qaeda's actions flow from their own self-contained fantasy, there is no ameliorative action that we can take that will satisfy them. Those then--mostly isolationists of Left or Right--who say we need to withdraw from here or there or pressure this or that nation or not pressure this or that one or whatever else are simply not addressing themselves to reality. The violence and hatred directed towards us are not a function of us but of them. Changes we make to us will simply not deter them.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:48 PM

PLAYING STABLE:


Dean Loses Ground as Primary Voters Shift Toward Stability
(Ronald Brownstein, January 26, 2004, LA Times)

In 2003, Howard Dean's rise set the tone for the Democratic presidential race. Now his decline is reshaping the race in 2004.

Dean's meteoric ascent encouraged all of his rivals to try to match the anger and passion he brought to the campaign. For months, the other Democratic contenders jostled to see who could express the most contempt for President Bush.

At times, the race seemed above all a competition to see which candidate could stuff the most adjectives into a single sentence vilifying Bush. Dean led the field in part because almost all of the other candidates were trying to be like him, and none of the imitations matched the fervor of the original.

But a funny thing happened as the actual voting approached: The anger that exhilarated so many of the hard-core activists who dominated the process in 2003 is proving much less attractive to the broader universe of Democratic voters now checking into the contest.

Suddenly, the dominant voice in the race belongs to voters like Jeannine Tucker, a retired life insurance company employee from Goffstown, N.H., who initially intended to support Dean but is now considering Sens. John F. Kerry and John Edwards and retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark.

"One time I went to see Dean, and he was right on in what he said," Tucker said last week, while waiting for Kerry to speak at a rally in Manchester. "Now, after the couple of little missteps in what he's saying, and losing his temper, I'm not too sure…. As president, you've got to have somebody who's stable. This is a very precarious job."

Tucker's comment, echoed by other voters here, may offer the key to the upheaval that has transformed Dean from frontrunner into beleaguered underdog.


So, for the Democrats stability isn't having ideas and sticking to them but aping what works for other people?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:28 PM

WITH 11,000 YOU GET 50:

Stocks Hit 2-1/2 Year High (Reuters, 1/26/04)

U.S. stocks rose on Monday, with the Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq Composite Index hitting highs not seen for more than 2-1/2 years, as investors cheered earnings reports, strong housing data and a bullish report on Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK).

The Dow Jones industrial average (DJI) closed up 132.75 points, or 1.26 percent, at 10,701.04. its highest close since June 2001.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:05 PM

FOOT FUN (via The Mother Judd):

"This is one of the strangest things I have ever encountered.

Left brain, right brain

While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.

Your foot will change direction and there's nothing you can do about it."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:47 PM

LIKE A BUTTERFLY, A WILD BUTTERFLY:

By Deficit Obsessed (James K. Glassman, January 22, 2004, Washington Times )

Rubinomics, the prevailing theory in the Clinton years, held that the economy boomed because 1993 tax increases turned the deficit into a surplus, driving down interest rates. In fact, long-term bond rates were 7.3 percent the in 1992 and 8 percent in 1994 after which something quite different may have lowered rates and lifted the stock market: the election of a Republican House. [...]

History also refutes Rubinomics. During the Reagan years, debt rose, but interest rates fell. During the Clinton years, debt fell, but interest rates stayed the same. During the Bush years, debt rose, but interest rates fell.

It's not that deficits don't matter just not at these levels, or at any level that's truly feasible. Our government debt, at about 50 percent of GDP, is far lower than that of Europe and Japan. Unless deficits truly get out of hand (and we're far from that), other things, like taxes, matter much more. President Bush said that tax cuts would leave more money in the pockets of Americans, who would spend and invest to lift the economy. That's happened. As the economy gets better, revenues will rise, and the deficit will shrink.

Certainly, all is not rosy. We need to reform Social Security and Medicare to prepare for the retirement of baby boomers. Now, there's an issue for the campaign. But Democrats who want to win in November would do well to ignore Rubin's obsession with the deficit. This time, he's all wet.


Indeed, during the period when we had a budget surplus the Fed raised interest rates repeatedly, suggesting at least a psychic, if not a material, disconnect of debt from interest rates.


Posted by David Cohen at 3:43 PM

BE GLORIOUS, DAMN YOU!

Kill Yuppie Scum The backlash against neoliberalism (John Derbyshire, NRO, 1/26/04)

The story of the past quarter-century — a convenient starting marker would be the election of Margaret Thatcher on May 3, 1979 [footnote omitted] — has been the triumph of what is loosely called neoliberalism, a belief in open markets with minimal restraints on trade between nations, free movements of peoples, and the dismantling of huge state-owned enterprises and regulatory bodies. This has been a very wonderful thing, and I shouldn't like to leave you with any misunderstanding as to how I feel about it. I am old enough to remember the previous regime, at least in England, and believe me, neoliberalism is way better than what went before.

As is the nature of all human things, though, the new synthesis has generated a new antithesis. Neoliberalism has its dark side. When neoliberalism was first promoted in China by Deng Xiaoping, it was launched with the slogan: "To get rich is glorious!" So, indeed, it must have seemed to the cowed, brutalized survivors of Mao Tse-tung's 30-year experiment in egalitarian communism. And so it is: Personal wealth produces a great deal of vulgar display and vapid hedonism, but it also patronizes great art, gives the leisure for public service, and supplies the wherewithal for works of charity.

The dark side of neoliberalism is inequality. Every country that has embraced the new order has seen the gap between rich and poor grow wider. Not all of us have entrepreneurial talents; not all of us — very few of us, in fact — have the ability to get rich. Now of course, a rising tide lifts all boats, and the neoliberal order has blessed not only those who enriched themselves, but hundreds of millions of others, too. Not only has it lifted us up, it has supplied us with a plethora of goods and services that did not exist 30 years ago, and that would never have been brought into existence by any state-managed bureaucracy, or any Dictatorship of the Proletariat, or any of those labor-industry-government partnerships so fondly imagined by leftist economists of the 1970s.

I very much like John Derbyshire. His occassional essays for National Review and NRO are pithy and even elegant. His Calvin Coolidge novel is excellent. I very much want to read his mathematics book, though I have no interest in the subject matter. When it comes to the beauty of of prime numbers, I am as a blind man in a convention of the deaf.

But what the heck is he talking about. He doesn't want us to mistake his love of neoliberalism, one of the crowning achievements of which is the free movement of people. Well, gee, John, how could we have come to make that mistake? (Tangentially, hasn't it been fun these last few weeks to watch NRO lambast the President for his immigration plan, on the one hand, and argue that conservatives must support him, on the other?)

Like many conservatives, Mr. Derbyshire is uncomfortable with democratic capitalism. In this, his name is nicely poetic. Like Tolkien, he harks back wistfully to the way things (never) were when happy little Englanders lived their preindustrial lives like the hobbits in their Shire. It's too bad, we can hear him grumble, that freedom leads inexorably to Donald Trump. And, of course, it is unfortunate, but would he be any happier if he as carefully watched how any of us spend our money. For that matter, do conservatives really like to see more money being frittered away on modern art, or the hallways of power being stocked with the leisured rich, or the creation of more mega-foundations, spending the wealth of the Fords, Rockefellers and Carnegies? Have we all become such socialists that we take for granted our right to an opinion on what other people do with their property?

If so, we should be sobered by Mr. Derbyshire's timely demonstration of where this notion leads as he attacks neoliberalism's downside: income inequality. First, says who? In the United States at the moment, income inequality is largely, though apparently not solely, caused by immigration. [The preceding sentence was changed. See the comments. DGC] We're importing poor people, because we're just not making any of our own, any more. The rich certainly are richer than they've ever been, but so are the poor. I doubt that he would argue that actual economic inequality is greater in the West than it was under Communism. Second, so what? Income equality isn't a good thing. Depending upon how ruthless the government is, it is either a pipe dream or the excuse for great evil. If political rights belong to everyone equally, why does "justice" have anything to say about the distribution of income (not wealth, by the way) at some particular point in time. I've never been poorer than when I was in college, but any compassion spent on me then would have been wasted.

Freedom is freedom; the idea that it should be curtailed if we don't like where people choose to go led to the worst of the last century. This is where Mr. Derbyshire goes wrong. He implicitly accepts the centrality of the state in modern life. Our safeguard from excess and depravity is not the state, but can only be a culture that rejects excess and depravity. Political freedom can only survive if the greater nation, expressing itself not through the police or regulation, but through censure and shame, limits our choices by limiting what we choose, not what we are free to choose. The alternative is the freedom of license, which, damaging in itself, will be followed by repression.

Thus, the importance of religion in the United States. Religion says that the rich man and the poor man are equal in the sight of G-d. From this flows our idea of the importance of political equality. Religion says that man has been given free will and can use it even to disobey his Creator. From this flows our idea of freedom. Religion says that man has an inherent dignity. From this flows our idea of inalienable rights. Religion says that man is imperfect and not perfectable. From this flows our idea of limited government and our skepticism of efficient government.

Liberals often ask what is it that conservatives wish to conserve? It is this culture, which teaches that the measure of a man is how he acts, not what he earns or buys.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:38 PM

WELCOME TO THE UNIPOLAR WORLD:

U.S. Enters New, Expansive "Proof of Primacy" (Thomas Donnelly, January 26, 2004, Navy News Week)

What used to be called the "post-Cold War world" has gone through three distinct periods.

First, the "Long 1990s", beginning with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and ending with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, marked a time of drift and, at least in international politics, American confusion and indecision.

The second, from 9/11 until the March 19, 2003, invasion of Iraq, was a period of transition, during which the Bush administration struggled to fashion a response to events that destroyed its illusions that the world's problems could be "managed" by a small knot of confident and competent pragmatists, acting in the spirit of humble realpolitik.

The invasion of Iraq marked the start of the third period, a new era of Pax Americana, distinguished by the energetic exercise of U.S. power not simply to protect the status quo of American global preeminence but to extend the current liberal international order, beginning in the Middle East.


We might refer to this period as hastening the "end of history".


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:26 PM

SATAN'S CHATAUQUA (via John Resnick):

Liberals turn to entertainment to batter the 'House of Bush' : Stage shows, music, books being used to reach voters (Joe Garofoli, January 25, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle)

Loathing President Bush is an art form in Berkeley, a disgust so pointed that 3,500 people recently gave a standing ovation to a trio of best- selling Bush-bashing authors -- comedian Al Franken, economist Paul Krugman and ex-Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips -- before they uttered a word onstage.

Unbeknownst to most in the sold-out Berkeley Community Theater audience, they were beta-testing a show that East Coast promoters are developing into a national barnstorming tour. The promoters were impressed; dates in New York and New Haven, Conn., are expected to be announced in the next week on what's being billed as the "Rolling Thunder" tour.

Bookers in Los Angeles and Chicago are gauging the reception of the unorthodox concept -- three disparate authors, fronted by three different publishers, united only by their common pounding of the leader of the free world -- before scheduling local versions.


Wasn't this show called "Bring Da Funk"?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:21 PM

LEFT LINGUISTIFICATION:

The anti-liberal (Joshua Glenn, 1/4/2004, Boston Globe)

IDEAS: You disagree with the proposition that all human beings have an equal moral status, and so possess the same fundamental rights. But what about the practical argument that a world with equal human rights is a less dangerous one?

[John] KEKES [outspoken conservative professor of philosophy at the State University of New York, Albany]: People may have equal moral status at birth, but what they do when they come to maturity clearly affects that status. War, torture, oppression, discrimination, poverty, terrorism, and the drug trade are widespread in the world, and the only way to stop evil activities is to curtail the rights of evildoers. No one can reasonably believe that murderers and their victims, or terrorists and their hostages, have the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

IDEAS: Many liberal theorists would argue that evil activities are a result, not a cause, of social injustice -- so social justice ought to be a top priority.

KEKES: The belief that social justice is the most important political value is dangerous because its single-minded pursuit often makes it incompatible with the pursuit of other values -- freedom, prosperity, order, security, criminal justice, and so forth -- that are just as important. It is a dangerous mistake to privilege equality at the expense of everything else.


The Absurdity of Egalitarianism: an excerpt from The Illusions of Egalitarianism (John Kekes, 1/26/04, Front Page)
Suppose that egalitarianism is seen for what it is: an absurd attempt to deny in the name of justice that people should be held responsible for their actions and treated as they deserve based on their merits or demerits. A nagging doubt remains. It is undeniable that there are in our society innocent victims of misfortune and injustice. Their inequality is not their fault, they are not responsible for it, and they do not deserve to be in a position of inequality. The emotional appeal of egalitarianism is that it recognizes the plight of these people and proposes ways of helping them. Counting on the compassion of decent people, egalitarians then charge their society with injustice for ignoring the suffering of innocent victims.

There are several things that need to be said in response to this frequently heard charge. First, anyone committed to justice will want people to have what they deserve and not to have what they do not deserve. Innocent victims do not deserve to suffer, yet they do. A decent society should do what it can to alleviate their suffering. But this has nothing to do with equality or egalitarianism. What is objectionable is not that some people have less than others. It is not unjust that millionaires have less than billionaires. What is objectionable is that some people, through no fault of their own, lack the basic necessities of nutrition, health care, education, housing, and so forth. They are our fellow citizens, and because of that we feel compassion for their plight.   

Second, the plight of innocent victims who lack the basic necessities is not ignored. On the contrary, they are being helped by their fellow citizens who are taxpayers. Take a family of four with an annual income of $70,000. They are likely to pay about $25,000 in federal, state, property, and school taxes. Approximately 60 percent of the federal and state budget is spent on social programs. Thus roughly 60 percent of the family’s annual taxes, that is, $15,000, is spent on social programs. The family, therefore, contributes over 20 percent of their income, more than one dollar out every five, to helping others, including the innocent victims. This is more than enough to acquit them of the charge of shamefully ignoring the plight of their fellow citizens that egalitarians baselessly level against them.

Third, the relentless egalitarian propaganda eagerly parroted by the media would have us believe that our society is guilty of dooming people to a life of poverty. What this ignores is the unprecedented success of our society in having less than 13 percent of the population live below a very generously defined poverty level and 87 percent above it. The typical ratio in past societies is closer to the reverse. It is a cause for celebration, not condemnation, that for the first time in history a very large segment of the population has escaped poverty. If egalitarians had a historical perspective, they would be in favor of the political and economic system that has made this possible, rather than advocating absurd policies that undermine it.


One of the most fascinating aspects of Left ideology is that they've redefined the word "justice" so that it no longer means that you get what you deserve based on your own merits but instead that everyone is entitled to the same regardless of merit.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:10 PM

OR EXPECTEDLY:

Democracy 101: Travel with `Mr. Mike' as he sets about winning hearts and minds in southern Iraq (Kevin Whitelaw, 2/2/04, US News)

Amid a grove of palm trees surrounded by farmlands, lunch is being served in the tribal guesthouse. Men clad mostly in traditional robes sit barefoot on carpets around a feast of lamb, rice, and grilled fish. The center of attention on this day isn't one of the gathered Shiite tribal chiefs or the tall, bearded cleric; it is a mustachioed American they politely call Mr. Mike.

With some amusement, the Iraqis watch their guest pick at the food with his fingers, as is the local custom, but they pay close attention as he talks about democracy. In turn, he listens to their complaints about the American plan for a transitional government and about the Iraqi politicians in Baghdad. "We didn't know much about Iraqi culture and people, and so that's why we have made some mistakes," he replies in fluent, Egyptian-accented Arabic. "We only knew about the army."

In some ways, Mr. Mike calls to mind a soft-spoken, Midwestern version of Indiana Jones, with an olive fedora, a rumpled safari jacket, and a Buck knife (his "insurance policy") strapped to his waist. Here in the Shiite heartland, home to the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon, Mike Gfoeller (GE-fel-ler), a 46-year-old veteran diplomat, administers a swath of southern and central Iraq. He is the civilian face of the U.S. military occupation, one of the relatively few Americans Iraqis encounter who isn't sporting body armor, wraparound sunglasses, and an M-16. Instead, he is armed with a diplomat's skills. Intimately familiar with Arab culture from past postings in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, he speaks the language, which he learned in college and on a Fulbright fellowship in Egypt.

Nine months after American tanks first rolled into Baghdad, the historic attempt to transform Iraq into something akin to a democracy remains troubled. American misjudgments, a persistent insurgency, and a deeply divided Iraqi population scarred by years of repression threaten to plunge Iraq into deeper violence. But Gfoeller's cross-cultural encounters here are, at least for now, something quite different. The tribal chiefs talk of American "liberation" rather than "occupation," and they enthuse about their democratic future--even if they are a little fuzzy about the details. "We want an Iraqi democracy from Iraqi traditions, not from American ones," says Farkad al-Hussainy al-Quizwiny, a towering, thickly bearded sheik who heads a Shiite religious school in Hilla and works closely with Gfoeller. "But if an unwanted man reaches power, we should force him out." This provokes a sharp debate. "Even if a man reach power with 50 percent, we should back him," insists Abdul Aziz al-Yasiri, a politician who has come from Baghdad seeking the tribe's support. The local Iraqis agree, then shift to discussing, of all things, the upcoming U.S. election and how their actions might help support President Bush.

The vibrant Shiite tribal network--built upon the strong loyalities felt by perhaps 60 percent of the region's Shiite population--offers a reason to be hopeful. "Unexpectedly, it turns out the conservative Shiite tribes are the most fertile ground for democracy," Gfoeller observes after the lunch, as his armored Chevy Suburban careens along dirt roads, dodging children and livestock. "They don't know the first thing about democracy, but they want to try it." [...]

The tribal leaders' apparent openness to American ideas seems to spring in part from their gratitude to the nation that ousted Saddam. Mass graves testify to Saddam's brutal repression of Iraq's Shiites; as a reminder, one host at the luncheon carries a photo in his pocket of his brother's severed head. Democracy, many of them also realize, could help the Shiites--who make up about 60 percent of Iraq's population--claim greater power in the traditionally Sunni-dominated nation. So far, the five impoverished Shiite provinces that Gfoeller effectively governs--which include the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala--have been relatively quiet, with few coalition casualties. "We are providing them security," says Ahmad Khabut, a tribal leader and the mayor of Al Kifl, near Hilla. "We believe the coalition will make Iraq a prosperous country." Gfoeller's headquarters compound in Hilla has been hit by mortar several times, as recently as two weeks ago. After one attack, he politely turned down an offer by a tribal chief to track down, and presumably kill, the attackers.

Of course, even here, the obstacles threaten to snuff out the glimmers of hope. Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's most important Shiite cleric, is demanding early elections, jeopardizing the U.S. plan to turn over power to a transitional government by July 1 (with full elections once there is a new constitution and census). In Baghdad, tens of thousands of Shiites turned out in support of Sistani, who refuses to meet with any Americans, including Gfoeller. And there are worrisome upstart Shiite clerics like Moqtada al-Sadr, who draw support from desperate, unemployed urban Shiites. Meanwhile, Gfoeller's sixth province is Al Anbar, in the restive Sunni triangle. Violence there has ebbed slightly in the wake of Saddam's capture, but the attacks continue. Last week, in two separate incidents on the same day in Al Anbar, insurgents killed two Iraqi policemen and four Iraqi women working at a U.S. base.

As for the Shiite tribes near Babylon and democracy, it's still the early days. But whether drawn by curiosity or conviction, hundreds of tribal leaders, religious clerics, community leaders, and even women from the region pack into the marble-walled meeting rooms of the old Saddam Mosque in Hilla for a lecture on democracy. "Everyone is here to be acquainted with democracy," says Sheik Thahar Abdul Khadum Mokeef al-Jabouri, a local tribal chief who heads a union of farmers in Hilla. A local farmer, Ali Madlum al-Fatlawi, agrees: "Democracy is the only solution for the Shia."


As bad as the WMD intelligence was, our misunderstanding of how well suited Shi'ism is to democracy appears to have been an equally dismal failure.


MORE:
The Mullah and Democracy (BERNHARD ZAND, 1/26/04, Der Speigel)

The two most powerful religious leaders in the modern history of the Shiites studied in Najaf with the legendary Grand Ayatollah Abd al-Kassim al-Chui. Neither of the two turned out entirely as his teacher might have wished. According to Chui, one of the two men, Iran's revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini, was always more interested in politics than theology. A great tribune of the people, but only moderately successful as a religious scholar.

In the 1980s, Chui referred to the other of his two pupils and his later successor, Sajid Ali al-Sistani, as a great mind, adding that his problem was that he was too much of a homebody. According to Chui, Sistani spent too much time studying religious texts instead of venturing outside and encouraging his fellow believers to resist Saddam's dictatorship. The old Chui disapproved of Sistani's behavior. Perhaps it is precisely this criticism from the man who was his teacher in the days of the Iran-Iraq war, and who died in 1992, that today shapes the actions of Grand Ayatollah Sistani.

A little more than a year ago, the name of this religious scholar from the Shiite city of Najaf, except to his followers, was little more than a concept to a few Western scholars of Islam. However, the longer the American occupation in Iraq lasts, the more significant is the 73-year-old religious leader's influence on world politics.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:52 PM

WHEN YOU KNOW FOR SURE, IT'S TOO LATE:

From Iraq to Libya, US knew little on weapons: Doubts that Hussein had WMD raise questions about war's rationale and intelligence reliability. (Peter Grier, 1/27/04, The Christian Science Monitor)

When it comes to unconventional weapons, Iraq may have been far from the most dangerous country in the world after all. In recent days a string of surprising revelations has scrambled the world's proliferation threat assessments.

Iraq's weapons programs were apparently in shambles, for instance, while Libya's were surprisingly advanced. Pakistan's nuclear scientists might have been rogue agents, proffering secrets for cash. And it appears that North Korea may be the most advanced rogue nuclear nation of all, with an advanced capacity to produce fissile material.

The bottom line: In the shadowy world of intelligence, judging capacities to produce biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons is among the most difficult estimating jobs of all.

"These intelligence estimates are not good enough to support a policy of preemptive war," says Joseph Cirincione, of the nonproliferation project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C.


To the contrary, these intelligence failures suggest that it will have to suffice that a regime is hostile to us in order to justify our pre-emption, because we can never know how close they are to having WMD. Mr. Cirincione can't really be suggesting that we wait and see if these regimes use the weapons and then react can he?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:32 PM

THE SHRINKING DEBT?:

Hill Budget Office Sees 10-Year Deficits (ALAN FRAM, 1/26/04, Associated Press)

Federal deficits will total nearly $2.4 trillion over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office projected Monday, a worsening of nearly $1 trillion since its last forecast in August.

Which would make the total debt smaller as a % of GDP than it is now, no?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:27 PM

FLYPAPER THEORY:

 AL QAEDA SUSPECT CAUGHT (Sky News, 1/26/04)

An al Qaeda operative with close ties to the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks has been captured in Iraq.

US president George W Bush said Hassan Ghul was helping al Qaeda step up attacks by insurgents against soldiers in Iraq.

He was captured last week.

Al Qaeda members are believed to have entered Iraq after the war last year that toppled President Saddam Hussein.

Mr Bush said Ghul "reported directly" to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is suspected of coordinating the September 11 attacks on the United States that killed about 3,000 people and who was captured in Pakistan in March.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:24 PM

ONE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT AFTER ANOTHER:

U.S., Costa Rica Reach Free Trade Deal (MARTIN CRUTSINGER, 1/26/04,
AP)

The Bush administration reached an agreement with Costa Rica on Sunday that will allow that nation to join four of its neighbors in creating a Central American Free Trade Area with the United States, officials of the two countries announced.

Mr. Bush has the best record on Free Trade of any president in American history.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:08 PM

LUUUUUCCCCCCYYYYYYYYYY!:

The Great Explainer: John Kerry has a lot of explaining to do. (Fred Barnes, 01/26/2004, Weekly Standard)

His emergence as the Great Explainer is a problem for Kerry. Politicians prefer to be on offense, not defense. And while the need to explain isn't a major problem for Kerry now while Democratic presidential candidates are being nice to each other, it could get far worse. As the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Kerry is sure to be closely scrutinized by the media, as Dean was when he was the frontrunner. And if Kerry wins the nomination, the Bush campaign will try to put him on the defensive by playing up inconsistencies in his record.

On "Fox News Sunday," Kerry also was forced to explain his conflicting positions on gay marriage and the CIA. He voted against enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which says a state is not obligated to recognize a gay marriage legalized by another state. But Kerry said he's actually opposed to gay marriage.

So why not vote for DOMA, which passed overwhelmingly? Kerry said he thought the Senate was gay bashing and "being used to drive wedge issues." In fact, gay marriage "was no issue" at the time, he said. "That was politics."

On the CIA, Kerry sponsored a bill to cut $1.5 billion from the budget for intelligence gathering. Then after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001, he asked why America's intelligence wasn't better. His explanation: He wanted the CIA to devote more money to human intelligence and less to technical means. He sought, he explained, "to change the culture of our intelligence gathering." He didn't explain, however, how slashing the CIA budget would achieve that. [...]

He criticized President Bush for withdrawing from the Kyoto global warming treaty in 2001. "You don't just walk away from a treaty [negotiated by] 160 countries over 10 years," he said. But in 1997, Kerry voted for a resolution, which passed 95-0, saying the United States "should not be a signatory" to the treaty. So on Kyoto, he'll have some explaining to do.


It speaks volumes about why congressmen don't get elected president that John Edwards is considered to have an advantage over John Kerry precisely because he has so little experience and thus fewer votes to explain away.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:59 PM

CONSTRICT THE FRANCHISE:

Survey: Freshmen more political — and more conservative (Greg Toppo, 1/25/04, USA TODAY)

After 35 years of decline, political interest among young people is on the rise, a wide-ranging survey of U.S. college freshmen finds. [...]

In the newest edition, released today, 34% of freshmen surveyed last fall say it's important to keep up with politics, continuing a three-year uptick that began just months after the Florida recount and weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Still, modern kids' political engagement pales next to that of the freshmen class of 1966, the survey's first subjects, 60% of whom said it was "essential or very important" to keep up with politics.

Since then, the survey shows, students' political views also have shifted to the right. Liberals still outnumber conservatives, but just barely: 24% say they hold liberal political views; 21% call themselves conservatives.

The percentage of liberals has nose-dived from its high of 38% in 1971. The percentage of conservative students, as low as 14% after Richard Nixon's second presidential inauguration in 1973, has hovered near the 20% mark since 1981 and Ronald Reagan's first term. Then, as now, the largest group by far remained students who call their their political views "middle-of-the-road."


The unnaturalness of being a conservative at such an age is reason enough to repeal the vote for 18 year olds.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 AM

YOU CATCH MORE FLIES WITH A MOAB THAN WITH HONEY:

TEHRAN TERRORFEST (AMIR TAHERI, January 26, 2004, NY Post)

THE other day at the World Economic Forum's inaugural session at Davos, Switzerland, Iran's President Muhammad Khatami repeatedly nodded his head in approval as forum founder Klaus Schwab called for the eradication of international terrorism. In his own speech, Khatami called for a "dialogue of civilizations" as an alternative to war and terror.

Meanwhile, militants from some 40 countries spread across the globe were trekking to Tehran for a 10-day "revolutionary jamboree" in which "a new strategy to confront the American Great Satan" will be hammered out.

The event starts Feb. 1, to mark the 25th anniversary of the return to Iran from exile of the late Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini, the founder of the "Islamic Revolution." It is not clear how many militants will attend, but Iran's official media promise a massive turnout to underline the Islamic Republic's position as the "throbbing heart of world resistance to American arrogance."

The guest list reads like a who's who of global terror.

In fact, most of the groups attending the event, labeled "Ten Days of Dawn," are branded by the United States and some European Union members as terrorist outfits. These include 17 branches of the Hezbollah, a worldwide militant Shi'ite movement created by Tehran in 1983.


Kill them.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:27 AM

LET THE BIG DOGS EAT:

Climate model predicts even hotter summers (Belle Dumé, 23 January 2004, PhysicsWeb)

The record-breaking heat wave that affected much of Europe in the summer of 2003 "took place 50 years too early" according to a Swiss climate scientist. Martin Beniston of the University of Fribourg says that last year's heat wave was not like those that occurred in 1947 and 1976, and more like the conditions that might be expected towards the end of this century. He hopes that governments will use the heat wave as an indication of "a shape of things to come" to devise new strategies for coping with future climate change and global warming

One further reason to use nuclear weapons on North Korea is that we could trigger just enough of a nuclear winter to counteract global warming.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:20 AM

BUYING BACK TRADITIONAL VALUES:

The Nanny in Chief: Bush thinks he knows what's good for you, and he'll spend money to prove it (ANDREW SULLIVAN, Feb. 02, 2004, TIME)

There's barely a speech by President Bush that doesn't cite the glories of human freedom. It's God's gift to mankind, he believes. And in some ways this President has clearly expanded it: the people of Afghanistan and Iraq enjoy liberties unimaginable only a few years ago. But there's a strange exception to this Bush doctrine. It ends when you reach America's shores. Within the U.S., the Bush Administration has shown an unusually hostile attitude toward the exercise of personal freedom. When your individual choices conflict with what the Bush people think is good for you, they have been only too happy to intervene. The government, Bush clearly believes, has a right to be involved in many personal decisions you make — punishing some, encouraging others, nudging and prodding the public to live the good life as the President understands it. The nanny state, much loved by Democrats, is thriving under Republicans. [...]

Once upon a time, Republicans believed in leaving it to the private and voluntary sectors to do the important work of building citizenship and values. Remember the "thousand points of light"? These days those lightbulbs need government subsidies. One of the key beliefs of this President is that federal money should be funneled to religious groups that blend proselytizing with important social work. His faith-based initiative largely withered on the vine, but he has done what he can. In last year's State of the Union message, he proposed almost half a billion dollars to pay for mentors for disadvantaged high school students or the children of prisoners. This year he proposed an extensive government program to coach newly released ex-cons into better lives. Ever wonder who these government-backed mentors are? And what exactly they're preaching? Maybe you should, because you're paying for them. [...]

There has always been a tension in conservatism between those who favor more liberty and those who want more morality. But what's indisputable is that Bush's "compassionate conservatism" is a move toward the latter — the use of the government to impose and subsidize certain morals over others. He is fusing Big Government liberalism with religious-right moralism. It's the nanny state with more cash. Your cash, that is. And their morals.


Mr. Sullivan doesn't like this trend because he's only interested in the GOP to the extent that its former libertarian impulse might sanction his sexuality, but it is the logical, and only realistic, direction for the party to take. Seventy years of rule by New Deal Democrats has left us a post-moral culture and an irreversibly popular welfare state, so if conservatives are to restore traditional morals and values to the society the best way to do so is--somewhat paradoxically--to use the levers of government. Thus, rather than do away with welfare altogether, as the libertarian Right would demand, welfare reform imposed responsibilities and work requirements on recipients. Likewise, the privatization of other services--like Social Security, education, health care, unemployment, etc.--won't be private at all. Although it will maximize choice and try to minimize day-to-day government interference, it will in fact be a massive government mandate that Americans take responsibility for their own social safety net. Meanwhile, the use of faith-based organizations to provide remaining social services both provides religious groups with money and restores the role of their teachings in the lives of societies least responsible members. Finally, on "privacy" issues like abortion, homosexuality, etc., where permissive jurists have engaged in a sustained anti-Constitutional assault on traditional morality, conservatism must seek to reverse the damage both by court-packing and, when possible, by amending the Constitution.

Mr. Sullivan is right that this is all a departure from the conservative ideal of society that already has a universal morality and therefore needs less government, but the return to such a society is impossible and was never going to be sustainable in a democracy at any rate. Indeed, no aspect of the conservative critique of democracy was more prophetic than that once the majority recognized that they could transfer other peoples' money to themselves they would and that their growing dependence on government would be destructive of society and the virtues upon which society depends.

It is here that we arrive at the genius of Bushism, for what the President's proposed Opportunity Society actually does is to turn these flaws of democracy against themselves: first, it subverts entitlement programns so that you are in effect transfering money to yourself; second, it exploits the democratic impulse towards greater government as a means of imparting values. So, the money upon which you will retire tomorrow you are required to sock away today and the treatment you wish to receive for an addiction requires you to participate in the community of a religious organization, rather than simply make a claim upon a government bureaucrat.

It is hardly surprising that what Mr. Bush is attempting is provoking so much controversy, especially on the remnants of the far Right and the orthodox Left, because it represents a radical reconciliation of the two. If the Puritanical small government ideology that prevailed well into the early 20th Century might be said to be the American thesis and the secularized big government ideology of the past seven decades its antithesis, then the remoralized big government conservatism of Mr. Bush can be seen as the synthesis of the two. In this regard, the President is the first Republican to have accepted the reality that most people in modern America demand some level of economic security from the State and to try and channel that demand so that it ultimately serves conservative purposes. Should he succeed in accomplishing any considerable portion of this synthesis he will be a transforming figure in American history, of no less import than FDR.

MORE:
Independent accounts (William G. Shipman, January 26, 2004, Washington Times)

In his State of the Union address, President Bush briefly discussed one of the most important issues facing Americans: Social Security reform. Now that campaigning for the 2004 elections is under way, we'll probably hear a lot about why the Social Security system should be revamped to include individual accounts invested in stocks and bonds. Opponents of reform have already played their cards; they argue it's impossible to manage 140 million personal accounts, let alone cost-effectively. They're wrong and here's why.

I recently led a group of professionals, representing many disciplines, to determine whether such a system were feasible. After careful study, we concluded it is. The administrative architecture of our reformed Social Security structure, which I outlined in testimony before the House Budget Committee Task Force on Social Security, was reviewed by the General Accounting Office and was adopted by the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security.

My group started with a list of eight principles we considered necessary for success. The system would have individual accounts with assets owned by the account holder; reasonable costs; a low employer-administrative burden; opportunities for workers of all income levels to participate; a structure so inexperienced investors would not suffer poor returns relative to experienced investors; investment choice and a solution for participants who make no investment choice; and lastly, automatic adjustments to match technological innovations offered by the financial services industry.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:47 AM

POST-POST-ZIONISM:

Politically Incorrect Historian: Benny Morris' transformation highlights chilling truths about the conflict (Jonathan Tobin, Jan. 26, 2004, Jewish World Review)

[E]ver since the Palestinian Authority rejected Israel's peace offer at the July 2000 Camp David summit and answered it with a terrorist war of attriti on, [Benny] Morris has begun to make statements that have lost him his fans on the left.

The culmination of this process came when the Israeli daily Ha'aretz published a lengthy interview with the writer on Jan. 9. In it, Morris told journalist Ari Shavit — himself a highly partisan star of the Israeli left — that while his work uncovering Israeli wrongdoing would continue, he was no longer a supporter of peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Indeed, Morris shocked Shavit by asserting that Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion — whom Morris has roundly criticized as responsible for some of the suffering of Palestinian Arabs — probably made a mistake by not completely expelling all of them from the West Bank during the fighting in 1948 and 1949.

"A society that aims to kill you forces you to destroy it," Morris said. Even more significantly, Morris pointed that all of the bad deeds which he is prepared to blame on Israelis do not amount to much when compared to the atrocities carried out elsewhere, as well as to the attempts of the Arabs to destroy Israel.

"When you take into account that there was a bloody civil war here and that we lost 1 percent of the population, you find that we [Israel] behaved very well," Morris told a dumfounded Shavit.


We've more by and about Mr. Morris here.

Meanwhile, though it's slightly dated, here's a great essay on the post-Zionist movement from which Mr. Morris came and the threat that progressive transnationalism poses to Western nations, The End of Zionism?: The ideology that built the State of Israel has given way to a Post-Zionism that sanctifies Jewish disempowerment. (Yoram Hazony, Summer 1996, Azure)

Zionism is Jewish nationalism--the belief that there should be a Jewish nation-state in the land of Israel. Few people today recognize what an abomination this idea was to Jewish intellectuals when it was formally constituted as a political organization in 1897. Of the great Jewish thinkers of all denominations, virtually none could stomach the idea: Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Haim Soloveitchik, the Hasidic rebbes of both Lubavitch and Satmar, all rejected the Jewish state for much the same reason: They believed the Jewish people was essentially a thing of the spirit, and that the creation of the state--which perforce meant a Judaism of tanks and explosives, of politics and intrigue, of bureaucracy and capital, in short the empowerment of Judaism--would mean the end of Judaism as a philosophy, an ideal, a faith.

What took the teeth out of the anti-Zionism of the Jewish left and right was the Holocaust. In the wake of the most fearsome possible demonstration of the evil of Jewish powerlessness, the anti-Zionism of all camps became an embarrassment. The pugnacious little fighters of Palestine lashing out at the British enemy and Arab marauders became the heroes of the Jewish people. By the time Jewish toughs such as David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin had managed to bomb the British off their backs, their state, Israel, had really become the state of virtually the entire Jewish people. After the gas chambers, almost every Jew everywhere had become a Zionist, a believer in the necessity and obligation of Jewish power.

Yet Jewish and even Israeli intellectuals never became reconciled to the empowerment entailed in the creation of a Jewish nation-state. The very desirability of the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 was caustically challenged in the writings of S. Yizhar, perhaps the most prominent writer of the postwar years. And by the 1960s, Israeli academia, itself founded by anti-nationalists such as Buber and Yehuda Magnes, had begun to spawn an entire generation of literary figures whose point of departure was the rejection of Jewish nationalism. Thus Amos Ozís most famous novel, My Michael, portrays Jerusalem, the very symbol of the Jewish national revival as a city of brooding insanity and illness. Similarly, A.B. Yehoshua's story, "Before the Forest," has the young Jew joining forces with an Arab to burn down the "Zionist" forest planted on the ruins of an Arab village. In Yehoshua's best-known novel, The Lover, the hero deserts his unit in mid-battle, and a high-school girl from a well-to-do family finds comfort in the arms of an Arab.

Other common themes of Israeli literature are much the same: the escape from Israel; the destruction of Israel; death (by decay, rather than struggle); the Israel Defense Forces as concentration camp, pigsty, whorehouse; and the ideal of disempowerment represented by the Holocaust--which, as novelist Moshe Shamir has observed, "is becoming the common homeland of the Jews, their promised land."

While literary figures have long led the effort to create a post-Zionist consciousness in Israel, recent years have seen an even more pronounced effort on the part of academics. The 1967 Six Day War immediately inspired attacks by opponents of nationalism such as Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who claimed that Israel was undergoing nazification, that Israelís soldiers had become "Judeo-Nazis," and that Israel would soon be setting up concentration camps4óa leitmotif soon mimicked and elaborated upon by other prominent intellectuals such as Amos Funkenstein (winner of the Israel prize) and the historian Moshe Zimmermann. In the last two decades, these seemingly far-out expressions of hatred for Zionist power have paved the way for a more "scientific" delegitimization of the Jewish state by historians, sociologists and journalists offering more acceptable versions of the same themes: Zionism was a colonialist movement, said Ilan Papo. It forcibly expelled the Arab refugees from their homes in 1948, said Benny Morris. It fabricated a false connection between the Jews and the land, said Boas Evron. It used the Holocaust to advance its political ends, said Tom Segev. And so on.

There are certainly elements of truth in some of the allegations raised. The reality of power--and especially power wielded in desperation, as Zionist power was--is that it inevitably has its seamier side. But instead of contributing to a new balance in Israeli historiography, the new academics have waged what amounts to a scorched earth campaign against the past, joining authors and artists in a wholesale effort to wreck the basic faith of the Israeli public in its own history. As the novelist Aharon Meged, a veteran member of the Labor movement, described the rise of post-Zionism among Israeli intellectuals: "For two or three decades now, several hundred of our society's 'best,' men of the pen and of the spirit have been working single-mindedly and without respite to preach and prove that our cause is not just: Not only that it has been unjust since the Six Day War and the 'occupation' and not only since the founding of the state in 1948 but since the beginnings of Zionist settlement at the end of the last century."

In light of this assault, every value invoked in building the Jewish state--the ingathering of the exiles, the redemption of a neglected land, the purity of arms used in self-defenseóis repainted as the product of ignorance, hypocrisy and cynicism, as is the Jewish state itself. "Post-Zionism" becomes the only belief acceptable to an "enlightened" individual.

By now post-Zionist truths have become so self-evident as to constitute an Israeli "political correctness"...


The important point to take away from this is that folk on the Left less sensible than Mr. Morris will court even the destruction of their own nations in societies in pursuit of their ideology.


MORE:
and here Benny Morris clarifies a few points for his old friends, now critics:
Right of Reply / I do not support expulsion (Benny Morris, 1/23/04, Ha'aretz)

The war being waged against us since September 2000 is three-dimensional: On one level, which is the one highlighted by Palestinian spokespersons, a struggle is being waged for liberation from Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; on the second level, the Palestinians - according to spokesmen for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah militants - are waging a war to eradicate the Zionist state and to restore their "rights" over all of Palestine; on the third level, the Palestinians' struggle is part of the global struggle being waged by jihadist Islam against the "Western Satan," with Israel being a vulnerable extension of Western culture in our region.

For jihadist Islam, Israel represents the embodiment of all the values it abhors - democracy and freedom, openness, tolerance and pluralism, individualism and secularism, criticality (including the value of expressing self-criticism, which is absent from their culture), women's rights, liberalism and progress, sexual freedom - while the proponents of jihad aspire to return to the days in which the sword of Islam ruled from India to the Atlantic Ocean and minorities quaked under its shadow. These jihadists - and the societies that support them and dispatch them - who rejoice in the streets whenever a building is brought crashing down upon hundreds or thousands of occupants or a bus is reduced to a smoldering hulk, deserve the name "barbarians." It's unfortunate that many in the West and in the extreme Israeli left prefer to ignore the second and third dimensions and to view the Palestinian struggle solely through the prism of the first dimension, resistance to occupation.

A central accusation in the letters to Haaretz Magazine ("The judgment of history," January 16) concerned the issue of "ethnic cleansing." I will repeat my words, which apparently did not register (perhaps because of the misleading title on the cover): I do not support the expulsion of Arabs from the territories or from the State of Israel! Such an expulsion would be immoral, and is also unrealistic. What I said was, that if in the future, these communities were to launch massive violence against the State of Israel in combination with a broad assault on Israel by its neighbors, and endanger its survival, expulsions would certainly be in the cards. As for Israeli Arabs, my comments may be seen to represent a minatory road sign pointing in two possible directions: They could, as a whole, choose the path of loyalty to the Jewish state and integration within it as equal citizens, and thus enjoy quiet, prosperous lives; or they could choose the path of disloyalty to the state and of active and violent support for those who seek its demise. The latter path - with which many Israeli Arabs identified in October 2000 and with which many in its leadership seem to identify today, in one convoluted way or another - will help lead to either the destruction of the Jewish state or to their being uprooted.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 AM

THE VAGUEST WAY:

Red harvest in Iraq (Spengler, 1/26/04, Asia Times)

Hollywood embraced all of Hammett's heroes except for the Op [Red Harvest], whose casual destructiveness offends American sensibilities. Yet Hammett's grubby detective might be American literature's most original invention, and, more to the point, he is just the man America needs right now in Iraq.

We encounter the Op in a 1920s Western town, where the mine boss imported gangsters to break a strike, and the gangsters stayed to run the rackets. A brittle truce prevails among the various gangs, the corrupt police and the mine owner. The Op willfully incites a gang war, deceiving colleagues and superiors. He dislikes authority, not least the one that pays him. Damsels in distress and downtrodden workers matter to him not at all. He is a loner without friends, short, fat and alcoholic. His transient love interest is a demimondaine whose murder he neglects to prevent. He incites the war simply because he can, at great risk to his own life, which in any case he holds cheap. He manipulates rather than confronts. The story ends when everyone else is dead.

Numerous films borrowed Red Harvest's plot outline, including Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, Sergio Leone's For a Fistful of Dollars, Walter Hill's Last Man Standing, and the Coen brothers' Miller's Crossing, without, however, portraying Hammett's protagonist. That anomaly reveals much about American culture. The detectives and cowboys who infest American cinema descend from the silly chivalric literature that Miguel de Cervantes lampooned in Don Quixote.

Americans want their tough guys to have a heart of gold. In the Kurosawa-Leone-Hill adaptations, the Toshiro Mifune-Clint Eastwood-Bruce Willis characters take great risk to aid a lady in distress. Hammett's Op cares neither about lady nor risk. His object is the mutual destruction of the contending parties, which he arranges with humor and enjoyment.


Spengler is one of those as yet unreconciled to the truth that our interests are best served by destruction of only one of the contending parties.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM

WE'LL HAVE A BETTER VIEW OF THE ICEBERG IF WE MOVE THESE DECK CHAIRS:

What the Change in Germany Means (Frank X. Vogelgesang, January 26, 2004, Mises.org)

Now it seems clear that 2003 ended with a negative compound growth rate, while unemployment has risen to over 10%. As for the BA, after calls for its abolition following the 2002 scandal subsided, the various stakeholders rolled up their sleeves and started to "reform" the bureaucracy. So far, the only clearly visible result is a new name (from "institute" to "agency"), a spanking new website and, as surreal as it may seem, a few thousand new public employees, hired to take on the new tasks arising from the "reform." Unemployment is rising? Hey, spend more public money on the labor office!

So, nothing has changed, has it? Well, yes and no. After getting re-elected, the German Chancellor announced his reform "Agenda 2010." In short an assortment of piecemeal changes in tax, labor, social, and regulatory policies. Since after the 2002 election majorities are such that the CDU (Christian Democrats) and FDP (Free Democrats) opposition control the upper
chamber (Bundesrat), much political haggling ensued. Laws proposed by the government did not get ratified and under the German system were being sent to a "reconciliation committee" (Vermittlungsausschuss), where representatives of both Chambers submerge themselves in what has become known as the "dark chamber" and try to hammer out a compromise.

The compromise which after two weeks was announced in early December amid much fanfare, for practical matters does not amount to much: move forward half of a tax reform that has already been written into law by one year; finance the 8 to 9 billion Euros in forgone taxes with 30% of new debt, the sale of several entities still in state hands (like airports), and a timid reduction in subsidies. Also part of the deal is to make it easier for companies of up to 10 people (current threshold stands at five) to lay off people, and a reform of the crafts and trade regulations.

In other words, this package cannot be considered a profound structural change of German society, much less a clear departure away from the all encompassing state and toward more individual liberty and responsibility. The biggies, for instance, in labor market reform, like doing away with industry wide wage standards, were not touched.

However, the December compromise in my opinion is remarkable for two reasons: first, it made clear to a lot of people that the current constraints on freedom brought about by a suffocating state and ubiquitous regulation does not, to use a popular image, lie over the country like a wet
blanket. Rather the system that has been built up over the past decades compares to a cancer whose metastases have spread everywhere.

Second, though, it shows that something has started moving. Take the proposed reform of the crafts and trade regulation. Let us remember that in Germany you must be trained and certified (Meisterzwang) according to a certain system to be allowed to carry out some 90 odd different crafts. Without the title you cannot operate a barber shop or run a painting
business.


Does the meagerness of such "reforms" really suggest a nation coming to grips with its problems, especially when the main ones are demographic and religious?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 AM

STILL TED'S PARTY:

The Kennedy Comeback (WILLIAM SAFIRE, 1/26/04, NY Times)

assumptions, to be tested soon enough, have Democratic soothsayers predicting a Kerry-Edwards ticket at the Boston convention. What delicious diversity: North and South, with Kerry's fatal Massachusettsism ameliorated by Edwards's Carolina charm; the experience of craggy Kerry enlivened by the passionate optimism of the boyish Edwards.

But the political philosophy these two men have embraced is lopsidedly leftist: In this campaign, they have clawed their way up the greasy pole of politics with a pitch that is pure populism. Both men have risen high in Democratic polls with a brand of class resentment and soak-the-rich rhetoric rooted in the old-fashioned liberalism of Ted Kennedy.

I used to think that the battle within the Democratic Party would pit the centrist Clinton Restoration, using Clark as its sacrificial lamb this time around, against the maverick antiwar, antiestablishment legion that Dean had excited. Though Dean also railed against the rich, his signature attraction was his antiwar anger.

As Dean machine-gunned himself in the foot — in gaffes that dismayed Iowans weeks before his primal pep talk — his support did not switch to Clark, the inept amateur handled and financed by the Clintonites. Instead, many disillusioned Deaniacs went to a third faction that has long been lying in the Democratic weeds: the proponents of class warfare propounded for a generation by Ted Kennedy.

Not by John F. Kennedy, the president who cut taxes and would "bear any burden" in the defense of liberty. But by the Old Left led by his brother Teddy, scourge of conservative judges and free-market medicine, whose aging acolytes have tried to keep the not-so-hot liberal flame burning under the rich and powerful.

The resuscitation of this long-dormant faction among Democrats surprised me. But with his campaign in the doldrums as Dean's restorative rage invigorated both the new Netties and the Old Left, John Kerry turned to his Senate senior and Massachusetts mentor for succor.


The class warfare theme, a specialty of Mr. Kerry's campaign guru, Bob Shrum, is useful for winning Democratic primaries and even statewide elections in some places, but, as Mr. Safire notes, routinely loses presidential elections.


January 25, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:04 PM

TONY THE TORY:

Blair falling on sword of education reform?: Under the new system, students would shoulder debt instead of taxpayers. (Margalit Edelman, 1/26/04, CS Monitor)

His support of raising fees for college tuition is, once again, an act of political courage that has earned him the scorn of opposition politicians, his own party, and a wide swath of the British public.

Mr. Blair is seeking parliamentary approval for university funding reforms in a vote tuesday. He seeks higher tuition fees in British public universities, and wants to allow the schools themselves to determine how much to charge, up to a maximum of £3,000 annually. Students would be able to delay payment until they're earning £15,000 annually. The new fees would also finance compulsory bursaries for poor students, and those who never break the salary barrier would have debts written off after 25 years. The "top up" charges would replace the £1,125 annual fee that students now pay up front. Even with students contributing more, general taxation would still pay more than 80 percent of the cost.

To most Americans, Blair's proposal wouldn't seem shocking in an era where parents expect thousands in debt for public and private university education. But transatlantic sensibilities on education, health, and nearly any issue pitting government obligations against taxpayers can be oceans apart.

Many here expect universities to be funded largely by the government through taxation. Three recent polls conducted by British polling firms Populus, YouGov, and ICM all found about a third of respondents supporting tax-based college funding.

Nonetheless, there seems to be growing recognition that students should foot more of the bill. The same polls found that between 40 and 65 percent believe students ought to contribute to their education but agree with Blair's postponed repayment. A majority of respondents on lower rungs of the economic ladder who did not attend university also considered the plan fair.


You have to suppose that those here who continue to think of Tony Blair as a garden variety Leftist just don't understand how radically conservative is what he's trying to do.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:57 PM

AXIS OF GOOD FILES:

India rises as strategic US ally: Monday India celebrates Republic Day - and worries neighbors, especially Pakistan. (Scott Baldauf, 1/26/04, The Christian Science Monitor)

Just five years after US-imposed sanctions turned India and Pakistan into virtual pariah states for their nuclear-weapons tests in 1998, India has emerged as America's "strategic partner" in South Asia. Far more than its alliance with Pakistan to hunt down Al Qaeda and Taliban remnants, America's new relationship with India is a broad security, political, technological, and economic arrangement on par with America's relationship with Europe or NATO. The US is even talking about sharing roles in joint space missions.

In speeches over the last week, President Bush, Colin Powell, and other US officials have lauded India's new position in the world and growing economic importance on the global stage. Separately, US officials have talked of India's common interests in protecting sea lanes from the Persian Gulf to the Straits of Malacca, an area that India already patrols with its blue-water navy.

Call it the outsourcing of global security, with India once again getting the job.

"If you're looking at the security of the oil lanes or the sea lanes of Southeast Asia or the relationship with China, there's a natural convergence of interests from the US and India on all this," says K. Santhanam, director of the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, a government think tank in New Delhi.

It's a situation that has many of India's neighbors, primarily its nuclear rival Pakistan, wringing their hands.


Wringing is good.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:54 PM

THE DOMINOES JUST KEEP FALLING...INTO OUR LAPS:

Sudan shifts from pariah to partner (Abraham McLaughlin, 1/26/04, The Christian Science Monitor)

Standing amid the ruins of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant here, an avuncular man named Idris Babiker Eltayeb has every reason to detest America. After all, the US sent 13 cruise missiles to demolish his factory in 1988, saying there was evidence it was making chemical weapons for Osama bin Laden.

Yet as he steps carefully between piles of twisted concrete, pointing out pieces of American missiles still lying in the dust, he's got a smile on his face - and architectural plans under his arm. He aims to rebuild the factory - and make American drugs in it. He's also negotiating with a US firm to distribute its drugs here.

His long journey from US target to budding partner mirrors Sudan's. In five years, this North African nation has gone from international pariah to tentative US antiterror ally. America is now deluging Sudan with promises of aid and invitations to the White House to sign a peace deal ending its 20-year civil war. Many here think it could be a model for Syria, Iran, and even North Korea to come in from the terror-supporting cold.

"Sudan is a success story," says Bruce Hoffman, a terror expert at the RAND Corporation in Washington.


With the exception of Western Pakistan, is there anywhere in the Middle East that's moved closer to Osamaism than to Americanism since 9-11?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:34 PM

IS THERE ANY PART OF HIMSELF THAT CABANA BOY HASN'T SOLD?:

The Many Faces Of Sen. John Kerry: John Kerry decided three decades ago that the path to political stardom was to be all things to all people - which included tailoring his stance on issues depending on his audience. Now that he wants to be president, can we trust him to tell us where he really stands? (John Pike, Sept 16, 2003, Insight on the News)

Kerry's first national media attention and the first in which the epithet "phony" was directed against him came on April 22, 1971, when he testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as part of a carefully orchestrated buildup to an antiwar protest in Washington. The object was publicity, and a nationwide storm developed around this tall young man still in his 20s. He spoke as a member of an antiwar group called the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), some of whom felt kinship with Communist China's Chairman Mao. Testifying eloquently against the war and U.S. bombings using a speech prepared with the help of a Bobby Kennedy speechwriter, Kerry slipped away from the manuscript to add rhetorical bombs of his own design, saying he had heard U.S. soldiers relate how they had "personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war." Kerry also was quoted during this period as saying, "War crimes in Vietnam are the rule, not the exception." He spoke on television of "crimes committed on a day-to-day basis, with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."

Many veterans were outraged at these charges of American war crimes, which he later acknowledged he personally never saw, and which it developed had been spun out of the mouths of young Maoists. Michael Bernique, who served with Kerry as a swift-boat skipper, reportedly said, "I think there was a point in time when John was making it up fast and quick. I think he was saying whatever he needed to say."

War veteran John O'Neill, who publicly debated Kerry at this time, has been reported as saying Kerry's statements about war crimes were irresponsible, wrong, immoral and a "disservice to all the people that were there. ... The war didn't change [Kerry]. I think he was a guy driven tremendously by ambition. I think he was that way before he went and is that way today." [...]

John Forbes Kerry no longer trumpets the fact that his initials are JFK, and he has expunged his middle initial from his bumper stickers. Political operatives in the Bay State say this is because it is believed his close association with the Kennedys and Massachusetts liberalism might hurt his presidential candidacy, especially in the South. When it is remembered that he was Democratic presidential-nominee Michael Dukakis' lieutenant governor, Kerry campaigners note that the two were elected on separate ballots.

There are other image problems that still have not been handled. The week that included Kerry's appearance before Congress included another incident that produced an embarrassment that took years to be exposed. In a protest on April 23, 1971, Kerry led his shocked countrymen to believe that, weeping, he and his VVAW comrades had tossed their war medals onto the steps of the Capitol where a large sign nearby proclaimed: "Trash." It stirred the emotions for those on both sides of the conflict and again spurred media attention for Kerry. But then in 1984 a reporter noticed that Kerry's medals were displayed on the wall of his office and the Wall Street Journal reported that, when confronted, Kerry claimed he actually tossed away his combat ribbons, not his medals. Kerry says he threw someone else's medals. Whatever the truth, he had let the fabrication continue for years. [...]

Columnist Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe also wonders whether Kerry tries to be all things to all people. Jacoby reports that, when in the early 1990s a constituent wrote Kerry expressing support for an invasion of Iraq, Kerry's office responded by sending two letters one saying he opposed the war and another supporting President George H.W. Bush's response. Kerry blamed it on computer problems and the failure to dispatch a third letter one opposing the war but supporting the troops.

