June 30, 2004

Posted by David Cohen at 11:04 PM


Rancher sells archaelogical site to government (AP, 6/30/04)

For more than 50 years, rancher Waldo Wilcox kept most outsiders off his land and the secret under wraps: a string of ancient settlements thousands of years old in near perfect condition.

Hidden deep inside eastern Utah's nearly inaccessible Book Cliffs region, 130 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, the prehistoric villages run for 12 miles along Range Creek, where Wilcox guarded hundreds of rock art panels, cliffside granaries, pit houses and rock shelters, some exposing mummified remains of long-ago inhabitants.

The sites were occupied for at least 3,000 years until they were abandoned more than 1,000 years ago, when the Fremont people mysteriously vanished. The Fremont, a collection of hunter-gatherers and farmers, preceded more modern American Indian tribes on the Colorado Plateau.

This sounds like a fascinating site, and I hope I get to visit it some day. It is also an important corrective for both the left and the right to remember that human beings, if they can, are perfectly content to spend 3000 unchanging years in the same place doing the same things the same way.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 PM


Kerry backs away from Northeast compact (Scott Schultz, 6/30/04, The Country Today)

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said that if he's elected, he'd no longer support special regional dairy pricing programs that some Wisconsin and Minnesota farm leaders have opposed.

Sen. Kerry had supported the Northeast Dairy Compact, which Upper Midwest dairy leaders said unfairly benefited Northeast dairy producers.

He said in a June 23 telephone interview with The Country Today that he would seek a "reasonable" dairy policy that would be good for all regions.

"As a senator from the Northeast, I had to support it," Sen. Kerry said of the Northeast Compact. "But, as president, I have to represent the entire nation."

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:08 PM


Soldiers 'get the bad boys' in raids (Washington Times, 6/30/2004)

Under the cover of darkness, soldiers from Alpha Company, 91st Engineer Battalion, creep up a narrow alley to their target, ready to scale the front wall of a small home and seize the men who tried to attack their platoon.

First, they knock. When the gate swings open, they ask for the men in question and detain four of them. A field test reveals that the men have traces of explosives on their hands.

"This is how it's supposed to go," says 1st Lt. Nicolas Bradley, 27, of Salt Lake City, who led the pre-dawn raid. "This is the best part of our job, going to get the bad boys."

The worst parts of their job: reading the bad boys their Miranda rights; filing reports detailing the evidence against each detainee; giving depositions to the detainees’ lawyers; and flying stateside for the habeas corpus hearings.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:36 PM


Germany's underrated resistance (Uwe Siemon-Netto, June 30, 2004, UPI)

Shortly before the suicide of Maj. Gen. Henning von Tresckow, a leading coconspirator in the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler, he wrote: "The moral value of a human being only begins to show where he is prepared to give his life for his conviction."

On July 20, Germany will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Tresckow's self-sacrifice and that of hundreds of others, almost all committed Christians, Catholic or Protestant. Some 200 of Germany's finest were executed for their part in this conspiracy.

Among them were 19 general officers, 26 colonels, two ambassadors, seven other diplomats, a government minister, three state secretaries, the head of the Reich chancellery, and several regional governors and police chiefs. Some -- like Col. Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, who placed a bomb almost literally under Hitler's feet -- were immediately shot after the coup's failure.

[F]or decades their martyrdom was belittled and scoffed at. "The highest personalities in the Third Reich are murdering one another, or trying to," snorted Sir Winston Churchill, then British prime minister, even though the German resistance had informed him beforehand of the assassination plan.

Anthony Eden, later British Foreign Secretary, dismissed the coconspirators as traitors to their country. To this day, the myth has survived that the resistance against Hitler was a Johnny-come-lately undertaking by reactionary militarists who saw that for Germany the war was de facto lost by the summer of 1944, and tried to rescue as much of the spoils as possible.

That there have been more than 30, perhaps even 40 previous attempts to remove Hitler, according to some historians, is still not common knowledge. As Peter Hoffmann of McGill University, has long shown, these efforts began in 1933, the very first year of Hitler's chancellorship. [...]

Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II and himself deeply involved in the conspiracy, once remarked to me that in the decades following Germany's defeat it was fashionable to belittle the resistance because the personality profiles of most of its members did not fit the fashionable left-wing fable that the heroes and martyrs of the struggle against Nazism evil were chiefly proletarians.

This fib made it possible for Nazis and traditionalists to be lumped together, he said, when in fact the opposition hailed from the upper-middle class and the nobility, whose religious, philosophical and moral values were deeply violated by Hitler and his thugs.

Almost 20 years ago in Chicago, I befriended an elderly German woman, a retired high school principal, who traveled the world trying to "vindicate" her father, Carl Goerdeler, who would have become German chancellor had the July 20 coup attempt succeeded. He was tortured and hanged in February 1945, shortly before Nazi Germany collapsed. His daughter, indeed his entire family, was liberated from concentration camp by the victorious U.S. forces. And yet it had become modish to dismiss him as just another right-winger, simply because he was a political conservative.

Her name is Marianne Meyer-Krahmer, and hers is an incredible tale. She had witnessed her father's resignation as mayor of Leipzig after the Nazis had blown up a monument to composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in his city. This grandson of one of Germany's greatest Enlightenment philosophers, Moses Mendelssohn, was of Jewish descent, though a fervent Protestant Christian.

Financed by industrialist Robert Bosch, Goerdeler then traveled from Western capital to Western capital warning politicians and tycoons against making any deals with Hitler on the assumption that he might be a bulwark against Bolshevism. "Don't fool yourselves," he warned, "Hitler is a Leninist. First he will destroy the Jews, then Christianity and ultimately capitalism."

There's obviously nothing in it for the Left to acknowledge that Christians, conservatives, military men and combinations of the three opposed Hitler and might have succeeded in bringing him down had FDR not been blinded by hatred.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:30 PM


Poll shows Bush leads widening in Arizona (UPI, 6/30/04)

In Arizona, U.S. President George W. Bush's lead over Sen. John F. Kerry has widened to 12 points, according to the latest KAET-TV/Channel 8 poll.