With antiwar candidate Dean moving ahead in New Hampshire and Iowa, Kerry continued to try to present himself as both for the war and against it, say Democratic political consultants in the Bay State. Now, they say, he may be writing off those states in favor of a last-ditch stand in the South as a national-security veteran.

An experienced Kerry watcher reminds that in 1984, when he first was trying to win election to the Senate, his chief rival in the tough Democratic primary was U.S. Rep. James M. Shannon. Kerry had been outscored by Shannon, 100-94, on the endorsement questionnaire of a group opposed to America's then-growing military. In Massachusetts, the antiwar vote was and is significant, and the two liberals were vying for their vote. A member of the group favoring a reduction in funds earmarked to build key weapons systems contacted a Kerry lieutenant and advised that Kerry change his answers on the questionnaire so that both candidates would have an equal score. Kerry changed his answers, both got a perfect score and the maneuver kept Shannon from receiving the important endorsement of the group.

In seeking approval of this disarmament group, Kerry formally expressed approval of canceling a host of the very weapons systems that helped defeat Iraq so quickly, including the B-1 and B-2 stealth bombers, the AH-64 Apache helicopter, the Patriot missile system, the F-15, F-14A and F-14D jets, the AV-8B Harrier jet, the Aegis air-defense cruiser and the Trident missile system. Kerry says of this 1984 campaign posture, "I'm sure that some of it was driven at the time by the nature of the beast I was fighting politically." [...]

Heard of Watergate? Get ready for Lowellgate.

On Sept. 18, 1972, the evening before the primary election during his second attempt for Congress, Kerry's brother Cameron and one Thomas Vallely, both part of his current campaign team, were arrested by Lowell police at 1:40 a.m. and charged with breaking and entering with the intent to commit larceny. The two were apprehended in the basement of a building whose door had been forced open, police said. It housed the headquarters of candidate DiFruscia. The Watergate scandal was making headlines at this time, and it was called the Lowell Watergate.

"They wanted to sever my telephone lines," DiFruscia said recently. Had those lines been cut, Kerry's opponent would not have been able to telephone supporters on Election Day to get out the vote and coordinate poll watchers, vital roles in a close election. "I do not know if they wanted to break into my office," says DiFruscia today. At the time he said, "All my IBM cards and the list of my voter identification in the greater Lowell area are in my headquarters."

Cameron and Vallely, along with David Thorne, who was Kerry's campaign manager at the time and has been close to him since they attended Yale together, did not deny the two entered the building in which they were captured. They said at the time they were in the cellar of the building to check their own telephone lines because they had received an anonymous call warning they would be cut.

This reporter heard an allegation that another congressional candidate placed the alleged anonymous call, which was denied. But if the Kerry campaign was concerned about someone breaking and entering to cut off its telephone service, why didn't they just call the police? Why break the law? And what does any of this say about Kerry's mind-set? Kerry campaign officials did not answer important Lowellgate questions.

The case was transferred to superior court and continued without a finding, where it was dismissed about a year later. But since it happened at the last minute, and Kerry won the primary but went on to lose the general election, this ugly business did not receive intense media scrutiny. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were busy investigating another break-in.


The lesson that FDR, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, and Clinton all teach is that if you spend your whole life plotting to become president you sell off too much of your soul along the way to be trustworthy--by the time you get there your moral capital has long since been spent. Senator Kerry fits their mold to a disquieting degree.


MORE:
Lifetime Liberal Rating (Americans for Democratic Action)

Description of the Lifetime Voting Record:

ADA releases an annual voting record based on 20 issues we consider to be the most important each year. Each Member of Congress receives 5 points for each vote on which he/she voted with us, and does not receive 5 points if he/she voted against us or was absent for the vote. The total possible score is 100%, a perfect Liberal Quotient.

Massachusetts:

Kennedy (D) 88
Kerry (D) 93


-What Becomes a President Most?: As Kerry's fortunes rise, primary voters say they are searching for electability. But their quest is not that simple (NANCY GIBBS, Feb. 02, 2004, TIME)
Kerry may be the one using the Real Deal as his slogan, but there's a sense that he's protesting too much. Herbert Hoover once said of Franklin Roosevelt that "he was a chameleon on plaid," and there has been something of that quality throughout Kerry's campaign. He has written poetry and wind-surfed and ridden a Harley. He has played both hockey and his guitar. It was meant to make him seem more human, change the scale, since he looms over the field like a tall dark cloud. For months nothing seemed to work. He still came across as a classic Massachusetts Yankee, easy to admire but hard to like. The consolation out of Iowa was that maybe it didn't matter if he wasn't all that likable if he's what voters think they need.

-Does Teresa Heinz Trust John Kerry?
If not, why should we?
(Timothy Noah, Dec. 2, 2003, Slate)
If Teresa Heinz won't trust presidential candidate John Kerry with her money, why should American voters trust Kerry with their country?

Teresa Heinz and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., were married in 1995. Kerry's assets at the time were a few million dollars. Heinz's assets at the time were reportedly around half a billion dollars, which she'd inherited from her late husband, Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa., heir to the ketchup fortune. Unlike many other married couples, Heinz and Kerry kept their premarital assets separate. Much of Teresa Heinz's inheritance was no doubt tied up in trusts, but a substantial sum must have been unencumbered, because she had Sen. Kerry sign a prenuptial agreement. "Everybody has a prenup," Heinz explained to Lisa DiPaulo, who profiled her sympathetically in Elle.


-Ahead in N.H., Kerry Defends Record Against G.O.P. Attacks (CHRISTINE HAUSER, 1/25/04, NY Times)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:31 PM

LET SHI'ASTAN BE:

Democracy Anxiety: Iraq's Shiites are nervous they won't get to vote; Americans are nervous about letting them. (Reuel Marc Gerecht, 02/02/2004, Weekly Standard)

Simply put, Shiites everywhere have been cheated. By the Ottomans, British, Sunni Arab Hashemites, pan-Arab nationalists, Baathists, and the first Bush administration, which let them die by the tens of thousands when Saddam put down the rebellion following the first Gulf War. To make matters worse for the Shiites of Iraq, their country is the birthplace of Shiism, where annually the faithful commemorate (except when the Sunnis wouldn't let them) the mother of all shortchanges, the defeat and martyrdom of the Imam Hussein, the son of the Caliph Ali and the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims loyal to an Umayyad caliph in Damascus--the folks who would later be called Sunnis--won the day, and kept on winning for 1,300 years (minus a few, usually short-lived, Shiite triumphs).

The Ashura celebrations of Hussein's martyrdom that occurred not long after the fall of Saddam Hussein produced a palpable political quickening throughout Iraq's Shiite community. As one cleric later remarked to me, in the spring of 2003 when the Shiites beat their chests in mourning for the betrayal of their imam, they were really saying the centuries of cheating had come to an end. For him, a democratic system in Iraq would ensure that no conspiracy of forces would ever again hurt Shiites. The age of taqiyya--the historic Shiite disposition toward dissimulation in self-defense--could finally end, and Shiites could live as normal men, that is, as Sunnis. Though the understanding of democracy among Iraq's Shiites, especially among the clergy, is more sophisticated than that, at heart this is the wellspring of their democratic sentiment and goodwill toward the United States. Sistani's commitment to the Bush administration's effort to midwife democracy in his country rides on this simple conviction. The more complicated America's blueprint for democracy in Iraq--and the caucus system envisaged by Washington isn't easily grasped by American officials, let alone Iraqis--the greater the risk Sistani will abandon the project. Keeping it simple greatly helps to check the historical sense that betrayal is near. [...]

Anyone who has had any contact with the Provisional Authority knows how far removed it is from the real Baghdad, let alone Iraqi society. It is a good bet that Ayatollah Sistani understands the pitfalls of democracy in Iraq as well as Ambassador Bremer. A very good sign that many in the U.S. government (and in the press) are losing their balance and judgment concerning Sistani and the traditional clergy of Najaf is when they allude ominously to Sistani's Persianness, implying he contains within him the serious potential for theocratic authoritarianism and nasty anti-American behavior. Ironically, this nefarious Iranian DNA critique is the one that radical "pure-Arab Iraqi" clerics, like Moqtada al-Sadr, and others within the Dawa movement, have used against traditional clerics in Najaf and Karbala who have been insufficiently militant. Before them, the Hashemites regularly threw this gravamen at Shiite clerics, of Iranian lineage or not, who attempted to counter the Hashemite quest to centralize Iraq in Arab Sunni hands. Ditto the Baath and Saddam Hussein.

The point is, you judge a Shiite cleric first and foremost by his writings, his lectures to his students, the younger clerics he has trained, and his mentors. By all of these criteria, Grand Ayatollah Sistani is a "good" mullah. There are two big intellectual currents in modern Shiite clerical thought. One leads to Khomeini and the other leads to clerics like Sistani. There are certainly overlapping areas between the two schools of thought--the place of women in post-Saddam Iraq will likely be a fascinating subject--but on the role of the people as the final arbiter of politics, there is very little reason to doubt Sistani's commitment to democracy. Clerics like Sistani may use high-volume moral suasion, they may suggest that a certain view is sinful, but they understand that clerics cannot become politicians without compromising their religious mission.

Having Iranian blood and family in the Islamic Republic surely has made Sistani more sensitive to the pitfalls of clerical dictatorship. Sistani is a true marja'-e taqlid--"a source of emulation"--the highest stature that any Shiite cleric can have. The Iranian revolution has done a superb job of deconstructing and diminishing the clerical educational system in Iran. The Islamic Republic now produces only national clerics, whose traditional juridical eminence barely extends beyond the confines of Iran's religious schools. Sistani is the last great transnational Shiite divine. His eminence easily reaches into his motherland. The relationship between Grand Ayatollah Sistani and the other senior clerics of Najaf with Iran's mullahs is a complicated work in progress. American officials would be wise not to sell Sistani short in his inevitable competition with Iran's hard-core clergy. The Iranians have not yet let loose hell against the Americans in Iraq even though logistically they probably could. One reason for this is surely Sistani, of whom Iran's ruling clerics must be careful and respectful. As in the matter of democracy in Iraq, Sistani may again become one of America's most effective allies.


This is a fight we can't win and shouldn't want to--Shi'ism is on our side.

MORE:
-US threshold for Iraq 'success' is modest (Howard LaFranchi, 1/26/04, The Christian Science Monitor)

[M]ost Middle East experts say the idealistic vision of Iraq as a kind of democratic and free-market lighthouse matters less than a picture of progress toward a stable and peaceful democracy.

"We have these two extremes of the political spectrum, the neoconservative idealists and the war critics, with very demanding expectations," says Patrick Clawson, deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "Both basically argue that if we leave without having transformed Iraq, it wasn't worth it."

But Mr. Clawson adds that for the vast majority of Americans, if Iraqis seem better off, even if conditions are far from perfect, "that will be OK." He explains, "People understand that building a democracy takes a long time."

That view is echoed by some Iraqi leaders who see a danger either in Iraqis pressing all-or-nothing positions now, or in others expecting too much too soon. "You have to remember that under Saddam Hussein, Iraq evolved to be a failed state," says Barham Salih, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq. "People have to understand that context in order to assess the progress so far."

Particularly for American voters, it matters little exactly how progress towards self-rule is made. But it does matter whether the sense of security is improving, both for American soldiers - who will number about 100,000 by the time of the planned handover this summer - and for Iraqis themselves.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:55 PM

DEAN WORMER STRIKES BACK:

Iran's Guardian Council vetoes election bill: Move is likely to provoke election boycott (AP, Jan. 25, 2004)

Iran's hard-line Guardian Council has vetoed a bill that sought to reverse the disqualification of thousands of reformist electoral candidates, a leading legislator said tonight.

The move is part of an escalating battle between reform-minded lawmakers and religious conservatives who dominate the most powerful branches of the government. [...]

The legislators had passed the bill earlier today in a session broadcast live on state radio. They categorized it as "triple-urgent," meaning highest priority. It was the first time since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution that parliament had approved a triple-urgency bill.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:17 PM

NOT BUSH, NOT CLINTON, BUT GREENSPAN:

Panel: Bush may have inherited recession (Associated Press, January 22, 2004)

It turns out that President Bush may have inherited a recession after all.

The president often makes that claim when talking about the economy, prompting Democrats to charge he is fudging history since the recession began in March 2001, two months after he took office, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

But NBER officials said Thursday they are debating whether they made a mistake and the downturn actually began as early as November 2000, when Bill Clinton was still in the White House.

The seven-member cycle dating committee, composed of academic economists who specialize in studying business cycles, may well end up leaving the starting date of the recession alone, officials said.


When they finally sift through the numbers--which will be decades from now--it won't have been a recession, just a period of flat or slow growth, however, it did begin in 2000, as a result of Alan Greenspan's badly miscalculated Fed rate hikes.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:09 PM

THE NIHILISTS (CONTINUED):

Lee Harris--whose book you can win by guessing correctly in the contest above--also speaks to the point below in his essay, Al Qaeda’s Fantasy Ideology (Lee Harris, August 2002, Policy Review)

In what follows, I would like to pursue a line suggested by a remark by the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen in reference to 9-11: his much-quoted comment that it was “the greatest work of art of all time.”

Despite the repellent nihilism that is at the base of Stockhausen’s ghoulish aesthetic judgment, it contains an important insight and comes closer to a genuine assessment of 9-11 than the competing interpretation of it in terms of Clausewitzian war. For Stockhausen did grasp one big truth: 9-11 was the enactment of a fantasy — not an artistic fantasy, to be sure, but a fantasy nonetheless.

My first encounter with this particular kind of fantasy occurred when I was in college in the late sixties. A friend of mine and I got into a heated argument. Although we were both opposed to the Vietnam War, we discovered that we differed considerably on what counted as permissible forms of anti-war protest. To me the point of such protest was simple — to turn people against the war. Hence anything that was counterproductive to this purpose was politically irresponsible and should be severely censured. My friend thought otherwise; in fact, he was planning to join what by all accounts was to be a massively disruptive demonstration in Washington, and which in fact became one.

My friend did not disagree with me as to the likely counterproductive effects of such a demonstration. Instead, he argued that this simply did not matter. His answer was that even if it was counterproductive, even if it turned people against war protesters, indeed even if it made them more likely to support the continuation of the war, he would still participate in the demonstration and he would do so for one simple reason — because it was, in his words, good for his soul.

What I saw as a political act was not, for my friend, any such thing. It was not aimed at altering the minds of other people or persuading them to act differently. Its whole point was what it did for him.

And what it did for him was to provide him with a fantasy — a fantasy, namely, of taking part in the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed against their oppressors. By participating in a violent anti-war demonstration, he was in no sense aiming at coercing conformity with his view — for that would still have been a political objective. Instead, he took his part in order to confirm his ideological fantasy of marching on the right side of history, of feeling himself among the elect few who stood with the angels of historical inevitability. Thus, when he lay down in front of hapless commuters on the bridges over the Potomac, he had no interest in changing the minds of these commuters, no concern over whether they became angry at the protesters or not. They were there merely as props, as so many supernumeraries in his private psychodrama. The protest for him was not politics, but theater; and the significance of his role lay not in the political ends his actions might achieve, but rather in their symbolic value as ritual. In short, he was acting out a fantasy.

It was not your garden-variety fantasy of life as a sexual athlete or a racecar driver, but in it, he nonetheless made himself out as a hero — a hero of the revolutionary struggle. The components of his fantasy — and that of many young intellectuals at that time — were compounded purely of ideological ingredients, smatterings of Marx and Mao, a little Fanon and perhaps a dash of Herbert Marcuse.

For want of a better term, call the phenomenon in question a fantasy ideology — by which I mean, political and ideological symbols and tropes used not for political purposes, but entirely for the benefit of furthering a specific personal or collective fantasy. It is, to be frank, something like “Dungeons and Dragons” carried out not with the trappings of medieval romances — old castles and maidens in distress — but entirely in terms of ideological symbols and emblems. The difference between them is that one is an innocent pastime while the other has proven to be one of the most terrible scourges to afflict the human race.


The visions of eliminating the social safety net that dance through the heads of the disgruntled "conservatives" and the dreams of dismantling our rather minimal legal apparatus for fighting terror which addle the minds of libertarians are likewise the product of fantasy ideologies which take no account of the desires of the vast bulk of their fellow citizens.


Posted by David Cohen at 12:35 PM

THE LAROUCHE/JUDD AXIS

Queen to give knighthood to Bill Gates - but you can blame it on Gordon Brown (Robert Peston, Telegraph, 1/25/04)

Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and the world's wealthiest man, is to receive an honorary knighthood for "services to global enterprise". . . .

The controversial software company creator - whose commercial success has led to hatred of him among his competitors - is worth an estimated $40 billion (£22 billion). Microsoft is described as the "Evil Empire" by those who resent its grip on the computer industry.

No self-respecting American should accept even this honorary honor.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:51 AM

THE NIHILISTS:

A Concerned Bloc of Republicans Wonders Whether Bush Is Conservative Enough (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 1/25/04, NY Times)

To many people, President Bush — tax-cutter, born-again Christian, invader of Iraq — is the face of American conservatism. But here at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, many of the assembled are questioning whether he is conservative enough.

Conservatives complain about the administration's spending on Medicare and education and its proposed spending on space exploration, its expansion of law enforcement powers to fight terrorism and its proposed guest-worker program for immigrants.

To underscore the discontent, the American Conservative Union, which organizes the conference, held a dinner in honor of Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted against the president's Medicare bill. The conference called them fiscal heroes. The topic of one panel discussion was "G.O.P. Success: Is It Destroying the Conservative Movement?" and another debated whether the administration's antiterrorism efforts were endangering people's rights to privacy and freedom. [...]

"There are troubling signs that the ship of conservative governance is off-course," Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, said in the opening address.

Too many "big-government Republicans" have come to see government as a solution instead of the problem itself, Mr. Pence said.

"One more compromise of who we are as limited-government conservatives and our majority could be gone as well," he said, adding, "It is time for conservatives to right the ship." [...]

Many conservatives attribute the 1992 electoral defeat of the first President Bush to disillusionment at the conservative grass roots over his failure to understand the movement and his willingness to raise taxes.

"Bush Sr. jumped over the line and we had to whack him," said Grover G. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a strategist of the conservative movement.


As Eric Hoffer described this mindset:
Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect.  The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.

Mr. Norquist captures the fanaticism of such folks perfectly--he's proud to have helped give the country 8 years of Bill Clinton, and nearly 8 of Al Gore, because it proved he's ideologically pure. Thus is the self ultimately elevated above country and even over ostensible cause.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:11 AM

PUTTING THE COMPASSION IN CONSERVATISM:

New loan program with no down payments (Kenneth Harney, January 25, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle)

What do you say to zero down on your first home purchase? And how about rolling your closing fees into the mortgage itself, giving you a home loan that costs you nothing out of pocket up front?

That intriguing offer could become a standard, government-backed option for an estimated 150,000 or more first-time home buyers if Congress approves a new zero-down program to be proposed in President Bush's federal budget. No- down-payment mortgages could go as high as $290,000 in high-cost markets on the East and West coasts.

If sanctioned by Congress, the program will be run by the Federal Housing Administration, the nation's largest single source of mortgage money for first- time buyers.

FHA loans typically carry minimum down payments of 3 percent. The new program would essentially allow home buyers to come to the table with no cash whatsoever.

That is expected to open the door to a first home for thousands of families and singles who have sufficient incomes to pay monthly rents as high as mortgage payments, but who find it difficult to accumulate enough savings to handle a down payment and closing fees. If approved by Congress, the program would become a permanent addition to the FHA menu of mortgage options.


You not only help low income families, but in making them homeowners make them more conservative too, because more deeply invested in society.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:48 AM

SYMPHONIC SUPERPOWER:

The One-Note Superpower: A funny thing has happened. While the war on terrorism has dominated headlines, the great engine of globalization has kept moving (Fareed Zakaria, 2/02/04, Newsweek)

Covered in blankets of snow, Davos was looking stunning last weekend. The sight even moved the normally unflappable vice president of the United States. Dick Cheney began his speech to the World Economic Forum noting reflectively that settings like these force one to step back from day-to-day pressures and take "the long view." Unfortunately, his own address, well-crafted and thoughtful on its own terms, did not really take up that challenge.

Cheney spoke intelligently about the dangers of terrorism. He noted that today's technology makes possible the killing not just of 3,000 people, but 300,000. His solutions were persuasive: help end the ideologies of violence by promoting reform in the greater Middle East; increase cooperation among countries to battle terrorism, and if and when diplomacy fails, take decisive (meaning military) action.

But the speech fell flat. It's not that people at the conference disagreed with it. But it seemed quite disconnected from what they—politicians, businessmen, religious figures, social activists and writers from around the world—had been talking about and grappling with over the previous few days. You see, a funny thing has happened around the world over the past two years. While the war on terrorism has dominated headlines, the great engine of globalization has kept moving, rewarding some, punishing others, but always keeping up the pressure by increasing human contact, communication and competition. For almost every country today, its primary struggle centers on globalization issues—growth, poverty eradication, disease prevention, education, urbanization, the preservation of identity.

On all these, America is now largely silent.


Is this not just a question of where our responsibility appropriately lies? We're not much use to them in the realm of poverty eradication and the like--except by force of example and the thoroughgoing penetration of our ideas into their cultures, which will eventually destroy their identities--but we're the only ones who can co-ordinate a global crackdown on terror. Isn't the point here that we can force globalization quite passively while fighting the war rather actively?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 AM

BOOKNOTES:

Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 by Nathaniel Philbrick (C-SPAN, January 25, 2004, 8 & 11pm)

In 1838, the U.S. government launched the largest discovery voyage the Western world had ever seen-6 sailing vessels and 346 men bound for the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Four years later, the U.S. Exploring Expedition, or Ex. Ex. as it was known, returned with an astounding array of accomplishments and discoveries: 87,000 miles logged, 280 Pacific islands surveyed, 4,000 zoological specimens collected, including 2,000 new species, and the discovery of the continent of Antarctica. And yet at a human level, the project was a disaster-not only had 28 men died and 2 ships been lost, but a series of sensational courts-martial had also ensued that pitted the expedition's controversial leader, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, against almost every officer under his command.

Though comparable in importance and breadth of success to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Ex. Ex. has been largely forgotten. Now, the celebrated Nathaniel Philbrick re-creates this chapter of American maritime history in all its triumph and scandal.

Like the award-winning In the Heart of the Sea, Sea of Glory combines meticulous history with spellbinding human drama as it circles the globe from the palm-fringed beaches of the South Pacific to the treacherous waters off Antarctica and to the stunning beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and, finally, to a court-martial aboard a ship of the line anchored off New York City.

MORE:
-AUTHOR PAGE: Nathaniel Philbrick (Book Browse)
-INTERVIEW: Q & A: Nathaniel Philbrick '78 ( Deborah Toth, Jan/Feb 2001, Brown Alumni Magazine)
-REVIEW: of Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 by Nathaniel Philbrick (ALCESTIS COOKY OBERG, Houston Chronicle)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM

THE EMERGING DEMOCRATIC MINORITY:

: As Democrats abandon traditional values and religion, their core voters are slipping away (Tony Quinn, January 25, 2004, LA Times)

Could 2004 be 1928 all over again?

Not since the 1928 elections have the Republicans retained control of both Congress and the White House. Now that 76-year-old record may be about to fall: President Bush is looking stronger with the economy picking up, and Republicans seem likely not only to hold on to control of both houses of Congress but also to increase their numbers.

A GOP gerrymander of Democratic districts in Texas will probably add six to eight Republicans to the House. Every other big state is so heavily gerrymandered that no other major changes are likely. This means the GOP majority in the House is expected to grow by at least half a dozen seats.

The Rothenberg Political Report says that six Democratic Senate seats are in danger of falling to Republicans — five in the South — while only three GOP-held seats are similarly vulnerable. The Democratic minority will almost certainly have fewer seats in the next Congress than it has today.

How did we ever get to this: The nation's historic-majority Democratic Party reduced to a declining minority, and the second-banana Republicans suddenly running everything?

A good place to start is 1928, because U.S. politics seems to run in roughly 60-year cycles.


The most remarkable aspect of this realignment is that the Democrats seem intent on nominating a candidate who represents precisely the prior epoch. Are they just in denial?


MORE:
Labor's Iowa Implosion (Harold Meyerson, January 21, 2004, Washington Post)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM

BLISSED UNION (via Tom Morin):

America's war of ideas is exactly what we need (Elizabeth Nickson, January 23, 2004, National Post)

It is simply not fair that the Americans can have a Civil War and we can't. Like every other political junkie in the known world, I have been living with my satellite feed since the Iowa caucuses on Monday, and the next few months, well, I have a plan, which is to absorb as much
American politics as I can. Canadian politics? Bore me later. I mean Belinda Stronach is, upon consideration, a fine and interesting thing. At least she doesn't look like she'd been buried and dug up again, like everyone else. But shouldn't she have started with senator? Oh right, she can't, because the Senate is filled with Jean Chretien's stooges and besides, no one out of there has said anything, in any even tiny way, useful or interesting ever. They just cost money.

Not fair, not fair, not fair. The Americans can have a war of ideas and we can't discuss anything. Because anything not out of the Bigger Government playbook is called right-wing extremism, and worse Christian, and thus demonized. Meanwhile, the sleepiest country in the world, which
lives next door to the most vibrant country in the world, continues to tumble into the wormhole of complete irrelevance. Unluckily for us, the extraordinary American growth and innovation can float even our dozy economy, and we never have to grow up and behave like adults.

And on Tuesday, the State of the Union. You'd have to go back to the Greeks to find theatre like that. There was the scarlet-faced Ted Kennedy stuffed into his $2,500 suit, and the harridan Hillary, her selfish little ferret face looking punched and puffy, like the schoolyard bully she is. As every policy initiative slipped from their grasp, the Democratic side of the aisle, visibly shrank. It was bliss, bliss, bliss. [...]

Does anyone else wish they were living in a real country?


On the flipside--they do have curling.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:56 AM

FOURTH WAY?:

Judgment Day: The end for Blair?: He took on his party and tamed it, he took on the Tories and trounced them twice, but then he ‘liberated’ Iraq and now the Prime Minister, so wrapped up in his image as a winner, could lose it all over tuition fees and the Hutton report. (James Cusick, 25 January 2004, Sunday Herald)

In July 1994, just after winning the leadership of the Labour Party following the death of John Smith, Blair uttered seven words in his acceptance speech that MPs should have written down, underlined, memorised or even had tattooed as a warning for what was to come. “I will tell you how it works …” he said. He was speaking about his definition of socialism, but in the nine years since – perhaps culminating in the vote on Tuesday and the verdict of Lord Hutton the following day – telling his party “how it works” has become Blair’s confrontational trademark.

Tony Blair is the nemesis of old Labour and the creational saviour of New Labour. The result? According to one disgruntled backbencher, who will be happily voting against the government on Tuesday, “Blair has simply ripped up the very idea, not just of Labour, but of what a party can be. He’s rewritten the notion that a party is an organised group of people who share the same policies, the same general ideology, share a common purpose. Blair’s idea of party – from the start – was a party to back his ideas. And that, maybe, is about to end”.

Blair – also from the start – called his leadership of the Labour Party “a mission of national renewal, hope, change and opportunity”. For the ill-prepared in Labour ranks, his leadership has been a roller coaster of change that has seen the party reinvent itself, redefine itself, and now midway through a second term, re-examine its commitment to Blair’s vision. What some rebels remain unsure of is that if they derail this latest element of Blair’s vision does that mean Blair will simply refuse to take on further challenges and walk away?


For the Blair Party to revert to Labour would be disastrous for Britain, but offers the Tories a golden opportunity to assume the mantle of Blairism.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:26 AM

DID BLUTO BECOME AN IRANIAN SENATOR?:

Iranian parliament approves urgent bill seeking to restrict hard-liner council (ALI AKBAR DAREINI, January 25, 2004, Associated Press)

Pro-reform legislators fired a new volley in their latest political crisis with Iran's hard-liners Sunday, passing a law aimed at restricting the power of a council that conservatives used to bar liberal candidates from running in elections.

The law poses a challenge to the Guardian Council, the unelected body controlled by hard-liners that has broad powers to overrule decisions of the elected government. The council could nullify the new law, but that would likely stoke the crisis.

The reformist-dominated parliament approved the bill, categorized as "triple-urgent" -- the highest designation of importance for legislation, used when the parliament feels that the country is in great political or military danger.

It was the first time since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution that the parliament has approved a triple-urgency bill.


Wasn't Delta House put on triple urgent probation?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:09 AM

TRUMAN CAPOTE MAYBE:

Once Were Warriors: On foreign policy, are the Democrats again the party of Truman? (WALTER RUSSELL MEAD, January 25, 2004, Wall Streeet Journal)

Are the Democrats coming back to their roots? It is still very early in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, but with more than 80% of Iowa caucus-goers endorsing candidates who voted at least to authorize the U.S. strike against Iraq, it is beginning to look as if the Democrats are ready to put the antiwar temptation behind them in order to challenge George W. Bush for the White House.

That would be good news for the Democrats. No antiwar candidate can win a national contest in 2004. It would also be good news for the country and for the world. The illusion that a Democratic administration would abandon the vigorous prosecution of the war on terror is one of the few hopes to which America's enemies can still cling.


That's nicely put, but Harry Truman, if memory serves, didn't ask for French permission to nuke Hiroshima and recognized the state of Israel so unilaterally that General Marshall almost resigned.


MORE:
Wannabes vs. a true leader (Ruben Navarrette Jr., 1/25/04, Dallas Morning News)

As they mull over their presidential choices, Americans were provided last week with a dramatic contrast in leadership styles - between those who practice leadership and those who concentrate on style.

President Bush gave up no ground in his State of the Union address. He was downright defiant as he spelled out what his administration had accomplished to fight terrorism, lower taxes and make schools accountable. He was iron-willed when he laid down what he wanted Congress to do. From gay marriage to immigration to the Patriot Act, no subject seemed too hot to handle.

Throughout the speech, Bush seemed to be drawing a rhetorical line in the sand and saying unequivocally and without apology: "This is where I'll make my stand, whether you stand with me or not."

How terribly refreshing. And, frankly, how unlike anything you've heard from the Democratic presidential candidates. Part of the problem may be that the Democratic contest is full of people who aren't sure what they stand for.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 AM

KING OF THE BLIND (ER, SORRY, MAKE THAT "DIFFERENTLY-SIGHTED"):

Kerry wins debate by being mediocre (Bernadette Malone, 1/25/04, Manchester Union Leader)

BY VIRTUE of some humorously bad competition, John Kerry is once again the Democratic Presidential frontrunner. At Thursday nightís debate at Saint Anselm College, the droopy Boston Brahmin we once thought was washed up looked the most Presidential of any of the contenders -- thanks to the recent blunders of Howard "Meltdown" Dean and Wesley "Who Am I?" Clark.

What a difference a campaign season makes. Coming off his big win in Iowa, John Kerry is the new place for Democrats to rest their hopes for defeating George W. Bush in November. How sad for them.


Mr. Kerry is like the girl a drunk snags in a bar at closing time only to wake up the next morning and discover she's "coyote ugly". But by then the deed is done.


MORE:
Mad Dr. Dean jolts Kerry campaign to life (MARK STEYN, January 25, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

Not even Al Gore, in his bewildering array of alternative identities, managed to be both crazy and comatose in the same week. The governor seems to have come up with his own variation on the fiscally conservative/socially liberal shtick: Vote for Dean -- fiscally balanced, emotionally unbalanced.

None of the Vermonster's many enemies in the Democratic Party could have devised as exquisite a torture for Howard Dean as this last week. But, whether they've solved their party's problem is another matter. What seems to be happening on the ground in New Hampshire is this: Now that John Kerry is the sane alternative to Howard Dean, much of Wesley Clark's support has leached away to Kerry. But at the same time Dean has been so subdued and demoralized that some of his wackier support has leached away to Clark. If Kerry is the sane alternative to Dean, Clark is the crazy alternative to Kerry.

Don't take my word for it -- ask Michael Moore, the corpulent conspirazoid. He has endorsed Clark, not Dean. Message: Vote for the real crazy, not the karaoke crazy. In Thursday's debate, Peter Jennings twice gave Gen. Clark the opportunity to repudiate retrospectively Moore's characterization of the president as a ''deserter,'' as Clark had failed to do when Moore made the charge standing alongside him. Instead, Clark claimed to have no views on the matter, not to have looked into it, and said that Moore is ''not the only person who's said that.'' Clark doesn't scream: He has that weirdly intense stare. But, for as long as he's in the race, he'll do more damage to Democratic credibility than any amount of howling from Howard. He's very touchy about status: As he pointed out on CNN, he's a four-star general while Kerry was a mere lieutenant. In the ranks of the deranged, he's Field Marshal Flakey while Dean would be lucky to make corporal.

That brings us to the ''Comeback Kerry,'' as he styled himself last Monday, though even his missus, Theresa Heinz, could only force a grin at that line. In Iowa, the Ketchup Kid left Dean lying in a big pool of red sticky stuff, and establishment Dems breathed a sigh of relief. But it's hard to see why. Consciously or otherwise, Democrats seemed to be trying to neutralize the war as an issue -- the overwhelming majority is still opposed to it but in Iowa they just wanted it to go away, so they could get back to talking about their issues: health, education, mandatory bicycling helmets, etc.

That sounds fine in theory. But let's suppose it works, and the Dems nominate Kerry, whose argument is that, because he's a veteran, his plan to give Jacques Chirac a veto over American foreign policy sounds butcher than it would coming from Dennis Kucinich. Fine. But take away the war from Kerry and what's left? An old-school Massachusetts liberal. Not a mere lieutenant, but a mere lieutenant-governor. To Michael Dukakis. Kerry's record on domestic issues is well to the left of Dean's, and a much fatter target for Republicans. He's soft on drug pushers and murderers, big on tax hikes and partial-birth abortion. If I were Bush and I had to choose between running against Howard Dean's Vermont or John Kerry's Massachusetts, I know which guy I'd be rooting for.


-Abortion Vulnerabilities: The country is changing. The Dems are not. (Joel C. Rosenberg, 1/23/04, National Review)
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll conducted last January found that 70 percent of Americans support a ban on partial-birth abortion. Younger Americans feel even more strongly that killing a baby in the process of being born is downright barbaric. A whopping 77 percent of Americans age 18 to 29 favor the ban on partial-birth abortion signed by President Bush last year. Perhaps even more interesting, 57 percent of obstetricians and gynecologists favor the ban.

Yet not a single leading Democrat running for president does.

Sen. John Kerry is rapidly emerging as the front-runner in New Hampshire. Should he win the Granite State primary next week, it's now conceivable that he could become an unstoppable force and run away with the Democratic nomination. But how would he fare in a general election against President Bush, particularly in the South?

Kerry is already perceived as a northeastern Massachusetts liberal who will have trouble selling his Ted Kennedy-endorsed "values" in the Bible Belt. The fact that Kerry has voted against the ban on partial-birth abortion five separate times certainly won't help.


On abortion, the Democrats have become the party of radical extremism.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 AM

SHE'S LUCKY THERE WERE NO MOES ON BOARD:

A little less freedom of speech (Jeff Jacoby, 1/25/2004, Boston Globe)

IT DOESN'T take much to get slammed as a racist these days. Just ask Jennifer Cundiff.

Back in February 2001, the Southwest Airlines flight attendant was trying to coax passengers boarding a flight from Las Vegas to Kansas City to find their seats quickly so the plane could take off. "Eenie meenie minie moe," she said over the intercom, "pick a seat, we gotta go."

Cute and harmless, right? Not to two black passengers, it wasn't. Louise Sawyer and Grace Fuller, who are sisters, interpreted Cundiff's couplet as a racist insult and said they were sure it was meant to humiliate them. It was so upsetting, Fuller claimed, that it triggered a seizure and left her bedridden for days. Eventually the women sued, charging Southwest with violating their civil rights and inflicting physical and emotional distress.

If you're scratching your head in bewilderment, you aren't alone. Unless you're old enough to remember flappers and speakeasies, you probably don't know that the words that originally followed "eenie, meenie, minie moe" were "catch a nigger by the toe." Cundiff, who was 22, certainly didn't know. Like most of us, she grew up saying "catch a tiger by the toe" -- she says she had never heard the older, uglier version.

Ah, but innocence offers scant protection against contemporary racial victimology. Neither does common sense nor the right to free speech. Any of those should have been reason enough for US District Judge Kathryn Vratil to summarily bounce the lawsuit as frivolous. Instead, she ruled that Cundiff's little rhyme "could be reasonably viewed as objectively racist and offensive" and said a jury would have to decide "whether Cundiff's remark was racist, or simply a benign and innocent attempt at humor."


Remember when the law was an honorable profession?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:42 AM

GOTCHA:

The General: Did Clark Fail to Salute?: Wes Clark won a war, but ran afoul of his Pentagon masters and lost his job. Here's how. (Evan Thomas and T. Trent Gegax, 2/02/04, Newsweek)

The doubts raised by Clark's own bosses have cast an uneasy pall over his presidential candidacy. What really happened? According to a knowledgeable source, Clark ran afoul of Cohen and Shelton by being less than totally forthcoming in morning conference calls during the Kosovo war in the spring of 1999. From his NATO headquarters in Brussels, Clark wanted to wage the war more aggressively, but back in the Pentagon, Cohen and Shelton were more cautious. They would give Clark instructions on, for instance, the scale of the bombing campaign. "Clark would say, 'Uh-huh, gotcha'," says NEWSWEEK's source. But then he would pick up the phone and call [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair and [Secretary of State] Madeleine [Albright]." As Clark knew full well, Blair and Albright were more hawkish than Shelton and Cohen. After talking to the State Department and NATO allies, Clark would have a different set of marching orders, says the source, who has spoken about the matter with both Cohen and Clark. "Then, about 1 o'clock, the Defense Department would hear what Clark was up to, and Cohen and Shelton would be furious."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 AM

WHO WILL STOP THIS SENSELESS SLAUGHTER:

War of Ideas, Part 6 (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, 1/25/04, NY Times)

Part 6? Didn't he only threaten 5?


Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:37 AM

GOOD NEWS FOR PARENTS OF TROUBLESOME TODDLERS

Infanticide is justifiable in some cases, says ethics professor (Elizabeth Day/The Telegraph/25/01/04)

One of British medicine's most senior advisers on medical ethics has provoked outrage by claiming that infanticide is "justifiable".

Professor John Harris, a member of the British Medical Association's ethics committee, said that it was not "plausible to think that there is any moral change that occurs during the journey down the birth canal" - suggesting that there was no moral difference between aborting a foetus and killing a baby.

The professor's comments were made during an unreported debate last week on sex selection, which was held as part of the Commons Science and Technology Committee's consultation on human reproductive technologies.

Prof Harris, who is also a professor of bioethics at the University of Manchester, was asked what moral status he accorded an embryo and he endorsed infanticide in cases of a child carrying a genetic disorder that remained undetected during pregnancy.

He replied: "I don't think infanticide is always unjustifiable. I don't think it is plausible to think that there is any moral change that occurs during the journey down the birth canal."

He declined to say up to what age he believed infanticide should be permissable. [...]

Prof Harris said that he stood by his remarks, which he claimed had been elicited "in response to goading" from pro-life campaigners.

Distasteful, perhaps, but perfectly logical, rational and scientific. Results count and if it works, go for it. After all, we modern sophisticates know how morality evolves.



January 24, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:10 PM

THE AURA OF VICTORY:

Newsweek Poll: And They're Off (Brian Braiker, Jan. 24, 2004, Newsweek)

Riding high on his victory in the Iowa caucus—and benefiting from former Vermont governor Howard Dean’s embarrassing “I have a scream” speech—Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry has surged to the head of the pack of democratic presidential hopefuls, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll, commanding 30 percent of support from registered Democrats, up from 11 percent two weeks ago. And for the first time in the poll's history a Democrat is enjoying a marginal advantage over President George W. Bush. In a hypothetical face-off, Kerry commanded a three-point lead over the president. Dean’s support among registered and likely Democrats, meanwhile, has been cut in half, to 12 percent. That puts him in three-way tie for second place in the Jan. 27 New Hampshire primary with retired Gen. Wesley Clark (12 percent) and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (13 percent).

That puts Senator Kerry's election number vs. President Bush higher than his name recognition was on Monday morning. This is the danger for Democrats in believing that winning Democratic primaries equals electability. The Senator is a blank slate right now, upon which people can impose any qualities and policies they like. Then they find out what he's done and wants to do and he tanks. Similar polls in January/February had Ronald Reagan in the mid-40s and in a dead heat with Walter Mondale--then the election started...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:50 PM

ELIZABETH SUPERFLY THE SECOND:

LaRouche sets frightening example in campaign (Boris Volodarsky, January 15, 2004, Yale Daily News)

As Jeff Pearlman writing for Newsday put it Lyndon LaRouche is to presidential elections "what fungus is to the damp side of a rock." LaRouche ran in every single presidential election since 1976. He even ran from jail in 1992 where he was held on fraud charges. Those charges were, incidentally, the reason for Dean's comment during the Black Caucus Debate. After initially running as a third party candidate he became a Democrat and contested Democratic primaries since 1980. Although always unsuccessful, LaRouche was never entirely irrelevant and maintained his pockets of support. In 2000 for example he garnered 22 percent in the Democratic primary in Arkansas. Still, despite this sizable support, the Democratic Party and the establishment in general treats his candidacy as that of a ghost. He is never invited to debates, the media generally ignores him, the polling agencies refuse to include his name, and the Democratic Party fights to the tooth to keep him off the ballot.

Once you learn about LaRouche's views it becomes obvious why the Democratic Party has isolated LaRouche. Political Research Associates compiled a collection of LaRouche's past quotes and here is the picture that emerges: According to this self-described leading economist of the twentieth century, British monarchy secretly runs the world. Even the Nazi Germany was designed and shaped from London. London not only runs drug cartels but also imposes various methods of psychological control like Jazz and the Beatles. It also successfully uses such agents as Jews and the Episcopal Church to run its operations. Once he comes to power LaRouche promises to eliminate the principal London's agency in the United States: "the Nazi Jewish lobby." Jews in general and Zionism in particular have a special place in LaRouche's ideology. He refers to the latter as "the state of collective psychosis." [...]

According to the Center for Responsible Politics in his current bid for the White House alone LaRouche raised over $5.5 million in small donations. According to the Federal Election Commission as late as last April his fundraising figures surpassed those of Lieberman, Dean and Graham. According to the last report from three months ago he still has more money than Kucinich, Mosley-Braun and Sharpton combined, all three of them politicians with nationwide standing.


He's run a very effective campaign here, far better than most of his rivals. But these people are truly nuts. In the NJ Democratic gubernatorial primaries in 1985 there was a LaRouche candidate. The candidate I was working for and the president of the State Senate kept laughing at his answers and it looked ungovernorlike, so they were under strict orders from their respective campaigns to knock it off. They took to just passing notes to each other and smirking.

Finally, in the last debate before the primary, closing statements, last chance to reach the voters, the guy takes out a poem by Schiller and reads it aloud for two minutes. The moderator, dumbfounded, had to interrupt and apologetically tell him he'd run out of time. He folded up the poem and said: "That's okay....I think everyone got the message."

Well, they did if the message was that LaRouchies are lunatics.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:39 PM

DO THE RIGHT THING, MOOKIE:

Howard urged to back education bill (Donald MacLeod, January 23, 2004, The Guardian)

An influential conservative thinktank today urged Michael Howard and Tory MPs to back the government's top-up fees bill for the good of universities.

John Marenbon, a Cambridge don who was a member of the examinations watchdog under the Conservative government, says the bill is "fundamentally right" because is sets universities free, within limits, to set their own fees. He calls on Mr Howard to change his policy of total opposition, although there are aspects, like the Office for Fair Access, which should be opposed.

"The Conservatives have a chance to act with wisdom and statesmanship by supporting a government bill which is fundamentally right," writes Dr Marenbon in a pamphlet published by the thinktank Politeia today. "It is an act of courage for a Labour government to have proposed such a measure which introduces, though to a limited degree, a market into higher education."

Critics have described the proposals to allow universities to charge fees of up to £3,000 a year as "Thatcherite" - that's compliment as far as Dr Marenbon is concerned. Institutions should have the freedom to shape their own destiny and individuals should take responsibility for the decisions that shape their lives.


One of the heavy responsibilities of the opposition party in a democracy is to behave as if it might one day be in power again and to vote in favor of good policies, even if their opponents approve of them. Republicans did so on the Free Trade treaties of the Clinton era--which were literally Reaganite--the Tories should do so on this issue.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:18 PM

HERE COMES CHRIS LEHANE, WITH A HATCHET:

Rivals Mine Kerry Senate Years For Material to Slow Him Down (TODD S. PURDUM, January 25, 2004, NY Times)

Now that his opponents are moving even more aggressively to slow Mr. Kerry's rise, his 19-year voting record as the junior senator from Massachusetts could loom as his greatest political vulnerability, among Democrats and Republicans alike. The sheer length of Mr. Kerry's service means that he has built a paper trail of positions on education, the military, intelligence and other issues — stands that might have looked one way when he took them but that resonate differently now.

For example, at the end of the cold war, Mr. Kerry advocated scaling back the Central Intelligence Agency, but after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he complained about a lack of intelligence capability. In the 1980's, he opposed the death penalty for terrorists who killed Americans abroad, but he now supports the death penalty for terrorist acts. In the 1990's, he joined with Republican colleagues to sponsor proposals to end tenure for public school teachers and allow direct grants to religion-based charities, measures that many Democratic groups opposed. In 1997, he voted to require elderly people with higher incomes to pay a larger share of Medicare premiums.

The record is susceptible to two broad strands of attack. Mr. Kerry's rival Democrats point to a series of shifting stands on issues, like his qualified praise for the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress and his vote authorizing President Bush to use force in Iraq. They say these are are at odds with his campaign claim to be the "real deal" Democratic alternative to Mr. Bush, capable of "standing up for people and taking on powerful interests," as he says in his stump speech.

"When it was popular to be a Massachusetts liberal, his voting record was that," said Jay Carson, a Dean campaign spokesman. "When it was popular to be for the Iraq war, he was for it. Now it's popular to be against it, and he's against it. This is a voting record that is a big vulnerability against Republicans in the general election. He's all over the place on this stuff."

By contrast, the Republicans seek to paint Mr. Kerry as voting in lock step with, or even to the left of, his fellow Massachusetts Democrat Edward M. Kennedy, long a Republican target and a perennial party fund-raising bugbear.


There's a reason congressmen don't become presidents.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:24 PM

THERE'S HOPE FOR THE JACKSONS:

3-year-old makes news at State of the Union (Phil Kadner, January 22, 2004, Daily Southtown)

Five days before the president spoke to the nation, a decision was made that would significantly alter TV coverage of the State of the Union address.

Three-year-old Jessica Jackson decided she wanted to meet "President Boosh."

"Every time her mother drives by the Capitol building with Jessica in the car she points to it and says, 'That's where Daddy and President Bush work,' " said U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd) of Chicago, also known as Jessica's father.

Jackson said his daughter told him five days before Tuesday's speech that she wanted to meet the president.

He agreed to take her. [...]

Was it possible that Jessica had been exposed to some exaggerated descriptions and ó out of curiosity ó had asked to see the president's horns and tail for herself?

"Not at all," Jackson said. "In fact, she has never heard me express my opinions of the president at home.

"Unlike some people in politics, I keep my professional and private lives very separate.

"I never take political disagreements personally."

So at 9 p.m. EST, the president was announced to the joint session of Congress, the members stood as one, and as Bush made his way up the aisle shaking hands left and right, he came upon the Jacksons.

He put out his hands, hugged Jessica and gave her a big fat smooch on the cheek.

The TV cameras caught the action and, throughout the one-hour speech, returned repeatedly to Jackson and his daughter.

"She applauded every time the president talked about his tax cuts," Jackson laughed.

"I think she may be a Republican."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:18 PM

NEW PHASE:

Referendum Should Decide Political Future of Iran, Says MP (DPA - World News, Jan 24, 2004)

A referendum should decide the political future in Iran, a reformist MP told the news service Kar on Saturday.

“If the current trend continues, we should enter a new phase and let the people decide about the performance of the Guardian Council in a referendum,” Fatemeh Rakei said.

A referendum has been the key word in recent months among reformists and especially students in which the people would decide whether democratically elected or state appointed bodies should have the final say on state affairs.


Iran will soon be more democratic than the EU.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:09 PM

GOT MINE, GET YOURS:

The Bush Immigration Plan: A step in the right direction (Anthony B. Bradley, 1/21/04, Acton Institute)

The United States is the most prosperous nation in the world with a long history of both legal and illegal immigration. For centuries, immigrants have risked their lives to find ways to use their gifts and provide for their families, often taking jobs that others do not want. In fact, massive group immigration is an ongoing fact of human history. Thomas Sowell’s grand study, Migration and Cultures: A World View, reminds us of the scope of that movement. In the past three centuries, 70 million people emigrated from Europe, with nearly 50 million coming to the United States (35 million between 1830 and 1930). With migrants often come resentment and suspicion, another phenomenon of long standing.

Nearly 4 million people emigrated from Ireland to the U.S. during the nineteenth century. The Irish were stereotyped as a lazy band of drunken brawlers and they worked primarily in the low-skilled labor market. During the massive Irish immigration of the 1840s and 1850s immigrants were greeted with signs that read “Irish Need Not Apply.”

In the same century, five million Germans migrated to the United States. Large numbers became farmers and day laborers. These Germans were often criticized for isolating themselves from the American mainstream with church services conducted, business transacted, and newspapers printed exclusively in their native tongue.

Almost 26 million people emigrated from Italy between 1876 and 1976. The early Italian immigrants took jobs that others despised at the bottom of the occupational ladder, such as sewer and sanitation workers. Italians also cordoned themselves into enclaves, their neighborhoods of 1880 to 1910 often more segregated than those of blacks.

The story is much the same for the Jewish, African, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and Puerto Rican immigrants over the past century. In every case, immigrants fill economic needs in their new society.

Some Americans have an artificially inflated expectation of wages for jobs requiring few skills. So-called menial jobs like landscaping, food service, unskilled construction jobs, sanitation, housekeeping, retail, and farming rejected by many in our unskilled labor force. Many immigrants, on the other hand, are willing to work these jobs in an attempt to begin to build capital for a better life.


The anti-immigrationist creed can be summed up in one simple phrase: people were wrong to try and keep my grandparents out but I'm right to try and block you.


MORE:
-The Great Mexico Brain Drain: The other face of Mexican immigration (Hector Carreon, January 23, 2004, ACN)

The images that most Americans have of Mexican immigrants are principally those created by the media and certain immigration reform groups. These images are of Mexicans swimming across the Rio Grande, jumping the iron fence at San Ysidro, dying in enclosed railroad box cars or of those meeting death in the hot and arid Arizona desert. For many years, however, there has been a constant flood of other types of Mexican immigrants. These are wealthy and well educated Mexican immigrants that fly here in Mexicana and Areomexico airlines as students and tourists and decide to stay here.

Americans, especially those in the border states of California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico have suddenly become conscious of the vast number of Mexican immigrants that now reside here. To the typical Anglo mind, spotting Mexican immigrants is easy, or so they think. Their criteria for identifying a Mexican immigrant, legal or undocumented, is that they must first have brown skin, be wearing a sombrero and be standing at a bus stop. It is a rare "gringo" that can spot a Mexican immigrant at a trendy store in La Jolla, Rodeo Drive, Fashion Island, Santa Barbara or other exclusive shopping areas in California.

The immigration of middle and upper class Mexicans to the USA is increasing exponentially. Most of these well to do Mexicans have bachelor, master and doctorate degrees. The disturbing phenomena of the best-and-the brightest Mexicans emigrating to the USA is caused by the present and worsening economic crisis in Mexico. Yesterday, the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Geografia e Informatica (INEGI) released a study that found that 684, 000 Mexicans with university degrees are presently unemployed. The IMEGI study found that Mexico is not producing enough employment opportunities for the highly skilled and educated sectors of Mexico.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:22 PM

BUY A "U":

British MP 'fired' for pro-terror statement (DOUGLAS DAVIS, 1/24/04, Jerusalem Post)

British legislator Jenny Tonge has been fired by Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy as party spokesperson on children's affairs after she expressed sympathy for suicide bombers and suggested she would consider becoming one herself if she were a Palestinian.

Kennedy described Tonge's remarks as "completely unacceptable; they are not compatible with Liberal Democrat party policies and principles," he said. "There can be no justification, under any circumstances for taking innocent lives through terrorism," Kennedy added.

British legislator Tonge, who visited the Palestinian areas last June and compared life for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip with the Nazis' treatment of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, made the remarks about suicide bombers during an address to a meeting of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.


Will no one put Europe out of our misery?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:15 PM

AN INVALUABLE ALLY:

Turkey to mediate between Israel, Syria (Jerusalem Post, 1/24/04)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the announcement at the World Economic Forum at Davos. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is expected to begin shuttle diplomacy in the coming few days.

During Syrian President Bashar Assad's recent visit to Damascus, Turkey passed on Israel's position that to demonstrate his seriousness he needs to close the terrorist organizations' offices in Damascus and end his country's support of Hizbullah.

But officials also said that although Israel favors direct contact with the Syrians, and also uses the good offices of the US to pass on messages to Damascus, Turkish involvement would also be helpful.


At this time last year many who live only in the moment wanted America to impetuously turn its back on the Turks, who were only defending their own interests in regard to the coming Kurdistan.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:00 PM

EMPIRE ON THE CHEAP:

Bush to Ask for $401.7 Billion Defense Budget (Associated Press, January 23, 2004)

President Bush will ask Congress to approve $401.7 billion in defense spending for the budget year that begins in October, a 7 percent increase over this year, the Pentagon announced Friday.

The money does not include the cost of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, the Pentagon is spending about $1 billion a week in Iraq and about $1 billion a month in Afghanistan.

If, as expected, operations are still under way in those countries when the 2005 budget year begins Oct. 1, the administration presumably will have to ask Congress to appropriate extra billions of dollars.


Folks who anticipate the imminent collapse of the American Empoire under this burden might do well to consider this chart:


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:33 PM

WHICH WAY TO BATAAN?:

Forget the Debate: Democrats' Debate Fizzles; Dean Goes for an Image Make-Over (Kareem Fahim,
January 23rd, 2oo4, Village Voice)

There was plenty of expectation but little drama during last night's Democratic presidential debate, the first since the frenzied reshuffling of the Democratic field in Iowa last week, and the last before the all-important New Hampshire primary.

Since the last debate several weeks ago, there have been putative adjustments in strategy, bandied about by the pundits. John Kerry has transformed himself into a folksy populist, and Joe Lieberman has scrapped his reputation as a scrapper. John Edwards added character to his charm (or was it just success?), and his message suddenly commanded attention. Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich are hanging on to keep the others honest. And Howard Dean, of course, has been stuck morosely in the hole he dug for himself when he let out that monstrous rebel yell.

After the debate, the Fox analysts concluded that the whole thing was a tepid affair, despite attempts by Peter Jennings to draw candidates into battle. "I'd say, 'Nice try'," Lieberman joked at one point, in deference to the new arbiter of successful campaigning, John Edwards. "I'm going to talk about myself." No news had been made, the analysts hurriedly agreed, and I'm guessing they then joined millions of other Americans and flipped to ABC for the real dish of the day: Howard Dean's attempt at rehabilitation on Primetime.


The Democrats seem to be making a rather significant mistake by adopting their nice guy poses far too early in the campaign season. The chief distinguishing feature of their 2003-4 campaign season has been the inability of the frontrunners and temporarily hot candidates to withstand even mild scrutiny or a challenge from rival campaigns. They started out with John Kerry the presumptive favorite, but he got drubbed by Howard Dean from the day the Iraq War ended until Dr. Dean in turn blew himself up. Along the way, Dick Gephardt's assumed advantage in Iowa disappeared, as did he, and General Clark went from the flavor of the month of December to New Coke in January. What is driving this turbulence seems pretty obvious in opinion polling: none of the candidates is terribly well known--with the exception of Joe Lieberman whose name recognition made him a frontrunner briefly too; though on Tuesday he may well finish behind Lyndon LaRouche--and what folks know of them they don't particularly like. This makes it extremely dangerous to call off the dogs now and send a relatively untested nominee up against George W. Bush.

If John Kerry has already buckled once, in the face of Howard Dean and Joe Trippi, how's he going to fare this coming summer when Karl Rove spends $200 million dollars telling us all about the fella who was Michael Dukakis's lieutenant governor and Ted Kennedy's junior partner in the Senate?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 PM

I THINK, THEREFORE BUGGERY IS A RIGHT:

Compassionate Conservatism: The Philosophic State of the Union (S.M. Oliva, January 24, 2004, Capitalism)

The president built his address around the consistent theme of his presidency: "compassionate conservatism." The exact meaning of his philosophy has always been elusive, but Tuesday's speech provided a good roadmap for the novice traveler. In short, compassionate describes the president's metaphysics and epistemology, and conservatism summarizes his ethics and politics. On all four counts, compassionate conservatism is a philosophy repugnant to the values embodied in the American constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Metaphysics establishes the nature of existence. It is rooted in the law of identity—A is A, as Aristotelians would say. Metaphysics establishes what is, while epistemology determines how a consciousness can acquire and use knowledge of its existence. This sounds like weighty stuff, but it's important to understand the foundation of any philosophical system. In George Bush's philosophy, he views existence as ultimately unknowable; he accepts, without evidence, the existence of God and a realm beyond the comprehension of man's consciousness. This metaphysical view determines Bush's epistemology, since he rejects reason as the sole means of acquiring knowledge. Instead, Bush considers reason and faith to be equally valid methods of cognition.

Compassion is Bush's shorthand for acquiring knowledge via faith and emotion. The president believes that man's understanding of the universe comes from compassion, which is his emotional acceptance of other peoples'—and God's—perceptions of reality. By this standard, Bush finds truth in the compassionate (i.e. charitable) acts of man towards man. Ultimately, he believes, God reveals himself through such acts, and this makes true knowledge of existence knowable to man on some level.

This theory of knowledge allows Bush to accept contradictory premises. The best example from his address came when he talked about the prospects for democracy in the Middle East:

"We also hear doubts that democracy is a realistic goal for the greater Middle East, where freedom is rare. Yet it is mistaken, and condescending, to assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty and self-government. I believe that God has planted in every heart the desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again."

Bush assumes, on faith, that man instinctively possesses the knowledge to "live in freedom". But history tells us otherwise. Freedom, liberty, and individual rights are social concepts that took centuries to develop. The United States first brought these concepts into a unified republic. But there was nothing automatic or religious about this accomplishment. And contrary to the president's statement, these concepts are incompatible with many cultures and religions. If they were compatible, why then haven't individual rights republics sprung up throughout the Middle East? Indeed, why haven't they sprung up in Asia or Africa? But since Bush believes they are compatible, all evidence to the contrary, then it must be true, for faith makes it so.

On matters of ethics and politics, Bush's compassion melds with conservatism. This means the president views rights as derived not from man's existence, but rather from institutions invested with compassionate or mystical authority. Bush referred to rights just once in his speech, saying America's foreign policy sought a "peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman". But the rights he spoke of were not those derived from man's nature, but from man's creator, or God. All rights, in the president's view, exist only by permission of established authorities. Or to use a more conventional conservative premise, order takes precedence over liberty.


If it's fun watching the Left have conniptions over the Bush presidency, it's positively sublime watching secular libertarians be driven insane. This guy apparently hasn't ever even read the Declaration if he thinks rights come from anywhere but the Creator.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 AM

U SHO'NUF DO BE COOKIN' IN MY BOOK:

The Man from Seneca: John Edwards, not just another pretty face. (Andrew Ferguson, 02/02/2004,Weekly Standard)

LIKE A FEW OTHER excessively nice-looking human beings, John Edwards is a victim of reverse lookism. Common experience, lately reinforced by the most rigorous scientific research, demonstrates lookism's effects: Ugly people never catch a break, while the well-configured among us always receive favored treatment. In the past, Edwards has undoubtedly been lookism's beneficiary. Having no political connections or experience to speak of, he would never have been elected senator from North Carolina, nor been fingered early on as a presidential prospect by the national press corps, if he had had the face, for example, of Dennis Kucinich, who, as a presidential prospect, has been fingered only by himself.

But now it is John Edwards who can't catch a break. His looks have become a curse. People who would never dream of using a racial epithet or adverting to a stranger's unwieldy nose or sloping chin think nothing of cruelly comparing Edwards to the Breck Shampoo girl or the cuter half of the Olsen twins. No one has yet compared him to a polo player from a Ralph Lauren ad or to a young John Derek, husband of Bo, or to Timmy in "Lassie," or to the TV personality Lyle Waggoner, Playgirl magazine's first centerfold in the 1970s, but I'm waiting.


It would help if he'd ever done anything other than chase ambulance faster and shakedown insurance companies harder than any other shyster in America.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 AM

THE PIG IN THE POKE:

Two-Face: John Edwards is a Clinton-style golden boy. What does it look like when he has a bad day? (Jonathan V. Last, 01/23/2004, Weekly Standard)

JOHN EDWARDS is currently the trendy pick to win the Democratic nomination. According to the conventional wisdom, John Kerry is now the solid frontrunner, Dean is a has-been (albeit a has-been with money), and Clark is increasingly out of his league--making Edwards a nice dark-horse bet.

The primary reason for liking Edwards is his collection of natural gifts. He's smart and confident, but more than that, he's a tremendous politician. When he's firing on all cylinders, he's polished but not slick, seamless but not prepackaged. He does not always fire on all cylinders.

Exhibit A would be last night's debate, where Edwards treaded water until he ran up against the Defense of Marriage Act and didn't appear to understand the law. Exhibit B would be today's event at the Page Belting manufacturing plant.


You'd think they'd have learned their lesson about neophytes after the Dean and Clark implosions.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:12 AM

JUST CAUSE FOLKS OPPOSE YOU DOESN'T MEAN IT'S NOT A DEMOCRACY:

America as a One-Party State: Today's hard right seeks total dominion. It's packing the courts and rigging the rules. The target is not the Democrats but democracy itself. (Robert Kuttner, February 1, 2004, American Prospect)

America has had periods of single-party dominance before. It happened under FDR's New Deal, in the Republican 1920s and in the early 19th-century "Era of Good Feeling." But if President Bush is re-elected, we will be close to a tipping point of fundamental change in the political system itself. The United States could become a nation in which the dominant party rules for a prolonged period, marginalizes a token opposition and is extremely difficult to dislodge because democracy itself is rigged. This would be unprecedented in U.S. history.

In past single-party eras, the majority party earned its preeminence with broad popular support. Today the electorate remains closely divided, and actually prefers more Democratic policy positions than Republican ones. Yet the drift toward an engineered one-party Republican state has aroused little press scrutiny or widespread popular protest.

We are at risk of becoming an autocracy in three key respects. First, Republican parliamentary gimmickry has emasculated legislative opposition in the House of Representatives (the Senate has other problems). House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas has both intimidated moderate Republicans and reduced the minority party to window dressing, rather like the token opposition parties in Mexico during the six-decade dominance of the PRI.

Second, electoral rules have been rigged to make it increasingly difficult for the incumbent party to be ejected by the voters, absent a Depression-scale disaster, Watergate-class scandal or Teddy Roosevelt-style ruling party split. After two decades of bipartisan collusion in the creation of safe House seats, there are now perhaps just 25 truly contestable House seats in any given election year (and that's before the recent Republican super gerrymandering). What once was a slender and precarious majority -- 229 Republicans to 205 Democrats (including Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who votes with Democrats) -- now looks like a Republican lock. In the Senate, the dynamics are different but equally daunting for Democrats. As the Florida debacle of 2000 showed, the Republicans are also able to hold down the number of opposition votes, with complicity from Republican courts. Reform legislation, the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA), may actually facilitate Republican intimidation of minority voters and reduce Democratic turnout. And the latest money-and-politics regime, nominally a reform, may give the right more of a financial advantage than ever.

Third, the federal courts, which have slowed some executive-branch efforts to destroy liberties, will be a complete rubber stamp if the right wins one more presidential election.

Taken together, these several forces could well enable the Republicans to become the permanent party of autocratic government for at least a generation.


The only problem with this thesis is that he understates what a perfectly normal state of affairs it is. There have been three long periods of essentially one party rule in America--from the Jefferson/Jackson Democratic era to the Lincoln Republican era to the FDR Democratic era. Now the pendulum is just swinging back to the GOP.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 AM

ANOTHER FIGHT THE FRENCH WERE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF:

French Lesson: The Battle of Algiers (Steve Sailer, February 2, 2004, The American Conservative)

The Pentagon’s special-operations chiefs screened the once-famous 1965 film “The Battle of Algiers” last August, inspiring its timely re-release in selected theatres this month. Produced by arch-terrorist Saadi Yacef (who played himself) and directed by the Italian Communist Gillo Pontecorvo, this favorite of the old New Left recounts with remarkably dispassionate (if selective) accuracy one of France’s many military victories on its road to losing the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence. Ultimately, the 132-year-old settlement of one million “pied noir” Europeans was driven into the sea.

The Pentagon commandos’ flier advertised, “How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas … Children shoot soldiers at point blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically.” The paratroopers’ plan was to track down Yacef’s top killers using intensive interrogation (i.e., torture).

Perhaps, though, our soldiers should have shown their civilian overlords “The Battle of Algiers” before the latter blithely decided to occupy an Arab country. For extra verisimilitude, the special-ops boys could have strapped Douglas Feith’s Office of Special Plans ideologue-warriors to their armchairs, pinned their eyelids open, attached electrodes, and applied little jolts of juice to help them remember the movie better.


To the extent it sounds familiar it does so only if you consider Saddam to be the French and us to be the Algerian freedom fighters. The strategic goal in Iraq, after all, is independence, not colonization.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:34 AM

STILL TED KENNEDY'S PARTY, NOT BILL CLINTON'S:

Clark Express Is Losing Speed: Poised to Be the Anti-Dean, General Struggles as N.H. Race Changes (Paul Schwartzman and David Von Drehle, January 24, 2004, Washington Post)

As Clark's prominence has risen, he has found himself called on to explain and re-explain his position on the war in Iraq -- a stance that was highly nuanced before the conflict, only to harden into staunch opposition since throwing his hat into the ring. [...]

Another issue dogging Clark: his position on abortion.

Earlier this month, during an editorial board meeting at the Manchester Union Leader, Clark suggested to Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid that he would set no limits on abortion. "I don't think you should get the law involved in abortion," Clark said.

"At all?" McQuaid countered, pressing the point right up to the moment of birth.

"Nope," Clark answered.

But at a news conference Thursday, the general embraced some limitations. "I support Roe v. Wade as modified by Casey," he said, referring to two controlling Supreme Court decisions. "I am not going to go into detail," he added when reporters pressed for more. [...]

Democratic leaders are not writing Clark off. Despite his late start, the general expects to have more than $15 million in his campaign fund by February, said strategist Chris Lehane. He is running television ads in at least eight states where voters will weigh in during the weeks after New Hampshire, including such Feb. 3 primary contests as South Carolina, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.

In fact, Lehane said, Clark is right where he wants to be -- heading south and west to pick up the pieces after Dean's stumble.


It's going to be fun watching all the folks who opposed the Kerry candidacy because he's unelectable scurry to endorse him.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 AM

MIDWIFING SHI'ASTAN:

Profile: Influential Iraqi cleric Sistani (Pamela Hess, 1/23/2004, UPI)

"This is a historical event in their religion. This is a reawakening for them," Conlin said. "Before, the world's view of Shia was the Ayatollah Khomeini (in Iran) and a theocratic state. That's not necessarily what the majority of Shia in the world would like to see," Conlin said.

Sistani has an opportunity to redefine Shiism in the world's eyes by the careful line he is now walking, and to reestablish Najaf as the center of learning and Islamic scholarship, Conlin believes. [...]

He also communicates through his Web site, sistani.org
. Sistani, it turns out, may be the very model of a modern ayatollah.

The Web site is a prime means for Sistani to share his interpretations of Islamic law and practice with Shiites around the world -- most of whom are in India, Pakistan and Iraq, according to Hunter. Some 10 to 15 percent of the world's 1.4 billion Muslims are Shiite, but they are estimated to make up more than half the population of Iraq. No accurate census has been taken recently to back up those numbers.

The Web site posits Sistani as a progressive cleric, one that is learned not just in religious matters but also in science and history and who understands international politics and economics. He often rejects literal interpretations of the Koran, offering instead interpretations that take into account historical conditions at play when the prophet Mohammed was teaching, and adapting those words to modern life. A simple illustration: Mohammed instructed his followers not to eat donkey meat -- a prohibition many continue to observe. Sistani has determined the edict was situational: It was issued during a time of war when the donkeys were needed to ferry arms and supplies to the front lines. As that battle was centuries in the past, the rule no longer applies, Sistani decreed. Contradicting the Prophet? No, interpreting his word for the current time.

Sistani does not shrink from more modern concerns. The Web site is replete with his polite and concise answers to questions from the religious on whether anal intercourse is permissible (yes, but it is "strongly undesirable"), or if oral sex is approved (under certain conditions) and whether masturbation is prohibited (yes, at all times). The less titillating subjects are addressed as well: Why lotteries are not allowed but horse racing is, when both are forms of gambling.

He has also weighed in with a progressive view of women's role in society.

"He said 'Islam has given all the rights to women. She is just like a man, if she is educated and strong, and he thinks she can do all sorts of things. She can be a minister, she can be even a president,'" Raja Habib al-Khazal, doctor and one of only two women on the Iraqi Governing Council told UPI. She met with Sistani in November about the sovereignty plan.

"They told me he wouldn't meet with a woman," she said. "But I met him. He's a very intelligent man and very highly educated. He knows everything that's going on in Iraq -- we discussed the constitution, the drugs coming into Iraq, we discussed security, and women's issues."

Sistani, an academic prodigy who began reading the Koran at age 5, is probably the closet thing to a pope Islam offers. But grand ayatollahs are not selected through a council of cardinals. It is a slowly earned status rewarding scholarly works and teaching, as well as leading prayers. A grand ayatollah's influence evolves by consensus over time.


A Shi'a Republic won't be like the American Republic, but why should it be?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 AM

MOYNIHAN LITE:

Kerry's Good Intentions (DAVID BROOKS, 1/24/04, NY Times)

If you look back over the span of John Kerry's career, you find that every few months or years he takes a hard look at some thorny public issue. Then, after some period of reflection, he unleashes his inner Moynihan and comes out with an interesting and politically dangerous speech.

The problem is that he almost never follows up. When he makes these speeches he habitually asserts that he will mount a long public crusade. But then he takes his controversial ideas, jams them into a jar and buries them in the backyard.

If you watch him campaign today, you will have no clue that he has ever had interesting thoughts on education, civil rights, poverty and so on. On these and other issues, he campaigns as an orthodox Democrat, comfortably in tune with Ted Kennedy and the party's major interest groups. Far from continuing in the reformist vein when it comes to education, he has a core platform plank that is pure pander: "Stop Blaming and Start Supporting Public School Educators."


So he's basically innoculated Geoege W. Bush on all these issues. Meanwhile, having been wrong on every major national security issue of his adult life, Mr. Kerry, when discussing such things, recalls to his work on funding the Agent Orange hoax and the Gulf Syndrome boondoggle. Democrats, in full panic mode, are about to hand the nomination to someone even less electable than Dr. Dean. He's got all the weaknesses and none of the strengths.


MORE:
Kerry Leads by Wide Margin in Times Poll: Sen. John Kerry, demonstrating the same broad appeal that powered his victory in Iowa, leads by double digits among likely voters in next Tuesday's pivotal New Hampshire primary. (Ronald Brownstein, January 23, 2004, LA Times)

The poll finds that the ground in New Hampshire remains unsettled. Nearly one-in-ten likely voters say they remain undecided. Nearly two-in-five who have picked a candidate say they could still change their mind-exactly the same share who described themselves as open to switching candidates in the final Times poll before the Iowa caucus, where Kerry and Edwards surged to an unexpected one-two finish.

For the Democratic contenders, the stakes in this final sprint are formidable: No candidate who finished lower than second in the New Hampshire primary has won his party's presidential nomination since 1952.

In the poll, Kerry attracted 32% of likely voters, followed by Dean at 19%, Clark at 17%, Edwards at 14% and Sen. Joe Lieberman at 6%. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio attracted 1%, while Rev. Al Sharpton less than 1%. Ten percent were undecided and another 1% said they preferred someone else. [...]

For Kerry, who long lagged in the polls here amid complaints from voters who found him stiff or aloof, experience and credibility on national security now appear to be his strongest assets in the state. Asked to identify one reason why they are supporting Kerry, 29% of his supporters cited experience, far more than picked anything else. Another 9% cited his military background.

"In the end, looking over all the candidates to see which I thought would make the best president of the United States, that's when I came to Sen. Kerry," said Robert Steenson of Canterbury, the chief operating officer of a service company. "With his [military] service and his record, he seemed the most qualified."

And Kerry led comfortably when voters were asked, regardless of which candidate they supported, which of the contenders they believed "is most qualified to serve as commander in chief."

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed picked Kerry, placing him well ahead even of Clark, who has built his campaign around his military and foreign policy experience; Clark drew 25%. Just 11% thought Dean was the most qualified to serve as commander-in-chief and only 6% picked Edwards.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:51 AM

THE INFESTATION:

Look out! It's a candidate (Dave Barry, Jan. 24, 2004, Miami Herald)

MANCHESTER, NH: [...] One big loser in Iowa was Rep. Dick ''Dick'' Gephardt, who did so poorly that he not only dropped out of the Democratic race, but also has renounced his U.S. citizenship.

But the biggest shock was the poor showing of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who did far worse than expected in Iowa, then gave his now-famous post-caucus speech, in which he sounded as though he'd been gargling with paint thinner, and then, out of nowhere, emitted a scream that was a pitch-perfect imitation of a small-hipped woman giving birth to an upright piano.

It was a heartfelt scream, no question about it, and it has received far more attention in this race than, say, Iraq. But somehow it did not come across as presidential. (``Four score and seven years ago, YEEEAAAAAARGGH.'')

So now Dean is trying desperately to soften his image by wearing suits, smiling, no longer ending speeches by breaking boards with his forehead, etc. But these measures may be too late, as almost all the experts now predict that Kerry will win in New Hampshire, which probably means he won't.

The candidates had their last debate here Thursday night at St. Anselm College. Outside, it was roughly 870 degrees below zero, but hundreds of campaign activists showed up to wave signs and shout at each other. This always strikes me as strange: I mean, what's the point of holding a Dean sign and shouting ''DEAN! DEAN! DEAN!'' for three straight hours in the bitter cold when the only person who can see or hear you is holding a Kerry sign and shouting ''KERRY! KERRY! KERRY!''? Does anybody's mind get changed? After a while, do these people become convinced by each other and swap signs?


The candidates are so thick you can't throw a rock without hitting one...and being chased by his supporters.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:46 AM

YOU MAKE ME LAUGH:

Fear the criminal underclass and it will cost you – or, worse, me (Tom Utley, Daily Telegraph, 24/01/04)

I yield to nobody in my admiration of Theodore Dalrymple, who graced this page on Thursday with one of his masterly diatribes against Britain's feckless, thuggish, self-pitying, sponging criminal underclass and the meddling officials who make everything worse. Week after week in The Spectator, Dr Dalrymple has horrified and delighted me with accounts of his work as a prison doctor and the ghastliness of his patients.

The urban Britain that he describes so beautifully is a grim place indeed - a world of drug addiction and drunken violence, absent fathers, battered mothers and abused children. I can imagine that there are many readers of his column who feel like abandoning all hope for our country, turning their heads to the wall and pulling the duvet over their heads.

There are times when Dr Dalrymple seems to be describing a completely alien species, an ever-growing underclass brought up in conditions of unspeakable brutality, without a decent human feeling among them, who will never know any way of life but crime and dependence on the state. Why then, do I always find his writings more uplifting than depressing?

Two reasons, I think. The first is that it never crosses Dr Dalrymple's mind to be frightened of the monsters he deals with in prison. He writes of them with Olympian contempt, sure in the knowledge that he is right about how people should behave, and they are wrong. The second, related reason, is that he finds his patients terribly funny. He has a wonderful ear for comic dialogue, allowing his convicts to condemn themselves out of their own mouths, while they are making excuses for beating up their girlfriends or fiddling their benefits.

Shakespeare understood this perfectly: that the criminal underclass - the riff-raff who gathered around Falstaff and the young Henry V - is essentially ridiculous. We seem to be losing our ability to laugh at those who cheat us and steal from us. Fear has taken the place of ridicule; that is unhealthy...

Many conservatives make the error of too often getting on a moral high horse and demanding across-the-board lengthy prison terms and formal “zero tolerance” policies. These, too, can sometimes bespeak more fear than is warranted. They certainly keep the legal system busy and costly. If police, teachers, fathers and just ordinary citizens were given more legal leeway to threaten, smack and shame young miscreants and the dysfunctional underclass (especially in concert), we might have safer streets, politer thugs and fewer lawyers.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:39 AM

THE NEOCON WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD:

A Tougher War for the U.S. Is One of Legitimacy: Can America afford to fight its enemies without the help of its friends? (ROBERT KAGAN, 1/24/04, NY Times)

Opinion polls taken before, during and after the war have shown two peoples living on separate strategic and ideological planets. More than 80 percent of Americans believe that war may achieve justice; less than half of Europeans believe that a war — any war — can ever be just. Americans and Europeans disagree about the role of international law and international institutions, and about the nebulous and abstract yet powerful question of international legitimacy.

These different worldviews predate the Iraq war and the presidency of George W. Bush, although both the war and the Bush administration's conduct of international affairs have deepened and perhaps hardened this trans-Atlantic rift into an enduring feature of the international landscape. "America is different from Europe," Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany declared matter-of-factly months before the war. Who any longer can deny it?

Today a darker possibility looms. A great philosophical schism has opened within the West, and instead of mutual indifference, mutual antagonism threatens to debilitate both sides of the trans-Atlantic community. Coming at a time in history when new dangers and crises are proliferating, this schism could have serious consequences. For Europe and the United States to decouple strategically has been bad enough. But what if the schism over "world order" infects the rest of what we have known as the liberal West? Will the West still be the West?

It is the legitimacy of American power and American global leadership that has come to be doubted by a majority of Europeans. America, for the first time since World War II, is suffering a crisis of international legitimacy.

Americans will find that they cannot ignore this problem.


It can't be comfortable for Mr. Kagan to live in Europe after calling them a bunch of wussies, but this attempt to ingratiate himself with his hosts is just silly. You can't on the one hand acknowledge that Europeans view all war as unjust and at the same time allow them a say in whether U.S. policies are legitimate. So, instead, by the end of the essay he pretty much subverts everything he says in the earlier portions.

Meanwhile, at one point he says: "The United States, in short, must pursue legitimacy in the manner truest to its nature, by promoting the principles of liberal democracy, not only as a means to greater security, but as an end in itself. Success in such endeavors will provide the United States a measure of legitimacy in the liberal, democratic world, and even in Europe." Does he mean we haven't been promoting democracy? Of course not--it's just a sop to the Europeans and a cheap point scored at the expense of policies he supports.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 AM

THE CRACK-UP BECKONS:

China's rural rot: As villagers migrate to the cities for work, children left behind get into trouble and the elderly are left to fend for themselves (Goh Sui Noi, 1/24/04, THE STRAITS TIMES)

Separated families are the norm among migrant workers, with either husbands separated from their wives and children, or couples from their young children.

In Beijing, only about 32 per cent of migrant workers have their children with them.

Often, aged parents are left behind to fend for themselves.

The rural landscape has been changing since the 1980s, when rural workers started to leave the land to seek work in the cities.

Many see the migration as necessary. With a huge rural population of 900 million, China faces immense pressure on its farmland, with its per capita cultivated land less than half of the world average.

It is estimated that China has between 150 million and 300 million surplus rural workers.

Now, the migration has begun to have a very real impact on the countryside as the number of those who leave continues to rise.

About 70 per cent of people leaving the countryside are male and their average age is just over 33. Villages are left with populations mainly of women, children and the elderly.

More and more agricultural work has been taken up by women as the burden of farming the land falls on the shoulders of those left behind.

In some villages where most of the young men and women have left, large tracts of land lie fallow as the elderly find it beyond them to undertake more than just subsistence farming.

In cases where entire young families have moved permanently to the cities, elderly parents, who previously would have relied on their offspring to take care of them in their old age, find themselves home alone.

In rural schools, children cared for by grandparents or other relatives have a greater problem with their schoolwork than those whose parents are at home, and they skip school more often.

A recent report in the Guangming Daily newspaper quoted teachers in rural schools as saying that such children, who had more pocket money than others, often skipped school to go to billiards saloons, game centres or Internet cafes.

They sometimes moved in gangs and broke the law.

As problems emerge, the Chinese are beginning to worry about the weakening of the social fabric in the countryside and what it means for China's economic and social development as a whole.


Yeah, but there are 1.3 billion customers there...


Posted by Peter Burnet at 5:54 AM

SORRY PRINCESS, DID I FORGET TO TELL YOU WHAT MEN ARE LIKE?

The married life is the best (Barbara Kay, National Post, 21-01-04)

The series Sex and the City is winding down, and that's fine with me. I got the gist quickly, and dislike almost everything about it: the fusion of soap opera, group therapy and soft porn, and the women's repellent crudity around their obsession with orgasms. Mostly I hate their affinity for narcissistic jerks rather than for the husband/father potential in honourable men. Many women think SATC's a hoot; I think it's pretty sick.

SATC says that women can be promiscuous with any number of men, get hurt by most of them, then bounce perkily back to form, curiously unbruised by their misadventures, and eager to share their experiences: not their feelings -- what real women discuss -- but the graphic physical details more often associated with stud posses.

Women just aren't like that. They do not separate sex from emotion on an ongoing basis, unless they are so desensitized and cynical from years of sexual indiscrimination that they have completely abandoned all hope of genuine intimacy. But SATC pretends that women can be rapaciously sex-obsessed for years, yet end up pristinely unsullied, newly faithful for Mr. Right. [...]

SATC enthusiasts and their supporting ideologues insist it is uncool to ask women to restrict themselves in their sexual explorations. The sexually cautious are today's new perverts. It is politically incorrect to state that promiscuity has made women unhappier, more vulnerable and less appreciated by men -- and families more fragile and dysfunctional -- than in the so-called "repressed" '50s. All the more reason to keep saying it then, since it is true.

Traditionally, women don't like being told by men how to think and behave. Cross-gender advice is a prerogative they tend to reserve to themselves. This is one reason why so few men write honestly and insightfully about married life and the perennial tensions between the sexes. Modern men usually either keep silent about such things or jump in loudly to support a woman’s right to freedoms and choices they don’t respect. Thank goodness there are sane, honest voices like Ms. Kay’s to guide the daughters so many fathers have morally abandoned.




January 23, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 PM

TIME TO CASH IN:

Tauzin Expected To Leave House For Trade Group: Lawmaker Declined Hollywood Job (Frank Ahrens, January 24, 2004, Washington Post)

Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.) is close to a decision to leave Congress to head the pharmaceutical industry's trade association after turning down an offer from Hollywood to succeed Jack Valenti as the movie industry's top lobbyist, sources in Washington and California said yesterday.

Tauzin telephoned Valenti with his decision late Thursday night after intense salary negotiations over recent days. The 12-term lawmaker is now considering an offer from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the trade group that represents drug giants such as Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. [...]

If Tauzin, 60, takes the pharmaceutical lobbying offer quickly, a special election would probably be held to fill his congressional seat. The filing deadline to run for the seat in November is in August. A prominent Louisiana Republican and friend of Tauzin, Hunt Downer, a former speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives who also ran for governor, has expressed interest in succeeding Tauzin.


All the profiles always said he had his eyes set on Speaker--guess the Hammer must want the job when Denny Hastert retires.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 PM

WHAT BETRAYAL?:

REVIEW ESSAY: The Only Superbad Power (SERGE SCHMEMANN, January 25, 2004. NY Times Book Review)

I have saved a discussion of Emmanuel Todd's ''After the Empire'' for last, not because I deem it least but because it is the view of an outsider, and a highly troubling view at that. I have been living in France for the past six months, and I often wonder whether Americans are aware of the depth of the dread and revulsion in which Bush's United States is held by many foreigners. In Todd's study, translated by C. Jon Delogu, a relentless condemnation of everything American arises from an acute sense of betrayal.

A French historian and anthropologist trained at Cambridge University in England and descended from Jews who were refugees in America, Todd says he used to see the United States as a model, as his ''subconscious safety net.'' Now, he declares, it is solely a ''predator,'' living way beyond its means, racking up video-game victories over defenseless nations and undermining human rights. Nobody escapes Todd's jilted fury -- not the American woman, ''a castrating, threatening figure,'' and not American Jews, who have ''fallen into the disturbing, not to say neurotic, cult of the Holocaust.'' Todd's solace is also his main thesis, that American power is fast waning because of the country's profligate spending: ''Let the present America expend what remains of its energy, if that is what it wants to do, on 'war on terrorism' -- a substitute battle for the perpetuation of a hegemony that it has already lost.'' This is easy to dismiss as the rant of Old Europe (surprise: Todd's book was a best seller in France). But that would miss the point: his sense of betrayal is widely shared around the world, even in places the White House likes to portray as friends. Alas, I have heard too many people of good will express profound disappointment with the United States to reject Todd as an extreme or isolated voice.

Though I have lived abroad for many years and regard myself as hardened to anti-Americanism, I confess I was taken aback to have my country depicted, page after page, book after book, as a dangerous empire in its last throes, as a failure of democracy, as militaristic, violent, hegemonic, evil, callous, arrogant, imperial and cruel. Daalder and Lindsay may be constrained by an American sense of respect for the White House, but they too proclaim Bush's foreign policy fundamentally wrong. It is not only Bush's ''imperious style,'' they write; ''The deeper problem was that the fundamental premise of the Bush revolution -- that America's security rested on an America unbound -- was mistaken.'' The more moving judgment comes from Soros, a Jew from Hungary who lived through both German and Soviet occupation: ''This is not the America I chose as my home.''


Moving? Did he think he was choosing an America that wouldn't fight totalitarianism? And was Mr. Todd paying attention when france collaborated with the Nazis and Bolsheviks but declined anyway, while America confronted both and merely grew more powerful? Meanwhile, if these folks are waiting for the Empire to go bust, they'd better settle in for a piece.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 PM

A UNIFIED GOP IN CA?:

Keep your eyes on the fiscal prize: The governor's budget may disappoint, but not his long-term reform plans (Tom McClintock, 1/23/04, OC Register)

he governor has outlined a series of sweeping changes in the fundamental structure of the government. They have received scant attention from pundits but are the most profound and far-reaching parts of the proposal. If adopted this year, all of the infirmities of his 2004-05 budget will soon be forgotten.

The centerpiece of his State of the State address was his proposal for a Performance Review Commission. The recommendations of previous commissions have simply been ignored, but if it is given real teeth to effect a reorganization of the bureaucracies - "blowing up boxes," as he put it - it promises to be one of the most significant reforms in two generations.

But that's just the start. The governor has also proposed a constitutional amendment to provide for the contracting out of state services, he has demanded real workers' comp reform and he has taken the first steps to bring California's welfare rules into conformity with federal reforms. He is pushing to transfer funds from the sinkhole of school finance - categorical programs - directly into the classroom and to restore management of those funds to the people directly involved in classroom instruction.

He can go even further. Replacing the Healthy Families Program with a prepaid, refundable tax credit would provide far broader coverage at far lower cost than the expensive bureaucratic model now in place. Implementing a bounty program for private auditors to expose fraud in the Medi-Cal system would succeed where internal audits conducted by the bureaucracies have failed.

The total savings - and improved services - inherent in these reforms would make balancing future budgets much easier. But enacting them in time for next year's budget is the most difficult and demanding task that any California governor has faced in nearly a century. Judging from his public comments, Gov. Schwarzenegger understands this, and judging by his actions to date, he has the singular determination and focus to succeed.


Man, Mr. McClintock has drunk the Kool-Aid, huh?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:04 PM

BORDER REALITIES:

Bush's Immigration Plan: A Step In the Right Direction: President Bush's immigration plan is a step in the right direction; it's more generous to illegals than the status quo, but unlikely to touch off a massive new influx. (Stuart Taylor Jr., 1/21/04, Atlantic Monthly)

"Metaphorically each rich nation can be seen as a lifeboat.... In the ocean outside each lifeboat swim the poor of the world.... What should the lifeboat passengers do? ... Suppose the 50 of us in the lifeboat see 100 others swimming in the water outside, begging for admission to our boat.... We could take them all into our boat, making a total of 150 in a boat designed for 60. The boat swamps, everyone drowns. Complete justice, complete catastrophe."

That way of looking at immigration, penned by the late ecologist Garrett Hardin in 1974, is no doubt too alarmist. But part of me fears that Hardin may be partly right—that in the long run, the massive legal and illegal immigration of the world's poor, huddled masses will swamp our nation's prosperity. Immigration has already depressed the wages and job opportunities of low-income native-born Americans. The notion that immigrants fill "jobs that Americans don't want" is a cop-out that flies in the face of economic reality. The reason Americans in some areas won't take jobs washing dishes, cleaning hotel rooms, mowing lawns, and picking fruit is that immigrant labor has driven the wages down, as the liberal Harvard sociologist Christopher Jencks demonstrated two years ago in The New York Review of Books.

But while Hardin would have been horrified by President Bush's January 7 proposal to move toward a more generous policy on illegal immigration, I think it's a good start.

How to reconcile these seemingly conflicting thoughts? Begin by recognizing what no politician can safely acknowledge: The inescapable choice, at least in the short run, is between cruelty to poor would-be immigrants and cruelty to the poor native-born Americans. We have a moral duty to treat both groups with sympathy and compassion. But the more direct impact of immigration policy on those seeking to immigrate, and the disagreements among experts about whether and how much the current wave of immigration will help or hurt Americans in the long run, argue for a policy shaped by generosity rather than by possibly exaggerated fears.

The case for a generous approach is enhanced by recognition of the political impossibility of stemming the tide that is adding 200,000 to 500,000 new entrants a year to an illegal-immigrant population estimated to total 8 million to 14 million. The only way to stop the flow would be to completely militarize the Mexican border, require all Americans to display on demand a biometrically encoded national identification card, launch regular dragnets through barrios and workplaces, and engage in other police-state measures abhorrent to most Americans. While most voters want to cut down on illegal immigration, most would not support such draconian and constitutionally troublesome policies.


To hear even a liberal like Mr. Taylor express skepticism about the long term sustainability of immigration is to realize just how anti-political the President's proposed measure is. But, as he writes, it's hard to see how a decent society could do less.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:52 PM

THE CABANA BOY FOLLIES:

Bring It On?: Is Kerry Really the most electable Democrat? (Michael Grunwald, 01.22.04, New Republic)

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry likes to say that, if he's the Democratic nominee and President Bush wants to make the election a referendum on national security, he has just three words to say: "Bring It On!" But what if Kerry becomes the nominee and Bush wants to make the election more than a referendum on national security? What would the Republicans bring on then?

In all likelihood, they would hammer Kerry for his opposition to mandatory minimum sentences for dealers who sell drugs to children and for voting against the death penalty for terrorists. They would mock his efforts to provide cash benefits to drug addicts and alcoholics, and his onetime opposition to a modest work requirement for welfare recipients. They would trash him for supporting more than half a trillion dollars in tax increases-including hikes in gas taxes and Social Security taxes on ordinary Americans-while accepting free housing and other goodies for himself from friendly influence-peddlers. They would even point out that, when Kerry served as lieutenant governor under one Michael S. Dukakis, Massachusetts famously furloughed more than 500 murderers and sex offenders under a program Kerry later defended as tough. [...]

Kerry's liberal record was not the only issue that hurt him against Weld and could again in a race against Bush. In one Weld-Kerry debate, Boston Herald columnist Marjory Eagan confronted the senator with an observation that would have been startling if it hadn't become so commonplace: "I wonder if you've given any thought to why voters don't seem that fond of you as a person." Kerry responded that he is sometimes too aloof, but, for whatever reason, he does seem to rub people the wrong way.


Democrats are so relieved to be out from under the prospect of a Howard Dean candidacy and Republicans were so looking forward to it that most seem to have forgotten why Mr. Kerry was considered a debacle-in-the-making when he was the front-runner in early '03. He's now positioned to run the early table and snatch the nomination before his party has a chance to look around and realize they've just turned to a sitting congressman, from MA, who no one likes.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:54 PM

THE DADDY PARTY:

The Strong, Silent Type: Vice President Cheney Doesn't Suffer Small Talk When He's Looking at the Big Picture (Mark Leibovich, January 18, 2004, Washington Post)

Silence lets people know you can keep confidences, Cheney says. Lets them know you can be trusted.

Excess words can bloat and complicate. Information escapes. And you never learn anything when you're talking. Washington is over-winded by talkers.

But there is a method to wielding silence constructively. And Cheney -- in his discretion, secrecy and inscrutability -- has raised it to an art form, a signature and, at times, a weapon.

He will never be called a sycophant, schmoozer or self-promoter. But his reticence doesn't mean that he is opting out of the Washington game, or that he doesn't love the game, or that he hasn't mastered it.

"I've always considered Dick to be very ambitious," says former Rep. Lee Hamilton, an Indiana Democrat who served with Cheney in the House and calls him a friend. "In politics, one of the big keys to success is how well you cloak this ambition. It's part of the game. And I always felt, whatever his context, Dick did it brilliantly."

As much as he's been a Washington fixture for three decades, Richard B. Cheney, 62, remains a figure sketchily drawn. He is the second most powerful man in the Bush administration, both in constitutional rank and, it would seem, real influence.

Yet to a large degree, Cheney remains publicly defined by his invisibility. His profile, intentionally low to begin with, shrinks more so next to the president and the administration's rock stars (Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell). Cheney is the one known for disappearing, into a "secure undisclosed location." ("There are a few of them, actually," he says.) Few people know where he is much of the time, where he resides at night.

Only that he's somewhere. And powerful. [...]

He is the Platonic ideal of sheepish. Some vice presidents over-tout their roles -- how they spend their days "re-inventing government," for instance. Cheney never does. But by waxing absurd about how little influence he has -- the notion draws laughter from the crowd -- he tacitly acknowledges his reputation for having a lot.

Cheney proceeds with a stump speech that focuses heavily on the war on terror. "If we're 99 percent successful, the 1 percent that gets through can still kill you," he says. "Defense isn't enough. We need to go on offense."

Cheney has a long-standing curiosity -- obsession, some have said -- with catastrophic scenarios involving biological, chemical and radiological weapons. This long precedes Sept. 11, 2001. In his skull resides the nation's most chilling intelligence. Lynne and their daughters never ask about it.

In the months after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Cheney, when he spoke in meetings, often talked about "the next hit." Retreating to the secure location was his idea. He steeped himself in briefings and literature about anthrax, smallpox and other unthinkables. In the summer of 2002, he made a surprise visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to quiz scientists and doctors about their progress in defending against bioterror. His silence now takes on a more foreboding aspect: the man who knows too much about too many terrible things.

Is this too much information for a man with a sick heart? One friend describes Cheney as naturally dour, but not in a way that paralyzes or debilitates. Tony Coelho recalls being part of a congressional delegation that traveled to Russia in the 1980s. The wife of Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) administered personality tests to a group of congressmen, just for fun. Cheney was found best-suited to being a funeral director.

Mention the notion of "stress" to Cheney and he squints like you're speaking another language. "Goes with the turf," he says. "Part of your job. It's not as if you can block that part out and say, 'I don't have to deal with that.' "

In speeches, Cheney always says that "September 11 changed everything." But one gets a sense that it didn't change his views, only confirmed them. He has long held a harshly pragmatic view of mankind, informed by his reading and skeptical view of history. His stern, almost forbidding approach to discussing the war on terrorism contrasts with the messianic rhetoric of the president.

One of Cheney's favorite recent books is "An Autumn of War," a collection of essays published by historian Victor Davis Hanson in National Review after 9/11. Hanson, a scholar of ancient Rome and Greece and a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute, believes that bloodshed is a natural condition of humanity. Evil exists in the world and the evildoers need to be met head-on.

In October 2002, during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Cheney invited Hanson to the vice president's mansion for a meeting followed by dinner. Cheney said little but asked many questions.

"He does believe there's sort of a tragic vision in the world," says Hanson, a Democrat who says he came away impressed with Cheney. "He's not one of these ideologues that says he doesn't trust the U.N. or Europe. But human nature being what it is, he has a very realistic view that you can't be afraid to act, even if it's not popular."


Great profile that reminds you just why Dick Cheney was such an unusual but perfect choice for VP by George W. Bush--every fiber of his being suggests adulthood.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:15 PM

O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN:

Bob Keeshan, TV's Captain Kangaroo, has died (Associated Press, January 23, 2004)

Bob Keeshan, who gently entertained and educated generations of children as television's walrus-mustachioed Captain Kangaroo, died Friday at 76.

Keeshan, who lived in Hartford, Vt., died of a long illness, his family said in a statement.

Keeshan's ``Captain Kangaroo'' premiered on CBS in 1955 and ran for 30 years before moving to public television for six more. It was wildly popular among children and won six Emmy Awards, three Gabriels and three Peabody Awards.

The format was simple: Each day, Captain Kangaroo, with his sugar-bowl haircut and uniform coat, would wander through his Treasure House, chatting with his good friend Mr. Green Jeans, played by Hugh ``Lumpy'' Brannum.

He would visit with puppet animals, like Bunny Rabbit, who was scolded for eating too many carrots, and Mr. Moose, who loved to tell knock-knock jokes.

But the show revolved about the grandfatherly Captain Kangaroo, whose name was inspired by the kangaroo pouch-like pockets of the coat Keeshan wore.

``I was impressed with the potential positive relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, so I chose an elderly character,'' Keeshan said.


Rough week for Vermont icons.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:11 PM

GUMBYLIKE:

A Foreign Policy of Try, Try Again (STEVEN R. WEISMAN, January 18, 2004, NY Times)

"It's nice to think that when there is a challenge, the United States goes in with a well-formulated plan and sticks to it," said John Lewis Gaddis, a professor of history at Yale. But "there is no historical precedent for that happening. Germany and Japan after World War II were textbook examples of successful occupations, but they did not proceed according to a predetermined, consistently applied blueprint. Far from it."

Indeed, American rule in both Germany and Japan were bedeviled by a problem that now faces American authorities in Iraq. Both postwar occupations began with the idea of purging the leaders of the old regimes, just as the United States set out in Iraq with a plan to remove top members of the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein. The initial plan in both Japan and Germany was to prevent the re-emergence of an industrial state that could nurture a new generation of Nazis and militarists.

Quickly, however, American anxiety shifted from resurgent Nazism to the spread of Communism in Europe and Asia. Reversing themselves, American authorities began working with former Nazis, especially in the intelligence services, who knew where the Communists were lurking. Even more important, the plan envisioned by Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau to turn Germany into a pastoral state was dropped, replaced by a decision to restore its economic strength to block Russian ambitions west of the Iron Curtain.

In Japan, the beginning of the Korean War "ushered in a new world," writes John W. Dower, a professor of history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in his book about the American occupation, "Embracing Defeat." Citing a popular movie about a man arrested for stealing who confesses by saying, "Oh, mistake!" Mr. Dower writes that "Oh, mistake!" became a famously sarcastic phrase applied to the occupation as it sought to remilitarize Japan, work with members of the old regime and re-establish its economic power.

In Iraq, the occupation administrators have had shifting policies about whether or not to block from power anyone associated with Mr. Hussein. There is now pressure to ease that stand and bring leaders of the Sunni minority back into power to help defuse the insurgency in Sunni areas.

Despite misgivings, the United States is also reconciled to having Islam play a role in the new Iraqi government. Last week, the United States sought to placate Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is demanding direct elections to choose an interim government, though many fear this will give too much power to religious leaders..

"At every stage in Iraq, ideological predispositions of those who advocated the war in Iraq have given way to pragmatism," said Noah Feldman, an assistant professor of law at New York University who served as a legal adviser to the American occupation in its first months. "The initial idea that Iraq was and must be made secular quickly is now being tempered by the reality of Islamic democratic politics."

The current problems mirror some of those faced by the United States during its occupation of the Philippines and Cuba, after the Spanish-American War of 1898.


While the critics look at the Administration and see rigid ideologues, policy towards Iraq--from waiting until after Afghanistan was done to seeking UN approval to attacking without Turkish bases to ditching Shock and Awe in favor of a decapitation strike to changes in the way the handover of power will be accomplished--has been characterized by a flexibility and realism rarely seen in any government, anywhere, anytime.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:05 PM

DUH?:

Does Trade Promote Democracy?: Political scientists have long noted the link between economic openness on one side, and political reform and democracy on the other. To test this compelling thesis, Daniel Griswold compared the political freedom of 123 countries with their overall economic freedom. He found that nations with open economies are far more likely to enjoy full political and civil liberties than those with closed and state-dominated economies. (Daniel T. Griswold, January 23, 2004, The Globalist)

Increased trade and economic integration promote civil and political freedoms directly by opening a society to new technology, communications and democratic ideas.

Economic liberalization provides a counterweight to governmental power — and creates space for civil society.

The most economically open countries are three times more likely to enjoy full political and civil freedoms as those that are economically closed.

And by promoting faster growth, trade promotes political freedom indirectly by creating an economically independent and political aware middle class. [...]

The connection becomes evident when countries are grouped by quintiles — or fifths — according to their economic openness.

Of the 25 rated countries in the top quintile of economic openness, 21 are rated "Free" by Freedom House — and only one is rated "Not Free."

In contrast, among the quintile of countries that are the least open economically, only seven are rated "Free" and nine are rated "Not Free."

In other words, the most economically open countries are three times more likely to enjoy full political and civil freedoms as those that are economically closed. Those that are closed are nine times more likely to completely suppress civil and political freedoms as those that are open.


One factoid that leaps out of the accompanying graphics: China's crack-up is coming sooner rather than later.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:49 PM

THE LARRY ANDERSEN PRESIDENCY (via Timothy):

Remarks by the President to the Press Pool (Nothin' Fancy Cafe, Roswell, New Mexico, 1/22/04)

11:25 A.M. MST

THE PRESIDENT: I need some ribs.

Q Mr. President, how are you?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm hungry and I'm going to order some ribs.

Q What would you like?

THE PRESIDENT: Whatever you think I'd like.

Q Sir, on homeland security, critics would say you simply haven't spent enough to keep the country secure.

THE PRESIDENT: My job is to secure the homeland and that's exactly what we're going to do. But I'm here to take somebody's order. That would be you, Stretch -- what would you like? Put some of your high-priced money right here to try to help the local economy. You get paid a lot of money, you ought to be buying some food here. It's part of how the economy grows. You've got plenty of money in your pocket, and when you spend it, it drives the economy forward. So what would you like to eat?

Q Right behind you, whatever you order.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm ordering ribs. David, do you need a rib?

Q But Mr. President --

THE PRESIDENT: Stretch, thank you, this is not a press conference. This is my chance to help this lady put some money in her pocket. Let me explain how the economy works. When you spend money to buy food it helps this lady's business. It makes it more likely somebody is going to find work. So instead of asking questions, answer mine: are you going to buy some food?

Q Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, good. What would you like?

Q Ribs.

THE PRESIDENT: Ribs? Good. Let's order up some ribs.

Q What do you think of the democratic field, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: See, his job is to ask questions, he thinks my job is to answer every question he asks. I'm here to help this restaurant by buying some food. Terry, would you like something?

Q An answer.

Q Can we buy some questions?

THE PRESIDENT: Obviously these people -- they make a lot of money and they're not going to spend much. I'm not saying they're overpaid, they're just not spending any money.

Q Do you think it's all going to come down to national security, sir, this election?

THE PRESIDENT: One of the things David does, he asks a lot of questions, and they're good, generally.

END 11:29 A.M. MST


The most revealing aspect of the transcript is that the White House posted it.

MORE:
Many touched, motivated by Bush's 'optimism' (Meghan R. Musante, Jan 23, 2004, Alamogordo News)

It was Nuthin’ Fancy lunchtime Thursday for President George W. Bush as he approached the counter of a Roswell restaurant, ordered more than $60 worth of ribs and mingled with local patrons after his speech on the War on Terror at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center.

Bush and other officials were escorted by motorcade to “Nuthin’ Fancy” after his remarks were well-received by a large group of New Mexico Military Institute cadets, Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range personnel and other guests from around the state.

A small group of people were inside the restaurant when the President and other representatives walked in and ordered some lunch to go.

Bush visited with the patrons for about 35 minutes, taking the time to pose for pictures and discuss issues, Rep. Steve Pearce said.

“People were just walking in and you could see they were just stunned,” Pearce said.

Normally, government officials remain separated from the public by an invisible line, Pearce explained.

But being able to introduce District 2 constituents was just awesome, he said. “And he just loves people and that shows in everything that he does.”

Bush arrived in town on Air Force One at about 9:40 a.m. and made his way down Main Street to the civic center.

He was greeted by loud applause and anxious faces in what Sen. Pete V. Domenici called a historic moment for New Mexico and the entire nation.

Alamogordo resident Sgt. Stephen Miller, currently serving a one-year National Guard assignment at Holloman, was so excited Wednesday night that he couldn’t fall asleep.

Airman Dallas Bowman, also of Holloman, went so far as to call home to West Virginia to brag about her upcoming day.

“I called home and was like ‘Guess what I’m going to do,’” she said.

“It’s not something you do everyday,” Holloman Airman Sonrisa Espinoza said.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:40 PM

NO CHECKS AND BALANCES:

Don't cheer if Hutton brings down Blair (Mick Hume, 23 January 2004, spiked)

[I]f Blair was brought down by the sort of criticisms generated around the Hutton Inquiry, it could set back the cause of radical change even further, by reinforcing today's conservative anti-politics atmosphere.
We can already see some clear signs of what public life will look like after Hutton. The body politic has been effectively paralysed since the inquiry was set up last year. That state of paralysis seems set to continue and worsen, regardless of who sits in Number 10 Downing Street. [...]

Another retrograde trend that seems likely to accelerate after Hutton is the attempt to substitute official inquiries for political debate and action. It now appears as if anytime anything happens, from a war to the suicide of an unknown civil servant or a television programme about some racist police trainees, there immediately follow high-level demands for a full inquiry. Twenty years ago it was the left that popularised the idea that inquiring into a problem was the same thing as doing something about it. That delusion now seems to have spread to New Labour and the Tories.

Rather than fight for political ideas and interests that they believe in, elected representatives today seem keen to avoid political battles and abdicate responsibility for resolving issues. Instead they will leap at the chance to hand matters over to an inquiry, where a judge or some other apparently neutral, unaccountable figure can spend months or years establishing 'the truth', Solomon-style. If this substitution of judicial process for politics goes much further, we may find ourselves living under a system of government-by-inquiry.

No doubt the authorities hope that these inquiries will help to re-establish public confidence. In fact they are likely to have the opposite effect. After all, they are premised on the assumption that public bodies cannot be trusted, and that everybody has something to hide that must be brought out into the open. The result of these inquiries is invariably to reinforce suspicions about conspiracies and cover-ups, leading to calls for yet more inquiries. So the Hutton inquiry has already prompted demands from left and right alike for a full-scale inquiry into the basis on which Britain joined America's war against Saddam Hussein. This should not be mistaken for a political challenge to wars of intervention. It is more the latest expression of cynicism about politics in general.

That anti-politics mood is also likely to be reinforced post-Hutton by the trend for emotionally driven individuals to be granted the moral authority to pass judgement on political issues and elected politicians. The reduction of the political to the personal (and increasingly, the petty) means that those with a personal claim, especially those cast in the role of victim, can stake out the moral high ground on any issue.


Here we see the wisdom of the Founders in creating a Republic which is to a great extent buffered from the fickleness of rapid popular opinion change. For Britain to discard the best leader it's had in several centuries over something as trivial as how ready to hand Saddam's WMD were would be deranged.

MORE:
Blair's Longest Day: My name is Tony Blair … and this will be the longest day of my premiership. The following takes place between 12.00pm on January 27 and 12.00pm on January 28, when I have to save the world … and my job (James Cusick, 1/20/04, Sunday Herald)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:17 PM

BLACK LIKE ME:

White Student Calls Self African-American Fox News, January 23, 2004)

Officials disciplined students who papered their nearly all-white high school with posters advocating a white student from South Africa for the school's "Distinguished African American Student Award."

Peggy Rupprecht, spokeswoman for the Westside Community Schools district, said administrators at Westside High School discovered more than a hundred of the posters throughout the school first thing Monday * Martin Luther King Jr. Day

"The content of the posters, they believed, was inappropriate and insensitive to some members of our school community," Rupprecht said.


False assertions of blackness would seem an ideal way to thwart affirmative action programs--after all, is the government really going to start certifying peoples' ethnicities just for quota purposes?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:53 PM

EXIT YAPPING:

Dean says new Fed chief needed: ‘I think Alan Greenspan has become too political,’ Democratic hopeful says (Reuters, Jan. 23, 2004)

Mr. Greenspan should be replaced because he's fighting the inflation of the 70's, which was vanquished over twenty years ago. But, if it still mattered what Mr. Dean said, this is the kind of thing responsible leaders don't say because it roils markets.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:58 PM

SUFFER NOT:

How Satan Is Propping Up Bush's War on Terror: a review of A Lucifer Ascending: The Occult in Folkore and Popular Culture by Bill Ellis (Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com)

[T]he more you read about Ellis' research into the history of Ouija boards, chain letters, lucky rabbit's feet and adolescent "legend-tripping" (i.e., late-night visits to haunted graveyards and other spooky locations), the more you understand that behind these obscurities lie key questions in contemporary culture. Among other things, Ellis says he understands exactly why so many Americans believe that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were working together, despite the lack of any factual evidence to support that claim.

In both Lucifer Ascending and his 2000 book Raising the Devil: Satanism, New Religions, and the Media, Ellis builds a sober and persuasive argument that the recent hysteria over the influence
of Satan in America, much of it emanating from the Christian right, reflects a misunderstanding of a cyclical or dialectical process that has repeated itself for centuries. The dorm-room séance and
the midnight cemetery voyage in some dude's unmuffled Camaro, he argues, are debased fragments of an ancient and genuine folk-witchcraft tradition. (More so, perhaps, than the New Age feminist happy-talk of contemporary Wiccans and neo-pagans, although Ellis speaks respectfully of such boutique beliefs.) As such, they reflect an eternal struggle between individuals and institutions over access to spiritual and supernatural realms, and the equally eternal struggle of teenagers to resist adult authority in general and the strictures of organized religion in particular.

Most significantly, Ellis argues that occultism and evangelical Christianity are more closely related than the devotees of either are likely to admit.


Folk like to pretend that witch-hunting and burnings were the product of mere imagination, but there is of course an ancient and resilient tradition of witchcraft and it does compete with religion, so it is entirely appropriate for the religious to have taken the hammer to the witches, just as democrats purged communists from positions of power in America in the 50s. Societies need not tolerate their antitheses.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 AM

YOU GO, GIRL!:


Reporters Shift Gears on The Dean Bus
: Iowa Vote and Outburst Rewrite the Campaign Saga (Howard Kurtz, January 23, 2004, Washington Post)

The reporters are all talking about the implosion.

As Howard Dean campaigned across New Hampshire on Thursday, the journalists trailing him were conscious of watching history unfold, but not the Internet-fueled surge to victory they had thought they were covering.

When a candidate loses his footing, even fleeting moments seem to feed the larger narrative.

Thus it was that when Dean showed up at Lou's Restaurant in Hanover -- for the sort of event where he orders hot chocolate while 11 photographers behind the counter snap away -- the first customer he encountered was Marisa Kraus, holding a Bush-Cheney sticker.

"Governor Dean -- what about the scream?" she taunted.

"Tell us: was it cathartic?"

"It was great, it was cathartic, yahoo," Dean muttered sarcastically, moving on to the next table.


You probably have to know her to appreciate how proud she'll be of that "she taunted".


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 AM

LOYALTIES:

O'Neill Has Done His Country a Favor (Robert B. Reich, 1/16/04, Newsday)

Early this week, former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill sent tongues wagging and Republicans gasping when he claimed, in interviews and in a new book, that President George W. Bush intended to depose Saddam Hussein from the start - seven months before 9/11.