Bush leads Kerry 47 percent to 35 percent in the latest statewide sampling of registered voters while liberal independent Ralph Nader polled at just 2 percent, well behind the 15 percent of respondents who said they were still undecided.

Until recently, Arizona had been seen as a clear swing state in November's presidential election...

There's no such thing as a Red swing state--the battleground is formerly Blue.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:22 PM


Top Saudi Qaeda Spiritual Guide Killed in Riyadh (Isa Mubarak, Jun 30, 2004, Reuters)

Saudi police killed a top spiritual guide for the Saudi wing of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network during a shootout in Riyadh on Wednesday, security sources said.

They named the slain militant as Abdullah al-Roshood, on a list of 26 most wanted suspects, and said his death was a hefty blow to the ideological hierarchy of al Qaeda in the world's biggest oil exporter.

The Interior Ministry said a policeman was also killed in the gun battle, the first militant violence since Saudi forces killed the leader of al Qaeda in the kingdom 12 days ago. Saudi Arabia has been battling militants trying to topple the country's pro-U.S. monarchy for more than a year.

The ministry statement said six more policemen -- and three passers-by -- were moderately to lightly wounded.

Imagine it's WWII and a leading Nazi theorist is killed in a bombing--do we suppose the Reuters headline would be: "Hitler Spiritual Guide Killed"?

Posted by David Cohen at 5:10 PM


Heatwave brings power cuts in Spain (Giles Tremlett, The Guardian, 6/30/04)

Spain has suffered its first power cuts of the summer, with a heatwave stretching what critics say is an already over-strained electricity network to breaking point.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:01 PM


Kerry Flip-Flops... Again (James K. Glassman, 06/30/2004, Tech Central Station)

The House of Representatives is ready to pass a bill that would sharply limit an attempt by an unelected accounting board in Norwalk, Conn., to force U.S. companies to guess the costs of broad-based employee stock options and write them off as expenses when they are issued.

If the Financial Accounting Standards Board gets its way and stock options are expensed, it's almost certain that many businesses, including high-tech firms, will stop issuing them, and American innovation and competitiveness will suffer.

It all comes down to the Senate, where the House bill is being blocked by a few key legislators. Among them, according to an article in Monday's edition of National Journal's Technology Daily, is John Kerry, who, a month from now, will become the Democratic nominee for president.

In a speech in Silicon Valley last Thursday, Kerry extolled the benefits of stock ownership but, in the words of his economic policy director, Jason Furman, the Senator "believes that companies should be required to expense stock options."

As Drew Clark wrote in Technology Daily: "Some believe that Kerry's lack of support for an issue that TechNet CEO Rick White calls the 'number one, two and three issue' current of interest to technology companies could cost him support within the sector." By contrast, said White, "The president is clear that he is against expensing stock options."

Kerry is, at least for now, clearly in favor of expensing. But he did not always take that position.

Hating corporations is so pre-9/11.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:42 PM


More U.S. jobs seen in June, buoying Bush (Andrea Hopkins, June 30, 2004, Reuters)

U.S. employment likely surged again in June, taking gains this year to some 1.4 million jobs and bolstering President George W. Bush's economic record ahead of the November election, analysts said onWednesday.

Economists believe 250,000 jobs were created this month, virtually matching May's jump of 248,000, though the unemployment rate probably will not budge from 5.6 percent because newly hopeful job-seekers are returning to the job market.

"I think the gains will be quite widespread again, and as we saw in April and May, we are likely to create slightly more higher-paying than lower-paying positions," said Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Banc of America Securities.

Posted by David Cohen at 2:18 PM


U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9, Clause 2: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
There's some current discussion in the blogosphere, primarily at the Volokh Conspiracy about whether Congress could suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus in response to the Supreme Court decisions in Hamdi and Razul. The argument that Congress can't relies on the fact that the current war is neither an "invasion" or "rebellion". I think that there are colorable arguments that the war on terror would satisfy either requirement, but why is the suspension clause so limited? Isn't the clear answer that the Founders, faced with a decision that the writ applies to foreigners captured on the battlefield, would think we had completely lost our minds.
Posted by David Cohen at 2:06 PM


Ralph Nader: Conservatively Speaking: The long-time progressive makes a pitch for the disenfranchised Right (American Conservative, 6/21/04)

Ralph Nader recently accepted Pat Buchanan’s invitation to sit down with us and explain why his third-party presidential bid ought to appeal to conservatives disaffected with George W. Bush. We think readers will be interested in the reflections of a man who has been a major figure in American public life for 40 years—and who now finds himself that rarest of birds, a conviction politician.

Pat Buchanan: Let me start off with foreign policy—Iraq and the Middle East. You have seen the polls indicating widespread contempt for the United States abroad. Why do they hate us?

Ralph Nader: First of all, we have been supporting despots, dictators, and oligarchs in all those states for a variety of purposes. We supported Saddam Hussein. He was our anti-Communist dictator until 1990. It’s also cultural; they see corporate culture as abandoning the restraints on personal behavior dictated by their religion and culture. Our corporate pornography and anything-goes values are profoundly offensive to them.

The whole interview is worth reading, but Pat should be ashamed of "Why do they hate us?" That is not a conservative question.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:58 PM

60-40 NATION:

Executive Decisions (Chuck Todd, June 30, 2004, NationalJournal.com)

One fact will remain this November regardless of what happens in the race between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. -- nearly 60 percent of the country's population will call a Republican governor. Thanks to the California recall, Republicans hold the governorships of our largest states (California, Florida, New York and Texas), which does a lot for the population advantage statistic.
Republicans would love to hit the 30-state mark and with the handful of governor seats up this year... the party has a serious shot at making that happen.

But Republicans aren't satisfied with a mere 60 percent population dominance -- the party would love to hit the 30-state mark. And with the handful of governor seats up this year, particularly those in some GOP-friendly states, the party has a serious shot at making that happen. Currently, the Republicans hold 28 governor seats compared to 22 for the Democrats.

Since this could be our one and only profile of the 2004 gubernatorial races, let's start with the big picture:

* Eleven seats (6D, 5R) are up in this "off" year for governor campaigns.

* Four of the 11 races do not feature an incumbent.

* Two of the 11 have governors running for a second two-year term, as Vermont and New Hampshire still insist on non-stop campaigns for their highest elected office.

* Four of the 11 are taking place in presidential "purple states" (Missouri, New Hampshire, Washington and West Virginia). That number moves to five if Kerry names either Sens. John Edwards, D-N.C., or Evan Bayh, D-Ind., as his running mate -- both North Carolina and Indiana also feature a governor's race and both states would become presidential battlegrounds thanks to home state pride.

Election Night 1980 and 1994 may prove to have just been warm-ups for this year.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:47 PM


Nato summit sparks Turkish press debate (BBC, 6/30/04)

US President George W Bush's support for Turkey was received enthusiastically by a number of commentators.

Mr Bush's visit to Turkey "had symbolic meaning", says Milliyet, indicating the country's "long-term importance" to the US.

The daily is also gratified that the president "stuck to his guns" in calling for Turkey's acceptance into the European Union, despite an earlier warning not to interfere by French President Jacques Chirac.

Vatan agrees, pleased that Mr Bush had urged that Turkey "should be crowned with European Union membership".

It also feels he sent the country "important messages".

"He said Turkey is on the ascendancy... with its democracy which can serve as an inspiration for the Islamic world."

Rather than yoking them to a dying Europe we should forge a closer relation with them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:24 PM


Lebanese poll:56 % consider Syrian presence ''illegitimate'' (Albabwa, 29-06-2004)

A public opinion poll published Tuesday demonstrated that 56 % of those polled rejected the Lebanese regime's contention that Syrian presence in the country was 'legitimate and provisional,' with 40 % supporting that concept.

In addition, 69 % of the Lebanese oppose an extension or renewal of President Lahoud's term in office and 90 % reject the concept of Syria appointing the president of Lebanon.

It's a problem that takes care of itself when we remove Assad.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:54 AM


John Kerry sells out to big education (Armstrong Williams, June 29, 2004, Townhall)

The National Education Association, the nation's largest professional employee organization, is fundamentally opposed to any education reform that seeks to hold public schools accountable for their failures. On July 3, it will hold its national convention in Washington, D.C. That's when the association is expected to endorse John Kerry for president. Along with the endorsement will come thousands of votes from teachers across the country.

In return, Kerry will talk about how school vouchers will tear apart our public education system.

Far more instructive, however, are the remarks Kerry made about education before he won the Democratic nomination and became beholden to the big interests of the teacher unions.

"We must end teacher tenure as we now know it," said Kerry in 1998 speeches delivered in Boston and Washington. During those speeches, Kerry took shots at a public education bureaucracy that shielded public schools and teachers from accountability and bemoaned that "those going into teaching have the lowest SAT and ACT scores of any profession in the United States."

In a 1998 New Republic article, Dana Milbank wrote that Kerry told her he'd "even approve government-funded vouchers - good for tuition at any accredited private school - as part of an overall education reform. ..." At the time, Kerry was proposing turning all public schools into charter schools. The reasoning was that, since students are assigned to public schools, the system has no incentive to improve and no accountability for failure. Stated otherwise, the public school system is a monopoly. But if poor families could send their children to any charter school, with the government paying all or part of the tuition, public schools would be forced to raise their standards or risk having their students flee.

"I'm for tough love here, folks," Kerry said. "It's time to come in and kick some butts. Democrats can't be viewed as somehow protecting these practices. You can't do this in some loosey-goosey ... way."

Six years later, Kerry is toting a different tune.

Who pays the piper calls the tune...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 AM

WHEN THEO MET NEO (via Tom Morin):

Political Paradoxes: how the terrorist assault on America sparked Bush’s progressive impulse (Peter Berkowitz, June 29, 2004, The New York Sun)

Conservatives maintain a lively sense of the weaknesses of human nature; cherish custom and tradition,and put a premium on preserving what has been achieved in the way of individual freedom and equality before the law, typically by limiting government’s reach.

Progressives maintain a lively sense of the possibilities of human nature, celebrate innovation and reform, and focus on expanding individual freedom and enlarging the sphere of equality, typically by increasing government’s size and role. [...]

So how did it happen that a conservative president staked his presidency on a foreign policy rich with progressive implications that nevertheless most progressives have roundly condemned?

As for the progressive critics, their strange reversal was fortified by the appeal to sound arguments, grounded in a more conservative emphasis on the dependence of democracy on culture and morals, for believing that we lack the know-how to democratize a large, far-away country whose language we do not speak, whose traditions differ dramatically from our own, and whose politics is riven by ethnic and religious sectarianism.

But many progressives critics might not have come to these conclusions had they not found themselves in the awkward position of opposing policies that reflect, to a degree that the critics have not grappled with, the latent progressive impulse in both neoconservatism and Mr. Bush’s Christian faith. [...]

Mr. Bush’s conclusion that it was appropriate to use military force to remove Saddam Hussein was bound up with his judgment that once Baghdad had been liberated, America could restore order and establish democracy in Iraq.

This is where his deep-seated Christian progressivism, his belief in the universality of the human desire and capacity for freedom, comes in and converges with the progressive impulse in neoconservatism. Time and again in his major speeches about Iraq, Mr. Bush has repeated some variant on the idea that freedom is not America’s gift to the world but God’s gift to humanity.

One fascinating result of this is that the far Left and far Right are joined in common cause against the war, with Pat Buchanan and company marching in lockstep with the Nation crowd, Nancy Pelosi, Ralp Nader and the rest. The Left has to discredit the war because conservatism is laying claim to being the truly progressive political philosophy. The Right has to discredit it because George Bush is reshaping conservatism in the image of Christian progressivism--which makes it dang hard for nativism to thrive.

Of course, the same Christianity which is fueling Mr. Bush's progressivism also teaches the core conservative truth, that Man is Fallen and therefore imperfectable. This acts as the brake that Left utopianism lacks and establishes a perfect balance of the conservative and progressive human impulses.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:18 AM


Menino lets loose: Mayor slams ‘incompetent’ Kerry camp (David R. Guarino and Noelle Straub, June 30, 2004, Boston Herald)

Mayor Thomas M. Menino unloaded a searing attack on fellow Democrat John F. Kerry yesterday, calling his presidential campaign ``small-minded'' and ``incompetent'' - laying bare a years-old rift weeks before the city plays host to Kerry's FleetCenter coronation. [...]