Hence, the whole thing was trumped up, an elaborate pretext. This is an extraordinary indictment. [...]

The central question his book raises isn't really the loyalty a cabinet officer owes a president. It's the loyalty a president and his inner circle owe to the country and to its democracy. If O'Neill is telling the truth - and we have no reason to doubt his veracity - there's serious doubt about the loyalty of this administration to America.


Let's assume that Mr. Reich doesn't mean what he implies, that 9-11 was "trumped up" to provide an excuse for war with Iraq two years later. But he must mean what he says, that he doubts the Administration's loyalty.

We might call that McCarthyism, except that the McCarthyite charge that American communists were loyal to the Sioviet Union rather than to their own country is a mere statement of fact. In most other circumstances it seems unwise to accuse people of disloyalty just because you don't believe their actions benefit the country, or even that they directly benefit our enemies. For instance, when someone like John Kerry supported the Nuclear Freeze movement, which the Soviet Union funded, it seems improbable that he was knowingly trying to help the Communist side in the Cold War. It may be the case that had the movement prevailed and the Reagan build-up been stopped the Bolsheviks would have been able to preserve their dictatorship, but it's hard to believe that Mr. Kerry opposed his own government for that reason. Far easier to accept the idea that he was an ignorant dupe who accidentally did KGB bidding.

Additionally, one wonders, in the present instance, just who it is Mr. Reich thinks the Administration owes its loyalty to. The prevailing answer--on the Left, far Right, and abroad--seems to be that they are part of some kind of World Zionist conspiracy, which wants to deal with regimes that threaten Israel even though they're no threat to America. The question then would be whether George W. Bush is a kind of evil mastermind behind this global plot or just a Kerry-like useful idiot. But neither Mr. O'Neill's book nor Mr. Reich's column offer a very satisfactory answer to this question.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 AM

OBJECTIVELY OUR ENEMY:

Germany secures a foothold in Iran (Safa Haeri, 1/24/04, Asia Times)

Iran has become the prize for which both the United States and the European Union are fighting, with the EU having already made huge investments in future decision-makers, thus possessing a determining edge over Washington, according to analysts.

The end game is about the political return of Germany to the Middle East, where other major players, namely the United States, France, Britain and Russia, are present and have their proxies, analysts say.

"From a long time ago, Germany, aware of the importance of Iran as the major economic, but also political and strategic power in the region, and given the new situation created following the Islamic revolution of 1979 that revived Iranian nationalism, chose Iran as its principal ally for its political return to this sensitive region, building firm contacts with the new Iranian leaders, including both the clerics and civilians, many of them pro-German," Morteza Rai'si, an Iranian journalist based in Bonn who has followed Iran-Germany relations for over half a century, told Asia Times Online.


Bad enough to have sided with the Ba'athists in Iraq, but by also supporting the theocrats against the people of Iran, and thereby against the most promising force force for peaceful liberalization within Islam, Germany is become our enemy and should be treated as such. The future of Iran, after all, matters more than the future of Germany.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 AM

ANGLONAUTS:

Andy's ready to blast off: When the shuttle heads back to space, Andy Thomas will be on board. Australia's only astronaut talks to Caroline Overington about how the Columbia might have been saved - and why man must go to Mars.
(Sydney Morning Herald, January 24, 2004)

It was only by chance that the Australian astronaut Andy Thomas was not aboard the doomed space shuttle Columbia which broke apart over Texas a year ago, taking the lives of all seven crew. It is, however, by choice that he will be aboard the next shuttle, which is expected to be launched in October.

"I was considered for Columbia," Thomas says. "But ultimately it comes down to where you are in the rotation, and I was scheduled for a different one."

So, on the day that Columbia broke up and tumbled from the sky, Thomas was in his office at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, forced to watch and wait and wonder why the shuttle had not appeared on his radar.

He knew everybody on board, and one of the astronauts, Mike Anderson, was a close friend who had travelled with him to the Mir space station. "It was very troubling," he says. "It was about 8am [on February 1 last year] and the shuttle was supposedly 16 minutes from landing, but we couldn't find her. I thought, 'This doesn't look good."' Thomas immediately started calling people and "while I was in my office, doing that, CNN showed the video [of debris raining from the sky]. And that was ... ah, well, pretty horrific," he says.

Thomas, 51, says he knew from the footage that Columbia was lost, but he still hoped that the crew might have survived. "The question I was struggling with was, were they able to activate escape systems?" But within an hour he knew all hope was lost. "The break-up was catastrophic. It was not survivable."

After the accident, the independent Columbia Accident Review Board savaged NASA for failing to "heed alarm bells" and for not having a "culture of safety". Chastened, NASA agreed to implement all the board's recommendations, and now believes it is almost ready to fly again. Thomas will be on the so-called "return-to-flight" mission - at his own request. Some people thought he was made to volunteer, but he says: "It will be the safest shuttle flight ever. And I knew it needed people with experience, so I asked to be considered ..."


Since the President proposed continuing on to Mars, you've heard again the bitterness with which the costs of manned space flight are viewed by many (think Barney Frank), so it's interesting that we send so many non-American citizens into space with that money.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM

TOTALITARIANS OR DEMOCRATS?:

Why Saddam's arrest did matter (Marc Erikson , 1/24/04, Asia Times)

Some tribes might fight on. Tribes always do. But the majority of Ba'ath Party members, religion never having been their thing, now have every reason to be just ordinary Iraqis ("good Germans") and make their peace with the occupying powers - the more so as the occupiers are the only ones who can protect their interests against the majority Shi'ites, whom they once helped suppress.

The Americans know this, but they have to step carefully. They cannot simply
reinstitute Ba'ath Party members and officials in positions of power. There
has to be a show at "de-Ba'athification" much as in Germany there had to be
a credible effort at de-Nazification. Of course, de-Nazification went only so far. For example, US intelligence struck a deal with Hitler's eastern-front military intelligence chief, Major-General Reinhard Gehlen, under which intelligence files and 350 intelligence officers came under US control and the "Gehlen Org" was formed, which later became the core group of the West German foreign-intelligence service (BND) headed by Gehlen. Moreover, tens of thousands of former Nazi officials, after a quick rinse, got their Persilschein (detergent certificate) and resumed leading functions in the civil service.

I cannot point to any concrete evidence that similar arrangements are
currently being made in Iraq. But I would be most surprised if it weren't
so. The old connections are there, much as the compelling logic of political
alignments. Paul Bremer's US occupation authority has made its deal with the
Kurdish minority and guaranteed it a substantial degree of autonomy. The
ex-Ba'ath Sunnis need protection against Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's
Shi'ites, who are bent on retribution and exercising control in the new Iraqi state. The Americans need leverage against al-Sistani and intelligence information on unreconstructed Ba'athists and foreign fighters.

When thousands of Shi'ites took to the streets of Baghdad this week, they
called for direct elections and carried signs reading, "Saddam war criminal,
not prisoner of war". It will have sent a chill down Saddam loyalists'
spines. There are scores to settle. If the Americans left, it would be civil war - and the Sunnis wouldn't win it. The Americans won't leave. Too much has been invested and can't be written down. For better or worse, the Sunni Iraqis and Ba'athists at their core and the American occupiers are natural allies in the political wars ahead.


To finish off his analogy and analysis all Mr. Erikson has to do is explain why the U.S. should have allied itself with Nazi party remnants and tried preventing Konrad Adenauer and the Christian Democrats from taking over post-Hitler Germany, as he's suggesting we join with the totalitarians to oppose al-Sistani and the Shi'a democrats now.

MORE:
Winning the Peace (Clifford D. May, January 22, 2004, Townhall)

On a conventional battlefield, America is second to none. Slowly and painfully, we also are mastering the skills necessary to win a low-intensity but high-anxiety war against a shadow army of insurgents and jihadi terrorists. As for the third great challenge facing America – helping bring democracy to parts of the world that have known only oppression -- well, in this realm there is cause for serious concern.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 AM

BORDER PATROL:

Bush and the Great Wall: The barriers being erected to stem the flow of immigrants in Europe and the United States represent a destructive new world (b)order. (Mike Davis, tomdispatch.com)

When delirious crowds tore down the Berlin Wall in 1989, many hallucinated that a millennium of borderless freedom was at hand. Globalization was supposed to inaugurate an era of unprecedented physical and virtual electronic mobility.

Instead, neoliberal capitalism has promptly built the greatest barrier to free movement in history. This Great Wall of Capital, which separates a few dozen rich countries from the earth's poor majority, completely dwarfs the old Iron Curtain. It girds half the earth, cordons off at least 12,000 kilometers of terrestrial borderline, and is incomparably more deadly to desperate trespassers.


The difference, of course, being that the Berlin Wall was necessary in order for the East German regime to keep their own people subjugated, while the borders Mr. Davis complains of are attempts by free peoples to defend their own societies.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:52 AM

HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT:

The Hidden State of the Union: The President's speech, like most right-wing discourse these days, was in a kind of code, based on a moral system that not all Americans share. (George Lakoff, January 22, 2004, AlterNet)

Lying below the 50-50 political schism in this country are two opposing worldviews. Each sees national politics through the lens of an idealized family, either a conservative strict-father family or a progressive nurturing parent family.

The strict father sees the world as a dangerous and difficult place, where evil lurks, and competition will always produce winners and losers. His job is to protect and support his family, and as moral authority, teach his kids right from wrong. Through example and painful punishment, he instills in them an internal discipline to act morally and become self-reliant.

Moral people are disciplined and deserve to prosper. Those who are undisciplined are not moral and should not prosper. Mothers may comfort, but must be prevented from coddling, lest the children become undisciplined, immoral, and dependent. When the children are mature, they are on their own and parents should not meddle in their lives.

This family moral system, projected onto the nation, defines a radical form of conservative politics that Bush supporters implicitly understand and that provides the internal logic that lies behind the speech.


While it provides helpful clarity when the Left acknowledges that they no longer believe in good and evil, it also makes them unfit for governance.


January 22, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 PM

THE GAMESMAN:

The W. Nobody Knows: What he's like in real life. (Paul Burka, June 1999, Texas Monthly)

"Well, am I running?" George W. Bush demanded to know.

I happened to be sitting in my Suburban near the south door of the state capitol, discharging a passenger, just as the governor's silver-gray Lincoln Continental was doing the same. It was early February, well before he would announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, and a smidgen of suspense still lingered. I had waved at Bush as he went past, and he had swerved over to deliver the opening gambit in one of his favorite games: conversational one-upmanship. Having played it before, I knew I didn't have a chance.

"Sure," I said. "You'd be the wuss of all time if you didn't."

"But what about the rumors?" he shot back. Then, to my utter stupefaction, he proceeded to tick off everything the national press was investigating about his past: five or six of the most salacious things that could be said about anyone—including, in his own words, "I bought cocaine at my dad's inauguration"—plus intimate gossip about his family.

As he well knew, I had already heard all of it through the media grapevine. "You missed one," I said. "You crashed a jet while you were in the National Guard because you were drunk."

He spread his hands. "That's easy," he said. "Where's the plane?" Game over. He spun around and headed off.

When friends who have only a passing interest in politics ask me what Bush is really like, I tell them this story and others like it. On another occasion when his car was delivering him to the Capitol, he spied two well-heeled lobbyists walking down the steps among the throngs of tourists. He rolled down his window and shouted, "Show me the money!" They obediently flashed their wallets. One can only imagine what the common folk thought of this byplay.

A game can pop up anytime, anywhere. Recently Bush's chief fundraiser, Don Evans, was quoted in the New York Times as saying that the nascent campaign hoped to raise between $10 million and $20 million by June. Karen Hughes, Bush's communications director, knew that the media would measure success by the higher figure, and at a press conference she tried to lower expectations: In 1995, she explained, Bob Dole had raised only $13.5 million in the same time frame. A TV reporter pressed the issue to Bush: If the goal isn't $20 million, what is it? Bush looked directly at Hughes, grinned, and said, "Nineteen and a half." "I felt," she told me, "like I was watching my son perform in the third-grade play."

These encounters reveal the man who is the odds-on favorite to become the next president of the United States as irreverent, unself-conscious, and intensely competitive. If you are his adversary, he delights in your discomfort—yet he expects you to recognize that it is something of an honor to be invited to play the game. His public and private personas are the same, something that is too seldom the case with politicians. If, as his detractors have charged, he is a middle-aged frat boy at heart, it should be remembered that the slogan of the French Revolution, the seminal event of the modern age, was "Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!"—and perhaps what is wrong with American politics right now is that in our battles over liberty and equality, we have neglected the commonality that is implicit in fraternity.


Better Fraternity than Equality anyway.

MORE:
Talking Politics: Senior executive editor Paul Burka on George W. Bush and this month's cover story, "The Man Who Isn't There." (Texas Monthly, February 2004)

texasmonthly.com: How do you think Bush will be remembered by historians?

PB: It's way too early to say what the final assessment will be, but I'll take a stab at a few things. 1) He will be seen as the third of a trio of presidents—Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43 (Hillary would make it a quartet if she's elected in '08)—who governed in polarizing times and were scorned by the opposition, to the point where their legitimacy was questioned: Reagan, because the Democrats regarded him as being a figurehead, an actor who was playing a role; Clinton, because the Republicans regarded him as morally unfit for the office; and Bush 43, because Democrats regarded him as not legitimately elected. Notice that Bush 41 fades from view, in part because he was a one-termer—the same fate that befell William Howard Taft, wedged between reformers Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. The interesting question for historians will be whether the politicians themselves were polarizing or whether it was simply the times, with the generation that grew up in the sixties carrying its battles over cultural issues to the grave. 2) He will be seen as the president who was dealt the worst hand since Lincoln, with the possible exception of FDR: the disputed election, a serious recession, and the Al Qaeda attacks, all in his first year. 3) Many people see him as a very conservative president, but he will be harder to classify than we think. He greatly increased federal involvement in and support for public education; he enacted the biggest entitlement program since the Great Society in extending Medicare to cover prescription drugs, and now he proposes to help illegal immigrants. The old description of "compassionate conservative" may make it into the history books. Conservative columnist George Will recently suggested that Bush's moves mean the Republican party has at last made its peace with big government and the welfare state. On the other hand, Bush has put himself at risk, as far as history is concerned, with his anti-environmental policies (especially on global warming), his tax cut, and his doctrine of preemptive war. He has a lot of chips on the table, rolling the dice on the tax cut and on his war policy, and if either of these have disastrous results, he will not fare well. Nor will he fare well if he is defeated for reelection, which I don't think will happen.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 PM

CAN'T BEAT SOMETHIN' WITH NUTHIN':

In Fallujah, sentiment may be turning against resistance (Hannah Allam, 1/09/04, Knight Ridder Newspapers)

The explosion Friday rocked the dusty blue bus, sending tattooed tribeswomen to the floor in a swirl of fringed scarves and screams.

They were leaving town for a shopping trip to Baghdad, about 35 miles east, when insurgents apparently bombed a nearby American military checkpoint. None of the women was injured, but the blast destroyed the last vestige of their support for the guerrillas who make Fallujah the most consistently troublesome city for the U.S.-led coalition.

"Now you see how it feels, how we have to jump and duck when we hear explosions," Samia Abdullah, a 45-year-old Fallujah resident, told a Knight Ridder reporter on the bus. "Day and night, we are afraid, and we are tired of it. I can no longer feel proud of the resistance. They have made these bombings our everyday life."

Such disdain for anti-American attacks is a new phenomenon in Fallujah, where violence in recent weeks included two deadly attacks on U.S. helicopters, frequent grenade assaults on convoys, roadside bombs that blocked traffic for hours and the brazen drive-by shooting of two French contractors whose car broke down on a road leading to the town.

The celebrations that followed such attacks in the early days of the occupation are becoming more rare, several residents said, and martyrdom no longer seems noble when it means upturning the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

"I'm against the resistance now, and I'm not afraid to say it," said Mahmoud Ali, 25, who was tending a roadside soda stand. "I can bring you a dozen friends who say the same thing. I wish the attacks would stop. It's affecting our whole stability, our whole life."


As several of the better stories on the task of defeating the resistance have mentioned, its fatal weakness is that it offers no alternative vision of an Iraq--particularly since Saddam's capture--that prospective supporters might choose instead of the one that America is offering. Killing Americans is probably fun, but it won't feed the family.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:34 PM

GOSHDARN ONE-LEGGED JORDANIAN BEDOUINS:

A suspect emerges as key link in terror chain: Global investigators say Abu Musab Zarqawi is a central figure in one Al Qaeda-related plot after another. (Peter Ford, 1/23/04, CS Monitor)

Mr. Zarqawi, a one-legged Jordanian Bedouin currently thought to be hiding in Iran, has emerged as a central suspect in one Al Qaeda-related plot after another, investigators say, from allegedly smuggling suicide bombers into Iraq to orchestrating the recent car bomb blasts in Turkey and planning chemical attacks in Europe.

"He is arguably one of the most dangerous people out there in terms of the number of things he has his hands in," says Matthew Levitt, a former FBI counterterrorism agent now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

"He has a lot of connections to a lot of people, and what makes him most dangerous is his affiliations," Mr. Levitt adds.

Turkish police investigating last November's twin synagogue bombings in Istanbul arrested members of two Islamic groups they said had contacts with Zarqawi. Moroccan investigators concluded that Zarqawi organized and financed last June's quintuple bombing of Jewish and Israeli targets in Casablanca that killed 35 people. Italian and German police recently arrested three men on warrants charging them with helping would-be martyrs to travel from Europe to Iraq, at Zarqawi's behest.

Though intelligence analysts differ over Zarqawi's exact relationship to Osama bin Laden, they agree it has become clear that he has used his leadership of Al Tawhid, a Jordanian extremist group, to develop links not only with Al Qaeda but also with Ansar al-Islam, a radical Kurdish group based in Northern Iraq, the Lebanese Hezbollah, and with North African cells in Europe. [...]

Zarqawi is thought to have spent time in and around an Ansar-al Islam camp in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq before last year's US-led invasion of Iraq, and then to have fled across the border to western Iran, where he is believed to be living now.


What al Qaeda connection to Iraq?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:05 PM

NNDC:

The New New Deal Coalition (James Pinkerton, 01/20/2004, Tech Central Station)

[F]or Democrats, here's the rub: Kerry and Edwards might be more attractive candidates in a general election than Dean, but that might not be saying much. The big fear that all thinking Democrats have is that the Republican, George W. Bush, has assembled his own updated version of the New Deal Coalition, the electoral alliance that dominated American politics for much of the 20th century. And if that's the case, then whomever the Democrats nominate this summer, it won't make much of a difference. [...]

[D]emocrats don't have to worry just about nominating Dean and getting whacked in November. They have to worry about nominating anybody -- and still seeing the Republicans cement what might be called the New New Deal Coalition (NNDC). What's that? The NNDC is the 21st-century alliance of white Southern Protestants and Northern Catholics forged by Bush and Karl Rove, an alliance that echoes the New Deal alignment put together by Franklin D. Roosevelt, starting in 1932. That partisan alliance brought Democrats victories in seven of the nine presidential elections from the 30s into the 60s.

But wait a second: didn't Bush lose the popular vote four years ago? And didn't he win the electoral college by just a smidgen? Sure he did, but that was then. Master-politico Rove never claimed that Bush was another FDR. Instead, Rove asserted that Bush was another William McKinley, the Republican elected to the White House in 1896, defeating Democrat William Jennings Bryan. Five years ago, as the Texas governor geared up to run, Rove thought of him as another McKinley, a Republican who would win the White House on a moderate domestic platform that would reel in immigrant Americans. In McKinley's time, of course, the immigrants were mostly from Europe; in our time, they're mostly from Latin America. But they had the same American Dream aspirations, Rove figured, and he was proven right.[...]

[I]n the last three years, Bush seems to have cemented his grip on much of the country. Between the economic boom, the war on terror, and his own personal style, the Connecticut-born/Texas-bred Commander in Chief has indeed taken command of the North-South Roosevelt alliance. He has Dixie in his back pocket; that's obvious, from Bill Frist to Tom DeLay to his own brother, Jeb. But crucially, W. also has much of the North, especially the "ethnics," who admittedly are now likely to have white-collar jobs in the suburbs. But even so, the whole ideo-political space held by, say, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Rudy Giuliani -- heavily Catholic, at least ancestrally -- likes Bush the way their grandfathers liked FDR.

And what do the Democrats have? For the most part, they have what Landon had seven decades ago: Yankees and blacks. After Dick Gephardt's pathetic fourth-place showing in Iowa, it's not clear that the Democrats can even count on the industrial unions anymore. And we'll have to wait and see how the Democrats do among Hispanics; Bush has certainly been courting them hard, the way that McKinley went after, say, German-Americans more than a century ago.


It's always interesting to see just how short the American attention span is. We'll allow Mr. Pinkerton to stand in here for nearly every pundit in America, but note that at the outset of his essay he suggests that the two senators--Kerry and Edwards--may be "more electable" than the governor (Dean). You've heard this kind of nonsense alot in the last few days and, being charitable, it's perhaps best to chalk it up to the lingering shock of Monday night. Suffice it to say, it's an antihistorical notion that a sitting senator is more likely to be elected president than a governor. Mr. Edwards at least has the advantage of having practically no meaningful career, but by the time the GOP gets done with John Kerry's voting record in the Senate he'll be nothing more than Ted Kennedy with a fresh liver.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:50 PM

WHAT TERRORISM?:

Bases for an Empire: U.S. military power girdles the globe. It is imperialism by another name -- and it incites terrorism. (Chalmers Johnson, January 18, 2004, LA Times)

There is plenty of evidence that our growing military presence abroad incites rather than lessens terrorism. By far the greatest defect in the "global cavalry" strategy is that it accentuates Washington's impulse to apply irrelevant military remedies to terrorism. As the prominent British military historian Correlli Barnett has observed, the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq only increased the threat from Al Qaeda. From 1993 through the Sept. 11 assaults of 2001, there were five major Al Qaeda attacks worldwide; in the two years since then, there have been 17 such bombings tied to the terrorist organization.

Mr. Johnson is one of the new declinists, who think "Imperial overreach" dooms America. That's silly enough, as Paul Kennedy--who led the last generation of declinists discovered, back when we were really wasting money on defense--found out. But on NPR today Mr. Johnson used this same figure and it's just intellectually dishonest. Prior to 9-12, all of al Qaeda's attacks were directed at America or Americans. None have been since. In fact, all have taken place in predominantly Muslim countries. The very numbers he uses to suggest we're losing the war on terror instead demonstrate just how significantly we've restricted al Qaeda operations.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:20 PM

NO MOONLIGHT, HE:

Orosco Retires After 24-Year Career (VOA Sports, 22 Jan 2004)

He began his career with the New York Mets in 1979, before some current major leaguers were born. Orosco set big league records with 1,252 games pitched and 1,248 relief appearances. He posted 87 wins and 80 losses with 144 saves and a career earned-run-average of 3-16 with nine teams. Orosco says he wants to be remembered both for the length of his career and his consistency.

Here's how old Jesse Orosco is--the Mets got him for Jerry freakin' Koosman. Contrary to the story, his greatest moment came in Game 6 of the NLCS in '86, not the subsequent World Series. Mike Scott was throwing an evil splitter that year (emphasis on the "s" "p" "i" "t") and no one on God's green Earth gave them a shot at beating him in Game 7, so they had to win Game 6.

In a game that went many extra innings, Orosco gave up a tying homerun to Billy Hatcher in the 14th but was still around in the 16th, facing Kevin "Smallmouth" Bass despite giving up two runs of a three run lead. Bass got down to two strikes but fouled off a couple fastballs. Keith Hernandez called Gary Carter out to the mound and demanded to know why they weren't putting him away with a slider. Carter--a notorious pitcher's catcher--said Orosco's arm was going to fall off if he tried throwing one. Hernandez told Carter to either call a slider or he'd personally beat the tar out of him. The rest, as they say, is history.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:03 PM

OF ALL THE COFFEE SHOPS IN HANOVER, HE HAD TO WALK INTO HERS:

Got this note today from a compatriot in our local conservative whacko organization:

Dear All,

I thought all of you would get a kick out of hearing about my encounter with Howard Dean this morning.

I was in Lou's ( local Hanover coffee shop) having a meeting when we noticed the place was filling up with lots of people in black jackets with huge cameras around their neck and groovy architect glasses, i.e. CITY PEOPLE! I asked one of the press women what was going on and she said they were the Dean press gang; she was from Time Magazine. Her glasses were hip green rectangles ad she had an excellent haircut. When some of the cameras started to snap pictures of the locals, we held up our BUSH/CHENEY bumper stickers and received a few thumbs up from the Dean press, not a good sign for the good Dr.

Sitting next to me was Cam Eldred (owner of Miller Auto and Hanover High grad) and Tiger Shaw (former Olympic skier and one of the 2 Republicans in Norwich).

The huge Dean bus streamed by and soon after the Gov. arrived. We were sitting in the first table along the wall, and as he walked in we faced him with our bumper stickers in front of us. Dean took a step back, laughing, and said he couldn't start with us, and moved on to Tiger saying
"Hey, you're someone more famous than I am." I have to admit I was impressed that Dean recognized Tiger--Tiger later told me that they had skied together once.

As he finished up his chat I asked him:

"Governor Dean, what about the scream?"

He laughed and said "It was great, it was great."

"Was it cathartic?" I asked. He mumbled something and moved on to make his rounds. As he ended his little tour, he did come and shake our hands.

Well, I would say that his reception at Lou's was less than enthusiastic and if he can't rally them in Hanover, forget it.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:25 PM

CULTURE FIRST (via Thomas A. Corcoran):

Europe’s Problem—and Ours (George Weigel, February 2004, First Things)

Go back in your mind’s eye to the fall of 1940, the fateful period that Winston Churchill called Britain’s “finest hour.” Having subdued the Low Countries and France, Adolf Hitler now turned his attention to the last remaining democratic power in Europe. Hermann Göring convinced Hitler that Britain could be bludgeoned into submission on the cheap, so the Luftwaffe unleashed a fierce aerial blitz intended to break the British will to resist. Night after night, London burned. One of the most famous photographs from those desperate weeks was a nocturnal silhouette of St. Paul’s Cathedral, its great dome standing strong and unshaken against the smoke and fire swirling through the City of London. That grainy photograph stirs the emotions to this day, because it captures in one brilliant image the struggle of Western Civilization against the barbarism that seemed on the verge of overwhelming it.

Now, turn your mind’s eye two generations forward. About forty-five years after the Blitz, Mikhail Gorbachev, then the newly chosen general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, visited London on one of his first trips abroad. As part of the hospitality extended to Gorbachev and his party, they were taken to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral. As I recall the story, after touring Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece Gorbachev turned to the Verger, one of the cathedral officials, and said, “A most interesting building. What is it used for today?” To which the Verger replied, “In order, sir, to worship God.”

A decade later, I was in London to lecture and looked up a young Czech seminarian studying at Heythrop College who had been helpful when I was doing research in Prague on the Catholic Church’s role in the collapse of European communism. I asked my young friend what he wanted to see, and he mentioned that he hadn’t yet visited St. Paul’s. So we took the Tube to the City and went to the cathedral. To my surprise, I discovered that one could no longer enter St. Paul’s without paying an entrance fee. Yes, Christian worship continued at the cathedral church of the Diocese of London. But on a Saturday afternoon in January 1995, it had been turned into a museum.

St. Paul’s in defiance of the Nazi blitz, St. Paul’s confounding the leader of Soviet communism, and St. Paul’s become an architectural museum: these three vignettes come to mind when I try to understand what has happened in Western Europe and what has happened to Western Europe in recent decades—and when I try to understand why Europe’s approach to democracy and to the responsibilities of the democracies in world politics seems so different from many Americans’ understanding of these issues.


The European problem--or radical secularism--as Mr. Wiegel discusses it here is most obvious in the fight over headware in France, but that it is our problem too is apparent in things like the Ten Commandments and "Under God" fights. If we don't win such fights we too may go the way of Europe, which is queitly into death.


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:57 PM

A REFORMATION TO REFORM THE REFORM:

Dean calls for further limits on campaign contributions (AP, 1/24/2004; via American RealPolitik)

Dean said for every $100 that someone donates to a presidential campaign, the government should match it with $500 and give the donor a $100 tax credit.

If Dean means to keep the current contribution limit of $4000, then we can expect roughly 100 million contributions (since it's free, why not help your candidate?), for a total cost to the taxpayers of $2,400 billion. The Presidential election alone will more than double the federal budget.

If Dean limits contributions to $100, then the bill would be $60 billion. For the price of liberating Iraq, we can have an election.

If there's no limit, I'll give one trillion dollars to President Bush, paid for by a loan collateralized by my tax credit. I hope you guys are ready for your $6 trillion tax increase.

Dean also said he wants to get rid of the Federal Election Commission that oversees campaign financing because it's toothless and serves the parties instead of the public.

Now here's a sensible Dean initiative. The $40 million annual savings will help pay for the tax credits.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:20 PM

I, HISTORIAN:

'Fog of War' vs. 'Stop the Presses' (ERROL MORRIS, January 7, 2004)

Over the years I have read with avidity various intellectual disputes in The New York Review of Books and other literary journals. But I have never imagined myself being a part of one of them. However, I found Eric Alterman's December 15 "Stop the Presses" column on my recent film, The Fog of War, so devoid of historical scholarship (despite his claim of having worked on his PhD for eleven years) that I feel compelled to respond.

Alterman called me just after finishing the piece, first leaving a message with my office that I needed to be "prepared to answer some difficult questions." I called him. He read me sections of the piece. In particular, the passage, "After the screening of the film...[Morris] argued that the popular view of a 'vacillatory Johnson and advisers like McNamara breathing down his neck' for war was false. Well, Morris is a brilliant filmmaker, but he is not a historian." Of course, I didn't care for his suggestion that the history in the film is flawed. But I am willing to acknowledge my errors and mistakes. I just would like them to be clearly elucidated.

Alterman went on to portray McNamara as the prime mover in the conflict: It is a bellicose McNamara egging on a vacillatory LBJ. This view is widely held and has become one of the central myths about the escalation of the war. McNamara, the numbers cruncher, the statistician, the "IBM machine with legs," goaded LBJ into war, and then cried alligator tears when it was too damn late. (Last year, HBO presented The Path to War--Frankenheimer's last film--with Alec Baldwin playing Robert McNamara. Not surprisingly, it promoted this same thesis: LBJ vacillatory; McNamara bellicose.)

The only problem with this account is that it is not compatible with recently released historical documentation--in particular, JFK's recordings of his Cabinet meetings and LBJ's selective recordings of his phone conversations.


Mr. Alterman's response contains the hilarious assertion: "Since he is not trained as a historian, Morris lacks the ability to weigh the value of one conversation against another, considering context, hidden motives and persons present." This beautifully illustrates the way that the genuine need for specialization in the sciences created self-serving cults of the humanities and arts, so that intellectuals could feel that they too had access to secret knowledge.

Ever wonder why James Joyce is unreadable? It's because he and his literary contemporaries--unlike Goethe in his time--couldn't understand the physics of their day and were jealous.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM

READ THE ESSAY, WIN THE BOOK (via Paul Cella):

Crisis Management (Lee Harris, 01/22/2004, Tech Central Station)

This last week, unfortunately for his electoral prospects, Howard Dean revealed the stuff that he was made up and did so in a matter of minutes; and -- fairly or unfairly -- many of those who watched his performance found themselves convinced that they now knew what Governor Dean would act like in a moment of genuine national crisis, and were not assured by the insight that had been inadvertently given them.

We should keep this in mind whenever we reflect on the seemingly irrational method by which we as a people select the man to fill the most important office in the world. For the real purpose behind the superficially bizarre rituals of an American election -- caucuses, primaries, televised debates, concession speeches -- is not to provide an exercise in democracy; it is to test the inner resources and character of the candidates, and to do this by exposing them to a grueling series of artificially induced crises that simulate those that he will ultimately have to face as president. The American electoral process is, in a way, like the simulated testing done by the manufacturers of automobile tires -- we want to know which ones are reliable before we put them on our cars, rather than afterwards, and that is why the American people tend to respond so harshly to those candidates who fail to make the grade during this our national period of candidate testing.

Iowa was Dean's first crisis -- and he blew it; and in doing so he lost far more than the Iowa caucus: he lost the reputation as a man who could be trusted to act calmly and rationally in the midst of adversity. And that is a lesson that the American people will not quickly forget. We do not live in a world where we can afford to.


Who knew he had such a reputation to lose?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 AM

A LUXURY, NOT A NECESSITY:

The $100,000 Question: How much is a year of life worth? Economist David Cutler has the answer. And that price tag makes the medical advances of the past 25 years look like a bargain, despite their high cost. Should we be prepared to pay even more? (Commonwealth, Winter 2004)

Harvard economist David M. Cutler's new book, his first, has a catchy, if somewhat threatening, title: Your Money or Your Life. The subtitle promises "strong medicine for America's health care system," and the book delivers on that promise in a number of ways. But the real dose of castor oil Cutler dispenses is for the employers, insurers, government officials, and even consumers who howl about health care costs that are driving up premiums, state expenditures, and co-payments. Cutler's cure for health care inflation: Get used to it.

That's his message, Cutler says, because he's done the math. Sure, spending on health care consumes almost 15 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product, up from just 4 percent in 1950, crossing 10 percent in the mid-1980s and, after a brief leveling off in the mid-1990s, now hurtling, perhaps inexorably, toward one-fifth of the US economy. In 1950, medical spending was just $500 per person annually, adjusted for inflation; now, it is $5,000 per person. But Cutler asks, which would you rather have: today's $5,000 treatment, or $4,500 in your pocket--but medical care at the standard of 1950?

For him, the question is more than rhetorical. By comparing other economic tradeoffs in the areas of health and safety, Cutler has put a price tag on an additional year's worth of healthful life: $100,000. On that basis, he can determine whether the medical improvements that have driven up health care spending over the years have been worth what we've paid for them. Are we shelling out too much? Not by Cutler's calculations. He says that improvements in life expectancy made possible by advances in care in just two areas, cardiovascular disease and low birth weight babies (three and a half years, out of an overall nine-year rise in longevity), are worth the entire increase in lifetime medical costs since 1950. And, he says, no need to stop there.

"I believe that we can afford additional medical spending, and further that it will be good for us as a society to do so," writes Cutler.


Everyone complains about the cost of health care, but no one ever wants less. Health care in America is to some large extent a kind of discretionary spending or consumer good and, since we've more money than we know what to do with, folk choose to spend a lot on medicine.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:18 AM

THEY CAME, THEY BLEW THEMSELVES UP, THEY LOST::

BIN LADEN'S IRAQ ATTACKS BACKFIRING (NILES LATHEM, January 22, 2004, NY Post)

The large number of Muslim deaths caused by al Qaeda terrorist attacks in Iraq has created p.r. problems for Osama bin Laden, who now appears to be having second thoughts about his holy war against coalition forces there, The Post has learned.

New articles in al Qaeda's biweekly Internet magazine Sawt al-Jihad, or "Voice of Jihad," are urging al Qaeda supporters to stay out of Baghdad and concentrate on hitting U.S. military targets in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, according to terrorist expert Rita Katz, whose SITE Institute monitors al Qaeda propaganda on the Internet.


Another anti-war argument bites the dust.


January 21, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 PM

NOT COMPATIBLE WITH DEMOCRACY?:

Iranian MPs resign en masse (The Guardian, January 21, 2004)

Many Iranian cabinet ministers and other senior officials have tendered their resignations over hardliners' disqualification of parliamentary candidates, the Iranian vice-president said today, warning that the country's entire reformist government was ready to quit over the affair.

"A number of cabinet ministers and a number of vice-presidents have resigned. Naturally, they are waiting to see how things go, but the cabinet ministers are very serious in their resignation," Mohammad Ali Abtahi told reporters after a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace.

Asked whether the country's president, Mohammad Khatami, would join the walk-out, he said: "It is supposed that all of us will go together." Questioned about his own position, Mr Abtahi smiled but failed to respond.


Is there a people in the world right now more insistent on their democratic prerogatives than the Shi'a?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 PM

LABOR ISN'T WORKING:

Unions Examine Operations After Iowa Loss (LEIGH STROPE, 1/21/04, AP)

Organized labor is taking a hard look at its political influence and voter turnout operations after the two union-backed candidates that were to dominate the Iowa caucuses sank instead. [...]

Fewer than one-fourth of participants in the caucuses were from union households, according to entrance polls conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. In 2000, one-third of Iowa voters were from union households.


A disorganized and disaffected labor movement wouldn't help the emerging Democratic majority much.

MORE:
The Future Belongs To Who? Bush Has Lead Among Young (Mort Kondracke, January 20, 2004, Real Clear Politics)

Here's a harrowing pair of facts for Democrats: In 60 years, no Democrat has ever won the presidency without carrying the youth vote. And right now President Bush's approval rating among 18- to 29-year-olds is 62 percent, higher than his nationwide rating. [...]

In November, a Gallup poll found that younger voters identify themselves as more "liberal" on social and economic issues than over-30 voters. And they were substantially more positive toward gay marriage than their elders, 52 percent versus 32 percent.

But in a generic matchup of Bush against an unnamed Democrat, under-30 voters went for Bush by a 49 percent to 39 percent margin, whereas over-30 voters supported him by a margin of 47 percent to 43 percent. Bush's approval rating at that point was 62 percent among under-30 voters and 53 percent among those over 30.

Bush's scores remain high in a Gallup poll released last week. His approval is up to 59 percent for all voters and is still 62 percent among under-30s. Consistently, Bush's strongest showing is among voters aged 30 to 49 - 64 percent in the latest Gallup poll - and his weakest is among middle-aged voters, 50 to 64, where it's 51 percent. Seniors approve his performance by a 53 percent to 40 percent margin.


That won't help either.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 PM

MUSKIE MOMENT:

Dean's Iowa speech lives despite candidate's efforts to move on (Will Lester, January 21, 2004, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

In the three days leading up to the Iowa caucuses, Dean's favorable rating among New Hampshire voters dropped from 59 percent to 39 percent in a sample of 302 voters Tuesday night, according to Dick Bennett of the American Research Group of Manchester, N.H. The size of a one-night sample is small enough that such results have to be viewed with caution, however.

Bennett said his phone operators heard from voters who said they were surprised by Dean's speech. "That thing has legs," he said.

"I think it crystallized a lot of the concerns voters in Iowa had as well as voters in New Hampshire had about Dean's potential temperament as a president," added Andrew Smith, a political scientist and pollster at the University of New Hampshire. "My sense is that this will go down with Edmund Muskie supposedly crying in front of the (Manchester) Union Leader (in 1972) and Bob Dole telling George Bush to 'stop lying about my record.' (in 1988)."


The Dean campaign now claims he was "brainwashed"...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:52 PM

OUT OF THE BOX:

Privatization: The Ultimate "Lockbox" for Social Security (Arnold Kling, 01/21/2004, Tech Central Station)

The real benefit of Social Security privatization is never discussed by either side in the debate. That benefit would be that Congress could no longer arbitrarily raise benefits and thereby increase the obligations of future taxpayers. Today, Congress can pass a benefit increase, such as the recently-enacted prescription drug benefit for Medicare, without specifying how to pay for it. The incentive will always be to expand benefits to the point where the system is bound to collapse.

The problem today is the unfunded nature of future entitlements. If we had a system in which future entitlement promises had to be funded today, then politicians could not get away with their arbitrary expansion of benefits. To stop the nonsense, we need a transition from "pay-as-you-go" financing, in which future promised benefits are paid out of future taxes, to a fully-funded system, in which what you get in the future is what you pay into the system today. Privatization would facilitate the transition to a fully funded system. Partial privatization only takes us part way there, but it is a good start.

Thus, what the Left sees as the biggest drawback of privatization -- the "transition" from pay-as-you-go to fully-funded -- is what I see as its most attractive feature. Privatization is the ultimate "lockbox" for Social Security, in that it would keep Congress from expanding future benefits without setting aside money to pay for them. Now, if we could only do the same thing with Medicare...


You get what you pay for? What a novel concept.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:04 PM

HANDOUTS?:

Fiscal constraints mean smaller Japanese handouts for U.N. (The Japan Times, Jan. 22, 2004)

Japan has decided to reduce its financial contributions to international organizations, including the United Nations, in light of its tight fiscal situation, government sources said Wednesday.

The government plans to carry out a thorough review of these funds, which rose 2.7 percent to 133.3 billion yen in the fiscal 2004 budget, thereby allowing changes to be made in the budget for fiscal 2005 and beyond, the sources said.

The government will aim to cut its contributions to the U.N. by several billion yen when members' contribution ratio is next revised in 2006.

In the fiscal 2004 budget, 37.3 billion yen has been allocated to the international body.

Under the current arrangement, Japan puts up 19.5 percent of the funds for the U.N., down about 1 percentage point from when the percentage was last revised in 2000.


Geez, it's not like they have a serious military or anything.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 PM

GOOD ENOUGH (via Charles Murtaugh):

Susan Shapiro and Charlie Rubin (LOIS SMITH BRADY, 1/18/04, NY Times)

WHEN Charlie Rubin and Susan Shapiro married in July 1996, it seemed, as Mr. Rubin put it, a "ridiculously intelligent" thing to do. But then for a while it seemed more ridiculous than intelligent.

They started not only madly in love, but also nearly exactly alike. Both writers, they liked the same poets (like Gregory Corso), the same food (sushi), the same neighborhood (Greenwich Village) and the same inhuman work hours.

"He was the only guy who understood `I'm on deadline, go away for 48 hours.' " Ms. Shapiro said a week ago. She added, "There was never a fantasy of `Let's have dinner together every night.' "

But after a few years, they seemed less and less alike to each other. [...]

To her surprise, meeting her old boyfriends and writing about them saved her marriage. "I realized he was the right man all along," she said. "And ultimately, I feel like, maybe I am happier having books than having babies."

Now, Mr. Rubin and Ms. Shapiro say, they feel they are perpetually on a second date - fascinated by each other and impatient to meet over sushi at the end of the day.

"At first, you worry, `What if our marriage isn't perfect?' " Mr. Rubin said. " `What if I'm not the person I expected I would be? What if I'm not good enough for this woman?' And then one day, you realize all those things are probably true, and it's O.K."


Any husband has made a good start on his marriage if he just keeps before himself constantly the thought: "I'm not good enough for this woman."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:04 PM

INDEPENDENT? HOW ABOUT ORNERY?:

The 'undeclared': New Hampshire's wild card: How independents - more than a third of the state's primary base - could decide the race. (Alexandra Marks, 1/21/04, CS Monitor)

It was the kind of New Hampshire night that's so cold, the snow squeaks underfoot.

Still, Sherry Gould trudged up the long, slippery driveway toward an elegant house with a large blue sign illumined by the porch light. It read: "McCainiacs for Lieberman." She's come not as a supporter, but as a highly sought-after guest.

Ms. Gould is one of New Hampshire's vaunted "undeclared" voters, independents who make up more than a third of the state's primary base. These voters usually choose people over parties and character over ideology, and they like candidates as independent as they are. Historically, they've been trendsetters, as when they gave Sen. John McCain a big win over his rival, George W. Bush, in 2000.

Now, with the race for the Democratic nomination upended by Sen. John Kerry's surprising win in Iowa and Sen. John Edwards's strong second place, these independents may again be the key to the way New Hampshire votes - and there's already evidence of shifting allegiances.

Some seem to be moving away from Howard Dean and taking a fresh look at Senators Kerry and Edwards. As a new, potentially anti-Dean dynamic is forming, New Hampshire could become the ultimate test of whether his candidacy can survive.

"There's all of this switching going on. A week ago, they broke away from Dean, and went to Clark, and late last week they went to Kerry," says Dick Bennett of American Research Group (ARG) in Manchester. "The trend is down for both Dean and Clark and they have to put the brakes on and reverse the skid. That's very hard to do."


You should now be able to enter our BROTHERS JUDD NH DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY PROGNOSTATHON. The prize this time is especially appealing--the good people of FSB Associates are once again kicking in a book and it is the great Lee Harris's Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History. If you're unfamiliar, his essay, Our World Historical Gamble, may have been the best thing written last year about the role of America in the present danger.

Meanwhile, those of you in states that don't get to decide who will be president may not have experience of the "Lawn Sign Primary". This is the effort campaigns put forth to get as many lawn signs around town as they possibly can. This year they've trotted out these monstrosities that are so big you can't even see the houses behind them (Mark Steyn had a terrifying experience with one of these the other day). Anyway, one of the neighbors put up a homemade sign today that says: "Undecided". Very funny, but they've probably had folks knocking on their door all day.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 AM

NEVER LOOK BEHIND THE POTEMKIN VILLAGE:

Sean Penn's Baghdad Homecoming (Ben Johnson, January 21, 2004, FrontPageMagazine.com)

Sean Penn’s account of his recent trip to postwar Iraq – written in two articles published in the San Francisco Chronicle – reveals the deep changes that have taken place in liberated Iraq, and the shallow man who observed them. A more generous soul might have considered apologizing for the unkind words directed at President Bush and his counselors who are responsible for the freedoms that Penn now acknowledges are burgeoning in Iraq, yet Penn cannot bring himself to praise the Americans who brought this about, acknowledge his role in opposing Operation Iraqi Liberation, or, indeed, rise above the pettiest concerns over his own comfort.

Penn made his return trip to Iraq in late 2003, one year after his first visit in December 2002. According to Penn’s full-page ad in the New York Times, he visited Iraq in an attempt to capture the “feel” of Iraq and thereby emote whether an invasion would be just or unjust, an attempt at “method acting foreign policy." Norman Solomon of the left-wing Institute for Public Accuracy set up the first visit.
 
For his homecoming, Penn enlisted the help of both Solomon and arch-leftist Medea Benjamin. Benjamin, who described Castro’s Cuba as “Heaven,” is head of Global Exchange, Code Pink and Occupation Watch. Global Exchange, which conducted the Iraq trip, leads credulous American leftists like Penn through staged scenes meant to demonstrate the progress of regimes its favors (Cuba, prewar Iraq) and the horrors wreaked by any American intervention it opposes (Afghanistan, liberated Iraq, and all the rest of them). The members of Code Pink pretend to be typical housewives opposed to war, although its leadership met while agitating on behalf of Nicaragua’s Marxist Sandanista dictatorship. Occupation Watch is a collaborative effort between Medea Benjamin and longtime Communist Party member Leslie Cagan, whose stated goal was to get enough U.S. servicemen to declare themselves conscientious objectors that the U.S. “occupation” would grind to a halt. She encouraged leftist protestors to work with indigenous groups to “channel the bursting anti-American sentiment overseas.” Penn records Medea plying her trade, as she tries to convince Dean Mohamed Taka of Iraq to write a book opposing American investment policies; he demurred.
 
Sean Penn coordinated his trip with Medea Benjamin, who was leading a contingent of military families to Iraq under the auspices of both Global Exchange and Occupation Watch. Medea’s group intended to meet with family members serving in Iraq, in an attempt to discourage them and possibly encourage them to become conscientious objectors. The U.S. authorities were not so easily taken in and refused to allow them to visit soldiers, although the group scored a brief meeting with L. Paul Bremer himself (a meeting Penn belittles in his article). This suggests that U.S. intelligence is missing a beat. Why would Bremer meet with a domestic support group for America's enemies?
 
With a tour guide like Benjamin, one would expect Penn’s article to be  peppered  with cheap shots at the United States and its “occupation,” and it is, though to a lesser extent than in Penn's paid ads. Unlike his nearly undecipherable ads of last year, Penn's twin articles for the Chronicle benefit from the services of an editor, although he still sneaks in words like “geo-psychological.” However, what  stands out for  the reader is his positive portrayal of post-Saddam Iraq – and his lack of contrition, or apparent introspection, about how wrong he was to oppose the policies that brought it about.


Robin Wright can never be forgiven.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:44 AM

NO HEAVY LIFTING:

Is Public Indebtedness Essential to Democracy and Freedom?: a review of James Macdonald, A Free Nation Deep in Debt: The Financial Roots of Democracy and Bruce H. Mann, Republic of Debtors: Bankruptcy in the Age of American Independence (Forrest MacDonald, Claremont Review of Books)

To declare and win independence from George III was willynilly, to commit the United States to republicanism, and though most Americans have little understanding of what republicanism implied, they were aware that, as Montesquieu had taught, the actuating principle of a republic was virtue in the citizenry. Virtue meant man, hood and independence and a disinterested devotion to the welfare of the public--"virtue," like "public," deriving from the Latin roots for manliness. To go into debt was to forfeit one's independence by becoming beholden to one's creditors; and republican theorists from Plato to Montesquieu had taught that commerce was inimical to republican virtue, precisely for that reason and also because it bred a love of luxury, the very antithesis of manliness.

Strong as the commitment to republicanism was, the Revolution and its aftermath produced material developments that jeopardized and threatened to undermine it. In the first place, paying for the war entailed the creation of an enormous public debt, to which we shall return in a moment. In the second place, the appetite for imported foreign manufactures, whetted shortly before Independence then stifled for eight years during the war, exploded at war's end. The result was an enormous wave of importation on credit, then a severe contraction and economic recession in the mid-1780s.

Now let us turn to the area of public finance. Throughout the ages and until comparatively recently, the main reason governments or states needed funds was to bear the costs of waging war. In ancient times the method was simple: the winner defrayed the costs by looting and/or enslaving the vanquished. For the loser, the cost was not a consideration, for as a practical matter that side ceased to exist. Later, upon the emergence of absolute or nearly absolute monarchies, the economics of statecraft changed somewhat. Kings rarely had credit, for they were apt to renege on their obligations, and the moneyed classes went into hiding or hid their assets whenever agents of the crown came around. Normally, therefore, kings saved their revenues between wars, until they amassed enough to launch hostilities anew. When the funds, unless replenished by looting, ran out, they had to stop fighting. They repeated the cycle again and again.

The solution was the invention of public debt, which was possible only in states that were relatively free, for the essence of a public debt is that it is owed by the citizens of a state to one another. The central thesis of A Free Nation Deep in Debt is encapsulated in its subtitle, The Financial Roots of Democracy, and if allowance is made for the fact that James Macdonald really means free government and not "democracy," the argument is convincing and insightful.

Between the thirteen and the sixteenth centuries, the city~states of Italy created a genuine system of public debt. Next came Holland, which was able to win its long war of independence from Spain even though the "parent" country was far richer and more populous because Holland had an endless source of revenue in the form of public debt owned by its citizens.

A danger inherent in public debt was its tendency to generate speculative bubbles, wherein hard money chased after paper in the hope of making profits simply by virtue of everyone's expectation (mistaken, of course) that the value of the paper would increase indefinitely. In France, John Law's Mississippi Bubble led to a speculative mania and a spectacular collapse that bankrupted thousands and drove the monarchy, once and for all, away from efforts to establish public credit. In Britain, the contemporaneous South Sea Bubble bred an even greater speculative mania (including the famous prospectus for a "Company for carrying on an Undertaking of great Advantage, but Nobody to know what it is"--which Macdonald thinks probably never actually existed), and an equally spectacular collapse. Fortunately for Britain, however, Sir Robert Walpole and the Bank of England managed to restore order and to place English public finance on a permanently solid footing.

The result was momentous. During the century of almost perpetual war for domination between France and England, England's coffers were always full and France's were always on the brink of exhaustion, and accordingly England triumphed. Even Napoleon, who financed his wars mainly on the ancient principle of conquer and loot, was outspent and bested by Britain. As an aside, it should be noted that Britain's per capita public debt ran as high as 300 percent of the estimated gross national product, a figure that dwarfs the American public debt as of 2003.


The prospect that we're in the midst rather than at the end of American hegemony is so painful for Leftists, isolationists, and Europeans to contemplate that you frequently hear them talk about how we can't afford all the responsibilities we've taken on ourselves, blah, blah, blah.... In fact, with a national debt that's only about half of GDP it is closer to the truth to say that we're enjoying Empire on the cheap.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM

WE COPPERFIELDS:

Skeptic (Robert Frost)

Far star that tickles me my sensitive plate
And fries a couple of ebon atoms white,
I don't believe I believe a thing you state.
I put no faith in the seeming facts of light.

I don't believe I believe you're the last in space,
I don't believe you're anywhere near the last,
I don't believe what makes you red in the face
Is after explosion going away so fast

The universe may or may not by very immense
As a matter of fact there are times when I am apt
To feel it close in tight against my sense
Like a caul in which I was born and still am wrapped.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 AM

MISSED OPPORTUNITY:

Gathering Forces for Historic Reform (Peter Ferrara, January 21, 2004, Townhall)

President Bush last night put personal accounts for Social Security on the top shelf of the national agenda. Few people now recognize how enormous this initiative can be, with powerfully beneficial effects reverberating throughout our economy and society.

But the incredible historic opportunity now on the horizon is recognized by a new coalition of conservative and progressive leaders to be announced today.

The President in his speech made clear that he believes the looming problems of Social Security must be addressed now, not put off to just get worse and worse. Moreover, the President said, he means to solve the problems through the positive approach of a personal account option, and all of its advantages for working people, rather than the negatives of tax increases and benefit cuts.

The President emphasized some of these positive themes, pointing out that a major personal account initiative would greatly expand and broaden wealth ownership, as well as freedom of choice and control.


The President would have been better served by a twenty minute speech which, after a perfunctory nod to the troops, outlined just his Opportunity Society agenda. Personal accounts can become the vehicle to deal; with all of folks current social concerns--unemployment, college, health care, retirement, etc.--and for getting a grip on the federal budget. At the same time they maximize freedom within the context of the reality that conservatives have lost the argument about a safety net and there's going to be one. An Opportunity Society simply makes that safety net a personal obligation, instead of a government entitlement.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM

STRIKE FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER:

What I Saw in North Korea (JACK PRITCHARD, 1/21/04, NY Times)

"Time is not on the American side," Kim Gye Gwan, vice foreign minister of North Korea, told me a few weeks ago. "As time passes, our nuclear deterrent continues to grow in quantity and quality." Those words are an indictment of United States intelligence as well as a potential epitaph on the Bush administration's failed policy in North Korea.

On Jan. 8, North Korean officials gave an unofficial American delegation, of which I was a member, access to the building in Yongbyon where about 8,000 spent fuel rods had once been safeguarded. We discovered that all 8,000 rods had been removed.

Whether they have been reprocessed for weapons-grade plutonium, as Pyongyang claims, is almost irrelevant. American intelligence believed that most if not all the rods remained in storage, giving policymakers a false sense that time was on their side as they rebuffed North Korean requests for serious dialogue and worked laboriously to devise a multilateral approach to solving the rapidly escalating crisis.

But events of the last several years show that this approach is not working. In December 2002 North Korea was suspected of having one or two nuclear weapons that it had acquired before agreeing in 1994 to freeze its known nuclear program and to allow it to be monitored.

More than a year later, North Korea may have quadrupled its arsenal of nuclear weapons. During the intervening period, the Bush administration has relied on intelligence that dismissed North Korean claims that it restarted its nuclear program at Yongbyon with the express purpose of reprocessing previously sealed and monitored spent fuel to


Mr. Pritchard's point about intelligence is precisely right--since we'll never know for sure how far along an Iraq, Libya, or North Korea is we should pre-emptively strike anyone who has any kind of WMD program at all.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 AM

BIG PICTURE PEOPLE:

They like Bush, and they are not stupid: Most Americans still think Bush did the right thing in getting rid of Saddam Hussein (Caroline Overington, 1/21/04, The Age)

I remember sitting on a small plane, travelling from North Carolina to New York, when the war was a few weeks old. I was reading USA Today and, as I opened it to study a map of Iraq, one half of the newspaper fell into the lap of my fellow passenger. I turned to apologise, but he said: "No problem. Actually, do you mind if I have a look?"

Together we studied the picture, trying to work out how far the Americans were from seizing power. It was clear from the diagrams that troops were near Saddam's airport, and close to the centre of Baghdad. I turned to my seat mate and said: "I don't think this is going to be a long battle, after all."

It was only then that I noticed, with horror, that he had started to cry. And then I noticed something else: a photograph, wrapped in plastic, pinned to his lapel. It was a picture of his 20-year-old son, a young marine who died in the first days of the war. The man's wife was sitting across the aisle from us. She had a round bowl on her lap, filled with water and some drooping tulips. The movement of the aircraft was making the water slop around. She was trying to wipe her hands, and her tears.

The couple told me they had just been to a private meeting with Bush to discuss the loss of their son. At the time, it was already clear that Saddam didn't have any weapons of mass destruction.