Menino said he was enraged to see a local newspaper item saying he hung up on Kerry Sunday. The mayor yesterday said Kerry's campaign floated the story, which he called untrue.

``I wasn't angry with him, that's a rumor they're spreading,'' Menino said. ``They are trying to balance out their decision by saying the mayor's angry. I had no harsh words with them.''

Menino called the alleged leak ``the failure of the campaign to communicate with the public,'' adding, ``They are trying to find scapegoats for their incompetency.''

Watching the Kerry campaign in action is like being a character in the JG Ballard novel, Crash.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 AM


Brokaw Raps Iraqi PM for Linking Saddam to 9/11 (NewsMax, 6/29/04)

NBC "Nightly News" anchorman Tom Brokaw was so dismayed Tuesday night when Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi linked Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks that he actually reprimanded him during his interview.

When Brokaw asked the new Iraqi leader if he could "understand why many Americans feel that so many young men and women have died here for purposes other than protecting the United States?" Dr. Allawi responded:

"We know that this is an extension to what has happened in New York. And the war [has] been taken out to Iraq by the same terrorists. Saddam was a potential friend and partner and natural ally of terrorism."

Plainly miffed that Dr. Allawi hadn't accepted the U.S. media's attempt to cover-up links between Saddam, al Qaida and 9/11, Brokaw reprimanded him as cameras rolled:

"Prime minister, I’m surprised that you would make the connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq."

Imagine Dr. Allawi coming on the program and trying to explain South Dakota to Mr. Brokaw?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 AM


Bubble Bubble, Is There Trouble? (Arnold Kling, 6/29/04, Tech Central Station)

Many economists are skeptical that real interest rates will remain low. It appears to us that investors are ignoring the potential for large increases in borrowing by the U.S. government as deficits accumulate. For example, Rudolph Penner describes some alarming scenarios, including one in which our debt-to-GDP ratio reaches 100 percent in twenty years and keeps climbing thereafter.

Nonsense--Japan's ratio is 140% and its interest rates are lower. That's what happens in a deflationary cycle like the one we're in.

IT'S THE 1870,s, NOT THE 1970's:
Playing it cool: Is Alan Greenspan fretting enough about inflation? (The Economist, 6/24/04)

Inflation-worriers, including The Economist, have pointed out that the economy is growing apace, inflation is rising and yet short-term interest rates, even after June 30th, will be negative in real terms. In the year to March output grew at its fastest pace for 20 years. Consumer prices rose by 3.1% in the year to May, up from 2.1% a year ago. Admittedly, much of that rise is due to higher oil prices, but even core consumer prices—which exclude the volatile categories of food and fuel—are edging up, from 1.1% in the year to January to 1.7% in the year to May. And people think inflation is on the rise. According to a survey by the University of Michigan, Americans' expectation of inflation over the coming year is now 3.3%, up from 2% last May.

More optimistic analysts note that inflation is still extremely low by historical standards. They point out that much of the recent acceleration may be due to temporary factors; and argue that price pressure is unlikely to damage an economy which still has a lot of excess capacity and where productivity is growing strongly.

According to conventional benchmarks, America's economy still has plenty of slack. The jobless rate at 5.6% is well above levels consistent with stable inflation and traditional measures of industrial capacity use are below historical averages. There are also signs that the jump in inflation at the beginning of the year is already abating: May's monthly core consumer prices rose by 0.2%, compared with 0.4% in March and 0.3% in April.

Indeed, given the rapidly dropping fuel prices mightn't the price index be negative for June?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM

60-40 NATION:

The GOP's blue-state convention slate (Terence Jeffrey, June 30, 2004, Townhall)

When you look at the slate of prime-time speakers the Republicans announced this week for their national convention in New York this August, it brings to mind Yogi Berra. It's deja vu all over again.

For entirely different reasons, it resurrects images of 1992 and 1996.

It brings back 1992 because that's when then-Gov. Zell Miller of Georgia was the most conservative prime-time speaker at the Democratic convention. This year, Miller (now a senator but still a Democrat) will be the most conservative prime-time speaker at the Republican convention. [...]

The younger President Bush and Vice President Cheney will speak at this year's convention, of course, as will their wives. They can be counted on to give well-crafted and effective orations. But beyond them -- and the Democrat Miller -- all the speakers on the prime-time roster hail from more liberal precincts in the GOP.

They include: Education Secretary Rod Paige, Arizona Sen. John McCain, New York Gov. George Pataki, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Republican governors in CA, MA, HI, NY, VT, etc. amply demonstrate that there are no blue states anymore. This is what happens when the nation undergoes a genuine political transformation. After 70 years of the FDR/New Deal/Great Society epoch the pendulum has swung back to the Right.

June 29, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 PM


Abducted Marine Had Deserted the Military (JEFFREY GETTLEMANand NICK MADIGAN, 6/30/04, NY Times)

The American marine who is being threatened by his kidnappers with beheading had deserted the military because he was emotionally traumatized, and was abducted by his captors while trying to make his way home to his native Lebanon, a Marine officer said Tuesday.

The officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he believed that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was betrayed by Iraqis he befriended on his base and ended up in the hands of Islamic extremists.

The officer said Corporal Hassoun, a 24-year-old Marine linguist who was born in Lebanon, was shaken up after he saw one of his sergeants blown apart by a mortar shell.

"It was very disturbing to him," the officer said. "He wanted to go home and quit the game, but since he was relatively early in his deployment, that was not going to happen anytime soon. So he talked to some folks on base he befriended, because they were all fellow Muslims, and they helped sneak him off. Once off, instead of helping him get home, they turned him over to the bad guys."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:23 PM


Why Sudan has become a Bush priority (Abraham McLaughlin, 6/30/04, CS Monitor)

The last time a US secretary of State visited Sudan was 1978, when Jimmy Carter's envoy, Cyrus Vance, stopped to refuel his plane.

But in a sign of Sudan's growing significance, Colin Powell arrived Tuesday for a high-profile two-day visit. The trip is the latest evidence of a major shift in US policy toward the Muslim-led state that once harbored Osama bin Laden.

The visit is primarily aimed at halting the suffering and violence in Sudan's western region of Darfur, home to the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

But analysts say it may also fulfill other White House goals. If the Bush team can bring Sudan back into the family of nations, as it did this week with Libya, it would gain a diplomatic victory for the war on terror. It could also fire up its Christian-conservative base by securing a peace deal in Sudan's other war, a 21-year conflict between the Muslims in the north and the largely Christian south.

Mr. Bush, mainly as a result of Christian pressure on issues like this and AIDs, is more involved in Africa than any prior president and so far the results couldn't be better.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 PM


Europe gets my vote: As a Thatcherite, I support this constitution, which puts power back where it belongs (Niall Ferguson, June 29, 2004, The Guardian)

Is the new European constitution a blueprint for a United States of Europe - a fully fledged federation like the US on the other side of the Atlantic? Many of its continental proponents would say that is precisely the aim of the "treaty establishing a constitution" for the EU agreed by European leaders at Brussels last week.

Unfortunately for the constitution, that is a view currently shared by the large proportion of British voters who have no desire to become just one of 25 states in a USE. If they vote against ratification in the referendum Tony Blair has promised, then one of two things will happen. Either the constitution will be a dead letter and the enlarged EU will muddle along under old rules. Or - as a growing number of British voters seem to wish - Britain will leave the EU. Suddenly, a great deal hinges on Blair's ability to persuade voters that the new constitution is not a federalist document.

As someone who is routinely labelled a "rightwing historian" in the British press, I am probably one of the last people Guardian readers would expect to take the prime minister's side in this debate. But I do. Yes, I was a young Thatcherite in the 1980s, passionately agreeing that we had to stand up to the Soviet Union, Britain's over-mighty unions and the French socialists like Jacques Delors, who had retreated to Brussels having failed in Paris. Yes, I think she was right to be nervous about British membership of the exchange rate mechanism, and to be hostile to the idea of our joining European Monetary Union. If all that still makes me rightwing today, then I plead guilty (though I have always preferred to think of myself as a 19th-century liberal).

But there was never a time when I regarded departure from the EU as a serious option - provided, of course, that it remained a confederal structure primarily concerned with economic integration, in which the nation states retain power on non-economic matters. Does the new constitution change that? No. Indeed, the constitution changes very little about the way the EU works.

There seem two possibilities with regard to the EU: it will either be too weak to be a threat to national sovereignty, in which case there's no sense in it; or it will be strong enough to matter and will start aggrandizing power to itself, in which case no patriot, and certainly no conservative, should support it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:02 PM


Woman inseminated with wrong sperm (news.com.au, June 30, 2004)

A JURY awarded $US435,000 ($622,273) to an American woman who was accidentally inseminated with unprepared sperm at a fertility clinic.

It's surprisingly easy to avoid this problem by having your husband inseminate you.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:58 PM


Forty Million Frenchman (Robert Brustein, 06.24.04, New Republic)

The two shows under review this month--the death, funeral, and canonization rites of Ronald Reagan, and the 2004 Tony award ceremonies--both prove Bernard Shaw's definition of popular democracy as a system "that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few." That our countrymen could have elected this good-natured, engaging, but utterly inconsequential B-movie actor to two presidential terms is commentary enough on the weakness of the democratic electoral process. But to hear pundits and pollsters claiming that Reagan should now be considered one of the great presidents of history, below only Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy (FDR apparently having dropped down a memory hole), is to enter the realm of the preposterous, if not the occult. Yes, his genial smile and crinkly quips made everyone feel good about themselves, except those afflicted with such un-American disorders as homelessness, minority status, and AIDS.

Two of those groups are by definition so disaffected from society that they're unlikely to share much in its triumphs, but no one's ever adequately explained why black America wouldn't have shared in the pride of waging and winning the Cold War nor why blacks wouldn't have felt better about the Reagan recovery that continues to this day than about the Great Society recession of the 70s. Does Mr. Brustein really intend to portray racial status as a social pathology?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:46 PM


Election-year economy (David Keene, 6/30/04, The Hill)

What’s happening now as month after month of good news comes out is reminiscent of the Democratic reaction to the Reagan economy back in 1984. First, the Democrats of that era predicted that the recession Reagan inherited would persist because of Reagan’s wrongheaded dedication to cutting taxes — every believing liberal Democrat knew wouldn’t work.

However, when things turned around and the economy began to pick up a real head of steam, Walter Mondale, the John Kerry of the day, pooh-poohed the recovery. He proclaimed that while the rich were benefiting from the tax cuts, the only jobs being produced as a result of the Reagan recovery were for “hamburger flippers.”

Before it was over, Mondale was promising to raise taxes and give the American people the sort of Democratic economic policies he and his fellow liberals just knew that voters craved. He lost 49 states.

This year Kerry is repeating Mondale’s mistakes of 20 years ago.

The main difference being that Mr. Kerry won't carry his home state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:41 PM


How the neo-cons can do it better next time: Something went wrong in Iraq. George Bush and his advisers need to learn the lesson (John Keegan, 6/30/04, The Age)

The neo-conservatives' mistake was to suppose that, wherever tyranny ruled, democracy was its natural alternative. So, when planning for the government of postwar Iraq, the neo-conservatives jumped to the conclusion that, as soon as Saddam's tyranny was destroyed, Iraqi democrats would emerge to assume governmental responsibility from the liberating coalition and a pro-Western regime would evolve seamlessly from the flawed past.

To think in such a way was to reveal a dangerously post-Marxist cast of mind. Marxists can think only in political terms. They accept, even if they despise, liberal and conservative opposition. What they cannot accept is that their opponents may be motivated by beliefs which are not political. That explains their hatred of religion.

It is religion, of course, which the neo-conservatives have come up against in post-Saddam Iraq. Not only religion; the survivors of the Baath Party, a strictly secular organisation, are also deeply involved in the opposition to the American presence. Religion is, however, the real opposition force.

Whatever the purity of their political motives, the American occupiers should not have dissolved the Iraqi army or police or civil administration, whatever the number of Baath Party members they contain.

Iraq's new Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, has now to rebuild the country's military and civilian services from exactly the same group of individuals who the neo-conservatives rejected at the outset.