"But I never thought it was about the weapons," my seat mate said. And, although I can't remember his exact words, he also said something like: "We have always stood up for freedom, in our own country, and for other people."

Any student of history knows that this is true. America saved the Western world from communism. America saved Australia and, for that matter, France from a system that would stop you from reading this newspaper.

Americans support the war in Iraq and, by extension, Bush because they see it as part of a bigger picture. Like everybody, they now know that Saddam was not the threat they thought he was (at least, not to them) but they still think it was a good idea to deal with him, before he became one.

The price of freedom is high. You might think you would not sacrifice your life for it, but maybe you don't have to. After all, 20-year-old Americans are doing it for you, every day.



January 20, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 PM

"CONFIDENT":

STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS (George W. Bush, 1/20/04)

Very Clintonian speech, more a laundry list of things done and things still to do than an address of vision and sweep. Apparently polls show, predictably, that folks figure the war on terror is over and are back to wanting to know what's in it for them. This laid out quite a smorgasbord.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 PM

CRINGEWORTHINESS:

Seven Deadly Sentiments: Introducing the shameful feelings that many people have but few admit. (Kathleen McGowan, Jan/Feb 2004, Psychology Today)

In our confessional culture, it is socially acceptable--even fashionable--to disclose your sexual predilections, your husband's problem with painkillers, your penchant for high colonics. Our hypertherapeutic society lets it all hang out.

But plenty of feelings remain in the closet. In the privacy of our own heads, we cringe with dread when we meet someone in a wheelchair, wish our aged relatives would hurry up and die, smirk over our friends' bad taste and think babies are ugly and annoying. Meanwhile, we assure ourselves--and one another--that we're really very nice people.

Evolutionary psychology holds that these shameful feelings are hardwired--strategies that led to success on the Pleistocene savanna. If that's so, then why are they so hard to admit to? "Given that these emotions are shaped by natural selection and are innate, or at least pretty deep, why do we expend so much effort in denying them?" asks Dylan Evans, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.

It's a good question. The persistence of forbidden feelings fascinated Freud, and provided the raw material for his controversial theory of repression and the all-powerful unconscious. Both psychoanalysis and Catholic absolution are rooted in the idea that confession can strip taboo thoughts of their crippling power. Whether or not you believe in Freud (or the Virgin Mary), one thing is for sure: Our efforts to banish or explain away these unmentionables can't keep them from roaring back--and making us feel terrible as a result.

Acting on a nasty impulse may be cause for shame. But why feel so guilty about a feeling that remains a mere fancy, harmlessly stashed away in your brain? Evans theorizes that this guilt really stems from the fear of exposure. We're braced for discovery, even though we haven't really done anything. "If you're discovered doing something wrong, and you immediately feel terrible about it, the offense is mitigated," he says. "So you better be ready to display guilt if someone discovers you."

Feelings of shame trigger deeper unrest than the simple fear of being found out does, says psychiatrist Michael Lewis, author of Shame: The Exposed Self. Guilt is a response to bad behavior. Shame, on the other hand, "is so powerful because it's about a defective self," he says. In shame, explains Lewis, the very self is "rotten and no good." That's why intense feelings of shame can actually drive people into shameless behavior, such as jealous rage.


That seems rather incoherent--a survival strategy where you find babies annoying seems a dead end and the feelings can't be both hardwired by evolution a kajillion years ago and evidence we're defective, can they? Isn't the desire to spare the disabled, elderly, defenseless the sign we're defective, if fitness is defined by evolution?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 PM

BE:

To be or not to be? That is the cliché: In the wake of Spalding Gray's sudden disappearance, REBECCA CALDWELL examines the notion of the tormented writer (REBECCA CALDWELL, January 17, 2004, Globe & Mail)

At a moment of darkness in It's a Slippery Slope, one of Spalding Gray's celebrated, autobiographical monologues, he speaks with some spell-binding frankness about the difficulty of coping with his mother's suicide. He had just turned 52, the same age his mother was when she committed suicide, and was haunted by the worry that he might be tempted to do the same thing.

His admission of his own suicidal fantasies -- jumping off the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland while on vacation with his wife, Ramona; of overdosing on Quaaludes and slitting his wrists in a hotel in New Mexico -- are recorded in his painful yet companionable style, prompting laughter and shock, particularly when his own defeatism is defeated: "Where would I even find Quaaludes in this day and age, and once I did, and took them, I'd probably feel such an incredible state of well-being that I would not want to kill myself."

But when Gray went for a walk last Saturday night and vanished into the streets of New York, it seemed that one hidden fantasy may have at last come true, and the monologist's voice may have no scripts to deliver in the future.

Gray's disappearance is a startling, troubling event, and one that hopefully might still have a happy resolution. Certainly he is but one in a lengthy scroll of authors who have suffered from depression and other mental-health problems, including T. S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams, Herman Hesse, Charles Dickens and Emily Dickinson, to name a very few. And some, such as Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, did eventually take their own lives. Apart from their works, their legacy has forged an apparent literary tradition that writers must suffer for their art, making depression almost as much of a cliché for writers as spectacles, all-black outfits and Underwood typewriters.


This story just can't end well, can it?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:53 PM

YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T GET SOMETHIN' FOR NOTHIN' INDEFINITELY?:

France prescribes bitter medicine for ailing health system tipped into crisis by the summer heatwave (Martin Arnold, January 20 2004, Financial Times)

Three years ago France was praised by the WorldHealth Organisation forhaving the best healthcare system in the world, thanks to a unique mix of the public and private sectors, freedom of choice for patients, little queuing and high technical expertise.

But France's overburdened and costly health system now badly needs reform. The heatwave in August last year exposed problems of understaffing, accentuated by the 35-hour week and a shortage of trained nurses. The social security system is meanwhile sagging, its deficit expected to reach €30bn ($37bn, £21bn) this year.

Plans to reform France's overburdened and costly public healthcare system are coming under fire from trade unions and doctors, who have called a hospital strike for Thursday. Jean-François Mattei, France's health minister, himself a former doctor, aims to make hospitals more efficient with reforms labelled "Hospital 2007", preparing the ground for an even more ambitious shake-up of the social security system this summer. [...]

The growing alarm in France at the state of the health sector was summed up by arecent Le Monde investigation and front-page headline: "Public hospitals are on the brink of collapse." Mr Bour warns that unless the French government has the courage to see its reforms through, it is unlikely to keep its reputation for excellence the next time the WHO is handing out the honours. He says: "There is a risk we could end up with a problem of waiting lists in France, just as they already have in the UK, if we don't act now."


And here are all the Democrats promising to bring us a European-style health care system...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:26 PM

OSAMA LO VOLT:

Ridley Scott's new Crusades film 'panders to Osama bin Laden' (Charlotte Edwardes, 18/01/2004, Daily Telegraph)

Sir Ridley Scott, the Oscar-nominated director, was savaged by senior British academics last night over his forthcoming film which they say "distorts" the history of the Crusades to portray Arabs in a favourable light.

The £75 million film, which stars Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson, is described by the makers as being "historically accurate" and designed to be "a fascinating history lesson".
 
Academics, however - including Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, Britain's leading authority on the Crusades - attacked the plot of Kingdom of Heaven, describing it as "rubbish", "ridiculous", "complete fiction" and "dangerous to Arab relations".

The film, which began shooting last week in Spain, is set in the time of King Baldwin IV (1161-1185), leading up to the Battle of Hattin in 1187 when Saladin conquered Jerusalem for the Muslims.

The script depicts Baldwin's brother-in-law, Guy de Lusignan, who succeeds him as King of Jerusalem, as "the arch-villain". A further group, "the Brotherhood of Muslims, Jews and Christians", is introduced, promoting an image of cross-faith kinship.


Mr. Scott's Gladiator might have been a great film if Russell Crowe's character had been Christian rather than a worshipper of some kind of ancient Homies, so it comes as no surprise that he's despoiling another story by placing PC uber alles.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:18 PM

BLUNKETT UNCORKED:

Blunkett tells of joy at Shipman death (The Guardian, January 16, 2004)

The home secretary, David Blunkett, was initially tempted to "open a bottle" when he heard of Harold Shipman's death, it emerged today.

But Mr Blunkett quickly realised that families of the killer doctor's victims felt cheated by the apparent suicide and so celebration was inappropriate.

In remarkably frank comments, Mr Blunkett said: "You wake up and you receive a phone call - Shipman's topped himself.

"You have just got to think for a minute: is it too early to open a bottle?

"And then you discover that everybody's very upset that he's done it." [...]

Britain's most prolific serial killer was found hanged in his cell at Wakefield Prison before dawn on Tuesday.


Even sharing Mr. Blunkett's sentiments, one might think it better to just bring back the death penalty than to root for suicide.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:09 PM

BRING ON DAVID:

Sears announces bid against Scott: Former delegate likens her congressional run to David vs. Goliath (TYLER WHITLEY, January 20, 2004, Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Former Del. Winsome E. Sears of Norfolk, citing her faith, launched a campaign for the 3rd District congressional seat yesterday.

Sears used a biblical reference, comparing herself to David taking on Goliath. Rep. Robert C. Scott, D-3rd, has represented the district, which has a black majority, for 11 years.

A conservative Republican, Sears said Scott has been out of touch with the needs of the district.

Sears was introduced by Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore before she addressed a crowd of about 100 people gathered in front of the state Capitol. The crowd included Kate Obenshain Griffin, the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Virginia, and Republican legislators who live in the 3rd District.

Afterward, Sears said she did not know whether she will receive financial assistance from the National Republican Congressional Committee. The committee targets races it thinks Republicans can win.

Kilgore referred to Sears' previous role as a giant killer. In 2001, she upset longtime Democratic incumbent Del. William P. Robinson Jr. in a Norfolk-area legislative race. Robinson was under an ethical cloud for contempt of court.

By winning, Sears became the first black Republican woman legislator in Virginia. The General Assembly's Republican majority gave Sears important committee assignments and a high-profile bill, involving regulation of bad doctors, to sponsor.


That would be Goliath vs. David.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:00 PM

ALIEN NATION (via Jeff Guinn):

Liberty, Logic & Abortion (Mark Goldblatt, June/July 2002, Philosophy Now)

January 22nd has evolved into a national red letter day of sorts, the anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Commemorations abound, typically sloganeering rallies, and mainstream journals churn out perfunctory retrospectives. Still, abortion remains the most divisive issue in the United States since the abolition of slavery. In fact, the very details of the ruling seem to recede, year by year, deeper into a foam of overwrought rhetoric. Specifically, therefore: Roe guaranteed a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester (in all instances) and in the second trimester (to safeguard her own well-being, broadly defined); only in the third trimester of pregnancy, the Roe decision held, could the rights of the fetus be taken into account and abortion restricted by the state.

What I'm about to argue is that the debate over abortion now continues on three distinct but inter-related levels. The first level, which might charitably be called Popular Arguments, consists of absolutist slogans and unexamined logic; it's this level of argumentation that often crops up at unpleasant dinner parties and on phone-in talk shows. The second level consists of nuanced speculations on natural law and individual rights; it's conducted by moral philosophers beneath the radar of the mass media. The third level consists of evolvingtheories of constitutional interpretation; it's conducted in the courts by legal scholars. To get at the second and third levels of the abortion debate, however, it's useful to address the popular arguments - if only to demonstrate that the issues involved are necessarily nuanced and evolving. [...]

The equality of persons before the law derives not from a measurable equality, such as I.Q.. That equality plainly doesn't exist. Rather, equality before the law derives from a immeasurable equality - namely, God's endowment of a soul. Though the collective weal might be served by social programs that pre-sorted individuals according to their unequal endowments, that channeled only the intellectually promising towards higher education and only the physically gifted towards sports, the suggestion is constitutionally repugnant because the collective weal is trumped by the equal endowments of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - equal endowments which, in the only coherent reading of Jefferson's words, are themselves rooted not in our physical but in our spiritual natures.

In short, if we understand the Constitution as the system of positive laws by which Jefferson's 'unalienable rights' are secured, then the Constitution implicitly compels the states to recognize ensoulment - that is, God's work in the creation of personhood - as the starting point for equality before the law. Even if, as Ronald Dworkin contends, the fetus has no interest in its own survival, and thus derives no right to life from its own interest, nevertheless, God's unique interest in the fetus's existence, signaled by the act of ensoulment, might well be sufficient to secure the fetus's unalienable right to life. The difficulty with the Roe decision now becomes manifest: on the one hand, the states must affirm ensoulment as the actualizing element of legal protection; on the other hand, the states, in the wake of Roe, cannot define the moment of ensoulment before the third trimester.

Let me restate that. If the Constitution is meant to secure the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it compels states to recognize ensoulment by God as the basis of human equality. If that's indeed how the Constitution is understood, then, strangely enough, by denying the possibility of ensoulment at conception, Roe violates the non-establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment.

That would, I think, comprise a knockdown argument against Roe were it not necessarily prefaced by the word if. The linking of the Constitution to the unalienable rights passage in the Declaration is one way to understand the Constitution - perhaps the likeliest way. But it's not the only way. The Constitution can also be understood as merely a set of practical guidelines - a means to procure civil order rather than a reflection of higher ideals. Or it can be understood as a compromise between pragmatic and idealistic ends. As your understanding of the Constitution's intention changes, so necessarily must your method of interpretation.


Very good discussion, until the end there when he goes wobbly. If the Constitution does not protect the right to life of the ensouled fetus then it is illegitimate, because that right precedes the Constitution. Interpretation of the Constitution may fluctuate but that of the unalienable rights endowed by the Creator can not or else they are by definition alienable.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 AM

BUTCHER OF BURLINGTON:

Iowans found Dean too angry, too liberal (DAVID YEPSEN, 01/20/2004, Des Moines Register)

Iowa Democrats decided Howard Dean was simply too angry, too liberal and too gaffe-prone to be trusted with his party's presidential nomination. Early in the race, they liked his opposition to the Iraq war and thought Dean would be able to attract enough new people into the process to win. But as the campaign wore on, the war faded as a front-burner issue and he plateaued after the arrest of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. [...]

Dean's snarling, screaming performance at his post-caucus rally Monday night was evidence of how Dean is still just too incendiary to be seen as presidential by many voters. Dean was left trying to spin a third-place showing as a victory - after having led the race for months.

The premise of Dean's campaign has been dealt a heavy blow. He was supposed to be the guy who turned out lots of newcomers to change the political equation in elections. On Monday, all of his out-of-state volunteers didn't come close to doing that, and Dean learned this race is about more than Iraq.


Ironically, Howard Dean may have been killed by the Democrats' gender gap. In a primary where 55% of participants were women, he was just too butch.

MORE:
A staggering 75% of caucus-goers opposed the Iraq War.


Posted by John Resnick at 10:35 AM

FACT CHECKING THE POST:

The Post vs. The President (John H. Hinderaker, January 20, 2004, via Frontpagemag.com)

Yesterday's Washington Post includes an article by Glenn Kessler, titled "Arms Issue Seen as Hurting U.S. Credibility Abroad." Kessler's theme is announced in his the opening sentence: "The Bush administration's inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- after public statements declaring an imminent threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein -- has begun to harm the credibility abroad of the United States and of American intelligence, according to foreign policy experts in both parties." Regular readers of this and many other blogs need no reminder that the President said no such thing; on the contrary, a central point of his 2003 State of the Union address was the need to act, on occasion, in the absence of an imminent threat.

[....] Far from having hyped the intelligence, it was President Bush, not Wesley Clark, whose description of Saddam's weapons capability was sober, nuanced, and strictly accurate.

Kessler's piece is all too typical of what we should expect to see more of this year. However, the blogsphere seems to be something of an outsourced fact checking brigade for big media these days. Usually, when lawyers get this lawyerly, it's not nearly as interesting. (no offense, Mr. Cohen).


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 AM

FROM THE AFL-CIO TO MOVE-ON.ORG IS NOT PROGRESS:

Dis-Union in Iowa (Lowell Ponte, January 20, 2004, FrontPageMagazine.com)

ORGANIZED LABOR WAS THE BIGGEST LOSER IN IOWA’S caucuses last night. 

Despite the polls, pundits had assured America, in this strong union state labor would prevail by marching in the minions under its command to dominate these lightly-attended gatherings of neighbors.

The blue collar unions had bet their chips on longtime AFL-CIO partisan Rep. Richard Gephardt of neighboring Missouri. The mostly-government-employee white collar unions AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and SEIU (the Service Employees International Union), after much soul-searching, bet their credibility and future on former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. (Shortly after endorsing Dean, one of the leaders of AFSCME declared at a New York City conference, “We are fighting for socialism.”)

Both union sides lost badly on Monday night, watching as their chosen candidates were rejected by the overwhelming majority of Iowa Democratic caucus-goers. Their much-vaunted muscle never materialized. The resulting display of union impotence was worse than humiliating. These caucuses have revealed to millions of Americans that the once-formidible power of organized labor that half a century ago represented nearly half of American workers is now nearly spent.


The Democrats ability to remain competitive despite the collapse of the liberal paradigm in 1980 has largely been a function of union political organization and turnout the vote efforts and lockstep black voting and turnout. If labor is truly losing its power to influence elections (as the 2002 midterm suggested), and George W. Bush can just blunt black hatred of the GOP enough to reduce turnout, then the New Deal/Great Society era will finally be over after an impressive--though disastrous--seventy year run.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 AM

ONLY OUR FAITH IS UNORTHODOX:

Journalism is Itself a Religion: A Theological Investigation (Jay Rosen, The Revealer)

"In my view, journalism is a secular enterprise, and there is no specifically Catholic way to do it," writes John L. Allen Jr, Vatican correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter. "You try to tell the story as best you can, covering the church the way you would City Hall or the White House."

Terry Anderson, formerly of the Associated Press and a hostage in Lebanon for seven years, has a slightly different view: "You can be a Christian and a journalist. But you know, you cannot be a Christian and be a bad journalist," Anderson says. "That doesn't work at all. You cannot practice Christianity and a journalism that takes away dignity, that has no compassion, that exploits pain and misery. That's not good journalism, and it's certainly not anything that Christ taught."

But isn't journalism, that secular enterprise, itself a kind of religion? In what follows, I come at the question eight ways, so as to open room for comment by others who know more than I do. [...]

Three: The Orthodoxy of No Orthodoxy

Ninety percent of the commentary on this subject takes in another kind of question entirely: What results from the "relative godlessness of mainstream journalists?" Or, in a more practical vein: How are editors and reporters striving to improve or beef up their religion coverage?

Here and there in the discussion of religion "in" the news, there arises a trickier matter, which is the religion of the newsroom, and of the priesthood in the press. A particularly telling example began with this passage from a 1999 New York Times Magazine article about anti-abortion extremism: "It is a shared if unspoken premise of the world that most of us inhabit that absolutes do not exist and that people who claim to have found them are crazy," wrote David Samuels.

This struck some people as dogma very close to religious dogma, and they spoke up about it. One was Terry Mattingly, a syndicated columnist of religion:

This remarkable credo was more than a statement of one journalist's convictions, said William Proctor, a Harvard Law School graduate and former legal affairs reporter for The New York Daily News. Surely, the "world that most of us inhabit" cited by Samuels is, in fact, the culture of The New York Times and the faithful who draw inspiration from its sacred pages.

Yet here is the part that intrigued me:

But critics are wrong if they claim that The New York Times is a bastion of secularism, he stressed. In its own way, the newspaper is crusading to reform society and even to convert wayward "fundamentalists." Thus, when listing the "deadly sins" that are opposed by the Times, he deliberately did not claim that it rejects religious faith. Instead, he said the world's most influential newspaper condemns "the sin of religious certainty."

In other words, it's against newsroom religion to be an absolutist and in this sense, the Isaiah Berlin sense, the press is a liberal institution put in the uncomfortable position of being "closed" to other traditions and their truth claims-- specifically, the orthodox faiths.


The notion of tolerance has been elevated to such an absurd level that those who've adopted it as their ideology can no longer comprehend that it is based on precisely the same level of close-mindedness as the "certainty" it supposedly eschews. The denial that anything is certain is itself a form of certainty and an especially dangerous form.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM

AXIS OF GOOD FILES:

INDIA-US SECURITY: A partnership of unequals (Ramtanu Maitra, 1/21/04, Asia Times)

India-United States military ties, relatively a new phenomenon, have advanced rapidly since September 11, 2001. Unlike the US-Pakistan relationship, which dates back to the 1950s, India's military connection with the US is new and, hence, in a nascent stage. Yet during 2002 and 2003, the US and India held numerous joint exercises involving all military branches, including unprecedented advanced air combat exercises.

The bilateral security relationship has developed so rapidly that some analysts on both sides have been led to believe that the two militaries have a common agenda and common concerns. But while it is likely that both sides can agree broadly on the threats that stalk the world today, there are definite limits to the relationship. The perceptions and expectations of top US and Indian military leaders are, in fact, divergent on several key issues, in particular the approach to security in Asia and the Indian Ocean region. [...]

It is likely that as India becomes stronger, this divergence will prevent further consolidation of military ties, at least in terms of providing security to the Asian region. If it has not begun already, India's security concerns will certainly shift from those of a defensive nature to preventive action in the coming years. More or less isolated, India has been worried about weapons developments in Pakistan and China - two areas contiguous to India. The close China-Pakistan relationship heightened India's anxiety. India sought hardware and training in its use to develop a counter-strike capability. But those days are behind India now.


That seem unlikely. The two main threats to India's dreams of influence in Asia are China and Islam, which are likewise threats to the United States. This makes Indo-American co-operation mutually beneficial and eminently sensible.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:59 AM

NOBLESSE OBLIGE

WEF: Snail's pace on social issues (Alan Boyd/Asia Times/17/01/04)

"Do they listen? Will they learn?" Such was the ringing challenge laid down by the environmental group, Friends of the Earth, when it joined 20,000 anti-globalization protesters in a tempestuous ambush of the World Economic Forum two years ago.

Inside, the same message was being delivered by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who warned that big business ignored the social implications of inequalities in wealth at its peril. "Think of ways that your company can help mobilize global science and technology to tackle the interlocking crises of hunger, disease, environmental degradation and conflict that are holding back the developing world," he lectured.

As the forum's members gather again next week in Davos, Switzerland, there will be much soul-searching over whether the movement is living up to its lofty ideal of "improving the state of the world" or, alternatively - as social activists charge - is nothing more than an elitist corporate club.

Since the 2002 confrontation, the guardians of free enterprise have opened a direct dialogue with their critics and promoted core principles that strive to make business more responsive at a social level. Responding to Annan's plea, a handful of multinationals have pledged to set aside a portion of annual earnings to help bridge the technological gap that is contributing to the income gap and breeding poverty.

Other executives have forged environmental alliances with the green movement or are sitting down with human-rights groups to hammer out covenants on child labor and low wage levels in the Third World. Their guiding light is a Global Governance Initiative (GGI) established in late 2002 that has seven groups of experts analyzing how business can relate to the Millennium Summit issues of peace and security, poverty, hunger, education, health, environment and human rights. [...]

Because conservatives generally see enterprise as more beneficial than government, they tend to accord too much respect to the general wisdom of businessmen. The World Economic Forum is a great example of how successful entrepreneurs can make fools of themselves by believing they have a special insight into the world’s problems and the power to resolve them. From the naive soul that runs for office promising to apply “business principles” to government to leftist wannabes like Ted Turner, who can’t survive a week without his shrink but knows exactly how the world should be ordered, a modern scourge is the socially conscious businessman. Having made his fortune by waging take-no-prisoners commercial war and trying to destroy all competition, he suddenly thinks he can make the lion lie down with the lamb and lead mankind gratefully to the land of plenty. Who needs democracy when philosopher-kings that cornered the market in pork bellies are available?

These guys are suckers for leftist NGO’s and activists, who are masters of rhetoric and co-opting, and who know how to control an agenda. The Ford and MacArthur Foundations are proof of how virtuous, old-fashioned charity can be captured for the cause. To keep anti-globalists from trashing meetings in dangerous hot spots like Davos and St. Kitt’s, the WEF has invested its prestige in exploring “governance”, a word that didn’t exist a decade ago but which can now keep one a-googlin’ all day. The sleep-deprived may wish to explore the Global Governance Initiative site and treat themselves to a soothing journey from the banal to the fatuous.

Why can’t they just be content with their yachts and mansions?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM

WHY ARE TWO DEMOCRACIES A TRAGEDY?

The devil and L Paul Bremer (Spengler, 1/21/04, Asia Times)

A devilish thought is forming in the back of the American mind: which is better, to have Iraqis shooting at American soldiers, or at each other? During the Cold War, Moscow stood to gain from instability, and Washington sought to stabilize allied regimes (Iran being the exception that proved the rule). Now, with no strategic competitor, America can pick up the pieces at its leisure. As in finance, volatility favors the player with the most options.

No one in the Bush administration wants to let slip the dogs of civil war. On the contrary, the White House still hopes that Iraq will set a precedent for democracy in the Muslim world. Yet civil war is the path of least resistance, so clearly so that the punditry of the world press has raised the alarm with one voice. A Google news search turns up 900 hits for the search terms "Iraq" and "civil war". What is so bad about a civil war? No self-respecting state ever has been formed without one. All the European countries had at least one (some of them called religious wars). America has had two. The Middle East and Africa have them all the time. States are founded on compromise. Civil war is just nature's way of telling the diehards to slow down. [...]

Nonetheless, the tragedy will proceed as Washington at each step discovers that its only viable option is the one that pushes Iraq closer to dissolution.


Spengler here demonstrates the danger of writing a column based on an assumption without ever demonstrating it to be true. What, after all, would be tragic about a democratic Kurdistan, a democratic Shi'astan, and either an isolated Sunni enclave or one that was eventually ethnically cleansed? Iraq is a fiction and no one but a diplomatist would require that its maintenance be the yardstick by which we measure success. If much of the population is predisposed towards democracy and only a small portion opposed, who with any common sense would allow the recalcitrant's to prevail?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 AM

THE IOWA IMPLOSION:

DISASTER FOR DEAN IN IOWA (DEBORAH ORIN, VINCENT MORRIS and BRIAN BLOMQUIST, January 20, 2004, NY Post)

In an Iowa meltdown, Howard Dean got socked with a disastrous third-place finish last night, as John Kerry pulled off a stunning political comeback to win the first-in-the-nation Democratic contest for president.

Dean's collapse, combined with the combined surge of Sen. Kerry (Mass.) and Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), who finished second, threw the race wide open.

It also raised fresh questions about Dean's temperament when he launched into a screaming, clenched-teeth rant before his supporters after the vote count. [...]

Rolling up his shirt sleeves and shrieking so loud that his voice cracked, a raging Dean rallied his supporters with forced optimism and a pugilistic tone that stood in contrast to the formal upbeat speeches by his opponents.

"I'll see you around the corner, around the block," Dean said, sounding like a bully taunting Kerry and Edwards, whom he'll face in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday.

"He's crazy," said Republican pollster Frank Luntz after watching Dean's bizarre performance. "This is everything that voters don't want to hear from him. He's just lost the Democratic nomination for president. He's too hot."


Dean and Gephardt were the most obvious losers last night, but others include:

(1) Wesley Clark: he'd likely have won if he'd decided to contest the race there.

(2) The anti-war movement: which even liberal Democrats seem to think the kiss of death.

(3) Industrial Labor: where was their vaunted organization?

(4) Webheads: turns out you can't win elections depending on affluent, single, white, young, Internet junkies.

(5) Al Gore, Tom Harkin, and the rest of the folks who endorsed the "inevitable" Howard Dean.

(6) The Democratic Party: rather than settling on a well-funded nominee rather quickly, they're now in for a long hard slog that will leave the eventual nominee carved-up and broke, with significant portions of the base alienated. The Summer will be spent not appealing to the middle but reconstituting core constituencies, while Karl Rove drops a $200 million MOAB of ads on them.

(7) Teresa Heinz Kerry: at least the Cabana Boy used to have some cash of his own--now he's dead weight.


MORE:
-For N.H., all bets are off (Peter S. Canellos, 1/20/2004, Boston Globe)

John F. Kerry's stunning win in the Iowa caucuses yesterday sets up a duel in next week's New Hampshire primary between two leaders from neighboring states, each vying to claim a fresh breath of momentum before the campaign heads to the less-friendly South.

But neither Kerry nor former Vermont governor Howard Dean is a sure bet to win. North Carolina Senator John Edwards, whose campaign has barely registered in New Hampshire, will get a new look based on his second-place showing in Iowa.

And those candidates who just campaigned through near-zero temperatures in Iowa will confront a bracing reality of a different sort in New Hampshire: Retired General Wesley K. Clark has spent weeks boosting his effort in the Granite State.

In the final analysis, the Iowa caucuses may actually have ended up boosting more candidates than they knocked down.


January 19, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 PM

MELTDOWN:

Kerry and Edwards Turn Late Surges Into Iowa Success (ADAM NAGOURNEY, January 19, 2004, NY Times)

Howard Dean conceded defeat in the first electoral battle of his presidential campaign tonight, saying that he had lost the Iowa caucuses and proclaiming that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts had won the critical contest here, with John Edwards of North Carolina coming in second.

"We came in third, I think it's great, on to New Hampshire,'' Dr. Dean, the former Vermont governor, said in a live concession interview with Larry King that took place even as many Iowans were still voting, and when less than half the results had been reported.

His concession came after early entrance poll results - and some early returns - showed that, as Dr. Dean said, Mr. Kerry appeared to be winning, followed by Mr. Edwards.

It also appeared that Representative Richard A. Gephardt was heading for a fourth-place finish, a showing that would almost certainly bring an end to his second bid for the presidency.

The apparent victory by Mr. Kerry would mark a validation of the thoroughly unconventional campaign tact he took - to come to Iowa to replenish a candidacy that had been languishing in New Hampshire, and use an unexpected victory to power him back to life in his neighboring state.

The result marked a serious setback for Dr. Dean, who had campaigned intensely across this state for more than a year, and was a clear disappointment to a candidate who just a week ago had been confident of victory here and in New Hamsphire.

A poll of Iowans entering the caucus sites today suggested that what had been Dr. Dean's central appeal - his opposition to the war in Iraq - had done him little good last night.

And the issue that Democratic voters here and New Hampshire had repeatedly said was a top priority - finding a candidate who could beat President Bush - weighed heavily upon them. Among the one-third of voters who called electability their top priority, Mr. Kerry won by a margin of nearly two-to-one.


Gephardt gone; Edwards in through SC; Dean in full meltdown mode; Clark vs. Kerry in NH and Kerry clearly has room to tar Clark as soft on the war/national security, but he's running out of money fast. Karl Rove must be doing handstands.


MORE:
Little Familiar With Setbacks, Dean StumblesJODI WILGOREN, 1/20/04, NY Times)

With innovative use of the Internet not just to collect donations but also to link like-minded supporters in a call to action in their communities, Dr. Dean rose steadily through the fall, and began to attract a number of leading Democrats — the Washington kind he had condemned in many speeches — to his insurgent banner. But the attacks on him intensified just as many here began to focus on the race, and Dr. Dean failed to respond persuasively.

He seemed unable to decide whether to act the feisty fighter, naming names of his opponents who, as he said, lacked "the courage to stand up to George Bush" on the Iraq war and other issues, or to act the front-runner who was above the fray, unifying Democrats under a banner of hope.

Using his slogan, "You have the power," he said over the weekend that he expected the field organization that he built here, along with his more than 100 days traversing Iowa and the 3,500 volunteers who came from out of state this month to help, to bring the caucuses home.

"One person can't do anything, but half a million people can," Dr. Dean told a throng of more than a thousand young supporters at Iowa State University in Ames just before the caucuses began, referring to the number of names on his Web site's e-mail list. "Tonight, about three hours from now we're going to find out whether this all works or not. You're going to prove it to yourself and prove it to all of us."


So much for counting on young people and the Internet.
Gephardt Signals End to Presidential Bid: Dick Gephardt Intends to End Presidential Bid on Heels of Devastating, 4th-Place Iowa Showing (The Associated Press, 1/19/04)
Rep. Dick Gephardt signaled his withdrawal from the Democratic presidential race Monday night after a devastating fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

"My campaign to fight for working people may be ending tonight, but our fight will never end," Gephardt said in a post-caucus speech that sounded like a political farewell.


Where were the union guys and the protectionists?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 PM

60-40 NATION:

Domestic Issues Hurt Bush in Poll: Unnamed Democrat Pulls Nearly Even (Richard Morin and Dana Milbank, January 19, 2004, Washington Post)

President Bush delivers his State of the Union address tonight to an American public that has become broadly dissatisfied with his domestic agenda, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that, on the eve of his annual address to Congress, Bush continues to enjoy a huge advantage over Democrats on matters of national security, besting them by two to one in the fight against terrorism and by nearly as broad a margin on his handling of the conflict in Iraq.

But while Bush retains the support of nearly six in 10 Americans, the public believes Democrats would do a better job on domestic issues, such as the economy, prescription drugs for the elderly, health insurance, Medicare, the budget deficit, immigration and taxes. And Bush has lost the advantage on education policy he once enjoyed. [...]

Though the public has clearly noted an uptick in the economy -- 51 percent approve of the job Bush is doing managing the economy -- four in 10 Americans still believe the economy is in recession, the poll found. By 58 percent to 39 percent, they rate the economy and not terrorism as the bigger problem facing the country.


All the President needs is a couple more months of the economic numbers rolling in for these polls to become prohibitive.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 PM

THE RIVERBOAT GAMBLER:

Bush's place in the pantheon: A Pulitzer Prize-winning author takes a look at Bush's presidency. (David M. Kennedy, 1/20/04, CS Monitor)

Historians identify four "key" elections that turned on unusually impassioned political confrontations, deeply disrupting and redirecting the political loyalties of large numbers of voters. All four produced seismic shifts in the American political landscape, defining the salient issues for a long generation thereafter: westward expansion, slavery, and abolition following Andrew Jackson's election in 1828; civil war, reconstruction, and rapid industrialization after Abraham Lincoln's in 1860; immigration and economic regulation after William McKinley's in 1896; the welfare state and internationalism after Franklin Roosevelt's in 1932. Intriguingly, each of those political eras had a life span of about 3-1/2 decades.

Those precedents inspired political commentator Kevin Phillips to predict in 1968 that Richard Nixon's election would be the segue to the next, Republican-dominated, phase in this uncannily regular cycle. The uproar of the Watergate scandals aborted that development, the theory goes, permitting the anomalies of the Carter interlude and the Clinton "interregnum."

Mr. Rove and others now believe that the long-thwarted arrival of a durable Republican ascendancy is at last imminent, and that Bush's historic mission is to make it happen.

In that view, dividing the house by exploiting hot-button social issues is a political virtue, not a vice. Deficits, in turn, are simply the necessary cost of securing a permanently reduced tax base and thereby taming the monster of big government. Reagan initiated this strategy, and Bush appears to be perfecting it. History may therefore identify a shrewdly calculated and notably disciplined method in the seeming fiscal recklessness of the Bush domestic agenda. [...]

Most dramatically, he and his closest advisers, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, have undergone the policy equivalent of a born-again religious conversion. Lifelong realists all, habitually wary of open-ended commitments, critical of rhetorically seductive but impractical goals, and openly contemptuous of the role of idealism in foreign policy, they have embraced an agenda so utopian as to make Woodrow Wilson look like a hard-bitten cynic. They seek nothing less than remaking Iraq in the Western image, thereby changing the political equation of the entire Middle East and beyond. The ultimate goal is not simply to make the world safe for democracy, but to make the entire world democratic.

As the 2002 Bush National Security Strategy document puts it: "We must make use of every tool in our arsenal," to promote in "every corner of the world," the "single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise," and to those ends "the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively."

To call those goals bold does not do them even minimal justice. The first President Bush often invoked the virtue of prudence. But Bush No. 43 is a plunger. He has placed a huge bet on the political payoff from his social and economic policies, and he is playing for the highest imaginable stakes in the international arena.


Conservatives have grown so timid in their seventy years in the minority that any imperfect policy scares them. The President, confident the party will be in power for decades, takes what he can get, knowing there'll be time and power to fix it later.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:03 PM

WHO DOES THIS MAKE LESS SENSE FOR?:

McGovern Endorses Clark (NewsMax, Jan. 18, 2004)

Losing 1972 peacenik presidential candidate George McGovern endorsed Gen. Wesley Clark for president at a New Hampshire pancake breakfast Sunday morning. [...]

Ironically, McGovern's endorsement came just days after Clark adopted the most hawkish stance of any presidential candidate, saying that he would use a NATO strike force to invade Pakistan in a bid to get Osama bin Laden.

"I will send that strike force into the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where most believe bin Laden is holed up and where he and his deputies continue to order terrorist attacks," the retired general told reporters on Thursday.


Never mind Mr. McGovern endorsing a guy who wants to unilaterally invade Pakistan, what's amazing here is that the General has said he voted for Richard Nixon in 1972 because Mr. McGovern's anti-war campaign tried to turn the country against the military. Now he accepts his endorsement?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:13 PM

CAN YOU BE THE NOMINEE IF YOU CAN'T EVEN PANDER EFFECTIVELY?:

Dean upsets some at King ceremony (Des Moines Register, 01/19/2004)

Presidential candidate Howard Dean's attempt Monday to attend a ceremony honoring the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. left many in the audience unhappy and complaining that the former Vermont governor was trying to overshadow the event.

The Iowa Commission on the Status of African-Americans hosted the 15th annual event, held at the Iowa Historical Building in Des Moines.

"That's not for him," said Seville Lee, 26 of Des Moines. "This was nothing but a conniving way for him to sneak in and take up a vote from the African-American community."

Dean, who is in third place in the Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll, arrived at the historical building at around 10:30 a.m. Monday with a swarm of national and international media in tow.

He quickly left.


MORE:
-Dean To News Media: Get A Life (David Paul Kuhn, 1/19/04, CBSNews.com)

After Dean entered the packed auditorium with a mostly black audience of about 300 people, the former Iowa front-runner took a seat in the front row for about five minutes.

Photographers and camera crews followed, positioning themselves at the foot of the stage. A clearly perturbed Dean sat through the flashes, but soon walked up on stage and had a discussion with local organizers.

A while later he exited the auditorium, making a beeline to the front entrance and to his bus. Wedging through the media, he stopped at the front step before boarding the bus to answer a reporter's question about how he was feeling.

"You know why I wasn’t able to attend this event,” Dean said, “because you guys are behaving so badly you’ve got to get a new life.”

Upbraiding the media, Dean told the press: “I’m feeling great, we’re going to win but you guys got to behave yourselves out of respect for Dr. King.”

Blaming the media for the commotion of his arrival, Dean refused to answer any more questions.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:28 PM

THE WORST RUN FRONT-RUNNING CAMPAIGN EVER?:

Democrats Wrestle With 'Electability' (John F. Harris, January 16, 2004, Washington Post)

As his supporters roared approval, Howard Dean told Democrats to look past next week's Iowa caucuses and think about November: "We are the only campaign that has a chance of beating George Bush." [...]

Speaking here the other day, Dean expressly rejected the constant focus on moderate swing voters that was Clinton's hallmark.

"Our strategy is not to go to swing voters first and hope everybody else will come along," Dean explained to his audience. Of young people and other nonvoters, he said, "The reason they don't vote is because they can't tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans, and we're going to show them that there really is a difference."

Such an approach, many Democratic strategists believe, could represent a historic miscalculation if Dean retains his precarious lead and carries the Democratic banner. All of Dean's major competitors are arguing that they are better positioned to pivot from a nominating contest to a battle with Bush for moderate voters in critical states.

These include Pennsylvania and Michigan -- swing states that broke decisively late in the 2000 election for Democrats -- or in Ohio, Missouri or West Virginia, which were states Bush won even though Clinton carried them twice. Even many independent strategists maintain that Dean's background from a liberal small state, his identification as a peace candidate, and his opposition to even that portion of tax cuts that benefited the middle class leave him vulnerable in such places. [...]

In one sense, the strategic question facing Democrats about how to beat Bush amounts to a debate between Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, and [Mark] Penn, a principal author of Clinton's political strategy from 1995 onward.

That strategy was built around a constant focus on the preferences of swing voters skeptical of both parties. Penn's premises about the primacy of independents and how to engage them are shared by several other Democratic campaigns.

In an interview, Trippi said, "The established way is to go after the middle, even if it means depressing your base." He said that swing voters will look at large issues -- the war and the budget -- but that policy positions are secondary to the larger mood and promise Dean conveys.

That promise, in the campaign's view, is a revival of grass-roots democracy to challenge Bush's alleged coziness with corporate special interests. Independent voters don't necessarily gravitate to the most moderate candidate.

"There's something very appealing about taking a party back, and that crosses party lines," he said. "The middle tends to go the most energized party."

Penn said there is no evidence for this. "The real swing voters are not members of either party, and they are not excited by 'political momentum,' " he said. "They make up their mind without reference to political parties."


The Deaniacs seem to have miscalculated on such an epic scale that their partisan extremism is even turning off the base in IA and NH.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 AM

THE ARNOLDIZATION OF CALIFORNIA:

The Buzz: Recall stats a cautionary tale for Democrats (Dan Smith, January 19, 2004, Sacramento Bee)

The semiofficial results are in, and about 20 Assembly Democrats may be looking over their shoulders a little more than usual after the Oct. 7 recall election.

Election statistics compiled by the Assembly Republican Caucus show the recall of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis prevailed in 18 of the 48 Democratic-held Assembly districts. Current Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the top vote-getter in 23 Democratic districts.

Perhaps the most interesting -- at least to Republicans hoping to gain ground in the lower house this year -- are the five Democratic districts in which the percentage of votes for both the recall and Schwarzenegger exceeded the final statewide tallies.

Representing districts in that category are Democratic Assembly members Rudy Bermudez of Norwalk, Lloyd Levine of Van Nuys, Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, Gloria Negrete McLeod of Chino and Nicole Parra of Hanford, according to the GOP statistics.

Republican strategist Tony Quinn, who has assessed the vulnerability of Assembly districts for years, said the recall may have forced three areas ringing Southern California -- Long Beach/Palos Verdes, Ontario and parts of the San Fernando Valley -- back toward the GOP. The three areas have swung between parties for decades, he said, triggered by Watergate in 1974, Proposition 13 in 1978 and a backlash to Proposition 187 in 1996.


All the Red are secure; all the Blue are in play.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:04 AM

AND HERE WE THOUGHT THEY WERE ALL JUST GAY:

FORECAST 2004: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Entertainment Weekly, 1/23/04)

We knew we'd be getting a different kind of Harry Potter when Warner Bros. hired Alfonso Cuaron--the stylish Mexican auteur behind 2002's lauded carnal carnival Y Tu Mama Tambien--to succeed Chris Columbus and direct Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. But an allegory for our Patriot Act age? That's a surprise.

EW: Why HP3?

AC: The moment I read the book, I was hooked. It's a myth for our times. You read about Fudge and the Ministry of Magic--that's Tony Blair! And Guantanamo is not that different from Azkaban.


So Harry is Osama bin Laden and wizards are al Qaeda?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:15 AM

TOO CLOSE TO CALL, BUT CALL IT:

Ready, set, go; time to pick (JANE NORMAN, 01/19/2004, Des Moines Register)

At last, the night of decision has arrived.

Iowa Democrats will gather at 6:30 p.m. to select their favorite in the race for the presidential nomination, throwing open the starting gate for a gallop toward the national convention in Boston in July.

Republicans also will congregate in caucus sites to show support for President Bush and, in some cases, to hear speeches by national party leaders. But the spotlight is on the Democrats, who are choosing from among eight candidates.

Gordon Fischer, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said that the party is ready to accurately report the outcome of 1,993 precinct caucuses drawing an expected 100,000 Iowans and media attention from around the world.

State Democrats have spent $750,000 to prepare a high-tech reporting system to tally results arrived at by Iowans meeting in community centers, libraries and church basements across the state.

"Everything we are doing we've tested, and tested, and re-tested," said Fischer, who was featured on an ABC news show Sunday morning showing off the party's red-white-and-blue setup at the Polk County Convention Complex. "We feel very well prepared."

Results are expected by 9 p.m. or a little later.
Real Clear Politics has late polls, which show John Kerry passing Howard Dean and John Edwards passing Dick Gephardt, but the science of polling caucus goers is notoriously sketchy. The one thing that seems clear is that Dick Gephardt is the only candidate who could be eliminated here and whoever wins will have such a low % as to make it impossible to consider them any kind of favorite. Most likely order of finish:

Howard Dean

Dick Gephardt

John Kerry

John Edwards


MORE:
Organization will be key to victory (DAVID YEPSEN, 01/19/2004, Des Moines Register)

If organization is as important as caucus lore tells us it is, Howard Dean should win the Iowa caucuses tonight. Driven by youthful energy and anti-war activism not seen since the Vietnam War, Dean has assembled what his organizers claim is the best get-out-the-vote operation ever built in the state.

They are probably correct. As the campaign draws to a close today, the important story isn't the candidates and their hoopla. It's their organizations and their boring grunt work on the streets and telephones of Iowa.

Given that recent polls of the race show the contest has tightened, Dean hopes his operation provides him with the political firewall he needs to protect himself against the late surges by John Kerry and John Edwards. A Dean win in Iowa tonight would be devastating to the early front-runner here, Dick Gephardt.


-Here's how Iowa caucuses work (JIM MORRILL, 1/11/04, Charlotte Observer)
-Fox News: You Decide 2004
-NY Times: Campaign 2004
-USA Today: Politics 2004
-CS Monitor: Decision 2004
-LA Times: 2004 Elections
-TIME.com: Elections 2004
-Iowa Squeaker Could Complicate Rather Than Clarify Campaigns (Ronald Brownstein, January 18, 2004, LA Times)
The Iowa caucuses are supposed to provide the first answers in the presidential nomination race. But this year, they may only supply questions. [...]

Depending on the order of finish, all of the major candidates who competed here — former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Sens. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina — could wake up Tuesday with enough strength and credibility to sustain their campaigns.

A pile-up finish in Iowa would immediately increase the incentive for these contenders to open fire on retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who has built a powerful wave of momentum in New Hampshire while ignoring the caucuses. Such attacks, on issues from Clark's previous votes for Republican presidents to his work as a lobbyist, are escalating even before the Iowa race concludes.

"I think Wesley Clark will quickly become the issue in the week between Iowa and New Hampshire," said a senior advisor to one of the other Democrats. "People look at him, in military terms, as a very soft target."


- With Hopes Up and Elbows Out, Democrats Give Iowa Their All (ADAM NAGOURNEY and JIM RUTENBERG, 1/19/04, NY Times)
-Key precinct reflects wider caucus drama (Rick Klein, 1/19/2004, Boston Globe)
In this battleground neighborhood, one of Iowa's most diverse in terms of ethnicity and income, the four top candidates are all banking on strong turnouts from their key constituencies.

There's also significant support for a fifth candidate, Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, setting the stage for possible vote-swapping when Democrats meet at Roosevelt High School's library for their caucus. With hours to go before the big event, no one can guess what will happen in Precinct 55 -- or the rest of the state, for that matter.

"I don't have any idea how to predict this thing," said Joe Walsh, a 33-year-old attorney who is serving as precinct captain for Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri.

Tonight, the battle for Iowa supremacy will be fought at 1,992 other caucus sites -- recreation centers, churches, schools, even a handful of living rooms in rural communities. Turnout is all-important for the candidates.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 AM

DIVISION OF RESPONSIBILITIES:

U.S. Finds Annan Ready to Help Salvage Iraq Transition Plan (Robin Wright and Colum Lynch, January 19, 2004, Washington Post)

The Bush administration has not figured out how much control it is willing to give the United Nations, U.S. officials said. The internal differences echo earlier debates over whether the United States should collaborate with the world body, first in pressuring Saddam Hussein over his programs to produce weapons of mass destruction and then in going to war to oust him. [...]

The political hand-over, which centers around a complex process based on caucuses in Iraq's 18 provinces to elect a new national assembly, has been challenged by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Iraq's leading religious cleric is demanding direct elections so the caucus process cannot be manipulated to favor U.S.-backed Iraqis.

Sistani has repeatedly called for the United Nations to weigh in on the election issue. Washington hopes the most immediate role U.N. envoys will play is mediating with Sistaniand other potential spoilers of the transition plan. Sistani has refused to see U.S. diplomats but has met with U.N. representatives.

"Look, the bottom line is we need help," a U.S. official intimately involved in Iraq policy said. "We need help on a lot of fronts, whether it's managing Sistani, whether it's making this process more truly transparent and inclusive in such a way that the Sistanis of this world buy into it. That is something we haven't had very much success [with]. There is a genuine recognition that we need to engage more broadly."


This is why we can keep on toppling regimes until all those we want gone are--the UN has no option but to step in and help with the rebuilding after we break such places.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 AM

"I BELIEVE THE SYMBOLISM":

The Odd Couple (KIRON K. SKINNER, 1/19/04, NY Times)

As a result of the Goldwater endorsement, Mr. Reagan, who two years earlier had been a registered Democrat, was soon seen by many as being on the opposite side of everything the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was fighting for at the time. Yet two decades later, in November 1983, President Reagan signed a bill establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. King.

How do we understand this twist of history? [...]

[W]hen one looks closely at each man's writings, it's clear that they shared an unswerving commitment to democracy, liberty and equality. Having spent years studying and archiving the former president's letters and speeches, I have concluded that he overcame his reservations about the King bill by tapping into his personal experiences — and coming away with an understanding of the ways in which racism and bigotry violate the basic American values he and Dr. King worked to make real.

In his private writings, Ronald Reagan has always maintained that his earliest encounters and views on race were shaped by his parents' quiet activism. Mr. Reagan has told the story of how, one bitterly cold night, his father slept in his car to protest a hotel's policy of not admitting Jews. The president's father also refused to allow his sons to see the movie "Birth of a Nation," on the ground that it glorified the Ku Klux Klan.

Mr. Reagan has said that his first personal experience with racism against blacks occurred while he was on the football team at Eureka College. He and his teammates were traveling by bus in Illinois near his hometown, and stopped at a hotel for lodging. When the hotel manager refused to accommodate his black teammates, Mr. Reagan offered to take them to his home for the night. His parents warmly welcomed their son's friends.

On another occasion, Ronald Reagan saw Franklin Burghardt, one of his black teammates, physically attacked during a game by a player from the opposing team. Mr. Burghardt earned Ronald Reagan's admiration by responding to the attack with firm but fair play. [...]

Perhaps it was President Reagan's final statement about Dr. King at his October 1983 press conference that best helps explain why he signed the bill. "I believe the symbolism of that day," the president said. In the president's mind, the values Dr. King championed trumped political differences.


If we can honor white guys who owned slaves, we can certainly honor a black guy who was a communist dupe. Men are of their times, but, if great, change those times, as did Dr. King. Best just to ignore everything he said after 1963.

MORE:
-SPEECH: I Have a Dream ((Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 AM

WELCOME TO THE BIG LEAGUES:

Timing of Address No Accident, Official Says (ELISABETH BUMILLER
and CARL HULSE, 1/19/04, NY Times)

The winner of the Iowa caucuses on Monday night will have an unexpected competitor waiting right around the corner, and he is not one of the Democrats running for president.

The opponent is President Bush and his State of the Union address, which White House officials scheduled for Tuesday night, only 24 hours after Iowa, to draw attention from the Democratic victor, a Republican close to the Bush campaign said.

"Was it planned?" the Republican said. "Yes. The fact that the Iowa caucus was going to be held on a certain date was not unknown to people in the White House."

The underlying strategy, the Republican said, was not to steal all the thunder from the Democrats, which even another "axis of evil" State of the Union address was unlikely to do, but rather to change the subject.

"What you achieve by doing it quickly is to get people to focus on the president's positive agenda after two weeks of people beating his brains in and criticizing every aspect of his policies," the Republican said. He did not want to be named for fear of angering White House officials who insist that there is no political element to Mr. Bush's address — even as Bush campaign officials say the speech will outline the broad themes of the his 2004 campaign.


On Monday night, a Democrat will get 25% of the vote in a badly attended party caucus in a small Midwestern state. On Tuesday, a president with a close to 60% approval rating will address the nation. These guys get the power of incumbency, eh?


January 18, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:48 PM

DEER HUNTER FILES:

In Ga., Dean Embraces Carter: Ex-President Offers No Endorsement (John F. Harris, January 19, 2004, Washington Post)

No longer shunned by politicians, Carter said he was flattered by the attention on a "has-been politician" -- but he also seemed eager to ensure that Dean did not take liberties in his pursuit.

At an appearance here on Main Street in the Georgia hamlet Carter made famous, the former president praised the Vermonter's "courageous and outspoken posture" against what he assailed as "a completely unnecessary and unjust war" in Iraq. He introduced Dean as "my friend, our visitor and a fellow Christian." But twice Carter emphasized that he was not making an endorsement. Indeed, he said he was eager to play host to other Democratic candidates in Plains, and worship with them at the Maranatha Baptist Church, as he did this morning with Dean. [...]

Pressed in recent interviews why he would leave Iowa at a crunch time, Dean said he could not turn down an invitation to appear with a former president he admires. But when a visitor to the Maranatha church -- thousands come from out of town annually to hear Carter's Sunday-morning homilies -- thanked Carter for inviting Dean, Carter quickly interjected "I did not invite him" before adding "I'm glad he came."

"He called me on the phone and said he'd like to worship with me," Carter explained to reporters before the church service began.


Not only did he waste a day when the race is close in Iowa but Dr. Dean achieved something that no one would have thought possible--he let Jimmy Carter humiliate him.

MORE:
Dean wows crowd, trails in polls (Martin Sieff, 1/18/2004, UPI)

It remains, however, to be seen, if Dean's trip to meet former President Jimmy Carter in Plains, Ga., will help him significantly or prove to be an embarrassing fizzle, taking him away from the crucial last say of campaigning in the state.

In any case, Carter did not even formally come out and endorse Dean when he needed it most, even though his own son Chip has been energetically campaigning for Dean in Iowa.

And although Judy Dean received a rapturous welcome in her first campaign appearance in Davenport where she thanked "the people of Iowa for being so kind and gracious to my husband," she will be returning to Vermont to treat her patients as usual on Monday. It remains to be seen therefore whether her visit will help her husband or hinder him.

Meanwhile, Dean's most dangerous challenger, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, continues to campaign steadily in arctic New Hampshire where he has already almost erased Dean's once awesome 40 point lead. Dean will have less than a week of campaigning to reverse the momentum that has been building there against him. And also on Sunday, Clark locked up the support of former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern, a move that may well validate him among radical Democrats.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:02 PM

RUSH WAS RIGHT, EH?

McNabb Is Injured, and Then Ambushed (DAVE CALDWELL, January 19, 2004, NY Times)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 PM

YOU'RE A REFORMER, REFORM:

Iran’s MPs stage sit-in protests, but drastic options wait in the wings: As crucial elections loom, moderates claim they’re working for democracy … but they’re fast losing support in favour of more direct action. Is this reform’s last chance? (Dan De Luce, 1/18/04, Sunday Herald)

With his interest in philosophy, his clerical background and his gentle personality, Khatami seems more suited to academia than politics. He chose a quiet life of study at the national library in the 1990s after he was chased out of his post as minister of culture. Hardliners had disagreed with his attempts to lift censorship on films and books.

Moderates pressed Khatami into running for president in hopes of stirring up the election campaign . Even his critics acknowledge he has ushered in a more open climate that has brought a degree of social freedom and a flourishing of the arts.

“He was the first person to broadcast democratic concepts among ordinary people,” said Hamid Reza Jalaleipour, a sociologist who has advised Khatami in the past.

He has encouraged the creation of hundreds of NGOs and his ideas about a more tolerant, modern interpretation of Islam have gained popular favour, changing the terms of political debate.

On the foreign policy front, Khatami has helped repair Iran’s relations with former adversaries in the region and persuaded European governments to engage Tehran diplomatically.

Perhaps he is a victim of his success in opening up discussion about how Iran should evolve. His ideas about incremental reform are being questioned now by his allies in parliament, including his more outspoken younger brother, Mohammad Reza Khatami, who leads the largest reformist party, the Participation Front.

The president’s brother and other MPs say the time has come to amend the constitution to limit the vast, unaccountable authority of the supreme leader.

If they cannot achieve their goals in parliament, the MPs say they will launch more civil disobedience and turn to the public for support.