Let us hope the neo-conservatives have learnt a lesson, since it is unlikely that this will be the last time the US will have to undertake an exercise in nation-building. Next time Washington should take as its target the preservation of as much as possible.

Domestic politics stateside made de-Ba'athification inevitable whether a good idea or not. But the criticism of neo-cons as not being sufficiently conservative and not grasping the centrality of religion to a healthy democratic society is spot on.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:31 PM


Fed to take decisive step Wednesday (Rex Nutting, 6/29/04, CBS.MarketWatch.com)

The Federal Reserve will almost certainly raise its overnight interest rate target for the first time in four years when the U.S. central bankers conclude their two-day meeting on Wednesday.

Oil Falls to 2-Month Low on Iraq Optimism (Reuters, June 29, 2004)
Oil prices fell to their lowest in two months on Tuesday as the handover of power in Iraq raised hopes for less sabotage and steadier exports.

U.S. light crude settled 1.6 percent, or 58 cents, lower at $35.66 a barrel.

Growing U.S. commercial supplies and higher OPEC output have eased fears about summer gasoline shortages and knocked about $6 a barrel off the price of oil since record New York futures highs at the start of June.

You can set your watch by them: by the time the Fed changes its bias they should be doing the opposite.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:35 PM

BETTER NATURE (via brian boys):

Couple Helps Churches Retrofit 15-Passenger Vans: Van Angels ministry launched with funds from settlement over daughter's van-related death. (Yvonne Betowt, 6/21/04, Religion News Service)

Malori [Smith] was one of three people killed when the church van they were in crashed near Monterrey, Mexico, following the separation of a virtually new left rear tire. The others killed were Bethany Bosarge, 16, of Peachtree, Ga., and Jonathan Lomeli, 23, of Laredo, Texas. Several others were seriously injured.

While he was devastated at the loss of his only daughter and oldest child, [her father, Mark,] Smith and his wife, Cindy, decided not to sit by while others needlessly died — others such as 10-year-old Jesse Brooks of Albertville, Ala., killed coming home from a mission trip to Wyoming the same month as the Smiths' daughter.

After settling a class-action lawsuit against Ford and Michelin in February, Smith and the other families involved in the Mexico accident decided to set aside part of their undisclosed settlement to help churches and schools retrofit their 15-passenger vans by adding two rear tires.

"Each family decided what it wanted to contribute," said Smith, director of Van Angels. "After a few days of news, we asked ourselves, 'What can we do to prevent more accidents?' We came up with the idea of Van Angels to create educational awareness about issues relating to 15-passenger vans."

Smith said adding two rear tires will prevent most vans from rolling over during an accident.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:28 PM


A Republican Subs for Kerry With Relish: After John Kerry decided not to attend the annual meeting of the nation's mayors, Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts seized the chance to needle Democrats. (PAM BELLUCK, 6/29/04, NY Times)

"I wanted to indicate my support of Mayor Menino," Mr. Romney said.

"He's a man of courage and integrity," he added, saying, "In the executive responsibility, you put first the people and not the pickets."

Mr. Romney had declined an invitation to attend the conference on Saturday because of scheduling conflicts, said his spokeswoman, Shawn Feddeman. But when he heard about Mr. Kerry's decision on Sunday night, he called to ask if he could take the senator's slot.

Mr. Romney insisted Monday he was "not here to make any comment or statement on Senator Kerry."

So, to whom might he have been referring when he said:

"A mayor, a governor and a president have a responsibility to make tough decisions and balance budgets. A senator doesn't, and that's a big difference. Senators don't have to balance budgets. Senators don't have to make those kinds of trade-offs. That's what the mayor has to do, and that's why I want to be here for him."

Mr. Romney capped his comments by calling Mr. Menino a "good Democrat."

In an interview on Monday, Mr. Menino said: "I love that. To be called a good Democrat by a Republican - that's great. That shows respect."

Not like Mr. Kerry, the mayor suggested.

Paging Mr. Dionne....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM


Iraq's New History (Fouad Ajami, June 29, 2004 , Wall Street Journal)

[F]reedom can't be a fetish. There are the needs of Iraq, and they are staggering. There is the nemesis of Iraq's freedom, an insurgency drawing its fury and pitilessness from the forces of the old despotism, and from jihadists from neighboring lands who have turned Iraq into a devil's playground. We should be under no illusions about this insurgency. Its war against the new Iraq will not yield. For their part, the jihadists have a dreadful animus for the "apostates" within the world of Islam who ride with the infidels.

Indeed, that prince of darkness, the jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian sowing death in the streets of Iraq, anticipated this shift, and warned that the war would continue. "We do not wage our jihad in order to replace the Western tyrant with an Arab tyrant. We fight to make God's word supreme, and anyone who stands in the way of our struggle is our enemy, a target of our swords." The interim prime minister, Mr. Allawi, is a principal target of the Zarqawi bigots. "We have prepared for you a vicious poison and a sharp sword, we have prepared for you a full cup of death,"

Zarqawi warned the new Iraqi leader, in an audiotape released last week. The lines are drawn: A man of the Iraqi state against a drifter who has come to that country in search of a new battleground.

Grant Zarqawi his due: months earlier, in a message intercepted in Iraq--one that Zarqawi had intended for Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri--the Jordanian foresaw the shape of things to come. "America is being bloodied in Iraq," he said, "but has no intention of leaving, no matter the bloodletting among its own soldiers. It is looking to a near future, when it remains safe in its bases, while handing over control to a bastard government with an army and a police force. . . . There is no doubt that our field of movement is shrinking, and our future looks more forbidding by the day." It was war, Zarqawi wrote, with a stark realism, or "packing our bags and looking for a new field of battle, as has been the case in other campaigns of jihad, because our enemy grows stronger with every passing day."

Zarqawi and his breed of militants know that a native Iraqi government can shelter behind the call of home and hearth and of Iraq's right to a new political life. Americans can't hunt down the restless young men thrown up by the chaos of Arab lands, perhaps encouraged to make their way to Iraq, to kill and be killed. This is a task for Iraqis. It is for them to reclaim their country from the purveyors of terror. It is one thing for Fallujah to pose as the citadel of Islam against the infidels; it is an entirely different matter for that town to take up arms against a native government--even one protected by a vast foreign force. Iyad Allawi can call the insurgents "enemies of Islam," as he did after the transfer of authority. It is awkward, at best, for George W. Bush to insert himself into that fight over, and for, Islam. In the same vein, we warned Iraq's neighbors to keep their fires--and their misfits--away from Iraq, but it was infinitely more convincing when Mr. Allawi told his neighbors that Iraqis would not forget those who stood with them, and those who stood against them.

In their fashion, Iraqis have come to see their recent history as a passage from the rule of the tyrant to the rule of the foreigner. This has given them an absolution from political responsibility and toil. Dependence was easy, and easy, too, was holding America responsible for everything under the sun. A measure of this abdication on the part of Iraq's people will have to yield in recognition of this (circumscribed) sovereignty that has come their way.

This is the calculus that we failed to understand--that the majority of Iraqis, having despised their government rather than supported it, would view themselves as the victors rather than the defeated, and expect power to be tranferred to them far faster than it was to the Japanese and Germans after WWII. Now they have it and everything changes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:23 PM


Let's Hear It for the Handover: Finally, Bush does something right in Iraq. (Fred Kaplan, June 28, 2004, Slate)

It was a smart move to transfer sovereignty to Iraq today, two days ahead of schedule. If the Bush administration keeps doing things this smart over the next several months, the transition to self-rule might go more smoothly than anyone has had reason to suspect.

Finally? If he's listened to the Fred Kaplans of the world Saddam Hussein would still be sovereign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:14 PM



Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: Laura and I are grateful for the warm hospitality we have received these past three days in the Republic of Turkey. I am honored to visit this beautiful country where two continents meet - a nation that upholds great traditions, and faces the future with confidence. And America is honored to call Turkey an ally and a friend.

Many Americans trace their heritage to Turkey, and Turks have contributed greatly to our national life - including, most recently, a lot of baskets for the Detroit Pistons from Mehmet Okur. I know youre proud that this son of your country helped to win an NBA championship, and America is proud of him as well.

I am grateful to Prime Minister Erdogan and President Sezer for hosting the members of NATO in an historic time for our alliance. For most of its history, NATO existed to deter aggression from a powerful army at the heart of Europe. In this century, NATO looks outward to new threats that gather in secret and bring sudden violence to peaceful cities. We face terrorist networks that rejoice when parents bury their murdered children, or bound men plead for their lives. We face outlaw regimes that give aid and shelter to these killers, and seek weapons of mass murder. We face the challenges of corruption and poverty and disease, which throw whole nations into chaos and despair - the conditions in which terrorism can thrive.

Some on both sides of the Atlantic have questioned whether the NATO alliance still has a great purpose. To find that purpose, they only need to open their eyes. The dangers are in plain sight. The only question is whether we will confront them, or look away and pay a terrible cost.

Over the last few years, NATO has made its decision. Our alliance is restructuring to oppose threats that arise beyond the borders of Europe. NATO is providing security in Afghanistan. NATO has agreed to help train the security forces of a sovereign Iraq - a great advantage and crucial success for the Iraqi people. And in Istanbul we have dedicated ourselves to the advance of reform in the broader Middle East, because all people deserve a just government, and because terror is not the tool of the free. Through decades of the Cold War, our great alliance of liberty never failed in its duties - and we are rising to our duties once again.

The Turkish people understand the terrorists, because you have seen their work, even in the last few days. You have heard the sirens, and witnessed the carnage, and mourned the dead. After the murders of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Istanbul last November, a resident of this city said of the terrorists, "They do not have any religion ... They are friends of evil." In one of the attacks, a Muslim woman lost her son Ahmet, her daughter-in-law Berta, and her unborn grandchild. She said, "Today Im saying goodbye to my son. Tomorrow Im saying farewell to my Berta. I dont know what [the killers] wanted from my kids. Were they jealous of their happiness?"

The Turkish people have grieved, but your nation is also showing how terrorist violence will be overcome - with courage, and with a firm resolve to defend your just and tolerant society. This land has always been important for its geography - here at the meeting place of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Now Turkey has assumed even greater historical importance, because of your character as a nation. Turkey is a strong, secular democracy, a majority Muslim society, and a close ally of free nations. Your country, with 150 years of democratic and social reform, stands as a model to others, and as Europes bridge to the wider world. Your success is vital to a future of progress and peace in Europe and in the broader Middle East - and the Republic of Turkey can depend on the support and friendship of the United States.

For decades, my country has supported greater unity in Europe - to secure liberty, build prosperity, and remove sources of conflict on this continent. Now the European Union is considering the admission of Turkey, and you are moving rapidly to meet the criteria for membership. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had a vision of Turkey as a strong nation among other European nations. That dream can be realized by this generation of Turks. America believes that as a European power, Turkey belongs in the European Union. Your membership would also be a crucial advance in relations between the Muslim world and the West, because you are part of both. Including Turkey in the EU would prove that Europe is not the exclusive club of a single religion, and it would expose the "clash of civilizations" as a passing myth of history. Fifteen years ago, an artificial line that divided Europe -- drawn at Yalta - was erased. Now this continent has the opportunity to erase another artificial division - by fully including Turkey in it.

Turkey has found its place in the community of democracies by living out its own principles. Muslims are called to seek justice - fairness to all, care for the stranger, compassion for those in need. And you have learned that democracy is the surest way to build a society of justice. The best way to prevent corruption and abuse of power is to hold rulers accountable. The best way to ensure fairness to all is to establish the rule of law. The best way to honor human dignity is to protect human rights. Turkey has found what nations of every culture and every region have found: If justice is the goal, then democracy is the answer.

In some parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, there is wariness toward democracy, often based on misunderstanding. Some people in Muslim cultures identify democracy with the worst of Western popular culture, and want no part of it. And I assure them, when I speak about the blessings of liberty, coarse videos and crass commercialism are not what I have in mind. There is nothing incompatible between democratic values and high standards of decency. For the sake of their families and their culture, citizens of a free society have every right to strive peacefully for a moral society.