“People are disillusioned with the reformists, but not with the idea of reform,” said Khatami.


Mr. Khatami has before him the opportunity to be a great man, a world historical figure, but such are few and very far between.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 PM

RUNNING ON EMPTY:

Dems on Spending Spree in Iowa (RONALD BROWNSTEIN, January 18, 2004, LA Times)

The huge final barrage pushed Dean's total television spending in the state to $3.3 million, by all indications the most any candidate has ever spent on television here.

For Dean, that translated into 8,920 total commercials aired in the four major media markets reaching Iowa that CMAG tracks. John Kerry, the next heaviest advertiser, bought only 6,045 commercials in the state.

Dean can spend so much on television in the state largely because he has opted out of the public finance system, which imposes caps on how much candidates can spend in each primary and caucus contest.

Kerry, who has also opted out of the public finance system, spent $458,000 on television in Iowa last week, pushing his campaign-to-date total to $2.73 million. Kerry's spending last week nearly doubled his spending from the week before.

Dick Gephardt, who the other campaigns have said is strapped for cash, matched Kerry, spending $461,000 in the week before the vote-also a significant increase from the roughly $294,000 he had spent the first week of January. The final push put Gephardt's total at $2.34 million.

John Edwards, who has been rising in the polls, lagged significantly in his television investment: he spent $282,000 last week, raising his total to $1.7 million overall.

Long-shot Rep. Dennis Kucinich has spent $90,00 on television in the state, the study found.

Additional spending over last weekend will swell these final totals even higher, guaranteeing that the candidates as a group establish a new record for total television spending in the state.


As they empty their coffers trying to determine who's the tallest dwarf, Karl Rove awaits with $200 million dollars to define that person for the American people.


MORE:
-Kerry to Adopt 'Renoir' Fund-raising Strategy (NewsMax, 1/18/04)

He may be leading in Iowa's presidential polls now - but months of disappointing performances have left Sen. John Kerry's campaign coffers so depleted he's now preparing to sell off the Heinz-Kerry family art treasures.

"Watch for the Renoir strategy from the Kerry campaign," Newsweek's Howard Fineman told NBC's "Chris Matthews Show" on Sunday.

"They're going to mortgage all their fancy paintings in the Kerry-Heinz household up in Massachusetts to raise money for the rest of this campaign," Fineman said.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 PM

LIKE A THORNY CROWN:

Judy Flies In to Boost Hubby Howard (UPI, 1/18/04)

Judith Steinberg Dean flew into Davenport Airport, Iowa, Sunday to boost her husband Howard's faltering campaign. [...]

Mrs. Dean will be appearing alongside Dean at campaign appearances in Davenport, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City before flying home. She will not remain in Iowa to campaign with him on Monday because she has patients she is scheduled to see in her medical practice, a Dean campaign official told United Press International.


How nice that she can spare an afternoon for her husband's reeling attempt to become president of the United States.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:23 PM

NOT SO FLAKY:

Bush offers migrant plan conservatives can support (Rep. Jeff Flake, Jan. 18, 2004, Arizona Republic)

President Bush's immigration initiative has sparked a great deal of discussion across the country. Perhaps the most interesting debate centers on whether the president, in announcing the initiative, has embraced conservative principles or abandoned them. I believe a temporary worker program is consistent with conservative principles, and here's why.

First, conservatives value national security, and the status quo encourages anything but national security. The presence of 8 million to 12 million illegal aliens within the confines of our borders should prompt the type of reform the president has suggested. [...]

Conservatives recognize that America has a need for labor that Americans are unable or unwilling to fill. This is the case today, and will increasingly be the case in years to come as our workforce becomes older and better educated. Now, some will dispute this, noting that "there are some 10 million unemployed in this country, and some 10 million illegal aliens - do the math!" [...]

Third, conservatives are compassionate, despite what liberals will tell you. The fact that hundreds of illegal aliens, many of whom are women and children, die in the desert each year should compel us to action. Because a temporary worker program would allow workers to enter and exit the country through border checkpoints, the incentive to risk one's life in the desert would be diminished considerably. Under the current situation, those illegally crossing the border in search of work must make the calculation of whether to endure long periods, even years, without seeing their families, or to attempt to bring their families with them. The latter choice often leads to deadly consequences.


All that without mentioning the quality of person who makes such an effort to create a better future in a strange country.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:54 PM

TOO RICH:

GAO Chief Refuses To Stop Doing the Math (Stephen Barr, January 18, 2004, Washington Post)

David M. Walker, comptroller general and head of the General Accounting Office, is worried about how the big numbers will add up in the 21st century -- what he calls "the growing fiscal imbalance."

By Walker's calculations, every man, woman and child in the United States would have to pony up at least $24,000 to wipe the red ink off the government's financial ledger.

If my math is correct--which is never likely--after paying off that debt, 300 million Americans would have a net worth of $34.5 Trillion.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:01 PM

VISION VS. VENOM:

Living in Bill's Shadow: Clinton may be everyone's campaign consultant, but that does not mean the former President defines his party anymore—or that he ever really did (NANCY GIBBS AND MATTHEW COOPER, 1/18/04, TIME)

[C]linton is the ghost in all their political machines, massaging Dick Gephardt's message, editing John Edwards' speeches, matchmaking between Wesley Clark and the party rainmakers. If too much time passes between calls, friends say, Clinton gets a little peeved, like a mother wanting her kids to succeed when they head off to college, but not without her help. "He knows what they are going through," says a source who chats with Clinton often. "He has helped them think through their own strengths and weaknesses." But none of the Democrats can do that without first coming to grips with Clinton's, deciding what to borrow and what to bury.

Discouraged centrists, listening to the overture to the 2004 race, are worried that the party is tone-deaf and doesn't know it. Although Clinton was able to handle its multiple belief systems, going into this race there is nothing resembling harmony on anything from trade to taxes to the wisdom of going to war. "What the Democrats don't realize is that they aren't ready for an election, but the electoral clock is inexorable and so we're having one," says a former Clinton aide. "They think Bush-hating is a vision. It's not. There is no agreement about how to govern."

That is not a problem the Republicans have. From the moment they rode in, they knew exactly what they wanted to do. Where Clinton stayed up all night brainstorming policy only to revisit the outcome the next day, Bush is famously decisive and anchored in his beliefs, charging forward, not looking back.


The problem is that Bill Clinton failed to pursue the Third Way, so Clintonism is only about being Bill Clinton--it's nontransferable. On the Republican side it's easy enough to be a Reaganaut--all that's required is tax-cutting, belief in the private sector, traditionalism on social issues, and a Jacksonian foreign policy.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:45 PM

BOOKNOTES:

James K. Polk by John Seigenthaler (C-SPAN, January 18, 2004, 8 & 11pm)

The story of a pivotal president who watched over our westward expansion and solidified the dream of Jacksonian democracy

James K. Polk was a shrewd and decisive commander in chief, the youngest president elected to guide the still-young nation, who served as Speaker of the House and governor of Tennessee before taking office in 1845. Considered a natural successor to Andrew Jackson, "Young Hickory" miraculously revived his floundering political career by riding a wave of public sentiment in favor of annexing the Republic of Texas to the Union.

Shortly after his inauguration, he settled the disputed Oregon boundary and by 1846 had declared war on Mexico in hopes of annexing California. The considerably smaller American army never lost a battle. At home, however, Polk suffered a political firestorm of antiwar attacks from many fronts. Despite his tremendous accomplishments, he left office an extremely unpopular man, on whom stress had taken such a physical toll that he died within three months of departing Washington. Fellow Tennessean John Seigenthaler traces the life of this president who, as Truman noted, "said what he intended to do and did it."


MORE:
-ETEXT: James Knox Polk, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1845
-Biography of James Polk (Whitehouse.gov)
-James K. Polk (Internet Public Library: POTUS)
-James K. Polk (American Presidents: Life Portraits)
-James K. Polk (PBS - THE WEST)
-James K. Polk Ancestral Home
-LECTURE: Who Is James K Polk? The Enigma of Our Eleventh President (Robert W. Johannsen, Presented on the occasion of the 10th Hayes Lecture on the Presidency, February 14, 1999, in the Hayes Museum auditorium.)
-LYRICS: James K. Polk (They Might Be Giants)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:26 PM

THE BITTER PIT:

Revisiting Europe, a place terribly changed since 1970 (Michael J. Bowers, January 18, 2004, The Star)

As you read this on Sunday morning, my dad and I will be hunting through the Clignancourt flea market in Paris.

Dad will look for classy items such as old cast-iron penny banks. I will look for junk. It will be a good time.

It's my first trip to Europe in a long time. In 1970, my dad moved his family to Kaiserslautern, Germany, where he had taken a job as an educator for the U.S. Defense Department school system. We were away four years.

We all loved Europe, especially us two children. To a 7-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl, the continent was a magical museum.

Simply walking around the corner to buy "brotchen" at the Edeka store was a thrill. When it was time to move back to the States, we cried.

Thirty years later, I fear that the magic has vanished. Europe seems to have plunged into a bitter pit of irrelevance, impotence, America-hatred and Jew-hatred.


But the euro is above $1!


Muslim Radicalism Flowers in French Town
(ELAINE GANLEY, Jan. 18, 2004,
Associated Press)

Clean and green, this well-kept Lyon suburb has for three years running won the national competition for "Flowered Cities of France."

But Venissieux also has a macabre claim to fame. Long plagued by urban violence, it is emerging as a breeding ground for Islamic radicals, some implicated in an alleged terrorist network that authorities say was preparing a chemical attack against Russian targets.

Six residents of Venissieux were arrested Jan. 6 in connection with the planned 2002-2003 New Year's celebrations attack, including a local imam, or prayer leader, Chellali Benchellali, his wife and son. Another son was arrested in 2002.

Two other men from this city of 56,000 are detainees at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including Benchellali's third son.

Venissieux, on the edge of the southeastern city of Lyon, epitomizes France's troubled big city suburbs, teeming with high-rises, cursed with soaring unemployment and peopled mostly by Muslim immigrants from France's former North African colonies.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:56 PM

A TABLE WAITING TO BE RUN:

Jerseyans like Dean but like Bush more (JOHN HASSELL, January 18, 2004, Newark Star-Ledger)

Even as candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination scramble for support in tomorrow's Iowa caucuses, a new Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers poll suggests the eventual winner of the primary election season will face an uphill battle against President Bush in November.

New Jersey, a state considered reliably Democratic in recent years, favors Bush over his Democratic challengers, 41 percent to 38 percent, according to the telephone poll of 904 adults that was conducted between Jan. 7 and Jan. 13 and carries a margin of error of 3.9 percent.

While the survey's results could indicate Garden State voters -- the Democrats, in particular -- are waiting to see who Bush's opponent will be, a tight race in New Jersey would augur well for Bush's re-election.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 AM

AMERICA VIA TV:

America on the starting line: Votes in two rich states start the countdown to the selection of presidential candidates. (Ros Davidson, 1/18/04, Sunday Herald)

In the snows of Iowa, major Democratic candidates are battling down to the wire this weekend in a four-way race that is too close to call.

There’s one certainty though: individual voters in Iowa and New Hampshire – which holds its election in 10 days – will, as always, have extra clout in the presidential race.

Both states are whiter and more rural than America as a whole, an imbalance that affects the range of issues debated just as the rest of the country is starting to tune in.

Urban poverty, access to basic government services and inner-city blight, for example, get less exposure. That’s especially ironic, since tomorrow’s first-in-the-nation vote, the official launch of the 2004 election, is also Martin Luther King Jr Day, which marks the birthday of the murdered civil rights leader.


Only someone whose perceptions of America are shaped entirely by television could think that the real issue is the condition of our cities.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:42 AM

SHORT TIME PASSING:

Where have all the people gone?: We knew Scotland’s population was declining. But last week a report announced the problem for the economy was acute; the need for a solution urgent. (Torcuil Crichton, 18 January 2004, Sunday Herald)

We are coming dangerously close, dangerously fast, towards a situation where the whole of the Scottish economy may shudder to a halt because of depopulation.

The latest lecture and report from the Fraser of Allander Institute highlighted this “achilles heel” of the Scottish economy. A “birth dearth” caused by lessening fertility and zero net migration – no more people coming to live in Scotland than those leaving – is blamed for Scotland’s declining population.

The research, by Heather Joshi of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies and Robert Wright of Stirling University, highlights for the first time that the problems are particularly acute in Scotland. In the rest of the UK the population is increasing, due to greater numbers coming to live in the country than those emigrating. In Scotland the number of children will decline while the proportion of those aged over 65 will rise.

The research concludes: “Population ageing is going to present the Scottish people and government with serious economic and social challenges. There is a real risk that the standard of living in Scotland will track the decline of the population.”


What risk for the 30-something generation planning their class reunion? Statistically speaking, there are 3.7 people working for every person of pensionable age in Scotland. Pretty soon that proportion will be down to 2.4 workers per pensioner. With fewer people working, the wheels of the economy whir more slowly and there will be less money to fund the kinds of services that pensioners and even the working population need. With fewer people to fill jobs and a smaller market for goods and services, fewer companies will be attracted to do business in Scotland. Depopulation becomes a downward spiral. The class of ’82 are looking through a pint glass darkly at their old age unless something is done quickly.

One of the solutions suggested by Joshi and Wright, which the media leapt on, is to have family-friendly policies that encourage educated, career women to have their children earlier and presumably to have more of them. Contrary to the doomsayer headlines there are babies being born in Scotland but not in the right class, according to the report. Controversially, for some, the paper argues that encouraging young, professional women to have children is fine – but young unemployed teenagers having unplanned pregnancies lack the the skills and material resources to raise children as successfully as their older, richer neighbours.

The report proposes that a combination of child tax credits and baby bonds be used in an incentive-driven revival of the Scottish birth rate.

Other countries in Europe are grappling with the same problem. France and Sweden already have so-called “family-friendly” policies to provide tax breaks to childbearing couples. Still the population levels are stalling.

In Sweden’s far north, where there are just 32 people per square kilometre, a number of measures from job dispersal to e-health delivery have been used to try and stem the tide of depopulation. No single thing appears to work says Anna Olofsson, North Sweden’s representative in Brussels, and, as experience in other rapidly declining fringes of the EU shows, a combination of approaches has to be tried. “There is no grand solution,” says Olofsson. “There are economic factors, social factors and political factors. Regional policy is quite strong in Sweden but we also have to work on the image of the north being a great place to live.”

Economic policies can amount to shuffling the existing population around an emptying board. Immigration rather than internal migration has been attempted as a solution to depopulation in other places with some success.


Blunkett to create Scottish visa to halt population decline (Torcuil Crichton, 18 January 2004, Sunday Herald)
DAVID Blunkett, the Home Secretary, is considering a radical proposal to create a “Scottish visa” allowing foreign students studying in Scotland to stay on for two years after graduation in an attempt to reverse national depopulation.

Even as folk continue to assure as that population is self-regulating, nations from Israel to Italy to Scotland are forced to take steps to reverse inexorable decline and try to preserve dying states.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:37 AM

NOT ENOUGH FINGERS:

THE DEITY AND THE DATA: HOW SCIENCE IS PUTTING GOD UNDER ITS LENS (William Hageman, January 11, 2004, Chicago Tribune Magazine)

"Subjects like the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the nature of time and the nature of consciousness are now firmly on the scientific agenda," says Paul Davies, a professor of natural philosophy in the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University in Sydney. "This means scientists are revisiting the age-old big questions of existence--but in doing so, they are deploying new concepts. This has obliged theologians to engage in old debates on new terms."

Science and religion "are discovering that when people who are thoughtful and open sit down at the same table together, it turns out they're not at war," says Karl Giberson, editor of Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology, a monthly publication dedicated to the issue. Lord knows, both sides have plenty to talk about.

Start at the beginning--literally--with the creation of the universe.
The prevailing layman's understanding of what science has to say on the subject is that there was a Big Bang, something akin to a fiery blast that spewed matter throughout the void of space. For the religious, that could easily be seen as a moment of creation by a supreme being, even if it occurred 13 or 14 billion years ago, as astronomers estimate it, instead of the 6,000 years ago implied by the Bible. But unbeknownst to the lay person, that view has evolved.

For one thing, says Smith, the Big Bang was never seen by physicists or philosophers as a fiery explosion that sent matter hurtling through space, because that presupposes an empty space through which the matter moved. He says the Big Bang was the expansion of space itself, and at the initial moment, there existed only a "singularity," a zero-dimensional point that instantaneously became a three-dimensional space that has been expanding ever since. Born in the same moment would have been matter, energy and time, he notes.

But Sean Carroll, assistant professor at the University of Chicago's new Center for Cosmological Physics, offers a caveat, one that raises the possibility that the primordial explosion was not the beginning, but just part of a pre-existing chain of events.

"[The Big Bang] is just one picture, the most conventionally accepted one," he says. "Of course, we don't have any direct experimental evidence of what happened at very early times, so we should keep an open mind. There may very well have been something before what we think of as the Big Bang."

Does that mean a higher power was in place orchestrating things? Not to Australia's Davies. In a speech he delivered when he was awarded the $1 million Templeton Prize for progress in religion--the world's largest prize for intellectual endeavor--he called "misconceived" the image of a supreme being "who deliberates for all eternity, then presses a metaphysical button and produces a huge explosion."

Davies pointed to physicists James Hartle and Stephen Hawking, who, he said, believe this coming-into-being of the universe "need not be a supernatural process, but could occur entirely naturally, in accordance with the laws of quantum physics, which permit the occurrence of genuinely spontaneous events."

Moreover, those events could have happened in a much larger context, say, of a cosmos of which ours is but a small part, says Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg, of the University of Texas.

Noting that it is "still a possibility" that all of creation emanated from the Big Bang, Weinberg points to new ideas that have only recently emerged.
"There's increasing attention directed to [the] possibility that there really wasn't a singular moment of creation," he says, "but instead our Big Bang is just an episode of expansion in a much larger universe, where big bangs are going off all the time and may have been going on for eternity. That's not confirmed yet; it's just a very plausible possibility." [...]

"If you ask a particle physicist, 'What are the implications of your view?'
" Craig continues, "they'd give you a blank stare. They know how to do calculations, but not how to reflect on the data."

Adds Simon Conway Morris, professor of evolutionary paleobiology at the University of Cambridge" "Though most of my colleagues certainly would disassociate themselves immediately from me in this respect, I'm very happy with the idea that you can understand creation from both a religious viewpoint and a scientific viewpoint. But this is not the sort of thing my colleagues want to be told. And they probably think I'm slightly mad, you know?"

Davies, too, can see common ground that both sides can stand on. He considers the origins of life and consciousness as neither the result of a Creator's hand nor "stupendously improbable accidents." He sees them simply as the natural result of the workings of the laws of nature.

Others find no room for accommodation. "I enjoy discussions, but what I would not like is some sort of synthesis of religion and science," Weinberg says. "I think that progress of humanity away from religion has generally been a healthy one, and I wouldn't want to see reconciliation. It's a progress that has been very largely driven by the expansion of science, and I wouldn't like us to give up that progress that we have made."

Smith sees his debates with Craig as carrying the day for science. "I say science implies atheism," he says. "They're desperately trying to say no, science implies theism."

He estimates that 10 percent of philosophers--"the best minds in their fields"-- believe in God. "Religion has had a big swing since the 1970s. [Theists] came up with brilliant arguments for theism. It used to be the tendency was to ignore them, but now more of them are becoming philosophers, and if you ignore them, they could become the majority. I'm trying to put my finger in the dike, to stop this onslaught of theism."


It need not imply "God", but how can the fact that something has to precede "Nature" not imply the super-natural?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:17 AM

BIG MO IN IOWA?:

Dean seems to regain Iowa steam (Martin Sieff, 1/17/2004, UPI)

Howard Dean's faltering campaign is hitting its stride again Saturday just when he needs it to in the last weekend before the Iowa caucuses.

The audiences were smaller, the applause warm bit not ecstatic in recent days. But on Friday, the candidate and his audiences took fire again, right where he needed them to, in the heart of Dick Gephardt country in north central Iowa.

It started Friday when Dean campaigned in the United Auto Workers stronghold of Newton, former Democratic Rep. Dave Nagel told United Press International.

"All of a sudden, the place erupts," Nagel said.

And it continued in Mason City Saturday. Dean organizers expected about 200 people for their first morning event at a shopping mall. But they got twice that. It was standing room only and packed to the seams. And when Dean lit into President George W. Bush and gave his stock stump speech the waves of applause rolled back at him.

"This should be Gephardt country," Nagel said." All of a sudden, the momentum's back with him."


In all likelihood, they're just padding crowds with the volunteers tyhey have coming in to work the caucuses Monday, but the point is that they have that kind of organization in place. Only Gephardt has similar--or even better--and that means that barring a true meltdown it's still just a two man race.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:09 AM

KILL THE HIGHWAY:

href=http://www.metropolismag.com/html/content_0104/mag/index.html>Speed: The maglev train is the future of twenty-first-century transit. Why won't we see it in the U.S. anytime soon? (Peter Hall, January 2004, Metropolis)

Critics of maglev argue that taxpayers' money would be spent more responsibly on improving the existing infrastructure of roads and regional airports, which already provide cheap transportation better suited to the geographically dispersed population of the United States.
"I'm not a big fan of trains in North America in general, and even if they did make economic sense, maglev is bound to be extremely expensive," says James E. Moore, professor of public policy and civil engineering at University of Southern California. "We won't defeat the economic forces of decentralization by building rail systems and underfunding roads."

China's maglev system cost an estimated $60 million per mile, whereas widening a highway costs less than $20 million a mile. But as any alternative-transportation advocate will point out, decades of government investment in roads and airports have also left us with highway congestion and a costly dependence on oil. To build a feasible high-speed alternative to road and air travel would take a considerable amount of planning and public funding. But the ultimate question is whether a new technology can lure Americans out of their cars.

Maglev certainly has futuristic appeal. It embodies that exquisite whoosh: that fleeting moment during which time appears to stand still as we flit effortlessly from city to city, shaking off the shackles of time and distance as though we were beams of light or speeding bits of data.
And those who have had the pleasure of maglev's acquaintance seem to emerge from the experience as if from an epiphany. "Once you ride it you understand that it's the next form of transportation," Washburn says. "It has the speed and power of a plane but the point precision and stopping power of a subway." He adds, as if consciously furnishing some future advertising agency with a slogan, "To ride it is to believe it." The catch-22 is that until America believes in it, maglev cannot be built.


Eisenhower's Highway Bill was a hate-crime against American society, social engineering at its worst--destroying neighborhoods and even whole towns; atomizing people; desecrating the countryside; creating the need for air travel; etc.--and a return to rail would be a salutary thing.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 AM

I, I, I, ME, ME. ME, BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME--WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ME?:

It's All About Me, Especially the Ugly Parts (BRUCE WEBER, 1/18/04, NY Times)

The confession...still begins with the pronoun I. And never have we lived in an age when more writing - including this essay - is contemplated and carried out in the first person. It's possible, in fact, that the confessional urge may be greater among writers than other people. After all, we express ourselves for a living, so we always need something to say, and our secrets are so juicy and so close at hand. They're a journalist's dream, an intimate exclusive: facts, unreportable by anyone else, with the potential for emotional resonance, psychological depth and the titillation of gossip.

It's tempting territory to explore. The proliferation of Weblogs is proof of that.


One does hate all those weblogs that endlessly share the details of the writers' lives, as if anyone should care: "Blogging will be light for the next ten minutes because I have to pumice the dead skin off my toes. JPEG's will be available shortly."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 AM

THE SPIRIT OF DUSTY LIVES:

Devon sent: Joss Stone is a 16-year-old whose debut album has already charmed the US music press - and Tom Cruise. Now she's about to unleash her astonishing voice on us. Polly Vernon meets a barefoot diva (Polly Vernon, January 18, 2004, The Observer)

[J]oss Stone should not, by rights, sound the way she does. It's a constant effort to reconcile her physical qualities (soft, sweet, pretty blondeness; a faint suspicion of lumbering teeniness; a fondness for hoodies) and her background (sleepy and state-educated; unmusical parents with no form in the projected-ambition stakes; one brother; one sister; Devon) with the sensuous, throaty, aching roar of her singing voice, and the jaded, fortysomething-divorcee soulfulness of her delivery. Stone's is a staggering voice, a voice blissfully free of Mariah Carey-aspiring warbling and artifice. Janis Joplin by way of Mavis Staples is what they're saying. Juxtaposed against her very white, very sweet, very unjaded youth, it's most discombobulating. When he first auditioned her, Steven Greenberg, boss of Stone's American record label, wanted to laugh. 'I thought it was some kind of joke on me,' he said. But then, of course, he signed her.

That was in 2002. Over these past two years Joss Stone has launched herself, to considerable acclaim, in the US. The girl both MTV and the Philadelphia Inquirer have insisted 'comes from the little town of Devon' has sung for James Brown, toured with Simply Red, appeared on the Letterman show and collaborated with revered Miami sound pioneer Betty Wright, who assembled Stone's band for her - an eminent selection of Sixties and Seventies soul musicians described as 'the Miami soul equivalent of the Buena Vista Social Club'. [...]

I experience Joss Stone and her astonishing voice for the first time in December 2003, when she performs a showcase at sticky, authentic, smoke-filled jazz institution Ronnie Scott's. Stone bumbles into the room, hiding her face behind her hair, propped up by a Relentless Records rep. She is quite excruciatingly shy, and patently the antithesis of everything that is Pop Idol polished. After years of exposure to the prematurely glossy, overproduced, fame-grasping youngsters of the Heat generation, I'd almost forgotten that teenagers could be like this.

She walks on stage barefoot. She always sings barefoot, because, she will tell me later, 'I don't want to fall over, man'. Her set is all slightly obscure cover versions, give or take a few numbers that Stone has co-written with Connor Reeves and Jonathan Shorten. She does Joe Simon's 'The Chokin' Kind', Bettye Swann's 'Victim of a Foolish Heart', even the White Stripes' 'Fallen in Love With a Girl' (reworked as 'Fallen in Love With a Boy'). It's a smart move, giving her repertoire an established feel, without overwhelming it with tired familiarity. Stone's performance sways between deft, masterful, beautiful singing and whispered, stilted, in-between attempts at audience interaction. She says stuff like: 'Right. Cool. I hope you like this. But don't listen to the singing on it. Just listen to the words. All right? Right. Cool,' before she launches herself into a heart-stopping rendition of 'For The Love of You'.

We meet, a couple of days later, in a glamorous hotel which overlooks Tate Modern. Stone is a little less shy one-on-one than she was at Ronnie Scott's, but only a little. She is a marvellously artless kind of nascent celebrity. She has no back catalogue of slick, pre-considered sound bites to draw from. Her anecdotes are all new, unrecycled, unused. When she talks about the grown-up business of producing music, about 'my management deal' or 'and so she hooked me up with my band', you can tell she isn't quite accustomed to using the terminology yet. She's trying it out for size.

It doesn't come as a great surprise, therefore, to learn that Joss Stone, 16-year-old soul phenomenon, is not the end product of years of scheming and burning ambition. She didn't even know she could sing, she says, until her management team first approached her three years ago. 'And I was a bit shocked that someone was interested, really.' Didn't anyone overhear you singing at school, or at home, or in the street, and point out that you could do it incredibly well? 'No. Well, I 'spose sometimes they were a bit like, "Yeah, well done Joss". And I was too shy; I didn't do any concerts or contests, because I was really embarrassed. But I always liked singing; just, in the privacy of my own home.'

Her main motivation to perform, it seems, was that she hated school and needed to find a way out of it. 'I was really shit at it. My parents were like, "OK, but you're going to have to do something, Joss".' So, aged almost 13, she did.

FROM THE ARCHIVES:
NEXT BIG THING (9/23/03):
Joss Stone Gives Soul New Voice, New Look (Weekend Edition, Sept. 13, 2003, NPR)

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

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

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


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 AM

EVERBODY WANTS BETTER "INTELLIGENCE", BUT NO ONE WANTS IT COLLECTED:

US stars hail Iraq war whistleblower: GCHQ worker Katharine Gun faces jail for exposing American corruption in the run-up to war on Saddam. Now her celebrity supporters insist it is Bush and Blair who should be in the dock. (Martin Bright, January 18, 2004, The Observer)

She was an anonymous junior official toiling away with 4,500 other mathematicians, code-breakers and linguists at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham.

But now Katharine Gun, an unassuming 29-year-old translator, is set to become a transatlantic cause célèbre as the focus of a star-studded solidarity drive that brings together Hollywood actor-director Sean Penn and senior figures from the US media and civil rights movement, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Gun appears in court tomorrow accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act by allegedly leaking details of a secret US 'dirty tricks' operation to spy on UN Security Council members in the run-up to war in Iraq last year. If found guilty, she faces two years in prison. She is an unlikely heroine and those who have met her say she would have been happy to remain in the shadows, had she not seen evidence in black and white that her Government was being asked to co-operate in an illegal operation.

The leak has been described as 'more timely and potentially more important than The Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg, the celebrated whistleblower who leaked papers containing devastating details of the US involvement in Vietnam, in 1971. Ellsberg has been vocal in support of Gun. She was arrested last March, days after The Observer first published evidence of an intelligence 'surge' on UN delegations, ordered by the GCHQ's partner organisation, the National Security Agency.


You can't protect national security without keeping tabs on your enemies.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 AM

YOU CAN REPRESS WITHOUT TORTURE:

(via Michael Herdegen)
Abuses force America to end aid to Uzbekistan (Nick Paton Walsh, January 16 2004, The Guardian)

Uzbekistan, an authoritarian state with which Washington forged a controversial alliance to aid its war on terror in neighbouring Afghanistan, is set to lose its $100m (L55m) annual US aid because of its poor human rights record.

The withdrawal of the aid, due to US laws that prohibit Washington from supporting regimes considered too abusive of human rights, could have damaging consequences for the Pentagon's strategic presence in central Asia. The US base at Khanabad, in southern Uzbekistan, both expanded America's military reach within the former Soviet Union and aided the toppling of the Taliban.

But in April the state department is set to recommend that funds to Uzbekistan be stopped because it has made no progress towards ending police torture and other abuses. Such an open moral and financial censure by Washington may lead President Islam Karimov to re-examine the benefits of US military presence on Uzbek soil.


Or it could clean up its act a little.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:21 AM

POORLY KEP SECRETS:

O'Neill Says Bush Was Set on Cutting Taxes, Too (EDMUND L. ANDREWS, 1/18/04, NY Times)

Mr. O'Neill has provoked a political firestorm with his contention that President Bush tilted toward war with Iraq almost as soon as he took office; the administration has vigorously denied that. But the former Treasury secretary described a similar pattern in Mr. Bush's push to cut taxes by at least $1.7 trillion over 10 years.

Imagine that, a President who meant to do precisely the things he'd campaigned on.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 AM

I YAM THAT I YAM:

Where They Really Knew Popeye and Co. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 1/18/04)

Before Popeye the Sailor, Olive Oyl and Wimpy were the stars of a beloved comic strip, they walked the streets of this little town where their creator grew up.

Popeye's real-life alter ego, residents say, was Frank Fiegel, a one-eyed pipe-smoking man with a penchant for fistfights. Dora Paskel was unusually tall and thin and wore a bun at the nape of her neck. And J. William Schuchert, a theater owner, so loved hamburgers that he would send his employees out between performances to buy them.

Popeye made his debut in the funny pages 75 years ago, walking onto Elzie Segar's "Thimble Theatre" comic strip on Jan. 17, 1929. The colorful locals from Mr. Segar's hometown had evolved into a pipe-tooting spinach-chomping hero, the "goil" he was always rushing to save and a man with a paunch to prove his passion for hamburgers.

In honor of Popeye's 75th anniversary, the Empire State Building is shining its lights spinach-green this weekend. A 3-D animated movie will be broadcast before Christmas on Fox. And Chester, population 5,200, will hold its annual picnic for Popeye fans after Labor Day.

All for a character who humbly declares "I yam what I yam" and got his start when Mr. Segar cast his eyes around his hometown, about 60 miles from St. Louis.

Locals say they do not know if Mr. Segar ever acknowledged his inspiration. Around town, it seems obvious that Popeye, Wimpy and Olive Oyl got their start in Chester, especially considering Mr. Fiegel's jutting chin, wiry frame and pipe.


One would rather be the model for the burger-loving Wimpy than the scrawny Olive.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:04 AM

TO SERVE THEM NOT AT ALL:

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Alanna Mitchell, Globe and Mail, 17/01/04)

At 34, he is among the last of a dying breed: a young man who loves teaching — so much, in fact, that he has a master's degree in the field. But in this day and age, loving teaching is a profoundly counter-cultural thing for a man to do.

Canadian men, like those in most Western countries, are leaving the profession in droves. At the beginning of the 1980s, having already retreated from most elementary classrooms, men still accounted for 44 per cent of the full-time teachers in elementary and secondary schools. Within two decades, that proportion had fallen by one-fifth to 35 per cent.

And it is poised to fall further. Teachers commonly retire in their mid-50s, and about four in every 10 of the men still in the field are over 50. The young teachers coming on board? They are overwhelmingly female. The latest statistics from the Council of Ministers of Education and Statistics Canada show that just 22 per cent of full-time teachers in their 20s are male. In Quebec, it's a mere 15 per cent.

If the trend continues, the profession will have four or five times as many women as men.

Why? The article probes for an answer, but doesn’t really succeed. My own bias is the decline of respect for vocation and demoralizing bureaucratic interference, but that is just a bias.

So, another example of the trend of modern men declining responsibility for children and youth, with the result that more and more children grow up strangers to men. Are we going to be good for anything in fifty years?



January 17, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:38 PM

A MAN IN NEED OF AN INTERVENTION:

War of Ideas, Part 4 (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, January 18, 2004, NY Times)

Does Mr. Friedman have no friends or editors who could tell him to stop.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 PM

STANDING BY HER MAN:

Dudgeons And Dragons (MAUREEN DOWD, 1/18/04, NY Times)

I went to Iowa hunting Howard Dean. His campaign said he might give me five minutes. On the phone.

At first, five minutes sounded pretty cursory. But I decided to be philosophical. Out of his 15 minutes of angry fame, Howard Dean was willing to devote a third of it to me.

How best to figure out someone who comes out of nowhere and wants to lead the world in five minutes?

I quizzed Tom Harkin, Mr. Iowa, about why he had endorsed Dr. Dean, even though it infuriated his spurned Senate buddy John Kerry and disappointed fellow Midwesterner Dick Gephardt. Senator Harkin didn't seem especially close to the Vermont governor. At the 2002 Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner here, he twice called the Democrat John Dean (as Martin Sheen did in a speech here last week).

"He's a fire hydrant," Mr. Harkin said over dinner at Bambino's in Cumming. "If you kick it, it's going to hurt you. But it's stable and secure and there when you need it."


Memo to Howard Dean: If you're a fire hydrant already, best not to give MoDo any more reason to whiz on you.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:29 PM

IN DENIAL ABOUT THE END OF HISTORY:

Is China the Next Bubble? (KEITH BRADSHER, 1/18/04, NY Times)

THE prospectus for China Green Holdings Ltd. looks a little like a seed catalog. Color photographs show the corn, cabbage, pickled plums and other vegetables that the company exports, mostly to Japan. There is even a helpful list of the growing times for broccoli, cauliflower and sweet peas; it is tucked between tables showing that the company earned $14.1 million on sales of $31.2 million in its last fiscal year.

Though China Green's business literally involves small potatoes - cubed and shipped in plastic bags - its initial public offering in Hong Kong was anything but. Retail investors put in bids to buy more than 1,600 times as many shares as were available for sale, making it the most oversubscribed I.P.O. ever in Hong Kong. The stock jumped 58 percent last Tuesday, its first day of trading.

Japan had its bubble in the late 1980's, when the Imperial Palace grounds in Tokyo became worth more than all the land in California. Thailand and Indonesia had their bubbles in the mid-1990's, when speculators and multinationals poured money into what seemed like a Southeast Asian miracle. The United States had its Internet and telecommunications bubble in the late 1990's, when stock prices looked as if they could rise indefinitely and unemployment kept hitting new lows.

Each of those bubbles ended badly, with millions of families losing their savings and many losing their jobs.

As 2004 begins, China's economy looks as invincible as the Japanese, Southeast Asian and American economies of those earlier times. But recent excesses - from a frenzy of factory construction to speculative inflows of cash to soaring growth in bank loans - suggest that China may be in a bubble now, especially on the investment side of the economy.


The economy, though a problem, is small potatoes compared to the demographic and political crises that are coming.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:18 PM

THEY WEREN'T THE NATIONAL CAPITALISTS:

Bush as Hitler? Let's Be Fair (ALEXANDER COCKBURN, January 10 / 11, 2004, Counterpunch)

Hitler, genocidal monster that he was, was also the first practicing Keynesian leader. When he came to power in 1933 unemployment stood at 40 per cent. Economic recovery came without the stimulus of arms spending. Hitler wanted a larger population, so construction subsidies produced a housing boom. There were vast public works such as the autobahns. He paid little attention to the deficit or to the protests of the bankers about his policies. Interest rates were kept low and though wages were pegged, family income increased by reason of full employment. By 1936 unemployment had sunk to one per cent. German military spending remained low until 1939.

Just a stock Leftist who tried applying Darwinism.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:47 PM

DEMOCRACY FACTORY:

Learning Freedom in Captivity: At the end of World War II, the United States taught German POWs how to transform a dictatorship into a democracy. They were lessons that changed lives (Lynn Ermann, January 18, 2004, Washington Post Magazine)

While the Geneva Convention forbade the indoctrination of prisoners, they could be provided with "intellectual diversion." In a top-secret compound in Rhode Island called "the Factory," a group of selected anti-Nazi prisoners of war, German refugees and Americans screened movies, created reading lists for POWs and translated books into German. The Factory even began producing a German-language newspaper called Der Ruf.

By mid-1944, new leadership had been installed at Concordia and many of the worst Nazis had been removed. Concordia's canteens and library were filled with books that had been banned by the Nazis. Treichl read and reread the American bestseller The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek, which detailed the flaws in socialism and contrasted it with democracy. Zander pored over Fortune and the New York Times and shared what he read with his friends. None of them were aware that they were now part of an official reeducation program.

Emboldened by the success of the Concordia school, Zander, Treichl and von Oppenfeld sent a memo to the camp commander, proposing that the United States compile lists of anti-Nazi POWs and train these men in American systems so they could help in the postwar reconstruction effort. Either because of their initiative or by sheer synchronicity, the Factory met in early 1945 to discuss the specifics of just such a plan. There would be an administrators school at Fort Getty in Rhode Island and a police school at nearby Fort Wetherill. American intelligence officers were dispersed across the country to screen potential candidates.

In March, Treichl was called out of the barracks and greeted by an American who presented him with their memo. "Did you sign this?" the American asked.

Treichl nodded.

"How many others like you are there who would sign a paper saying they are anti-Nazi?"

Treichl estimated 25. He and his friends gathered up the names and delivered them to the Americans.

The first week in May 1945 found everyone at Concordia, Germans and Americans alike, gathered around their radios. When Germany surrendered unconditionally, Zander breathed a sigh of relief. Then depression set in. What now?

Newspapers that were once a source of comfort and connection to the world for Zander and his friends now detailed atrocities. Though the war was over, they remained in U.S. custody and were forced by their captors to watch films about concentration camps -- images that filled them with shame and sadness. Following the liberation of U.S. prisoners in Germany and revelations about their treatment, rations were cut back drastically at Concordia. Many Americans wanted to punish Germany for its crimes. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau was advocating a plan -- ultimately rejected by President Harry Truman -- that would reduce Germany to an agrarian society.

It was during this dark time that the Americans came to Zander and asked if he wanted to be trained for Germany's reconstruction. Was this the democracy school they had proposed? Zander wasn't sure, but he bade goodbye to Treichl and von Oppenfeld, and traveled by train through the night to an unknown destination.

"The morning fog had prevented us from recognizing where we were, though we smelt the salt water of the sea," Zander recounted in a speech several months later. "At noontime after having had several roll calls, the sun pierced through the fog and lifted the veil around us. We found ourselves on a small island, a rock in the sea."

They were in Jamestown, R.I., at Fort Getty, where, over the next eight months, 455 POWs would be trained for jobs in the U.S. military occupation government. Initially, the depressed, defeated Germans slid into straight-back chairs with sighs. Zander fully expected to be lectured by stiff, impersonal military instructors. Instead they were introduced to academics from Harvard, Brown, Cornell and other top universities -- men not much older than their students who were as eager to learn from the Germans as to teach them. Zander and the other POWs attending Fort Getty's first 60-day session were stunned.

The most beloved faculty member was American history teacher T.V. Smith, a University of Chicago professor, author of best-selling books on American life and host of a popular radio show. In his morning lectures, Smith illuminated the method behind this still-mysterious country of so many different nationalities and so much wealth. He presented America as a beautiful experiment, a work in progress. Henry Ehrmann, a German Jewish refugee who'd become a professor at the New School for Social Research in New York, taught German history with an eye toward the future. At a time when the rest of the world was talking about Germans as if all of them were irredeemably evil, Ehrmann (who is not related to the author of this story) traced the democratic thread in their history. Rather than attack the German character, he attacked German political passivity. For Zander, it was Ehrmann's unspoken lesson that impressed him most deeply. Here was a German Jewish refugee treating a class of Germans with the respect and humanity he had never been afforded himself. "He was such a kind man," says Zander, who wrote to him for years after the war.

Every afternoon at Fort Getty, students and professors gathered around tables and talked about the ideas that had been presented in the morning lectures. Smith would describe an American concept like the balance of government power, then ask: How would that concept translate in Germany?


A remarkable story and a bucket of cold water for those who think Germans were somehow prepared for democracy in a way that the Shi'ites are not.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:29 PM

PEERLESS (via ef brown):

Plan to peer-review rules draws criticism: Some researchers fear new layer could be politicized (Rick Weiss, 1/15/04, Washington Post)

A number of leading researchers are mobilizing against a Bush administration plan that would require new health and environmental regulations to rely more solidly on science that has been peer-reviewed -- an awkward situation in which scientists find themselves arguing against one of the universally accepted gold standards of good science. [...]

Among those filing criticisms is a group of 20 former federal officials, including prominent former regulators from the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Among them are former labor secretary Robert B. Reich; former EPA administrators Russell Train and Carol M. Browner; heads of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under Carter and the elder Bush; and Neal Lane, who was director of the National Science Foundation under Clinton and head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Their letter urges the OMB to withdraw its proposal.

One interesting question raised by the new debate, experts said, is whether peer review standards for public policy should be stiffer or more lax than those applied to the publication of results in journals.

An administration official said it makes sense to raise the bar of proof when a rule is going to affect consumers, workers and businesses. By contrast, Harvard science professor Sheila Jasanoff wrote to the OMB that although research science seeks absolute truths, regulatory science should realistically settle for "serviceable truths."


Science is just the pursuit of politics by other means.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:18 PM

DEMOCRATS--THE PARTY OF EUROPE:

The world is watching (Leader, January 17, 2004, The Guardian)

The presidential election matters massively for non-Americans, too. Indeed, given that 50% or more of the US electorate may not bother to vote at all next November, it may be that the outcome will be more closely watched abroad than at home. There is barely a single, dusty corner of our interconnected world that is not directly or indirectly affected by American power and policy. From the poppy fields of Afghanistan to the parched fields of Ethiopia, from the Sunni heartlands of Iraq to Korea's demilitarised zone, from the negotiating tables of Delhi and Jerusalem to world forums such as the UN and WTO, US influence projected through military might, muscular diplomacy, economic clout and bilateral aid is everywhere felt. More than that, it is most usually decisive - and divisive. Long after Boston and on a global scale, here is metaphorical taxation without representation.

A Democrat in the White House would certainly struggle to overcome the domestic divide. From gay rights, abortion, and business and environmental regulation to opportunity, healthcare and faith-based initiatives, issues on which many votes will turn, such weak forms of consensus and mutual tolerance that once existed are all but shattered now. But the US badly needs somebody who at least recognises the problem. A Democrat in the White House would not necessarily radically alter the way the US behaves in the world, especially over national security. But a readiness to pursue a more collective, more respectful, less confrontational, less obviously self-interested approach to global issues would do much to win over the non-voting international electorate as well as those Americans who actually make it to the ballot box.


Man, are they gonna be confused when they pick up the papers in November and realize it's more like a 60-40 than a 50-50 nation.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 2:11 PM

BUT WE ARE STILL AT ODDS OVER LIGHT TUNA

Canada to hold talks on missile defence (Norma Greenaway, National Post, 16/01/04)

Canada moved closer to participating with the United States in the creation of a missile defence shield yesterday as the Martin and Bush governments officially agreed to open talks on the issue.

"It is our intent to negotiate in the coming months a missile defence framework memorandum of understanding with the United States with the objective of including Canada as a participant in the current U.S. missile defence program and expanding and enhancing information exchange," David Pratt, the Defence Minister, wrote in a letter to Donald Rumsfeld, his U.S. counterpart.

"We believe this should provide a mutually beneficial framework to ensure the closest possible involvement and insight for Canada, both government and industry, in the U.S. missile defence program." [...]

In a brief reply to Mr. Pratt, Mr. Rumsfeld endorsed the start of talks and Mr. Pratt's statement that the key focus of the co-operation in missile defence should be through the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) based in Colorado.

"In light of the threat involving the proliferation of ballistic missiles, I agree that we should seek to expand our co-operation in the area of missile defence," Mr. Rumsfeld wrote.

Seasoned Canadian diplomats follow the adage: “Talk like a European, act like an American”. If Martin starts making spirited speeches in defence of Canadian sovereignty and independence, it will be a good bet that this is on.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:05 PM

ROCKET BOY:

To Boldly Go: Space exploration is cool, and deficit moaners are nerds. (HOMER HICKAM, January 17, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

All I've got to say is please, for pity's sake, stop worrying about NASA stealing money from your favorite federal program and adding to the deficit. Out of a $2 trillion-plus budget in 2004, human resources programs (Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Social Security, etc.) will get an astounding 34%! In contrast, NASA has the smallest budget of all the major agencies in the federal government. In fact, its budget has represented less than 1% of the total budget each year since 1977 and it will probably never get more than a fraction above that, even with this new plan.

Before they complain about it, I wish the moaners would take the time to find out a few things about NASA's measly 1%. It has added billions of dollars back to our economy. It's about the only program in the federal budget that has a track record of doing that. When NASA does cutting-edge work, new products are devised and people, Americans, are put to work producing them. To keep our economy steaming and pay our bills, we have to stay ahead in product innovation. That means inventing and manufacturing new products. One proven way to do that is to get the space program going with some real work. [...]

If the president's space proposals seem overly bold, it's because no president has ever thought it important enough to spend any political capital to see a cogent plan in space all the way through. I don't agree with President Bush about everything but he's starting to remind me of Harry S. Truman. He gets with the program. You can argue with him about what he does and you might even be right, but you can't fault the man for getting out front and leading.

That is, after all, what we hire our presidents to do.


Mr. Hickam's own story is a reminder of why we should be pushing forward in space, because it lifts our gaze from the mundane and fuels the imagination.

MORE:
Beyond the Moon: Inside Bush's space plan (Frank Sietzen Jr. and Keith L. Cowing, 1/16/2004, United Press International)

On the afternoon of Dec. 19, the space planners held their final meeting with President Bush. The plan itself had been developed as the result of a methodical march towards consensus. So many people had become involved that the meeting required a larger room than normal.

Those attending included Bush, Cheney, McClellan, the president's political adviser Karl Rove, Card and his special assistant Joel Kaplan, the president's science adviser John Marburger, Steve Hadley and Sean O'Keefe.

Rove had not been a big supporter of the idea and maintained a cautious attitude, although he did not criticize it. His silence was interpreted as support.

The plan called for granting NASA an immediate -- though relatively modest -- budget increase, as well as an additional boost spread over several years. As Bush looked at the numbers, the others wondered if he would agree to them, given that only two other agencies -- the departments of Defense and Homeland Security -- were marked for increases in fiscal year 2005. Would the president agree and put his political capital behind the plan?

As the discussions moved toward a final choice -- the moon and then perhaps onward -- Bush turned to Cheney. "This is more than just the Moon, isn't it?" he asked.

Bush said he saw the policy as being more than picking a destination in space and then going there. Rather, it was more about going out into the solar system to accomplish a broader set of objectives. It also should put to rest, once and for all, the decades-old and somewhat tired argument that space exploration was best performed by robots, not people. The new policy should embrace an intermix of human and robotic missions -- all focused toward a common goal of exploration.

Then the vice president spoke up: "Then this is really about going to these other destinations, isn't it?" he asked. All agreed. One other item emerged: the president expressed a preference for inviting other nations to participate in the effort. Agreed on all the major points, Bush ended the discussion. "Let's do it," he said.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:58 PM

IF ADAM SMITH PICKED THE NOMINEE:

Investors Point to Iowa Winner (JOHN TIERNEY, 1/18/04, NY Times)

Some tracking polls show the presidential contest in Iowa as too close to call, but the invisible hand of the market is pointing to the favorite.

Howard Dean is the choice of two political futures markets, where thousands of speculators, unlike journalists, put their money where their punditry is. They buy and sell contracts that pay off if a candidate wins.

At press time on Saturday, Dr. Dean's stock in the Iowa caucuses market at Intrade.com was listed at 45, meaning that investors gave him a 45 percent chance to win the caucuses tomorrow. Next was Representative Richard A. Gephardt at 25 percent, followed by Senator John Kerry at 20 and Senator John Edwards at 8.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:20 AM

ALL YA' NEED IS HATE:

Who Gets It? (PAUL KRUGMAN, 1/16/04, NY Times)

Earlier this week, Wesley Clark had some strong words about the state of the nation. "I think we're at risk with our democracy," he said. "I think we're dealing with the most closed, imperialistic, nastiest administration in living memory. They even put Richard Nixon to shame."

In other words, the general gets it: he understands that America is facing what Kevin Phillips, in his remarkable new book, "American Dynasty," calls a "Machiavellian moment." Among other things, this tells us that General Clark and Howard Dean, whatever they may say in the heat of the nomination fight, are on the same side of the great Democratic divide.

Most political reporting on the Democratic race, it seems to me, has gotten it wrong. Some journalists do, of course, insist on trivializing the whole thing: what I dread most, in the event of an upset in Iowa, is the return of reporting about the political significance of John Kerry's hair.

But even those who refrain from turning political reporting into gossip have used the wrong categories. Again and again, one reads that it's about the left wing of the Democratic party versus the centrists; but Mr. Dean was a very centrist governor, and his policy proposals are not obviously more liberal than those of his rivals.

The real division in the race for the Democratic nomination is between those who are willing to question not just the policies but also the honesty and the motives of the people running our country, and those who aren't.


Economist friends swear that Mr. Krugman really was well-respected in the profession--for that I'll take their word. But he knows nothing about politics. Compare his belief in an anti-Bush campaign to this story, Dean losing edge in Iowa over attacks (Steven Thomma and Tom Fitzgerald, Jan. 17, 2004, Knight Ridder)
[I]nterviews with dozens of Iowa Democrats suggested that Dean already might be suffering backlash. His attacks on President Bush and his Democratic rivals all but drowned out any message of what he wants to do on issues such as health care.

"He's just anti-Bush. You have to have a plan,'' said Zach Gilson, a lawyer from Urbandale.

"A lot of people I work with were for Dean and now they're not,'' said Jill Tidman, a teacher from Urbandale.

Betty Taylor of Iowa Falls said Dean was "wearing himself out. He doesn't have the personality, the charisma.''

Several Iowans said they were reassessing whether Dean could beat the president, their top priority.

"He's blunt, which I find refreshing,'' said Lois Rose, an English teacher at Creston High School in Creston. But she said she feared that Dean's opposition to the war in Iraq and his secularism would hurt him with pro-military, religious voters. "I'm worried about the Southern vote.''


Hating your opponents is fun, but it makes for an awfully thin political gruel.


MORE:
Under pressure, Dean retools: Maverick seeks to regain footing as polls cite drop (Glen Johnson, 1/17/2004, Boston Globe)

"This is a race to lock up the nomination before Howard's flaws emerge, before there are cracks in the facade. Well, guess what? They've come into full view," said Garrison Nelson, professor of political science at the University of Vermont, who has known Dean since 1980 and has clashed with him on occasion.

The pressure of a national campaign and intense media scrutiny is unlike anything Dean has ever confronted, Nelson said. "He's never faced a serious race in Vermont. He never challenged an incumbent, and he never faced a statewide winner."

Over the course of a career in which he was elected lieutenant governor in 1986, elevated to governor in 1991, and a gubernatorial candidate between 1992 and 2000, Dean faced only two sitting officeholders.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:08 AM

CAIN IS ABLE:

Cain brings message to Morgan County (MEREDITH CLELAND, 1/15/04, Morgan County Citizen)
U.S. Senate candidate Herman Cain made a stop in Madison on Monday night and addressed a record crowd of members of the Morgan County Republican Party.

A native of Atlanta and former chief executive officer of Godfather’s Pizza, Cain promised to replace the tax code, restructure Social Security and improve health care. And he wants to be the first African-American Senator from Georgia to do so. [...]

Cain stated that he does not want to reform the present tax code, but replace it.

"Every time they work to simplify it, it gets worse," Cain said. "You won’t hear me say reform or overhaul, but replace."

Cain wants not an income tax, but a national sales tax on new goods and services that, he said, would generate the same amount of revenue. "It is a tax not on what we earn, but what we spend," Cain said.

Secondly, Cain stated the need to restructure the social security structure by allowing citizens to set up a personal retirement account, with parts of their salary put into their own personal account. "That way, when you retire, you will have a lot more money than you have now," Cain said. People who currently draw social security will continue to do so, and by the year 2075, the system would be completely switched over.
If Mr. Cain wins the nomination, you'd anticipate seeing George W. Bush campaign for him more than a little in the Fall.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:54 AM

VIGIL FOR THE DEAD:

The Prices Are Right: The inflation hawks are losing their argument. (Larry Kudlow, January 16, 2004, National Review)

While the CPI is surely a backward-looking inflation indicator, forward-looking gold dropped over $13 to $408 on the news. The 10-year Treasury bond has dropped below 4 percent instead of rising over 5 percent. This is a big surprise. "Inflation is not even a remote risk in the U.S.," according to Fed governor and former Princeton economist Ben Bernanke.

Gold is actually not so high. In constant dollar terms, today's gold price is only $383, a far cry from the gold and inflation spiral of 25 years ago. So there's not a boatload of excess money out there.

The weak-dollar argument being used by the inflation hawks also appears to be bottoming out. The Europeans are getting set to put a lid on the appreciation of the euro, which has been hammering the dollar and holding back their economy. It's likely the European Central Bank will intervene in favor of the dollar and cut their overnight-policy rate — presently at 2 percent — by a quarter or even a half percent. Any turnaround in the greenback will be slow, but it could well appreciate by 10 percent or more this year.


Inflation is toast--get over it.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 AM

DEAN'S IRRESPONSIBLE BASE:

How Donations Depict Donors: Dean's Backers Differ the Most From Bush's, Model Shows (Thomas B. Edsall and Sarah Cohen, January 17, 2004, Washington Post)

They are young. They propel urban gentrification. They shop at Banana Republic, read Vanity Fair, like Audi A4s and watch reruns of "Friends." The $54,117 median family income of these well-educated, Internet-savvy professionals is relatively low in part because so many are single and live alone.

The people who meet these criteria tend to live in Zip codes that Claritas Inc., the demographics research firm, has classified as the nation's "Bohemian Mix."

They stand out in one other respect: They contribute to the presidential campaign of former Vermont governor Howard Dean (D).

Another strong Dean donor group is made up of what Claritas has called "Up and Comers" -- upwardly mobile, college-educated young singles who are heavy Internet users, shop at Ann Taylor and watch MTV.

The pattern of contributions to Dean shows how he has been able to tap into one of the fastest growing Democratic constituencies: well-educated, socially liberal and relatively affluent voters. [...]

While Bush did well in the "Blue Blood Estates" and "Upper Crust," the type of community where he stands apart from all the Democratic candidates has been named "Winner's Circle" by Claritas.

The youngest of the wealthy suburban Zip code classifications, Winner's Circle neighborhoods are dominated by "25- to 34-year-old couples with large families in new-money subdivisions." They ski, read Parents magazine, watch the Cartoon Network and drive Chrysler Town & Country minivans.

Bush received a disproportionately high percentage of his contributions from these folks, while all the Democrats fared relatively poorly.


Once you have children and responsibility towards others you become a Republican.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 AM

WHAT A WASTE:

Author Olivia Goldsmith Dies at 54 (Fox News, January 16, 2004)

Olivia Goldsmith, the novelist whose savagely funny debut book, "The First Wives Club," became a revenge fantasy for wives tossed aside in favor of younger women, has died of complications of plastic surgery. She was 54.

Goldsmith, a successful management consultant before she took up writing, died Thursday at Lenox Hill Hospital (search), said her lawyer, Steven Mintz.

"The First Wives Club," which came out in 1992, spun a tale of three women who band together to seek revenge after their wealthy, successful husbands leave them for younger partners.

The book sold millions of copies and it became a No. 1 film in 1996 starring Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton and Bette Midler. Hawn's character is a plastic surgery fan who in one scene pleads with her doctor for yet another procedure.

"I wrote 'First Wives Club' in true indignation," Goldsmith told The Associated Press in a 1996 interview.

"It's not right. You choose a woman who bears your young and then you discard her for a younger, taller, thinner, blonder model."

"We are expected to have jobs now," she said. "We are expected to raise the family. We're responsible for the home, and we have to have thin thighs. Nobody can do it."


So, why try?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM

THE SOFT GLOW OF ELECTRIC SEX:

In case you were wondering what to get us next Christmas.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM

THE GAME IS AFOOT:

If You Are What You Eat, He's Dead Meat: Ready to take up the challenge of reviving the bloody old days of classic haute cuisine? (Steven Rinella, December 2004, Outside)

ONE NIGHT I'M SNUGGLING with my girlfriend, Diana, in bed, when all of a sudden she screams, "Steve, please tell me that's not another damned crayfish!" Sure enough, there's a set of claws sticking out from under the mattress. A week ago, I caught 40 of the crustaceans in order to make crayfish soup. I wanted them to be extra fresh come mealtime, so I built a makeshift aquarium out of a large plastic tote and stuck it in a spare room. My girlfriend, a vegetarian, loathed this project from the start, and things really got tense when the colony's population began mysteriously declining—ten members simply disappeared. I suspected an outbreak of cannibalism, so I switched their diet from lettuce to fish heads. But the disappearances continued. That's when I realized the rascals could climb out of the tank.

I normally wouldn't share my apartment with crayfish, but I'm involved in the complicated task of preparing a do-it-yourself feast out of Le Guide Culinaire. This 646-page cookbook was written by French master chef Auguste Escoffier in 1903. His culinary skills with items like animal organs and common songbirds earned him the title King of Chefs, Chef of Kings, and he cooked for the likes of King George V and hobnobbed with the top actresses and opera singers of pre–World War I Europe. He is the granddaddy of 20th-century haute cuisine.

Escoffier's magnum opus seemed to fall into my hands with the divine purpose of the Ten Commandments falling into the hands of Moses. Before I had ever heard of Escoffier, I got a call from my mom, who lives in Twin Lake, Michigan. She said she had a live snapping turtle in the trunk of her car.

"I thought you might like...to eat it," she said. "It must weigh 15 pounds."

"Have Dad set up a tank of water in the storage shed, and keep it fed with ground meat," I told her. "I'll come for a visit." The problem was, I didn't have a clue how to prepare a turtle. I explained this situation to my friend Deirdre in a bar near my home, in Missoula, Montana. She told me about Escoffier's cookbook and its recipe for turtle soup. Later she gave me her block-shaped and yellowed copy of the translated masterpiece.

As I thumbed through the book, I realized that I was holding the Kama Sutra of food, more than 5,000 recipes that explain in splendid detail how to handle anything you'd ever dream of eating. For me that includes a lot. I was brought up on game from the woods and waters of western Michigan, and now I live off the wilds of Montana as thoroughly as I can manage. I kill elk, deer, and antelope every year, along with a good mix of birds and fish. The predatory lifestyle keeps me close to the wild, and I'm happy that my food has never been injected with hormones, fattened to a diseaselike condition, then killed by some slaughterhouse worker I've never met.

So I decided to plan a balls-to-the-wall, Escoffier-style feast. I scoured the pages of Le Guide, setting my sights on 13 dishes: smoked breast of goose, mincemeat pie, duckling à la presse (basically a roasted and flattened duck), abattis à la bourguignonne (bird giblets in wine), pigeon pie, rabbit à la flamande (rabbit thighs in a sweet, spicy stew), turtle à la Baltimore (a thick turtle soup with lots of liquor), freshwater matelote (a brothy fish soup with a crayfish garnish), truite au bleu (stunned and blanched trout), bird's-nest soup, a sampler of roast birds, fried smelt, and milt (fish semen) butter sauce.

Luckily, I already had a good start from the past hunting season. I had elk, deer, black bear, and antelope meat. I had ducks, doves, pheasant, Canada geese, and a big tub of hearts and gizzards from grouse, pheasant, and waterfowl. The giant mule-deer neck on the bottom shelf of my freezer would make a large pot of game stock, which Escoffier used as freely as water. But even so, my "to get" list quickly grew to an intimidating length.


We'll take a pass on the milt.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:52 AM

NOT DOING NOTHING:

Top Israeli diplomat to Sweden destroys 'suicide bomb' artwork (z Service and Reuters, 17/01/2004)

bassador to Sweden destroyed an artwork depicting a Palestinian suicide bomber in a Stockholm museum on Friday, Swedish radio reported on Saturday.

The artwork, entitled "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," consisted of a rectangular basin filled with red water on which floated a boat carrying a portrait of Islamic Jihad suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat, who killed herself and 21 others in an attack at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa on October 4.

Ambassador Zvi Mazel was among the guests at the opening of the Historical Museum's exhibition linked to an international anti-genocide conference to be held in Stockholm from January 26 to 28.

Public service SR radio news said Mazel furiously ripped out electrical wires attached to the artwork and threw a spotlight in the basin.

"This was not a piece of art," Mazel told SR. "It was a monstrosity. An obscene distortion of reality."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 AM

HOW FAR, HOW FAST CAN HE FALL?

DODGY DEAN IN PRESTO CHANGE-O (VINCENT MORRIS, 1/17/04, NY Post)

The tightening race in Iowa has turned the once-confident Howard Dean into an uncertain candidate. He's changed his wardrobe (adding sweaters), revised his stump speech (it's shorter, sweeter) and started dodging the traveling press (which has been questioning his front-runner strategy). [...]

The shifting political landscape in Iowa also has led to a bizarre game of hide-and-seek between the former Vermont governor and the several dozen journalists following him 24/7.

Dean - whose recent ill-considered comments about Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have gotten him into trouble - is sticking to scripted campaign appearances and he's been keeping opportunities for questions to a minimum.

The situation led to a bizarre moment this week that Dean sat in his plane for nearly half an hour rather than come down the steps and answer questions from reporters waiting for him on the frozen New Hampshire tarmac.


Hard to believe that in a caucus system that relies so heavily on organization that all these late shifts in the polls really matter that much. Is someone who makes up or changes their mind this weekend going to go caucus for hours on Monday night?

MORE:
Dean losing edge in Iowa over attacks (Steven Thomma and Tom Fitzgerald, Jan. 17, 2004, Knight Ridder)

[I]nterviews with dozens of Iowa Democrats suggested that Dean already might be suffering backlash. His attacks on President Bush and his Democratic rivals all but drowned out any message of what he wants to do on issues such as health care.

"He's just anti-Bush. You have to have a plan,'' said Zach Gilson, a lawyer from Urbandale.

"A lot of people I work with were for Dean and now they're not,'' said Jill Tidman, a teacher from Urbandale.

Betty Taylor of Iowa Falls said Dean was ``wearing himself out. He doesn't have the personality, the charisma.''

Several Iowans said they were reassessing whether Dean could beat the president, their top priority.

"He's blunt, which I find refreshing,'' said Lois Rose, an English teacher at Creston High School in Creston. But she said she feared that Dean's opposition to the war in Iraq and his secularism would hurt him with pro-military, religious voters. "I'm worried about the Southern vote.''


The Many Chasing The Few: e Caucus-Goers Tracked by Campaigns (Dvid Maraniss, January 17, 2004, Washington Post)
This year, while the Iowa caucuses are provoking more national political excitement than they have in decades, a reverse variation of the old Churchillian saying nonetheless holds true across the Hawkeye state, including Dubuque, which has become a key battleground in eastern Iowa: Rarely have so many worked so hard to persuade so few.

About 57,686 people live in this city along the Mississippi and its rural environs, an intensely political region full of grass-roots activists who have a sophisticated understanding of the caucus process. But according to lists compiled by campaign organizers, only 3,957 citizens have been identified as likely to attend the Democratic caucuses at Dubuque County's 48 precincts Monday night. The projected totals range from 291 caucus-goers at the Blessed Virgin Mary order's Roberta Kuhn Center in the upper-middle class neighborhood of southwest Dubuque to perhaps 16 showing up at Worthington Memorial Hall out in the farmlands.

With polls showing four contenders bunched closely and with more volunteers are arriving by the hour to bolster their candidates, the ratio of political volunteers to probable voters has almost reached parity in some Dubuque precincts, and the search to find possible first-time caucus-goers has become all-consuming.


-4 at the Top; 3 Days to Go: Race in Iowa Tightens For Democratic Rivals (Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris, January 17, 2004, Washington Post)
Iowa Democrats are predicting near-record turnout, perhaps 125,000 Democrats, or twice as many who voted in 2000. With the candidates spending record-setting amounts on television ads and get-out-the-vote efforts, it is not clear who stands to benefit most from the new faces, though the Des Moines Register noted Friday morning that registration in Johnson County, home to the University of Iowa, is up 300 percent over the past six months compared with four years ago. This could be good news for Dean, a favorite of college-age students, who has brought about 3,500 out-of-state volunteers to Iowa to get those voters to the polls.

But strategists from several campaigns said Dean is losing support by the day, based on daily tracking polls. Dean on Friday called it a four-way tie in a "very fluid race," but said he believes his organization will carry him over the top Monday night.

"This is all down to the last 72 hours," Dean told reporters as his bus rolled through central Iowa. "This is all about who gets their voters out."

Dean acknowledged he has been bruised by opponents' criticism and sharper media scrutiny after he took an early lead here. He said that he sometimes gets upset, but that he has developed "a thicker skin" and regards recent rough going as "part of the process" through which every serious candidate goes. He recalled that Gary Hart, a former presidential candidate, had warned him early in his bid that "there's no such thing as a wimp who gets to be president."

Dean usually wears a tie and shirt with the sleeves rolled up, but he softened his appearance a bit as he canvassed a half-dozen small towns with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) by his side. Aides insisted there was no calculation in the new look, and that the candidate was merely cold.

Then, in his news conference, Dean said Harkin had urged him to put on a sweater, so Dean borrowed one from a campaign aide. "When in Iowa, do as Iowans do," Dean said.


-Going Deep With Iowa's Meta-Voters (MATT BAI, January 18, 2004, NY Times Magazine)
On Monday, Democrats in Iowa will have their say on who should be the Democratic candidate for president, and Gephardt needs to win Iowa to have any real shot at the nomination. On the eve of the caucuses, however, the results in Iowa rest in the hands of an unusually large bloc of undecided voters -- who, judging from the poll Reilly just completed, know next to nothing about the candidates. Gephardt's campaign is running low on money, and so this may be Reilly's last chance to conduct focus groups. He has very little time to get inside the heads of these so-called undecideds, to figure out, in the parlance of politics, how to ''close the deal.''

It would be an easier assignment were it not for the recent rise of the pop-culture punditocracy. It used to be that only the pros in Washington spoke of politics in purely tactical terms, as if they were analysts on ''Monday Night Football'' -- which is why pollsters like Reilly liked talking to ''real people'' about the issues in their lives. But as any pollster will tell you, those distinctions are graying; now every voter with cable TV and an Internet connection speaks the language of the Washington consultant. As the Des Moines focus-group discussion wears on, it begins to sound more and more like a segment of ''Crossfire.''

''I'm just not sure he's been on the national stage long enough, that he has enough experience,'' the businessman says of Dean. ''The last six or eight weeks, the press has really been picking at him, and he needs to start responding to these discrepancies, to these misstatements.''

In two consecutive focus groups, Reilly asks about issues that he thinks separate Gephardt from Dean, like health care and trade, but the groups keep bringing the conversation back to tactics and process. They talk about what ''the average person'' would think, as if they themselves fell into some other category. They talk about ''swing states'' and ''527's,'' which are the independent advocacy groups that have sparked controversy recently in the capital. (The ''527'' refers to the section of the tax code that covers them.) The businessman says that Dean seems vulnerable on ''gay issues.''

At one point, a participant dismisses John Edwards's candidacy because ''he isn't polling well.'' This draws knowing nods from other voters seated around the table. Inside the control room, Levine raises an eyebrow at me, as if to say, ''You see what we're up against?'': the voters are telling a pollster that their chief impression of a candidate is that he doesn't poll well.

Afterward, Reilly seems amused. ''The culture of political analysis has completely overtaken the culture of ideas,'' Reilly says. ''It's people talking about electability and name recognition and favorability. A guy talking about a 527!'' He laughs. ''That's a new one.''


Iowa foes split over strategy (Peter Savodnik, 1/14/04, The Hill)
As the days tick down to Monday’s Iowa caucuses, there is a sharp contrast between the tactics of the two leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination.

While Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) lures hordes of House members and their staff into the state, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is instead gathering his nationwide network of citizen-supporters. -The Iowa Effect: The caucuses make and unmake candidates — and this time is no different. Can Dean beat Gephardt — and the expectations too? (KAREN TUMULTY, 1/11/04, TIME)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:17 AM

YEAH, BUT WHAT ABOUT GUAM?:

Separation of God and State? (William J. Federer, October 11, 2003, WorldNetDaily.com)

America's founders did not intend for there to be a separation of God and state, as shown by the fact that all 50 states acknowledged God in their state constitutions: 

Alabama 1901, Preamble. We the people of the State of Alabama ... invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution ... 

Alaska 1956, Preamble. We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land ... 

Arizona 1911, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution ... 


Oh, that one nation under God...


January 16, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 PM

THIS IS GONNA BE FUN...:

A Judicial End Run (NY Times, 1/17/04)

Over the years, Mr. Pickering has displayed skepticism toward cases involving civil rights and expressed doubts about well-settled principles like one person one vote.

If it's well-settled why do we still have a Senate and an Electoral College?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 PM

HMMMMMM, PANCAKES:

Repackaged after 100 years, Sambo still causes offence (Rupert Cornwell, 17 January 2004, The Independent)

[N]o repackaging or cultural blurring, or the publisher's highlighting of the book's "core theme" of a "joyful child going into the wilderness and conquering it", can conceal the racist undertows.

The word "sambo" derives from "zambo", the Spanish-American term for slaves of at least three-quarters negro blood. In late-1960s Britain, it was a staple in the vocabulary of the bigot Alf Garnett, in the BBC series Till Death US Do Part.

These days, it is little used in the US and Britain, and not on television. But in the English-speaking universe, it is instantly recognisable as racial denigration. Two earlier updated versions of the book, published in 1996, omitted the word "sambo".

For Kirkus Book Reviews, where it features as one of the season's top 40 children's books, the new edition is "a classic story respectfully revitalised to a new grandeur ... Amid the beautiful, etched-line textures, sun-kissed colours, and lush greenery, the magnificent tigers not only steal Sambo's clothes but also the visual show".

But Russell Adams, chairman of the Afro-American studies department at Howard University in Washington, disagrees. However charming the story, it was so deeply entrenched in popular culture "that no amount of revision can sanitise it".


Just because some folks take offense at a classic story of a kid outwitting four tigers does not thereby make it offensive.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:49 PM

ISN'T 50 YEARS ENOUGH?:

Regime that kills babies of foreign blood: North Korean refugees repatriated by China tell of prison where new-born children are left to die. (Richard Spencer, 17/01/2004, Daily Telegraph)

There is a cell in Nongpo prison where they take the women whose babies are to be killed.

As in the other cells, the women are packed so tightly they can only crouch, squeezing together, for sleep. There is no room to lie down, so when one of the women goes into labour, the others stand up to make space.

They watch, but are not allowed to help, as the baby is born. One woman designated by the guards takes the baby and lies it face down on the floor.

Then the women sit again, including the bleeding mother, and the baby is left to die. If it cries for too long, more than a day or two, a guard smothers it.

No crying is allowed, by the mother or the other women. If any explanation is given, the guard says: "You should not have gone to China. This will teach you to have sex with Chinese men, to have Chinese babies."


The world would be a better place if we removed the North Korean regime from it.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 PM

DIVIDENDS:

The splits (David Warren, January 14, 2004, Ottawa Citizen)

It isn't in the forefront of the news, but the Syrian dictatorship is under huge and growing pressure from an increasingly impatient Bush administration to stop the terrorist insurgency into Iraq through Syria. The U.S. also wants Syria to open to Western inspection, as Libya has just done, the Assad regime's illicit weapons programmes, and for them to surrender Saddamite agents and weapons that they are almost certainly hiding.

This at a time when Syria has never been so isolated within the Arab world. It is now surrounded by American allies on all sides, except for a small patch of oceanfront, and the former state of Lebanon, which it continues to occupy in defiance of all international law. And Damascus is the headquarters for about a dozen Jihadist organizations whose senior members are on almost everyone's most-wanted list. [...]

The back-pedalling now is frenetic. Last week, Mr. Assad went on an appeasement tour of Turkey, the northern neighbour that almost invaded Syria in 1998 -- before his father and predecessor evicted the Kurdish guerrilla leader, Abdullah Ocalan, and shopped his Damascus-based terror operations to the Turks.

The Turks strongly advised, as the Americans had been doing, that it was time for Syria to make peace with Israel; and this week Mr. Assad is wrestling with his own past vows, in order to make that possible. There were semi-secret Israeli-Syrian negotiations for the return of the Golan Heights in exchange for a Sadat-style recognition of Israel's legitimacy, that ended in the year 2000. These should shortly resume.

But, not yet able to acknowledge domestically the evaporation of his negotiating position, Mr. Assad cannot stop blustering.


Has there been another war since the American Revolution where so many of our wildest ambitions came to fruition?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:32 PM

FREE TRADERS & FREE LOADERS:

WTO finds some trade barriers in U.S. (T.K.Maloy, 1/16/2004, UPI)

The World Trade Organization, in its first report on U.S. trade policies in two years, said Friday that though the United States is a largely open economy, barriers still persist in important areas of trade.

According to the WTO report, "recent U.S. macroeconomic policy has been directed, increasingly successfully, towards recovering and sustaining growth, with benefits to the global economy, including through trade."

However, the report said that barriers facing other nations to gaining access to U.S. markets persist in a few, but important, areas in the U.S. economy. These include large agriculture subsidies, the recently ended steel tariffs and the ongoing protectionist tariff policies in the textiles and clothing sectors. The report added that these measures have distorted the U.S. market and "has burdened U.S. consumers, taxpayers and trade."

Additionally, the Trade Policy Review noted that since its last review two years ago, the United States has taken further steps to liberalize its trade regime through Most Favored Nation status as well as bilateral preferential arrangements with other countries. While the WTO report acknowledged that the expanding U.S. preferential network of nations could help draw partners into the overall multilateral system, the review also cautioned against creating vested interests "that complicate multilateral negotiations," at the global level.


We can do better than we are, but we already do better than most anyone.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:05 PM

PREMIER LEAGUE:

U.S. Economy: Consumer Confidence Reaches 3-Year High (Bloomberg, 1/16/04)

U.S. consumer confidence this month surged to the highest in three years, boosted by the stock market's first annual gains since 1999 and underscoring forecasts for stronger growth this year.

The University of Michigan's preliminary measure of consumer sentiment jumped to 103.2 from December's 92.6. The increase was the largest since November 1992 and exceeded all 53 forecasts in a Bloomberg News economist survey. The Federal Reserve said December factory production rose 0.3 percent, the fourth monthly gain, while total industrial production gained 0.1 percent.

Rising optimism may help boost sales, prompting companies to raise equipment spending. More factories said production was improving than at any time since February 1997, the Fed said. The dollar had its biggest gain against the euro in about five months after the Treasury Department said foreigners increased holdings of U.S. assets by $87.6 billion in November, a sign they may view the world's biggest economy as a better place to invest.

"Consumers have a lot going for them right now: The stock market and home prices are rising, interest rates are low, tax refunds are coming and there are signs that the job market is getting better,'' said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. "That's why consumers are confident and that's why consumer spending is probably going to hold up. To the extent that foreign investors are helping hold interest rates low and stock prices high, that's helping the consumer.''


Dollar Has Biggest Surge in Five Months on Foreign Investment (Bloomberg, 1/16/04)
"The U.S. is the premier investment venue,'' said Selig Sechzer, director of asset allocation in New York at Alliance Capital Management, which invests $413 billion. The dollar may continue to rebound after a 14 percent drop against the euro in the past year, he said.

The U.S. currency advanced to $1.2394 per euro at 5 p.m. in New York from $1.2578 late yesterday, reaching the strongest since Dec. 22, according to EBS. It gained about 3.4 percent this week, for its first weekly rise in 10, as officials including European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet signaled concern the euro's rise will hurt exports.

November's net foreign inflow into U.S. securities was 20 times higher than in September. Purchases dwindled to $4.3 billion that month, sparking concern low U.S. interest rates were deterring international investors from funding record current- account and budget deficits. The dollar fell the most against the euro in more than 2 1/2 years on Nov. 18, when the September report was released.

The November figures show the current-account deficit is "far less of a problem,'' said Michael Woolfolk, a currency strategist at Bank of New York.


That's the thing about markets--you can only pursue a political strategy (like the high euro) against the U.S. for so long before reality sets in.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:51 PM

THE BANE OF THE THOUGHT POLICE:

Nothing Verboten: An Interview with Steve Sailer (Bernard Chapin, January 5, 2004, Men's News Daily)

BC: You are also a columnist for VDARE.com. It was founded to address issues and topics that the establishment has now abandoned–an example is immigration reform. Why is it that unmitigated immigration is now accepted by so many Americans on both the left and the right? Why would our politicians welcome wave after wave of immigrants who can no longer be assimilated?

SS: Opinion polls demonstrate that there is a radical dichotomy in attitudes toward mass immigration between the average American and elites. Powerful interest groups of the Left and Right -- such as urban machine politicians, farm owners, the Catholic Church, factory owners, and affirmative action diversicrats -- have financial and political interests in importing more unskilled labor. For instance, mass immigration holds down wages, so it helps solve the servant problem of the affluent. For the unorganized rest of us, mass immigration is a lousy deal, but the fix is in, especially because anybody who works against it is smeared as a racist.

BC: It seems to me that being proud of who you are is always acceptable in America provided one does not happen to be white and male. Has it been your experience that stating you are proud of your history and civilization results in others automatically accusing you of being a racist? Could it be that the word “racist” is so irresponsibly thrown around today that it has lost much of its meaning?

SS: My guess would be that political correctness will get worse before it gets better, but you never can tell. The most striking improvement in intellectual life over the last decade is that almost nobody takes feminist orthodoxy seriously anymore. Practically every month these days, Time and Newsweek run articles about the biological differences between the sexes that back in the days of the Anita Hill brouhaha would have gotten the writers and editors hauled up before a coven of the feminist thought police. Now, people mostly laugh at feminists. So, there is hope.

I believe that the truth is better for humanity than ignorance, lies, and wishful thinking. At minimum, it's a lot more interesting!


Mr. Sailer is never less than interesting and frequently fascinating, even (especially?) when you disagree with him.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:27 PM

O.F.F.:

Never Mind the Sack Dance: At last, pro football as it was meant to be. (GEOFFREY NORMAN, January 16, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

Heading into the weekend, the Old-Fashioned Football Fan has reason to be glad; even to rejoice. Both conference championship games will be played outside, in cold weather, on real dirt and grass; and the four teams still in the hunt recall the old football virtues and traditions of toughness and teamwork. The football divas who have dominated the public character of the National Football League in recent years--both coaches and players--have pretty much gone home. Most of them until next year, a few for good.

What the Old-Fashioned Football Fan values above all is team football. He never really saw the need to put names on the backs of jerseys. You knew teams by the colors they wore. Individuals had numbers. The evolution of the "look at me" performer--who could be counted on for a sack dance or an end-zone celebration even when his team was down by three touchdowns--strikes the Old-Fashioned Football Fan as poisonous to the whole ethos of the game.

During the recent regular season, the exhibitionist compulsion resulted in one receiver making a cellphone call from the end zone after catching a touchdown pass. Joe Horn of the New Orleans Saints thus one-upped Terrell Owens of the San Francisco 49ers, who had carried a marking pen into the end zone in his sock so he could autograph the ball after making a touchdown catch.

Messrs. Owens and Horn will be sitting at home this weekend, as will Randy Moss of the Vikings, probably the best of the wideouts on those days when he goes all out. Mr. Moss famously told an interviewer that he sometimes dogs it when he knows the ball isn't coming his way. The Old-Fashioned Football Fan didn't have to be told; he has eyes. The prima-donna wideout, by the way, is an especially galling specimen to the Old-Fashioned Football Fan, who believes that anyone playing that position should, by rule, have to cover kickoffs and punts.


Stupid game--good writer. Bring on pitchers and catchers.

MORE:
A Beautiful Mind: As the Philadelphia Eagles' Hank Fraley demonstrates, the behemoth who snaps the ball must also be one of the most mentally nimble players on the field (Mark Bowden, Jan/Feb 2004, Atlantic Monthly)
Ditto.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:15 PM

ANOTHER PROBLEM FOR HOWARD DEAN:

How smart is Bush? (Steve Sailer, 1/14/04, UPI)

Some objective numbers from Bush's past suggest he is reasonably but not exceptionally intelligent, but questions remain about his curiosity and openness to learning.

The New Yorker magazine revealed in 1999 that Bush scored 1206 on his Scholastic Aptitude Test: 566 Verbal, 640 Math. While there is something crass about focusing upon a future president's exam scores, these numbers possess a blunt honesty lacking in much of the carefully contrived folklore about politicians' brains.

Bush's 1206 is a better score than it may seem to younger people because the Educational Testing Service "recentered" (inflated) SAT scoring in the mid-'90s. Bush's score is the equivalent of a 1280 under today's dumbed-down scoring system.

How does Bush's 1206 compare to the general population? The contrast is a little tricky because students who are clearly not college material generally don't take the SAT, meaning that to score the average among SAT takers is to do better than the national average.

Linda Gottfredson, co-director of the University of Delaware-Johns Hopkins Project for the Study of Intelligence and Society, told United Press International: "I recently converted Bush's SAT score to an IQ using the high school norms available for his age cohort. Educational Testing Service happened to have done a study of representative high school students within a year or so of when he took the test. I derived an IQ of 125, which is the 95th percentile." In other words, only one out of 20 people would score higher. [...]

By way of comparison, Bush's 2000 opponent Al Gore scored 134 and 133 the two times he took an IQ test in high school, putting him just under the top 1 percent of the public. Not surprisingly, the former vice president's' SAT scores were also strong but not stratospheric: Verbal 625, Math 730, for a total of 1,355 out of a perfect score of 1,600.


In fact, there was probably no better predictor of the outcome in 200 than the popular perception that George W. Bush is Al Gore's intellectual inferior. The last race without an incumbent where the "smarter" candidate won was Hoover in '28--and we all know how that choice worked out. Americans have a healthy distrust of intellectuals.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:56 PM

RUNNING AS IF HE'S LOSING:

Bush operatives moving to primary states: Polls indicate Iowa race a 4-way tie among '04 Dems (CNN, January 16, 2004)

The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign will send a high-profile team of surrogates to both Iowa and New Hampshire in the coming days to train and motivate Republican activists and to "show the flag" in states in which the Democratic presidential race has dominated political debate -- and news media coverage.

Among those headed to Iowa this weekend: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Bush-Cheney campaign chief Marc Racicot, campaign manager Ken Mehlman, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, White House political adviser Mary Matalin, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Ohio Congressman Rob Portman and Bush-Cheney campaign operative Ralph Reed also are on tap to travel to Iowa.

Campaign spokesman Terry Holt said the group will take part in training sessions and pep rallies with Republican activists as well as media interviews to "show the flag" at a time most of the attention is on the Democrats.

From Sunday through Tuesday, the Bush-Cheney surrogates are scheduled to take part in 80 local talk-radio programs in Iowa.

In New Hampshire the next week, Sen. John McCain of Arizona -- who beat then-Gov. Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire primary -- is among those slated to make campaign appearances for the president.

Giuliani also is slated to participate in the New Hampshire effort, as are Govs. George Pataki of New York and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, along with the campaign and RNC officials.


Posted by David Cohen at 3:36 PM

RECESS

Bush Installs Pickering on Appeals Court (AP, 1/16/04)

President Bush installed Charles Pickering on a federal appeals court Friday, bypassing Democrats who had stalled his nomination for more than two years, sources said.

Bush appointed Pickering by a recess appointment which avoids the confirmation process. Such appointments are valid until the next Congress takes office, in this case in January 2005.
This is the sort of thing that the right wing has been urging on Repubican Presidents for 20 years, with little to show for it. In his own quiet way, the President is working to remake the government and is going to have to drag the right with him kicking and screaming.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:56 PM

THE U.S. VS. DEMOCRACY?:

The troublesome, vote-loving ayatollah: America is getting more international help in its quest to build a peaceful, democratic Iraq but, ironically, its plans are under threat because the spiritual leader of the country’s Shia majority, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, is demanding fully democratic elections (The Economist, Jan 16th 2004)

AMERICA’S proconsul in Iraq, Paul Bremer, was due to meet President George Bush in Washington on Friday January 16th, to try to salvage their plan to give Iraqis their sovereignty back by the end of June. The plan is in danger of collapse because Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq’s most senior Shia Muslim cleric, insists there should be proper elections to choose the members of an interim national assembly that will select a new, provisional government. America insists it would be impossible to organise such a nationwide vote without delaying the handover of power. Instead it proposes that assembly members be chosen by local “caucuses”, in each Iraqi province. The caucuses’ members would in turn largely be selected by the Governing Council, a group of Iraqis appointed by America, who have already been given some restricted powers.

Considering Mr Bush’s avowed desire to build a strong democracy in Iraq that would set a positive example for the rest of the Middle East, he ought to have been heart-warmed at the sight of tens of thousands of Shias chanting “Yes, yes to elections!” as they protested in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Thursday. But they were also chanting “No to America!”, and their demonstration was a manifestation of Mr Sistani’s power to whip up strong opposition among Shias—who are an estimated 60% of Iraq’s 25m population. Though he is Iranian-born and speaks Arabic with a heavy Persian accent, Mr Sistani commands strong support from Iraqi Shias and could cause serious trouble if his demands are not met.

Mr Sistani and his people fear that the caucuses will be rigged to try to exclude the Shias from power, as they were under Saddam Hussein’s Sunni Muslim regime. This week, the ayatollah issued a fatwa (religious decree) that “every Iraqi must have the right to vote”. His aides say that unless direct elections are held, he may issue another, tougher decree which would turn the Shias—hitherto largely supporters of the American-led invasion—into opponents, resisting America's presence alongside the remnants of Saddam’s forces. If so, hopes for an orderly handover of power would be shattered.


You need only look at the headline of this story to see how easily we miss the real import of what's going on in Iraq and Iran. While Islamo-skeptics--generally out of their own general anti-religious animus--have claimed for some time now that there is no fertile soil for democracy in the Islamic world, it appears to the contrary that Shi'ism affords an almost perfect medium.

Not only do the Shi'a in Iran and Iraq demonstrate a genuine passion for democracy, but even as the clerics in Iran try to squash it in fact--by banning reformist candidates--they recognize that they have to maintain it in form--by going ahead with the elections--or else be judged illegitimate. When relatively liberal democracy comes to Iraq and Iran, in rather short order (say over the next ten to twenty years), it will be because of, not in spite of, the religious beliefs of the people.


MORE:
-Can We Make Iraq Democratic? (George F. Will, Winter 2004, City Journal)
-INTERVIEW: Hume Horan: a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a senior Coalition Provisional Authority adviser on religious affairs in Iraq (Kate Seelye, December 19, 2003, Religion & Ethics)

This is why we moved away from elections in 2005. We have caught the pulse of the acceleration of events here in Iraq and responded sensitively, perceptively, to it, and we prevented a problem from arising that otherwise would have been -- not a General Maude problem [British general who captured Baghdad in 1917, then faced Iraqi tribal rebellion against British rule], but a further delay would have widened the distance between us and the Shiites. That is something that really must not happen. In the coming months there is going to be the mother of all caucusing -- the engineers union, the chamber of commerce, they are all going to be canvassed for: Who are your leaders? Begin to think about your future. What kind of state do you want? Because at some point you are going to have to choose a delegate. We are vigorously going through all segments of Iraqi society: Who will be your leader? Who speaks for you? It's not elected, but it will be selected. There they are, and wow, that's going to be a very effervescent time in Iraqi politics. We are out there working hard to get the Iraqis to come up with truly representative groups of reps who can express their viewpoints at the governing level. It will be an interesting experiment.
Get away from Najaf, and you find that Shiites are religious, but you can see them living lives in the modern world just the same. The Shiite and Kurdish areas in Iraq are the most peaceful, and in the Shiite areas we are welcomed not just because we liberated but because of who we are. Many people say, "The kind of state you have, we would like to have ourselves." And insofar as the future state is colored by the kinds of people that I have met and worked with, that other Americans have worked with, its tone is one that's compatible with stability and a modicum of democracy.

I have met a number of Shiite clerics, and they are impressive. Some of the grand ayatollahs are straightforward exponents of democracy -- not Shiite democracy, but democracy, emphatically so, and they are extraordinarily tolerant. When it comes to their points of view, they do seem to be democrats, and some of the Shia leaders I have met in Baghdad are the same, and there is enough commonality between their views to give me reason to be hopeful as to what will happen when these people are left on their own to some degree, without a CPA context.

If Iraq succeeds, it could help pull the Arab world out of a great dismal swamp that it's been stuck in for the last 50 years. Iraq could be the turning of the tide. It could be opening a new front. It could be getting away from the millstone of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It could remove the greatest impediment for the Arab-Muslim world to join the modern world. And if moderate Shiites can show that they and Sunnis and Christians, as a sidebar ornament, can make it in a modern state, all the more reason for some of these dictatorial states who purport to treat everybody all right, but if your church steeple falls, don't hope you get a building permit to rebuild it. It's going to cause changes there too. People talk about the Islamic extremists wending their way to Iraq to make trouble for the coalition. But we will help to reconcile not just Iraq but Islam to the modern world.

The Shiite clerics are much more intellectually flexible and open and attuned to modernity, much less bogged down in the uncreative, constantly repetitive view of theology, religion, and the world. The grand ayatollahs incomparably have been the most intellectually open Muslim thinkers that I have met -- having sought out clerics because, as a Presbyterian elder, I am interested in Islam. This is our sister religion; why is it not performing better? But for me, it has been one of the most liberating and uplifting experiences finally to talk to Muslim thinkers who had arrived at the same destination that I had in entirely different ways. We had parted ways in the Middle Ages. They had gone one direction, we had gone another, and yet on matters that really mattered, on faith and morals and politics, we found ourselves at pretty much the same place today. I thought, "My God, it's not Saudi Arabia." The happiest discussions I have had in the Muslim world have been in Iraq.


-Sectarianism in Iraq (DILIP HIRO, February 2, 2004, The Nation)
Saddam Hussein's capture on December 13 ended the role of the minority Sunni Arabs as Iraq's ruling group since 1638, when the Sunni Ottoman Turks captured Mesopotamia (then comprising Baghdad and Basra provinces) and incorporated it into their empire. But, as a majority among Baghdad's 6 million inhabitants, and some 20 percent of the total population, Sunni Arabs remain a crucial factor in the complex Iraqi equation.

With Saddam's removal as the nominal leader of Sunni Arabs, the community felt an urgent need to fill the gap. It did so on December 25. That day eighty-five community elders, meeting at Baghdad's famed Umm al Qura Mosque, established the State Council of Sunnis. It consists of various religious-political strands--from mystic Sufis to Salafis (who advocate return to the pristine practices of early Islam) to the Muslim Brotherhood, the forerunner of many Islamist groups in the Arab world--all of them anti-Saddam. The event was a signal to Shiites and Kurds that after a painful period of meandering, the disoriented Sunni Arab community was getting organized to join the fray for power in the new order.

While Shiites want an Islamic republic and Kurds are for a secular, federated state with autonomy for an expanded Kurdistan--administered from its regional capital in Kirkuk with the hefty revenue derived from that region's oil--many Sunni Arabs point out that it was the escalating insurgency by the Sunni-dominated guerrilla movement that forced George W. Bush to reverse his policy in mid-November and opt for a quick handover of sovereignty to Iraqis, and that this entitles their community to a fair share of power in an independent Iraq.


-The Making of Modern Iraq (Martin Walker, Winter 2004, Wilson Quarterly)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:24 PM

DON'T FALL IN LOVE WITH A DREAMER:

Protesters Chant and Boo as Bush Honors Dr. King (RICHARD W. STEVENSON, 1/16/04, NY Times)

The White House had arranged for Mr. Bush to stop at Dr. King's grave on a day when the president was scheduled to be in Atlanta for a fund-raiser. Sheriee Bowman, a spokeswoman for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said the group respected the president's right to pay tribute to Dr. King. But she suggested that the civil rights organization saw Mr. Bush's presence as politically motivated.

"We question the integrity of the timing of the move because last year at this time he took a stand against affirmative action, the Michigan case, which is part of Dr. King's legacy," Ms. Bowman said, referring to the Supreme Court case that considered the use of race in college admissions. [...]

Mr. Bush's effort to reach out to black voters reflected a belief among his political advisers that his electoral standing in the South was so strong among his conservative base that he had an opportunity to broaden his support.

To highlight the inroads he has already made, he arranged to be introduced at his fund-raiser here on Thursday evening by Senator Zell Miller of Georgia, a Democrat who called Mr. Bush a president with "a good heart and a spine of steel." Also on hand to throw their support to the Bush-Cheney ticket were other prominent Georgia Democrats, including Griffin Bell, who was attorney general under President Jimmy Carter. [...]

"Bush was not invited," said Lance Grimes, 55, a black social worker who lives in Decatur, Ga., and was part of the demonstration at The King Center. "It is a desecration for him to lay a wreath at the tomb of Dr. King. He is diametrically opposed to everything Dr. King stood for. With all due respect, Coretta Scott King is making a tactical mistake."


It's sad but true that had he lived Dr. King's current dreams would likely include leaving the Iraqi people under Saddam and using quotas that judge people by the color of their skin, not their character.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 AM

ALL OVER BUT THE DYING:

A shrinking giant: Can Japan revive its economy in time to cope with a dwindling workforce? (The Economist, Jan 8th 2004)

JAPAN is entering a crucial lap in its economic race against time. The good news is that, as it makes the turn into 2004, the economy is riding the momentum it built up during a moderate expansion last year. Real GDP grew by an estimated 2.6% in 2003, according to The Economist's latest poll of forecasters, and is expected to rise by another 2% this year. The bad news, however, is that even though the economy has sped up for a bit, Japan's runaway demographic trends still threaten to leave it in the dust.

The population of 127m barely changed in 2003, rising by fewer than 100,000. The number of births continued its steady slide, with only 1.12m babies being born last year. Japan's 1.03m recorded deaths, meanwhile, were its highest number since 1947. Within only a year or two these two trends are expected to cross, and the population will begin to fall. The combination of a shrinking population and an increasingly elderly one will have a growing impact on everything from demand for goods and services, to public finances, to the structure of the workforce. Within five years, for example, Japan's universities expect to have more available university spaces than applicants.

The effects of these trends on the workforce could be especially dramatic. Although the overall population is just beginning to peak, the number of people in their working years (between 15 and 64 years old) has been falling since 1995, when it reached 87m. The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research forecasts that this age group will shrink to 70m in 2030, and to as few as 54m in 2050. Meanwhile, the number of people aged 65 and over is expected to rise from less than one-fifth to one-third of the population. If Japan cannot find some way to slow this trend, or to mitigate it through new sources of labour or faster productivity growth, it will eventually take a heavy toll on the economy.


Here's another thing to consider: what kind of shape would Japan be in already if it hadn't been drafting the United States during an extraordinary twenty years of uninterrupted economic growth, during which we've indulged a voracious appetite for imports?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:32 AM

I WAS PROMISED 15 MINUTES AND ONLY GOT 4 (via Kevin Whited):

Wilsonian Regime Change (Shawn Macomber, 1/16/2004, American Spectator)

This Wednesday, the Kerry campaign gathered heavy hitters on national security issues together to rail against the policies of George W. Bush and to endorse John Kerry as the best, sane alternative. Distinguished guests included retired Marine Corps General Stephen Cheney, Medal of Honor recipient Captain Paul Bucha, former Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers, and Kerry foreign policy adviser Nancy Stetson. The panelists took turns giving gracious speeches about their experience with Kerry, both in war and in government, and explaining why they had chosen to support him.

That is until former Ambassador Joe Wilson got a hold of the microphone. Before he uttered a single word, Wilson seemed out of place. His longish, surfer guy hair clashed with the closely cropped cuts of the military men on stage. A crass purple tie swung like a pendulum over his dark trying-too-hard-to-be-hip suit.

Wilson spoke for a full 20 minutes before he got around to even mentioning John Kerry. He began by rehashing the whole "sixteen words" Niger plutonium fiasco with a gusto the media, the general public, and even Democratic presidential candidates had long ago lost. Along the way, he romanticized his own role in shining the light on the way the American people and international community were "lied into war." [...]

Wilson then tore into the invasion and occupation of Iraq; a strange move for someone on hand to endorse a candidate who voted for, and continues to support, that policy. Wilson admitted Saddam Hussein had "hegemonic ambitions" and continued to seek weapons of mass destruction, but he tut-tutted that diplomacy was the only reasonable course in this case. "Basically, if you have to make war, you have to make smart war for the right reasons, not dumb war," he said. "Frankly, the invasion, conquest, occupation of Iraq was not the brightest idea we ever had." [...]

When he did get around to talking about John Kerry, it was strictly in the context of Joe Wilson. Though not a combat veteran "I have been in enough wars to probably warrant some sort of status," Wilson said. "But like him, or like me, John Kerry also spoke truth to a hostile power."


Mr. Palme resembles that woman who claimed she'd lost the winning Powerball ticket, desperately trying to win attention based on nothing.


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:51 AM

A NEW AND MORE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:

A Hard Look at What Works (Mortimer B. Zuckerman, 11/24/03 , US News; via Brothers Judd blog)

The Thernstroms point to what they call the "culture" of learning, which they define as students' attitude toward school.... Being Asian, the Thernstroms found, is a better predictor of academic success than being rich, having an intact family, or just about anything else. Asian parents don't accept anything less than an A-. The corresponding figure for whites is B-; for blacks, C-.

This problem has an obvious solution: racial discrimination in grading. For the same accomplishment that earns Asians an A, give whites a B and blacks a C; for work that earns Asians a B, give whites a C and blacks a D. If expectations are really what drives student achievement, then we'd soon find similar accomplishments among all races.

I await the laurels and praise this idea will surely garner me, and a lucrative new career as an Education Expert.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:44 AM

CLASS OF '06:

Florida's Harris may skip Senate run: Congresswoman will not seek the seat held by Bob Graham, GOP leaders say (John Kennedy, Jan 16, 2004, ORLANDO SENTINEL)

Katherine Harris is expected to announce today that she will not run for U.S. Senate, key Republican leaders told the Orlando Sentinel Thursday night.

After weeks of speculation about her political future, Harris apparently has decided to stay out of the crowded GOP primary field, although at least one party source conceded that she could change her mind.

As part of what were described as "delicate" discussions with GOP leaders, Harris will instead seek a second term in the U.S. House and likely will run for the seat now held by Florida Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2006.


Well, she always could count votes and they aren't there this time.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 AM

A LOSS IS A WIN:

Mexico Awaits Hague Ruling on Citizens on U.S. Death Row (ADAM LIPTAK, 1/16/04, NY Times)

[Osbaldo Torres] is one of 52 Mexican citizens in eight states whose convictions and death sentences are being challenged by Mexico in the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Mexico says the United States violated a treaty guaranteeing that foreigners arrested in this country have access to representatives of their government.

The court ordered the United States last February not to kill Mr. Torres and two compatriots, at least until it issues its final ruling, which is expected to come in the spring.

None of the 52 Mexicans have been put to death. In Mr. Torres's case, the Oklahoma attorney general asked a state appeals court in November to stay the execution "out of courtesy" to the international court. It was an unprecedented act of deference by an American official, legal experts said.

Mexico is seeking to void all 52 convictions and death sentences, contending that its citizens were denied the right to meet promptly with Mexican diplomats. The defendants should be retried, Mexico says, with statements obtained before such meetings excluded.

Mexico also asked the court to require that the United States honor these so-called consular rights in the future, perhaps by rewriting the standard Miranda warning given suspects before they are questioned by the police.


A ruling in Mexico's favor would be most beneficial politically, allowing Mr. Bush to ignore it and go ahead with putting aliens to death, while Democrats would be forced to repudiate an instance of the transnationalism that they otherwise advocate.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM

"NOT ACTIVE"?:

People Who Mislead People (George Neumayr, 1/16/2004, The American Spectator)

People magazine published an interview with Howard Dean this week, full of the usual babble and fluff. But buried beneath it were some surprisingly newsworthy comments. Consider Dean's skittishness during the interview about his work for abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

"Were you both active in Planned Parenthood in Burlington?" asks People of Judy and Howard Dean. Judy Dean tried to downplay their work: "We both worked there, while we were residents, but I wouldn't call it active." Not active? Howard Dean served on New England Planned Parenthood's executive board.

Then Howard Dean defensively answered a question not asked: "And no, neither of us ever did an abortion." People's interviewer, puzzled at Dean's defensiveness, asks, "Why do you say it that way?" Howard Dean: "Because I always get asked that."

"Why didn't you perform abortions?" asks People, a logical question given Dean's loud support for abortion and close connection to Planned Parenthood. Howard Dean: "Because we don't do them. They don't train residents to do that." Really? Young doctors in residence at Planned Parenthood are shielded from abortions? That's implausible since residents at Planned Parenthood are offered training.


At least he has enough sense of decency left to be ashamed of his association with them.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM

TOO CENTRIST?:

California Democrats Face Grim Post-Mortem (DEAN E. MURPHY, 1/15/04, NY Times)

Being a Democrat in Mr. Schwarzenegger's California is taking some getting used to, and there is growing consternation about how the party can distinguish itself in the celebrity glare of the new governor. A poll released Thursday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California showed Mr. Schwarzenegger with a 59 percent approval rating, while the Democratic-controlled Legislature received just 36 percent.

Even as the Democratic convention opens here, Mr. Schwarzenegger is likely to steal the political limelight by endorsing Bill Jones, a former California secretary of state, who is running in the Republican primary for the United States Senate seat occupied by Barbara Boxer, a Democrat. [...]

Democratic spirits have been further dampened by a Field poll released this week showing President Bush's popularity growing in California. Mr. Bush's 52 percent job approval rating was his best showing in the Field survey since shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. [...]

Professor Bruce E. Cain, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, predicted that the convention would kick-start a struggle for the party's soul between moderates, who have some inclination to work with Mr. Schwarzenegger, and more liberal constituencies, including some labor unions, which perceive Mr. Davis's defeat as a signal that the party had veered too far toward the center.

Professor Cain said the split mirrored one within the Democratic Party at the national level, with the added complication of assessing the significance of Mr. Schwarzenegger, namely whether his victory was the quirky outcome of a once-in-a-lifetime recall election or symptomatic of a larger problem within the Democratic Party.

"It brings back a lot of issues the Democrats had to deal with in the late 1980's when Ronald Reagan was president," Professor Cain said. "It was a very frustrating period when the Democratic Party couldn't find the right formula."


Let's go out on a limb and say the formula isn't to get to the Left of Gray Davis.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 AM

CLARK'S ATWATER:

All's Fair? Clark Rivals Irked by an Aide's Tactics (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, 1/16/04, NY Times)

Every campaign has people who work behind the scenes, feeding unflattering facts about opponents to the news media. But Mr. [Chris] Lehane — a veteran of Al Gore's 2000 campaign and the Clinton White House, where his specialty was blunting queries from investigative reporters — is such a shrewd practitioner of what one admiring strategist called "the political black arts" that lately, when a negative story appears, rivals point to him.

"He can spread both joy and pain," said Donna Brazile, who managed Mr. Gore's campaign and calls herself a fan of Mr. Lehane. "It's important to know what side you're on when Chris Lehane is coming at you."

Now, Mr. Lehane has become a target in a fight among Democrats about whether opposition research is going too far. With General Clark rising in the polls in New Hampshire and Howard Dean facing a spate of negative news reports, from stories about stock he sold as Vermont's governor to remarks maligning the Iowa caucuses, many Democrats are convinced they see the invisible hand of Chris Lehane.

"He's doing what he does, and what he learned quite well in war rooms and hard-fought campaigns," said one Democrat who works for a rival campaign. "It's just that right now, he's doing it inside the family, as opposed to across the fence. And so it's received differently. He's spilling blood in our house."

Mr. Lehane, who is ordinarily so accessible that some reporters complain they cannot get rid of him, declined an interview for this article, insisting he wanted the focus to be on General Clark, not him. But it is clear that he has emerged as General Clark's secret weapon.


Are you really a "secret" weapon when the NY Times is profiling you as such?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 AM

GROPING TOWARD A MIDDLE GROUND:

Begging to Differ: Contrary Christianity vs. the Usual Staple (Jon Trott, Cornerstone)

There is pain in being painstaking, thinking through each issue apart from the agenda-builder. For instance, can we, even while publicly explaining the biblical view on homosexuality, also not oppose same-sex couples’ freedom to enter into some sort of civil union? “Gay marriage” has sacred connotations, and ought to be debated. But as many, including most of the democratic presidential candidates, have suggested, there is a middle road where some sort of civil recognition could be granted gay couples without cheapening the concept of male/female marriage. This wouldn’t be the same as saying to a gay couple, “We think you are morally right in your choices.” But it might be saying, “We believe God created you with a free will, freedom to choose your life’s path. We think you are wrong, but we also think it is not our duty to dictate to you, through governmental entities, what is right regarding your sexual choices.”

But doesn't my suggestion encourage our government, in however lukewarm a form, to sanction gay unions? I suggest no, it does not. I merely suggest that we acknowledge what is already there, a union (illicit morally from our Christian frame) between two who are our neighbors. They may need the protections such a legal union would offer, and I think we need to ponder carefully just where the borders are between opposing sin and loving our neighbor. Again, it is painful to be in this world but not of it! I'm not at all sure of my idea here, but I am sure that the tone of recent emails from various Christian Right groups have been almost universally ignorant of this "loving my neighbor" portion of our duty.

A wag might suggest hypocrisy here, as abortion is also a governmental matter to which I’m applying similar moral constraints as others wish to apply to gay marriage. I suggest this is a pragmatic argument, and non-Christian voices such as First Amendment expert Nat Hentoff agree with me. If our society is rooted in the idea of individual liberty, and our history is one where progressively we have empowered the disempowered so that they could fully participate in our society, then it seems logical that we empower the least powerful, that is, the unborn human lives currently being snuffed out via legalized abortion. That, too, is a painful position which will cause our feminist friends - some of them at least - to group us with political reactionaries. All that crucifies, however, is a bit of our pride.


This seems the position where conservatives will have to come down eventually. No marriage, but some legal protections. No compromise on the sinfulness, but recognition of the fact that such relationships exist and that we as a society have no stomach to try and interfere with them. The only additional point that needs to be made is that because it is legitimate to view homosexuality as a sin, people should be allowed to discriminate on that basis.


January 15, 2004

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:50 PM

WE HAVE THE AUTHORITY FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE CLAUSE:

Establishing an International Minimum Wage (Dick Gephardt for President)

Based on the imperative of protecting both human dignity around the world and American jobs here at home, Dick Gephardt believes we must establish an international minimum wage....

The creation of such a wage would guarantee that workers all over the world earn a livable wage. It also would keep U.S. workers competitive in the global marketplace.


Are we going to establish this unilaterally? Because I won't support unilateral action.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 PM

THE THINGS YOU NOTICE IF YOU MEANDER:

The Eyes Have It (CBS News, Jan. 4, 2004)

”I just like to meander along, with or without my students, and just look,” says Professor Stilgoe, who teaches the art of exploration, and discovering the built environment - everything from architectural history to advertising and design. He introduces his students to a method of discovering a hidden world that's always been right in plain view.

“I start by showing slides of things that they think they have seen, and it turns out they haven't seen. The white arrow that's on the side of every Fed Ex truck is a nice place to start. Almost everybody's seen a Federal Express truck, almost nobody's seen the white arrow,” says Stilgoe.

If you don't see the big white arrow there's a reason for it, says Stilgoe. It's because your eyes and your brain have been conditioned to read the letters.

“Before they've learned to read, toddlers will see the arrow. And I've asked toddlers, ‘Do you see the arrow on the truck?’ And they usually do,” says Stilgoe. “The arrow is between the lower half of the capital E, and the X.”

Stilgoe says the arrow is just one of millions of things that are right in front of our eyes that we never notice.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 PM

ROOM TO CUT:

Shrinking trade gap could spur economic growth (REUTERS, January 15, 2004)

An unexpected narrowing in the U.S. trade gap and a drop in a key measure of wholesale prices led forecasters yesterday to bump up economic growth estimates while proclaiming inflation dead.

The trade deficit shrank to $38.0 billion in November from $41.6 billion in October, as civilian aircraft sales pushed exports to their highest in three years, the Commerce Department said.

It was the smallest trade gap in 13 months.

In a separate report, the Labor Department said the Producer Price Index, which measures prices paid to farms, factories and refineries, rose 0.3 percent last month after a 0.3 percent drop in November.

But stripping out volatile food and energy prices, the index fell 0.1 percent for the second straight month, offering a sign that inflation pressures are under wraps.


Which shows that our interest rates remain too high, but Europe's are ridiculous.

MORE:
The Big Mac index (The Economist, Jan 15th 2004)

The Economist's Big Mac index is based on the theory of “purchasing-power parity”. Under PPP, exchange rates should adjust to equalise the prices of a basket of goods and services across countries. Our basket is the Big Mac. For example, the cheapest burger is in China, at $1.23, compared with an average American price of $2.80. This implies the yuan is 56% undervalued. Relative to its Big Mac PPP the euro is 24% overvalued against the dollar.

In other words, that entire portion of the euro which was inflated to get it trading above $1 via artificially high interest rates.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:19 PM

WE'RE IN THE MONEY:

U.S. Household Net Worth Grew To $42.05 Trillion in 3Q (Rebecca Christie, January 15, 2004, Dow Jones Newswires)

U.S. households saw their total net worth rise 1.4% to $42.05 trillion in the third quarter of 2003, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.

Household net worth is a measure of total assets, such as houses and pensions, minus total liabilities, such as mortgages and credit-card debt. In the second quarter, net worth stood at $41.47 trillion, revised up from a previous estimate of $41.25 trillion.


So much for the failure of Americans to save as much as other nations.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 PM

REMEMBER THE GOLDEN AGE...:

New study: Islam 'doesn't' slow economies (David R. Francis, 12/22/03, CS Monitor)

Is Islam a drag on economic growth? Economists have debated the impact of religion on economic performance for many years. A long line of scholars has blamed the relative poverty of Muslims today on their religious beliefs.

But economist Marcus Noland maintains that this long-standing view is wrong.

"There is nothing inherent about these [Islamic] societies that they have to perform poorly," says the economist with the Institute for International Economics in Washington. "If anything, Islam promotes growth.... There may be undue pessimism about the prospects of these countries." [...]

His thesis has many critics. Oddly, Noland's recently published paper,
"Religion, Culture, and Economic Performance," has become something of a minor hit on the Internet. [...]

Some economists are also skeptical - and for more analytical reasons.

In general, Christianity and other major religions support "good" economic attitudes that contribute to higher per capita income and growth, according
to a National Bureau of Economic Research paper published last year by three economists. But Muslims tend to be "antimarket" and negatively associated
"with attitudes that are conducive to growth," the study concluded.

Economists note, for example, that Islamic teaching prohibits the collection of interest, sets strict rules on inheritances, and restricts women in the roles they can play in some areas. [...]

Noland's analysis, however, finds that it is something other than religion - maybe political instability or other aspects of government - that has braked
development in Islamic nations.

Looking at history, he notes that the Islamic world was more highly developed than Western Europe in the 10th century, for example. And the West
really didn't catch up until the 17th or 18th century and then moved ahead.

"This means that Islam is consistent with long periods of both relatively rapid and slow growth," he writes.


They get an awful lot of mileage out of that 10th Century deal.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 PM

IF MORE PEOPLE WERE FOR PEOPLE...:

In appreciation of Julian Simon: I listened spellbound. Up to this time I had been objecting to China’s one-child policy on the grounds that it was immoral. Now I was learning from this brilliant economist that there was a powerful economic rationale against population control as well. (STEVEN W. MOSHER, March/April 1998, PRI Review)

As we ate, I described the grisly scenes I had witnessed in China, and voiced my opposition to such coercion. “The Chinese government may need to reduce the birth rate as a precursor to economic development,” I concluded, “but in doing so they have run roughshod over the rights of the Chinese people.”

In mentioning the economic rationale for population control, I thought I was merely stating the obvious. After all, I had been taught at Stanford University that there are powerful reasons for limiting the numbers of people in developing countries, economic development and environmental protection among them.

To my surprise, Julian took exception. “The Chinese government is mistaken,” he said. “Population growth does not have a statistically negative effect on economic growth. We know that from many years of careful quantitative scientific studies. Because human knowledge allows us to produce more finished products out of fewer raw materials, natural resources are becoming more available, not scarcer. Human beings are the greatest resource. You need more, not fewer, of them for economic development.”

I listened spellbound. Up to this time I had been objecting to China's one-child policy on the grounds that it was immoral: It denied Chinese couples their individual liberty in an extremely important area — the number of children they will have — and it does this in a way that involves blatant coercion and massive violations of human rights. Now I was learning from this brilliant economist that there was a powerful economic rationale against population control as well.

That day I learned from Julian Simon that human beings are a valuable resource and their wanton destruction through population control is not a help, but a hindrance, to economic development. “If you rank order countries by population density,” I recall him saying, “we see that the more densely populated countries, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Holland, Japan, are growing at a faster rate than less densely populated countries, such as those in Africa.”

This was, as it were, only a corollary of his central thesis. In his own words, “More people and increased income cause problems of increased scarcity of resources in the short run. Heightened scarcity causes prices to rise. The higher prices present opportunity, and prompt inventors and entrepreneurs to search for solutions. Many fail, at cost to themselves. But, in a free society, solutions are eventually found. And in the long run, the new developments leave us better off than if the problem had not arisen. That is, prices end up lower than before the increased scarcity occurred. . . . But as can be seen in the evidence of the increasing availability of natural resources throughout history as measured by their declining prices-especially in food, metals and energy-there apparently is no fixed limit on our resources in the future. There are limits at any moment, but the limits continually expand, and constrain us less with each passing generation. In this, we are quite unlike [the] animals.”


Actually, the limits don't work for animals either.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:34 PM

THERE'S A WILL, BUT WHAT WAY?:

.Can Iranians change their political system? (A. William Samii, January 16, 2004, International Herald Tribune)

The current crisis is likely to end in one of three ways. Rejected candidates have the opportunity to appeal to the Guardian Council, and there is the possibility, not unprecedented, that some of the rejections will be rescinded. This could be a face-saving outcome for all concerned, but there are unlikely to be thousands of successful appeals.

There also could be an election boycott, which has been threatened by several of the country's main reformist political parties, and which would probably lead to low voter turnout. The conservatives would not mind this - low turnout in the February 2003 municipal council elections allowed them to dominate the polls. On the other hand, the Iranian regime bases much of its legitimacy and credibility on holding regular elections with high participation. Indeed, it keeps the polling places open late, buses in voters and encourages public employees' participation. [...]

The third possible outcome summarizes Iran's democratic dilemma - an unelected body has control over elections, and only an unelected official can overrule that body. For all the elections Iran holds, and for all the talk of reformists and religious democracy, the real decisions are made by a handful of conservative clerics operating behind closed doors.

In the presidential elections of 1997 and 2001, as well as the parliamentary election of 2000, Iranians voted in overwhelming numbers for reformist candidates who promised to change things. But the promises came to naught and Iranians came to see that their efforts are futile in the face of opposition from entrenched forces who can manipulate the system to maintain their grip on power.

Recognition of this situation is likely to keep voters at home on election day, and that is bad news for those who would like to see regime change without external intervention.


Unfortunately, the most likely result--folks staying home--is the least desirable. It would be better for them to turn out and hand in spoiled ballots as a protest.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:04 PM

HOW UNPOWELL:

In South Asia, modesty the best policy (Siddharth Srivastava, 1/16/04, Asia Times)

[D]espite initially shying away from taking any credit for the recent breakthrough in Indo-Pak dialogue, the US has now begun attributing the turnaround in ties to the work that it has been doing with both countries over the past two years. In an interview over the weekend, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the seeds planted over these two years "are now germinating and you will [see] us harvesting the crops".

Powell, however, cautioned that there was more work to be done and referred to the "good offices" he had offered to both India and Pakistan "over the last couple of days". Powell declined to elaborate, but the subject is expected to figure in his talks with India's external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha this week.

"We have been working with the Indians and the Pakistanis for almost two years, from a period of 'We're going to nuclear war this weekend' to, you know, 'this is a historic change'," Powell told the US News and World Report.


Everyone knew we'd brokered the deal--hard to see what we gain by flaunting it, other than rehabilitating State.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 4:58 PM

MATERIALIST MISSIONARIES:

V is for victory —— and for vagina (Ross Clark, The Spectator, 17/01/04)

Following the successful liberation of their country from the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein, ordinary Iraqis are once more beginning to experience some of those things which we in the West take for granted: electricity, telephones, fresh running water and the likes of Deirdre Spart from the Haringey Women’s Collective. If there is still a lot of work to be done in establishing security in the country, one thing which isn’t being ignored is the agenda of Western feminists. Never mind that many women’s pressure groups were vociferous in their opposition to war in Iraq, and by implication would presumably prefer it were Saddam still in power, it hasn’t stopped them flying in to demand a place in the new Iraq.

In October, when Saddam had yet to be captured and attacks on American troops were growing by the day, the Department for International Development (DFID) spent £152,000 on two ‘gender advisers’ to go to Iraq on a six-month contract ‘to promote gender equality and diversity’. The department has withheld the identity of one of them ‘for security reasons’. [...]

It isn’t just our own government that is attempting to impose an aggressively feminist agenda on the developing world. The European Union is quietly devising new rules which would tie aid for African countries to conditions that they introduce more women into their parliaments. In spite of having opposed the war against Saddam Hussein, the EU seems to assume a right to impose a feminist agenda on the country’s reconstruction. [...]

Iraqis can be grateful for one thing. They have yet to contend with a visit by Eve Ensler, author of the feminist play The Vagina Monologues and the founder of a fashionable feminist pressure group V-day (the V stands for victory, valentine and vagina). Along with her ‘Vagina Warriors’, Ms Ensler has already visited Kabul several times over the past two years to spread her message of sisterhood. Thankfully, after some consideration, Ms Ensler decided against staging The Vagina Monologues in Kabul. “Going in and saying “so, let’s talk about your vagina” —— it seemed so glib.’’

In association with the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and with the help of celebrities including Jane Fonda, V-day has been raising money in the past few months for a series of women’s shelters in Iraq. If they are simply shelters, they will be welcome. But Ms Ensler also calls them ‘‘power zones’’, ‘‘through which women will be able to organise themselves and defend their rights and freedom’’. As to what this means, Ms Ensler demonstrated her understanding of Islam when she was asked what she thought of the veil. ‘‘If someone is wearing the veil because it makes them feel sexy, exotic, erotic, fabulous, empowered, delicious, protected, power to them,’’ she replied. ‘‘If one is wearing it to shut oneself off, to not exist, to not be present, to not have a voice, to turn over all their rights, to not be sexual, to not be alive, I have issues with it.’’ Women who venture into Ms Ensler’’s power zones will be treated, too, no doubt, to the thoughts of one vagina warrior called White Feather of Fredericton, New Brunswick, who writes of her ambitions to take her message to the world: ‘‘I want to make a banner and hang it from a bridge, one that says “women rock”. I want to set off fireworks and parade thru the streets on large vagina floats.’’

It is hard to imagine anything more calculated to send oppressed women in the Arab world diving back inside their burkas. Never mind the joys of liberal democracy; if Iraqi women were given a straight choice between Saddam and a ruling class of sisters-with-attitude parading through the streets on inflatable vaginas, I’m not entirely sure that they wouldn’t choose the former.

As a metaphor, the fear in the last sentence may well be plausible. Our preoccupation with whether it is possible for the U.S. and the West to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq causes us to overlook a more thorny issue. How can it be done without inflicting our anti-democratic, anti-religious freedom-haters on them, particularly the ones with political influence?



Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:05 PM

IT'S ALL W'S FAULT:

The end of Bush and Blair's friendship? (William Pfaff, January 15, 2004, International Herald Tribune)

Blair also has had to take account of the annoyance of his military and political people in Iraq with American tactics in the guerrilla war.

The choice in December of still more massive shock-and-awe attacks on neighborhoods or tribal areas suspected of being the source of attacks reflected what the British military consider a naÔve notion that shows of force - and they were shows preceded by warnings - can intimidate a nationalist insurgence.

Experience suggests the opposite. The British military is better at counterinsurgency, much more attentive to civilian interests and more apprehensive about the long-term consequences of what they do.


Yeah, bang up job in Ireland, fellas.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:54 PM

RIAT:

No more Bloomsdays? Mike's budget has (gulp) surplus! (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 1/15/04)

In a remarkable one year turnaround for the city budget, Mayor Bloomberg presented a $45.7 billion spending plan Thursday that included a $1.4 billion surplus and tax relief for property owners.

The surplus, the city’s largest in several years, is due largely to Wall Street profits and comes just one year after the city faced a $6.4 billion deficit — which forced Bloomberg to make deep spending cuts, lay off workers and raise taxes and fees.

“New York City’s homeowners stepped up when the city needed them most,” Bloomberg said in remarks prepared for delivery in a midday budget address. “Now that our fiscal situation has stabilized, they deserve to be rewarded for their sacrifice.

“Over the last two years, we have made the tough decisions that have maintained vital city services, kept control of the city finances with its elected officials and maintained the city’s long term fiscal stability. While we are not out of the woods yet and the city faces considerable challenges in the future, New York’s finances are balanced and our best days are yet to come.”

The centerpiece of the mayor’s plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1, includes a property tax rebate of $400 for owners of houses, condos and co-ops to help offset an 18.5 percent property tax hike imposed by the city in December 2002.


So, he's not just a Republican in name, eh?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:41 PM

A JUNIOR TONY BLAIR? (via anonymous):

New Canadian leader signals thaw in ties with U.S. (Mark Blanchard, 1/14/04, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

Canada's new prime minister is being called a deficit-slashing, tax-cutting Liberal with conservative views who will patch up strained relations with the White House.

Paul Martin has barely been on the job for a month, but already is being hailed for treating U.S. Republicans with more respect than his predecessor, Jean Chretien. [...]

The signs of cooperation are being condemned by Canada's socialist New Democratic Party.

"Paul Martin's conservative choices in both his government and corporate life do not represent the values of Canadians," party leader Jack Layton said last month.

"Star Wars missile defense is a profoundly dangerous idea and participating in this destabilizing program speaks volumes about [Mr. Martin´s] vision for Canada in the world."

Mr. Martin's main opposition in Parliament, however, applauds his efforts to defrost chilly relations with Washington.

"My first impression is positive," said Grant Hill, the interim leader of the newly formed Conservative Party.


As "anonymous" says, this could explain Mr. Bush taking his foot of Canada's throat.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:48 PM

PLEASE DON'T THROW ME IN THAT KHAKI PATCH (via Kevin Whited):

Karl Rove's Nightmare (Richard Cohen, January 15, 200, Washington Post)

Karl Rove had a bad moment here the other night. It came as Wesley Clark was speaking to a packed hotel ballroom, when the retired general derided the president of the United States for what was supposed to be his supreme, cinematic moment: landing on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. "I don't think it's patriotic to dress up in a flight suit and prance around," Clark bellowed. The men had been separated from the boys. [...]

In a way, Clark is this season's John McCain. As did McCain in 2000, he makes a special appeal to veterans -- asking them to stand at his speech here, for instance. His themes are similar, too, but where McCain ran to the left of Bush, Clark runs to the right of the Democratic field. That assessment has nothing to do with his actual positions, some of which are downright liberal -- he has no problem with civil unions or marriage for gays, for instance -- but rather with his military record and his Southern roots.

Whatever the reason, the general is on the move. Polls show him second to Howard Dean in New Hampshire -- Dean moving down, Clark moving up, with what his campaign says are approval ratings in the high 70s. Some of that can be explained by a palpable desire for "none of the above" and some by his record and some by the fact that on occasion he has delivered a good speech -- one, incidentally, that does not disparage his Democratic opponents.


In a recent USA Today poll has a 37% favorable rating, 26% negative and 37% don't know him. The Bush campaign would get to use its $200 million to fill in the blank for that last 37%. If Mr. Cohen really think the way to white Southern hearts is paved with questioning the Commander in Chief's patriotism, being sacked from your own command, supporting infanticide on demand, endorsing gay marriage, calling for us to join Kyoto, etc., he's out of his mind. There's some small chance that Howard Dean could carry VT, but none that the General could carry AR.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:18 PM

THE WIFE RESPONDS: CONSISTENCY IS THE HOBGOBLIN OF WAKEFULNESS:

Sleep: 15 steps to dreamland (Lidia Wasowicz, 1/13/2004, UPI)

In a United Press International survey of 71 specialists, the experts suggested 15 steps that could lead to the land of the sleeping:

Sensible sleep hygiene hints, though the last bit of advice is most beneficial to the Judd family coffers: "If slumber continues to elude you, consider a visit to a sleep specialist."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:27 AM

THEY BLINDED ME WITH SCIENCE:

The politics of overeating: Author blames America's problems with obesity on food-industry marketing (Judith Blake, 12/03/02, KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS)

WHEN MARION Nestle gives talks on the politics surrounding America's burgeoning obesity epidemic, she sometimes displays an attention-getting image on a screen. In it, a corpulent Uncle Sam clutches a huge cheeseburger while declaring, "I want YOU to eat more." [...]

"We have too much food in this country," said Nestle. Thanks partly to this, "food is cheap" -- close to the cheapest in the world relative to average income, she said.


It has always been the fondest hope of those who hate the species that population would eventually run up against a subsistence barrier. Instead, it appears that such scarcities are little more than the product of fever dreams.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:20 AM

10-9-8-7...:

Countdown to counter-revolution: An attempt by Iran's hardline Council of Guardians to ban many pro-democracy candidates from next month's parliamentary elections has caused a storm of protest. Will it all end in victory for the reformists, or repression? (The Economist, Jan 15th 2004)

[T]he conservatives may get away with it once more. But they face one short-term danger and one longer-term one. Their immediate worry is that the students will be galvanised by the MPs’ sit-in. Many student leaders have been picked off over the years and are now in jail, but new leaders may well arise in their place. The young particularly resent the bans or restrictions on dancing, movies, videos, alcohol, women’s dress and indeed all social mixing of the sexes. And like most Iranians, they hate being citizens of a country considered by George Bush to be part of the “axis of evil”. They know that in their aspirations for democratic change they have the moral support not just of Americans but of Europeans too—Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign-policy chief, criticised the ban on pro-democracy candidates during a visit to Tehran on Monday. And, thanks to watching illicit satellite broadcasts and to keeping in touch with a huge diaspora of Iranians abroad (about 1m in America alone), they are well informed about events outside their country, including the international opprobrium brought about by their country’s nuclear programme.

The longer-term danger for the clerics also lies in the dissatisfaction of the young, but this discontent is not confined to students. Two-thirds of Iran’s 70m people are under the age of 30, and half are under 20. Religious rule has given them an education and, in the right to vote (at 16), a taste of and for democracy. It has not given them jobs, nor can it do so in sufficient numbers to satisfy all those now leaving school unless it allows economic change—including foreign investment—and, inevitably, political reform too. Whether this week’s row ends in climbdown, compromise or crackdown, it will not have banished the prospect of Iran’s next revolution. On the contrary, it will probably have brought it closer.


Every form of totalitarianism--Nazism, Communism, Islamicism--is doomed by this same dynamic: the inability to satisfy the material demands of the people because of the fundamental flaw in the system. In confronting the -ism's, time is always on our side and war, though justified, rarely, if ever. required.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 AM

WORKING MODEL:

US to begin drawdown in Iraq: In coming weeks, 18,000 troops in northern Iraq will be replaced with a force half that size. (Dan Murphy, 1/15/04, The Christian Science Monitor)

It's been dubbed the "Mosul model" - where US soldiers have been in the vanguard of everything from setting up local governing councils to running a "Star Search" program on local TV.

The 101st Airborne Division's approach to waging peace in this northern Iraqi city is frequently lauded as the ideal of what men and women trained for war can accomplish by setting their guns aside and targeting development and local ties.

But now it faces a crucial test: doing the same mission with half as many US troops.

In just a few weeks, 18,000 soldiers of the 101st in northern Iraq will start streaming home, part of a rotation of all 120,000 US forces in Iraq. Replacing the 101st will be a much smaller force: The Army's new Stryker Brigade, a force of 5,000 or so soldiers whose unit is built around the capabilities of the Army's latest high-tech combat vehicle, and units that will bring the total to 9,000, say officers in the 101st.

The US hopes to reduce its presence in Iraq to about 50,000 by the end of 2005, coalition officials say. The biggest short-term reduction, it appears, will be in the north.


It's kind of amusing that the folks who insist we have more rather than less troops on the ground are generally those who opposed either the war entirely or the Rumsfeld war plan. It's like they're trying to teach us all a lesson by requiring the obviously unnecessary.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 AM

THE CANDIDATE WHO REVOLUTIONIZED THE USE OF THE INTERNET:

For Bush-Cheney organization, ’04 ‘campaign is now’ (Despite president saying he's too busy for politics
David Gregory, Jan. 14, 2004, NBC News)

They came to New Orleans this month for the Sugar Bowl, but the “Bush-Cheney 04” campaign volunteers care more about politics than football.

Volunteer Kimberly Allen said even 10 months before Election Day, the campaign is now. “I think it’s just getting a jump start on the competition, you know.  There’s no need for us to wait and figure out who the Dems put out at their convention.”

Legions of Bush-Cheney organizers are canvassing the country registering new voters in battleground states and signing up volunteers for help with voter turnout — a ground game that Bush advisers claim is unparalleled in political history.

According to Ralph Reed of the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign, “I mean, we have 6 million e-mails.  We will have a million team leaders by the time we get to Election Day — that’s one for every 50 Bush voters.”


One of the things they're doing here is contacting Republicans and encouraging them to go vote in the primary, to show support for the President. They're also bringing in all the big guns to campaign--Rod Paige was here yesterday and Bill Frist tomorrow; while primary week includes Mitt Romney and, in a stroke of genius, John McCain will be in NH on Primary day.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 AM

RED/BROWN AMERICA:

HISPANICS: KEY TO GOP'S FUTURE (Dick Morris, January 15, 2004, NY Post)

PRESIDENT Bush's im- migration/amnesty proposal will probably be remembered in history as the idea that saved a political party.

By taking the lead in extending the benefits of legal protections to more than 10 million illegal immigrants now living in the United States, Bush has taken a bold and dramatic step to avert the extinction of his own party.

Until Bush acted, the grinding inevitability of demographic change was likely to doom the GOP to an early death. As America became 1 percent more Hispanic each year, the Republicans could not concede this growing group to the Democrats by 2-1 ratios without risking total annihilation down the road.

The Republicans have got to break the solid demographic phalanx that sustains the Democratic Party: Blacks, Hispanics and single white women. Together, this group cast 25 percent of votes in 1990, 32 percent in 2000 and will account for 40 percent in 2008.

But by embracing the cause of Hispanic immigrants and extending to them elemental civil rights and minimum-wage protections, Bush has struck a blow on their behalf that will resonate in their voting habits for generations to come. His legislative proposals are akin to the sponsorship of a sweeping civil-rights bill in 1963-65 by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and will have a similar effect in binding Hispanics to the Republicans as the civil-rights legislation did in linking blacks to the Democrats.


He likely overstates the degree to which Hispanics would remain Democrats--they're far more like most European immigrant groups than like blacks who were deprived of the classic immigrant experience--but correct that a conservative future depends on incorporating them into the GOP.


Posted by David Cohen at 10:27 AM

STEEL PRICES HIGHER

Steel yourself for inflation? One of Alan Greenspan's favorite economic indicators is surging. (Justin Lahard, cnn.com, 12/04/03)

The price of scrap steel, which has historically worked well as an indicator of where the economy is headed, has shot up more than 40 percent the past year and is now trading near highs not seen since the mid-1990s.

"Scrap has always been a good indicator, because it feeds directly into consumer spending and capital spending," said Don Fine, president of Fine Financial Forecasting. "If scrap steel is rising sharply, it's a good indication that things overall are picking up. It's an old, trusted standby and it should not be ignored."

Since the tarriffs were lifted, the price of steel has increased and is predicted to keep increasing for the next quarter or two. China is going on a binge of scrap steel buying (thus this CNN story). A fire in a coal mine in West Virginia has led to a shortage of coke. Other raw materials costs, as well as transportation costs, have also increased. In the fourth quarter of '03, the cost of nickel and molybdenum increased by about 20% and the cost of chromium increased by about 10%. As a result, mills are reneging on previous commitments, the price of steel is expected to rise by about a third in the next few months and various surcharges (including a surcharge almost doubling the cost of some stainless steels) have been imposed on shipments. This just shows that economics would more properly be called the Perverse Science.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:24 AM

WITHOUT FORM, AND VOID:

Tests Suggest Scientists Have Found Big Bang Goo (JAMES GLANZ, January 14, 2004, NY Times)

At least three advanced diagnostic tests suggest that an experiment at the Brookhaven National Laboratory has cracked open protons and neutrons like subatomic eggs to create a primordial form of matter that last existed when the universe was roughly one-millionth of a second old, scientists said here on Tuesday.

The hot, dense substance, called a quark-gluon plasma, has managed to generate intense disputes in the 15 years or so in which scientists have pursued it. In 2000, a major European laboratory claimed that it had, for the first time, liberated particles called quarks from where they are normally trapped in protons and neutrons, a big step on the way to creating the plasma. [...]

Each of the 197 protons and neutrons that make up a gold nucleus has three quarks and a handful of other particles called gluons that transmit the strong force that holds the quarks together. By the strange rules of subatomic physics, swarms of other quarks and gluons flit into and out of existence in each nucleus.


So fall the laws of thermodynamics.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM

RIGHTEOUS FISTS:

GOP goes after Boxer (Debra J. Saunders, 1/14/04, Jewish World Review)

The anointment of Jones, however, also shows that GOP leaders have learned a lesson. In 2002, Jones was the lonely guy of GOP politics. The Bushies had ostracized him for switching his endorsement to John McCain from George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential primary. The best candidate couldn't raise money. He won debates, but no one saw them. The lesser GOP candidate won, which resulted in voters reluctantly backing Davis as the lesser of two evils.

Having learned its lesson, the Bush league has put out the word that good Republicans once again can write checks for Bill Jones. There is now a hush, where there used to be whispers, about whether the White House is privately rooting for Rosario Marin.

That 2-point showing has to hurt Marin. The team running her shop — led by former Reagan speechwriter Ken Khachigian and consultant Kevin Spillane — has spent months selling Marin as "Boxer's worst nightmare." If so, the nightmare appears over.


The hope of the pragmatists was that Arnold would revitalize a moribund GOP to such a degree that it would put the state back in play for even conservatives. So far, so good.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM

DEPTH CHARGE:

The Joke Is on Liberals, Says Dennis Miller, Host of His Own Show Again (BERNARD WEINRAUB, 1/15/04, NY Times)

Dennis Miller, the liberal-turned-conservative comedian and defender of President Bush and the war in Iraq, is less than two weeks away from being the host of a new talk show on CNBC. For him it can't come soon enough.

"People say I've slid to the right," Mr. Miller said in his office at the NBC Studios in Burbank, speaking in his rat-a-tat-tat style. "Well, can you blame me? One of the biggest malfeasances of the left right now is the mislabeling of Hitler. Quit saying this guy is Hitler," he said, referring to Mr. Bush. "Hitler is Hitler. That's the quintessential evil in the history of the universe, and we're throwing it around on MoveOn.org to win a contest. That's grotesque to me."

Mr. Miller, who was speaking about television advertisements submitted to a competition held by MoveOn.org Voter Fund, a liberal political group, was just getting started.

"Did you see the Democratic debate the other night?" he asked. "To me Dennis Kucinich's politics are more scrambled than Rod Steiger's dream journal. And Clark? He's a wizard in many ways, but when I hear him speak, it's almost like he's slumming. There's a mensch discrepancy there. At least John Edwards, who to me is a reasonably shallow guy, at least he can dog-paddle around in that park and not look out of place."


Hmmm, I don't know about that, the water seems to come up at least to the General's chest, if not his chin.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:44 AM

"ROOM TO IMAGINE":

Unveiling of the Trade Center Memorial Reveals an Abundance of New Details (GLENN COLLINS and DAVID W. DUNLAP, 1/15/04, NY Times)

It seemed unlikely that there could be more surprises yesterday when the tweaked, updated, reconciled - and leaked - World Trade Center memorial was unveiled by Gov. George E. Pataki, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

After all, the name of the dark-horse winning design - Reflecting Absence, by Michael Arad, 34, and Peter Walker, 71 - was trumpeted last week, and artists' renderings and many of its signature features had been revealed on Tuesday. But though no curtain was parted to reveal the latest model at yesterday's much-anticipated ceremony, a wealth of new details was presented.

First, both the governor and the mayor announced what they said was the resolution of a dispute over the designation of victims who worked for uniformed services. Upon the ribbon of 2,982 victims' names, according to the development corporation, etched in stone about the memorial's two reflecting pools, the police officers, firefighters and other rescue workers will be designated with individual shields. [...]

Mayor Bloomberg praised the design because, he said, "memorials should leave room to imagine, and this memorial, in a very simple way, has done that." [...]

Vartan Gregorian, head of the panel, said the two 30-foot-deep reflecting pools that define Mr. Arad's design have made "the voids left by the destruction the primary symbols of our loss."


Thank goodness they went with a genuine memorial instead of building another anti-human skyscraper.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 AM

DISSING A SISTER:

The Doctor Is Out (MAUREEN DOWD, 1/15/04, NY Times)

Many women cheered Judy Steinberg as a relief and a breakthrough. Why should she have to feign subservience in 2003, or compromise as Hillary Rodham and Teresa Heinz did when they took their husbands' names? But many political analysts said that just as the remote technocrat Michael Dukakis needed Kitty around to warm him up, the emotionally chilly Howard Dean could benefit from the presence of someone who could illuminate his softer side. So far he has generated a lot of heat but little warmth.

And at a moment when he's under attack by Democratic rivals for reinventing his political persona and shifting positions, he could use a character witness on the road to vouch for his core values.

The couple did pose for a spread in the new People magazine, where they revealed that he gave her a flowering shrub for her 50th birthday. "Being practical," he said, "I wanted something to plant in the back lawn."

Even some who admired Dr. Steinberg's desire to stay focused on her own life, healing the sick, still thought it odd that she would be so thoroughly disengaged from her husband's wild political ride, missing the thrilling moments and the poignant ones, like the repatriation ceremony of his brother's remains in Hawaii.

Since the frugal, no-frills couple does not subscribe to cable TV, she has not even seen much of the virtual campaign, and has to go into his Vermont campaign headquarters if she wants to watch a debate.

"What will she tell their grandkids?" wondered one political reporter here. "Yeah, Grandpa was once a front-runner for president with crowds all over America cheering him but I was too busy to go see it?"


Man, when even MoDo thinks your brand of feminism is weird, you know you're in trouble.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:34 AM

DISENFRANCHISING THE SISTERS:

Braun Is Expected to End Bid and Back Dean (JODI WILGOREN, 1/15/04, NY Times)

Ms. Braun and Dr. Dean, the former governor of Vermont, developed a respectful relationship throughout the campaign, in part because key staff members had worked for both.

The impending endorsement grew out of a contentious exchange that focused on minority issues during a debate Sunday. Ms. Braun, who is black, defended Dr. Dean against accusations that as governor he had failed to appoint enough African-Americans.

Joe Trippi, Dr. Dean's campaign manager, said that his boss went to thank Ms. Braun after the debate and that she requested a meeting to talk about possibly joining his campaign.

The two met on Monday, Mr. Trippi said, and Ms. Braun quizzed Dr. Dean on various issues, including affirmative action,

Apparently, he passed.


What a comfort to know that Dr. Dean shares Ms Braun's affirmative action views.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 AM

THE COMING RED/BLUE SPLIT:

Mess With Texas:
Let the Lone Star State go it alone (Alan Bisbort, January 15, 2004, Hartford Advocate)

Is George W. Bush remaking the U.S. in the image of Texas? I used to think Texas was the worst thing ever to befall the United States of America. I now believe it. Born and bathed in blood as the Republic of Texas and steeped in the most destructive American myths (rugged individuals, big guns, hangin' judges, Injun-killers, wetback-bashers, etc.), the Lone Star State has brought us little but misery since it was admitted to the union in 1845.

During my lifetime alone, Texas killed one of our most beloved presidents (JFK), produced two of our most hated (the Bushmen) and a third with more blood on his hands than Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan combined (LBJ).


You could give CT nuclear weapons and Texas would still kick the tar out of it.


January 14, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:31 PM

A STORY-TELLING PEOPLE:

Science and the Story that We Need (Neil Postman, January 1997, First Things)
The principal spiritual problem confronting those of us who live in a technological age was spoken of some years ago in a prophetic poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, in her collection Huntsman, What Quarry?:

Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts . . . they lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun, but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric.

What Millay speaks of here is a great paradox. Beginning in the nineteenth century, humanity creatively addressed the problem of how to eliminate information scarcity, how to overcome the limitations of space, time, and form. In the early nineteenth century, for example, a message could travel only as fast as a human being, which on a train was thirty-five miles per hour. Language, either written or spoken, was very nearly the only form in which messages could be codified; and, of course, most people did not have access to the expanding knowledge being generated in many fields. And so we attacked these problems with great vigor, and triumphed over them in spectacular fashion.

As a result, in the nineteenth century we remade the world through technology, unleashing a meteoric shower of facts, with telegraphy, photography, the rotary press, the telephone, the typewriter, the phonograph, the transatlantic cable, radio waves, movies, the x-ray, the computer, and the stethoscope-not to mention the penny press, the modern magazine, the advertising agency, and modern bureaucracy. We continued addressing the problem of information scarcity into the first half of the twentieth century, when we added some important inventions so that the burdens of information scarcity were removed once and for all.

We may congratulate ourselves on our achievement, but we have been rather slow in recognizing that in solving the information problem, we created a new problem never experienced before: information glut, incoherence, and meaninglessness. From millions of sources all over the globe, through every possible channel and medium-lightwaves, airwaves, tickertapes, computer banks, telephone wires, television cables, satellites, printing presses-information pours in. Behind it, in every imaginable form of storage-on paper, video and audiotape, on disks, film, and silicon chips-is an even greater volume of information waiting to be retrieved. Where information was once an essential resource in helping us to gain control over our physical and symbolic worlds, our technological ingenuity transformed information into a form of garbage, and ourselves into garbage collectors.

Like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, we are awash in information, without even a broom to help us get rid of it. The tie between information and human purpose has been severed. Information is now a commodity that is bought and sold; it comes indiscriminately, whether asked for or not, directed at no one in particular, in enormous volume, at high speeds, disconnected from meaning and import. It comes unquestioned and uncombined, and we do not have, as Millay said, a loom to weave it all into fabric. No transcendent narratives to provide us with moral guidance, social purpose, intellectual economy. No stories to tell us what we need to know, and especially what we do not need to know.

Without such narratives, we discover that information does not touch any of the important problems of life. If there are children starving in Somalia, or any other place, it has nothing to do with inadequate information. If our oceans are polluted and the rain forests depleted, it has nothing to do with inadequate information. If crime is rampant on our streets, if children are mistreated, it has nothing to do with inadequate information. Indeed, if we cannot get along with our own relatives, this, too, has nothing to do with inadequate information.

What we are facing, then, is a series of interconnected delusions, beginning with the belief that technological innovation is the same thing as human progress-which is lifted to the delusion that our sufferings and failures are caused by inadequate information-which is linked, in turn, to the most serious delusion of all: that it is possible to live without a loom to weave our lives into fabric, that is to say, without a transcendent narrative.

I use the word narrative as a synonym for "god," with a small "g." I know it is risky to do so, not only because the word "god," having an aura of sacredness, is not to be used lightly, but also because it calls to mind a fixed figure or image. But it is the purpose of such figures or images to direct one's mind to an idea and, more to my point, to a story. Not any kind of story but one that tells of origins and envisions a future; a story that constructs ideals, prescribes rules of conduct, provides a source of authority, and above all, gives a sense of continuity and purpose. A god, in the sense I am using the word, is the name of a great narrative, one that has sufficient credibility, complexity, and symbolic power so that it is possible to organize one's life around it. [...]

We in the West are inheritors of two great and different tales. The more ancient, of course, is the one that starts by saying, "In the beginning, God . . ." And the newer is the account of the world as science and reason give it. One is the tale of Genesis and Job, of Mark and Paul. The other is Euclid's tale, and Galileo's, Newton's, Darwin's. Both are great and stirring accounts of the universe and the human struggle within it. Both speak of human frailty and error, and of limits. Both may be told in such a way as to invoke our sense of stewardship, to sing of responsibility. Both contain the seeds of a narrative more hopeful and coherent than the technology story. My two favorite quotes on this matter were made 375 years apart. The first is by Galileo, who said, "The intention of the Holy Spirit is to teach how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes." The second is by Pope John Paul II, who said, "Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes."

I take these men to mean what I would like to say. Science and religion will be hopeful, useful, and life-giving only if we learn to read them with new humility-as tales, as limited human renderings of the Truth. If we continue to read them, either science or Scripture, as giving us Truth direct and final, then all their hope and promise turn to dust. Science read as universal truth, not a human telling, degenerates to technological enslavement and people flee it in despair. Scripture read as universal Truth, not a human telling, degenerates to Inquisition, Jihad, Holocaust, and people flee it in despair. In either case, certainty abolishes hope, and robs us of renewal.

I believe we are living just now in a special moment in time-at one of those darkening moments when all around us is change and we cannot yet see which way to go. Our old ways of explaining ourselves to ourselves are not large enough to accommodate a world made paradoxically small by our technologies, yet larger than we can grasp. We cannot go back to simpler times and simpler tales-tales made by clans and tribes and nations when the world was large enough for each to pursue its separate evolution. There are no island continents in a world of electronic technologies-no place left to hide or to withdraw from the communities of women and men. We cannot make the world accept one tale-and that one our own-by chanting it louder than the rest or silencing those who are singing a different song. We must take to heart the sage remark of Nils Bohr, one of our century's greatest scientists: "The opposite of a correct statement is an incorrect statement. The opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth." He meant to say that we require a larger reading of the human past, of our relations with each other and the universe and God, a retelling of our older tales to encompass many truths and to let us grow and change.

We can make the human tale larger only by making ourselves a little smaller-by seeing that the vision each of us is granted is but a tiny fragment of a much greater Truth not given to mortals to know. It is the technology-god that promises you can have it all. My own limited reading of Scripture tells me that that was never a promise made by God-only that we should have such understanding as is sufficient-for each one, and for a time. For people who believe that promise, the challenge of retelling our tale for new and changing times is a test not of our wisdom but of our faith.
After the President's speech today, NPR had Senator Sam Brownback on and he talked about how the drama and vision behind the proposed space exploration made it a program that folks would buy into. Then Barney Frank came on and said he didn't want drama, but would rather have a Superfund site in his district cleaned up and some money for health care or whatever. He said he doesn't oppose the space program, but it should be pure science, with no manned travel.

Now, space exploration is not a "transcendent narrative", but it is a dramatic narrative--one that says something about us. Is our vision of ourselves--as Americans/as human beings--that we sit around and throw more money at social problems and failed environmental initiatives, or are we the kind of people who see all of Creation as our Manifest Destiny? Mr. Frank wants more social spending? Forty years ago JFK challenged Americans to spend the money to go to the moon and we did. Forty years ago LBJ challenged us to spend money on welfare and we created a permanently impoverished underclass. You get what you pay for.

Mr. Frank wants only more science, more knowledge? We've more knowledge than we need. The space program will generate new scientific knowledge, but coincidentally. The real reason to go back into space is because exploration is a vital part of the story with which we explain ourselves to ourselves. Let's write the next chapter of our story.

MORE:
-ESSAY: Deus Machina (Neil Postman, Spring, 2001, Technos: Quarterly for Education and Technology)
-LECTURE: Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change (Neil Postman, Denver, Colorado, March 27, 1998)

-OBIT: Neil Postman, 72, Mass Media Critic, Dies> (WOLFGANG SAXON, October 9, 2003, NY Times)
-ESSAY: Remembering Neil Postman (Jim Benning, October 10, 2003, AlterNet)
-ESSAY: Neil Postman (1931-2003): Some Recollections: The author, media critic and NYU professor Neil Postman is dead at 72. Some comments on his life and work by one of his students. (Jay Rosen, October 07, 2003, PressThink)
-Remembering Neil Postman

-BOOKNOTES: Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology by Neil Postman (C-SPAN, August 30, 1992)
-INTERVIEW: Online Forum with Neil Postman (Online NewsHour, 1/17/96)

-Neil Postman Online
-Neil Postman Page (edtechnot.com)
-Neil Postman: Chapter 2. Technopoly: The Broken Defenses (Technology and the Future)

-PROFILE: Neil Postman is No Progressive (Jay Walljasper, January 2000, Conscious Choice)

-ARCHIVES: "neil postman" (Find Articles)

-REVIEW: of Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future By Neil Postman (Michael Lind, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future by Neil Postman (David Shi, CS Monitor)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 PM

REMEMBER HOW THE MODERATE GOVERNORS WERE THE FUTURE OF THE GOP?:

Once a GOP Star, Conn. Governor Faces Grim Days: House Looking at Possible Impeachment (Michael Powell, January 14, 2004, Washington Post)

Once a star in the Republican firmament, a man mentioned as a candidate for the Bush Cabinet, this state's three-term governor [Republican John G. Rowland] faces grim days ahead. As early as Wednesday, the speaker of the state House, Moira K. Lyons (D-Stamford), could create a special bipartisan committee to study whether to recommend impeaching Rowland.

If the House voted charges of impeachment, Rowland would face a trial in the state Senate, which has 21 Democrats and 15 Republicans. A majority of the Senate Republicans, and several Republican lawmakers, already have called for his resignation.

Seventeen governors have faced impeachment trials since the founding of the United States, and seven have been convicted. The last governor to face such a humiliation was Evan Mecham of Arizona, who was removed from office in 1988. Connecticut law would require Rowland to step aside for the duration of an impeachment trial.

Rowland, 46, now admits that he lied by saying he had paid for improvements to his summer cottage, by the shores of a lake in exclusive Litchfield County. It turns out that a state contractor and several of the governor's closest aides footed the bill for a new kitchen, a cathedral ceiling and a hot tub with a lake view.

Rowland since has turned over about 50 pages of canceled checks and invoices, and his tax returns and financial disclosure statements, to the FBI. Federal agents have said the governor is a subject of a widening investigation.

"Over the course of the past month, I have lived my own personal nightmare," Rowland said in a brief television address Jan. 7. "I lied, and there are no excuses."


He's a Republican, so his party will hold him accountable and he'll have to go, in stark contrast to the Democrats handling of Bill Clinton.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 PM

KEEP THE CLERICS ON THE RUN:

Iranian Cleric Rules in Favor of Some Reformist Candidates (NAZILA FATHI, January 15, 2004, NY Times)

Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, broke his silence Wednesday on the barring of reformist candidates from parliamentary races, saying the incumbents among them should be allowed to run.

Ayatollah Khamenei, meeting with members of the anti-reformist Guardian Council on Wednesday evening, also said nonincumbent candidates should be considered on their merits rather than rejected out of hand.

"If their aptitude was proved in the past," he said, "the principle is that they are still competent unless it can be proved otherwise."

Ayatollah Khamenei has the final word over all state matters, and his intervention is expected to ease the mounting political confrontation.

The crisis developed Sunday after the council, a hard-line body, rejected some 3,600 candidates, including 80 current members of Parliament. The elections are scheduled on Feb. 20.

Legislators taking part in a sit-in since the weekend defied President Mohammad Khatami's request to end their strike despite his vows to prevail against the council.

Rajabali Mazroui, a member of Parliament, said the strikers had unanimously decided to continue their action until their demand for a "free and fair election" was met.

"We are not negotiating only over the approval of the 80 current members of Parliament," Mr. Mazroui said.

"More than 3,000 have been unfairly disqualified and we are against such a procedure."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 PM

WHY GOVERN IF YOU CAN'T HELP?:

Americans Worried About Immigration, Oppose Bush Plan: Majority says immigrants hurt economy (Frank Newport, January 14, 2003, GALLUP NEWS SERVICE)

Two-thirds of Americans are convinced that immigration mostly hurts the U.S. economy by driving wages down, and three-quarters say that the United States should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. A majority also opposes the recently proposed Bush administration plan that would allow some illegal immigrants in the United States to stay in this country if they took jobs that citizens did not want.

Opposing immigration is always good politics, even if bad policy, but Gregg Easterbrook put the matter nicely, THE MEEK FINALLY INHERIT SOMETHING:
Whatever else you think of the George W. Bush immigration plan, just focus on this: It will make life better for millions of the disadvantaged. How often does any government action achieve this? And shouldn't a better life for the needy be among the first goals of government policy? Surely it should be among the first goals of liberal government policy. That a conservative president has done something to help millions of people with money problems, little power and an anxiety-filled life--the meek, in New Testament terms--seems such a departure from the script that the anti-poverty aspects of the Bush initiative are simply being ignored.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 PM

60-40 VISION FILES:

Aiming for the Hill: Two more Senate seats for the GOP? (John J. Miller, January 14, 2004, National Review)

This year's field of Senate candidates has come into much sharper focus since my previous reports in September and July. And that means it's time to make a few predictions.

But first, the big picture: Republicans control the Senate with 51 seats. If President Bush wins reelection, they can afford to lose a single seat and stay in charge, with Vice President Cheney breaking ties. If the Democratic nominee prevails, the GOP has no margin for error.

In November, 34 states will elect a senator. The Democrats are defending 19 of these seats and the Republicans hold the remaining 15. Few of these races are truly competitive — I've kept an eye on 18 of them, using a fairly generous standard of what makes a race worth watching.

It's still very early in the cycle, but I'm ready to begin making a few guesses: three GOP takeovers, one Democratic takeover, and four tossups (for two seats now held by Republicans and two by Democrats). If my assumptions are correct — and this isn't a money-back guarantee, folks! — then the likeliest scenario would be for the GOP to gain a pair of Senate seats and increase its majority to 53.

Herewith, my quick analysis of 18 races:


Worst case.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 PM

THE DEVIL-FIGHTER AND MR. JONES:

Schwarzenegger will endorse Jones in U.S. Senate primary (BETH FOUHY, Jan. 14, 2004, Associated Press)

Lending his considerable political clout to a political ally, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse former Secretary of State Bill Jones' bid for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, sources close to the governor said Wednesday.

The endorsement will take place in Los Angeles on Friday, the sources said.

Jones, a Fresno farmer who spent more than two decades in public life before term limits forced him to step down in 2002, is the best-known candidate in a four-person field that includes former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey, former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian and former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin.

[T]he timing of the endorsement surprised some observers, who believed Schwarzenegger would only get involved in the race in the closing days before the March 2 primary.

It is also a blow to Marin, who has fashioned herself as a moderate, independent Republican in the Schwarzenegger mold. Unlike Schwarzenegger and Marin, Jones opposes abortion rights in most cases.


Aside from anything else, it's smart politics to intervene early enough to help Mr. Jones wrap up the race early and concentrate on Barbara Boxer and to side with a pro-lifer.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 PM

OF ALL THE GIN JOINTS:

Politics Among the Stars: Some boondoggles can still be worth doing. (Knute Berger, 1/14/04, Seattle Weekly)

It's hard not to be cynical about what Bush wants by expanding the space program. Political bounce, certainly. But one also imagines Karl Rove and Rep. Tom DeLay drooling over the prospect of new Republican congressional districts on the Red Planet. And, of course, there are the contracts. Colonizing the solar system? Call Halliburton's interplanetary division. Or Boeing's.

Even so, 500 years of post-Columbus exploration teaches that our motives for going into the unknown are never pure. Humans leave a muddy footprint wherever we wander, wonder, and plunder. Searching the heavens will never be limited to high-minded, scientific interests. Nor military ones. Nor commercial ones. Nor even spiritual ones. Our forays will continue to be a mixture of the good, bad, and ugly.


Translation: This would be such a good idea, if only it wasn't George W. Bush's.

MORE:
President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program: Remarks by the President on U.S. Space Policy (NASA Headquarters--Washington, D.C., 1/14/04)

Two centuries ago, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St. Louis to explore the new lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. They made that journey in the spirit of discovery, to learn the potential of vast new territory, and to chart a way for others to follow.

America has ventured forth into space for the same reasons. We have undertaken space travel because the desire to explore and understand is part of our character. And that quest has brought tangible benefits that improve our lives in countless ways. The exploration of space has led to advances in weather forecasting, in communications, in computing, search and rescue technology, robotics, and electronics. Our investment in space exploration helped to create our satellite telecommunications network and the Global Positioning System. Medical technologies that help prolong life -- such as the imaging processing used in CAT scanners and MRI machines -- trace their origins to technology engineered for the use in space.

Our current programs and vehicles for exploring space have brought us far and they have served us well. The Space Shuttle has flown more than a hundred missions. It has been used to conduct important research and to increase the sum of human knowledge. Shuttle crews, and the scientists and engineers who support them, have helped to build the International Space Station.

Telescopes -- including those in space -- have revealed more than 100 planets in the last decade alone. Probes have shown us stunning images of the rings of Saturn and the outer planets of our solar system. Robotic explorers have found evidence of water -- a key ingredient for life -- on Mars and on the moons of Jupiter. At this very hour, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is searching for evidence of life beyond the Earth.

Yet for all these successes, much remains for us to explore and to learn. In the past 30 years, no human being has set foot on another world, or ventured farther upward into space than 386 miles -- roughly the distance from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts. America has not developed a new vehicle to advance human exploration in space in nearly a quarter century. It is time for America to take the next steps.

Today I announce a new plan to explore space and extend a human presence across our solar system. We will begin the effort quickly, using existing programs and personnel. We'll make steady progress -- one mission, one voyage, one landing at a time.

Our first goal is to complete the International Space Station by 2010. We will finish what we have started, we will meet our obligations to our 15 international partners on this project. We will focus our future research aboard the station on the long-term effects of space travel on human biology. The environment of space is hostile to human beings. Radiation and weightlessness pose dangers to human health, and we have much to learn about their long-term effects before human crews can venture through the vast voids of space for months at a time. Research on board the station and here on Earth will help us better understand and overcome the obstacles that limit exploration. Through these efforts we will develop the skills and techniques necessary to sustain further space exploration.

To meet this goal, we will return the Space Shuttle to flight as soon as possible, consistent with safety concerns and the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The Shuttle's chief purpose over the next several years will be to help finish assembly of the International Space Station. In 2010, the Space Shuttle -- after nearly 30 years of duty -- will be retired from service.

Our second goal is to develop and test a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, by 2008, and to conduct the first manned mission no later than 2014. The Crew Exploration Vehicle will be capable of ferrying astronauts and scientists to the Space Station after the shuttle is retired. But the main purpose of this spacecraft will be to carry astronauts beyond our orbit to other worlds. This will be the first spacecraft of its kind since the Apollo Command Module.

Our third goal is to return to the moon by 2020, as the launching point for missions beyond. Beginning no later than 2008, we will send a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface to research and prepare for future human exploration. Using the Crew Exploration Vehicle, we will undertake extended human missions to the moon as early as 2015, with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods. Eugene Cernan, who is with us today -- the last man to set foot on the lunar surface -- said this as he left: "We leave as we came, and God willing as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind." America will make those words come true.

Returning to the moon is an important step for our space program. Establishing an extended human presence on the moon could vastly reduce the costs of further space exploration, making possible ever more ambitious missions. Lifting heavy spacecraft and fuel out of the Earth's gravity is expensive. Spacecraft assembled and provisioned on the moon could escape its far lower gravity using far less energy, and thus, far less cost. Also, the moon is home to abundant resources. Its soil contains raw materials that might be harvested and processed into rocket fuel or breathable air. We can use our time on the moon to develop and test new approaches and technologies and systems that will allow us to function in other, more challenging environments. The moon is a logical step toward further progress and achievement.

With the experience and knowledge gained on the moon, we will then be ready to take the next steps of space exploration: human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond. Robotic missions will serve as trailblazers -- the advanced guard to the unknown. Probes, landers and other vehicles of this kind continue to prove their worth, sending spectacular images and vast amounts of data back to Earth. Yet the human thirst for knowledge ultimately cannot be satisfied by even the most vivid pictures, or the most detailed measurements. We need to see and examine and touch for ourselves. And only human beings are capable of adapting to the inevitable uncertainties posed by space travel.

As our knowledge improves, we'll develop new power generation propulsion, life support, and other systems that can support more distant travels. We do not know where this journey will end, yet we know this: human beings are headed into the cosmos.

And along this journey we'll make many technological breakthroughs. We don't know yet what those breakthroughs will be, but we can be certain they'll come, and that our efforts will be repaid many times over. We may discover resources on the moon or Mars that will boggle the imagination, that will test our limits to dream. And the fascination generated by further exploration will inspire our young people to study math, and science, and engineering and create a new generation of innovators and pioneers.

This will be a great and unifying mission for NASA, and we know that you'll achieve it. I have directed Administrator O'Keefe to review all of NASA's current space flight and exploration activities and direct them toward the goals I have outlined. I will also form a commission of private and public sector experts to advise on implementing the vision that I've outlined today. This commission will report to me within four months of its first meeting. I'm today naming former Secretary of the Air Force, Pete Aldridge, to be the Chair of the Commission. Thank you for being here today, Pete. He has tremendous experience in the Department of Defense and the aerospace industry. He is going to begin this important work right away.

We'll invite other nations to share the challenges and opportunities of this new era of discovery. The vision I outline today is a journey, not a race, and I call on other nations to join us on this journey, in a spirit of cooperation and friendship.

Achieving these goals requires a long-term commitment. NASA's current five-year budget is $86 billion. Most of the funding we need for the new endeavors will come from reallocating $11 billion within that budget. We need some new resources, however. I will call upon Congress to increase NASA's budget by roughly a billion dollars, spread out over the next five years. This increase, along with refocusing of our space agency, is a solid beginning to meet the challenges and the goals we set today. It's only a beginning. Future funding decisions will be guided by the progress we make in achieving our goals.

We begin this venture knowing that space travel brings great risks. The loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia was less than one year ago. Since the beginning of our space program, America has lost 23 astronauts, and one astronaut from an allied nation -- men and women who believed in their mission and accepted the dangers. As one family member said, "The legacy of Columbia must carry on -- for the benefit of our children and yours." The Columbia's crew did not turn away from the challenge, and neither will we.

Mankind is drawn to the heavens for the same reason we were once drawn into unknown lands and across the open sea. We choose to explore space because doing so improves our lives, and lifts our national spirit. So let us continue the journey.

May God bless.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:44 PM

FORGET AMOS & ANDY, THIS IS RADIO COMEDY:

-AUDIO INTERVIEW: Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill (Fresh Air, January 14, 2004)

O'Neill and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ron Suskind speak about the new book on which they collaborated, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O'Neill. The book chronicles his nearly two years with the Bush administration. O'Neill was the administration's top economic official and a principal of the National Security Council. The book has created a firestorm because of O'Neill's assertion that President Bush was intent on invading Iraq as soon as he took office, nine months before Sept. 11. O'Neill also criticizes Bush for his "disengagement" at important cabinet meetings. The book draws on O'Neill's account as well as other high-level officials, and relies on thousands of internal documents. Ron Suskind was The Wall Street Journal's senior national affairs reporter and won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing while there. He is also the author of the best-selling book, A Hope in the Unseen. (This interview continues into the second half of the show).

This interview is just hilarious. You have to assume it was booked before Mr. O'Neill renounced the book, because Terri Gross asks him a question based on what's been attributed to him; then Mr. O'Neill completely blunts the gist of the point, defending the Administration in almost every instance; then Mr. Suskind has to leap in and try to rebury the President and defend the book from its co-author without completely discrediting him.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:10 PM

ENDORSEMENT EQUIVALENCE:

Dean to campaign with Carter on eve of Iowa caucuses (NEDRA PICKLER, January 13, 2004, Associated Press)

Former President Carter will offer words of praise for Howard Dean when the Democratic front-runner attends church services with him in Georgia on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, aides to the two men said Tuesday.

Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi said they don't expect Carter to make an endorsement but are excited about appearing with the former president so close to voting in Iowa. Carter has said he will not express any preference about who should be the nominee.


Iraq and Roll (John Berlau, Jan. 12, 2004, Insight)
While former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill may now be critical of his former boss's policy of liberating Iraq, President George W. Bush can take heart. Someone arguably much hipper than O'Neill has expressed support of Bush's war against Saddam Hussein.

Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider, a brawny guy who gained fame donning makeup and trashy women's clothing, has joined fellow heavy-metal rockers Ted Nugent and Gene Simmons in saying the war against the former Iraqi dictator was justified. And since O'Neill set a precedent of seeking out rock stars for advice on foreign policy - he toured Africa with U2's Bono -Insight knows he'll be interested in what Snider has to say.

"Weapons of mass destruction or not, he [Saddam] was asking for it, and he got it." Snider told this magazine in late October. "As far as kicking his a**, he deserved it."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 PM

OUTSOURCING (via brian boys):

ANTI-BUSH AD CONTEST SUBMITS SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL: Spot Produced By a Leo Burnett Creative Director on His Own Time (Ira Teinowitz, January 13, 2004, AdAge.com)

Liberal activist group MoveOn.org announced it has chosen an anti-President Bush ad to air ahead of next week's "State of the Union" address and said

The spot features young children working factory jobs to pay off the national debt.

it is negotiating with CBS to gain airtime on the Super Bowl.

The winning anti-Bush TV commercial was produced by Charlie Fisher, the creative director of the Copenhagen, Denmark, office of Publicis Groupe ad agency Leo Burnett.

Mr. Fisher was not available for comment at the Copenhagen office. A spokeswoman for MoveOn said Mr. Fisher created the ad "on his own time."

A spokesman at Leo Burnett USA's Chicago headquarters said the ad was shot in Denmark by a freelance director and a two-person crew who were friends of Mr. Fisher.


Don't you just hate when these special interests ship good American jobs overseas?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:46 PM

THE UNILATERALIST (via John Resnick):

I think your policy up to this date has been absolutely correct. We must give, and have given, this policy with our allies and with the United Nations every opportunity to work. It is evident, however, that the cost in human lives in allowing this policy to continue is too great. In addition, and perhaps more importantly for the United States, we are now in a position of ignoring, as many did in the 1940s, one of the worst crimes committed in history. If we ignore these behaviors, no matter where they occur, our moral fiber as a people becomes weakened. As the Catholic Church and others lost credibility during the Holocaust for not speaking out, so will the United States lose credibility and our people lose confidence in themselves as moral beings if the United States does not take action.

Since it is clearly no longer possible to take action in conjunction with NATO and the United Nations, I have reluctantly concluded that we must take unilateral action.


Those neocons are such >sycophantish hawks


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:38 PM

THE IMAGINARY STORM:

<