Democratic values also do not require citizens to abandon their faith. No democracy can allow religious people to impose their own view of perfection on others, because this invites cruelty and arrogance that are foreign to every faith. And all people in a democracy have the right to their own religious beliefs. But all democracies are made stronger when religious people teach and demonstrate upright conduct - family commitment, respect for the law, and compassion for the weak. Democratic societies should welcome, not fear, the participation of the faithful.

In addition, democracy does not involve automatic agreement with other democracies. Free governments have a reputation for independence, which Turkey has certainly earned. That is the way democracy works. We deal honestly with each other, we make our own decisions - and yet, in the end, the disagreements of the moment are far outweighed by the ideals we share.

Because representative governments reflect their people, every democracy has its own structure, traditions, and opinions. There are, however, certain commitments of free government that do not change from place to place. The promise of democracy is fulfilled in freedom of speech, the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, economic freedom, respect for women, and religious tolerance. These are the values that honor the dignity of every life, and set free the creative energies that lead to progress.

Achieving these commitments of democracy can require decades of effort and reform. In my own country it took generations to throw off slavery, racial segregation, and other practices that violated our ideals. So we do not expect or demand that other societies be transformed in a day. But however long the journey, there is only one destination worth striving for, and that is a society of self-rule and freedom.

Democracy leads to justice within a nation - and the advance of democracy leads to greater security among nations. The reason is clear: Free peoples do not live in endless stagnation, and seethe in resentment, and lash out in envy, rage, and violence. Free peoples do not cling to every grievance of the past - they build and live for the future. This is the experience of countries in the NATO alliance. Bitterness and hostility once divided France and Germany... and Germany and Poland ... and Romania and Hungary. But as those nations grew in liberty, ancient disputes and hatreds have been left to history. And because the people of Europe now live in hope, Europe no longer produces armed ideologies that threaten the peace of the world. Freedom in Europe has brought peace to Europe - and now freedom can bring peace to the broader Middle East.

I believe that freedom is the future of the Middle East, because I believe that freedom is the future of all humanity. And the historic achievement of democracy in the broader Middle East will be a victory shared by all. Millions who now live in oppression and want will finally have a chance to provide for their families and lead hopeful lives. Nations in the region will have greater stability because governments will have greater legitimacy. And nations like Turkey and America will be safer, because a hopeful Middle East will no longer produce ideologies and movements that seek to kill our citizens. This transformation is one of the great and difficult tasks of history. And by our own patience and hard effort, and with confidence in the peoples of the Middle East, we will finish the work that history has given us.

Democracy, by definition, must be chosen and defended by the people themselves. The future of freedom in the Islamic world will be determined by the citizens of Islamic nations, not by outsiders. And for citizens of the broader Middle East, the alternatives could not be more clear. One alternative is a political doctrine of tyranny, suicide, and murder that goes against the standards of justice found in Islam and every other great religion. The other alternative is a society of justice, where men and women live peacefully and build better lives for themselves and their children. That is the true cause of the people of the Middle East, and that cause can never be served by the murder of the innocent.

This struggle between political extremism and civilized values is unfolding in many places. We see the struggle in Iraq, where killers are attempting to undermine and intimidate a free government. We see the struggle in Iran, where tired and discredited autocrats are trying to hold back the democratic will of a rising generation. We see that struggle in Turkey, where the PKK has abandoned its ceasefire with the Turkish people and resumed violence. We see it in the Holy Land, where terrorist murderers are setting back the good cause of the Palestinian people, who deserve a reformed, peaceful, and democratic state of their own.

The terrorists are ruthless and resourceful, but they will not prevail. Already more than half of the worlds Muslims live under democratically-constituted governments - from Indonesia to West Africa, from Europe to North America. And the ideal of democracy is also powerful and popular in the Middle East. Surveys in Arab nations reveal broad support for representative government and individual liberty. We are seeing reform in Kuwait, and Qatar, and Bahrain, and Yemen, and Jordan, and Morocco. And we are seeing men and women of conscience and courage step forward to advocate democracy and justice in the broader Middle East.

As we found in the Soviet Union, and behind the Iron Curtain, this kind of moral conviction was more powerful than vast armies and prison walls and the will of dictators. And this kind of moral conviction is also more powerful than the whips of the Taliban, or the police state of Saddam Hussein, or the cruel designs of terrorists. The way ahead is long and difficult, yet people of conscience go forward with hope. The rule of fear did not survive in Europe, and the rule of free peoples will come to the Middle East.

Leaders throughout that region, including some friends of the United States, must recognize the direction of events. Any nation that compromises with violent extremists only emboldens them, and invites future violence. Suppressing dissent only increases radicalism. The long-term stability of any government depends on being open to change, and responsive to citizens. By learning these lessons, Turkey has become a great and stable democracy - and America shares your hope that other nations will take this path.

Western nations, including my own, want to be helpful in the democratic progress of the Middle East, yet we know there are suspicions, rooted in centuries of conflict and colonialism. And in the last 60 years, many in the West have added to this distrust by excusing tyranny in the region, hoping to purchase stability at the price of liberty. But it did not serve the people of the Middle East to betray their hope of freedom. And it has not made Western nations more secure to ignore the cycle of dictatorship and extremism. Instead we have seen the malice grow deeper, and the violence spread, until both have appeared on the streets of our own cities. Some types of hatred will never be appeased; they must be opposed and discredited and defeated by a hopeful alternative - and that alternative is freedom.

Reformers in the broader Middle East are working to build freer and more prosperous societies - and America, the G-8, the EU, Turkey, and NATO have now agreed to support them. Many nations are helping the people of Afghanistan to secure a free government. And NATO now leads a military operation in Afghanistan, in the first action by the alliance outside Europe. In Iraq, a broad coalition - including the military forces of many NATO countries - is helping the people of that country to build a decent and democratic government after decades of corrupt oppression. And NATO is providing support to a Polish-led division.

The government of Iraq has now taken a crucial step forward. In a nation that suffered for decades under brutal tyranny, we have witnessed the transfer of sovereignty and the beginning of self-government. In just 15 months, the Iraqi people have left behind one of the worst regimes in the Middle East, and their country is becoming the worlds newest democracy. The world has seen a great event in the history of Iraq, in the history of the Middle East, and in the history of liberty.

The rise of Iraqi democracy is bringing hope to reformers across the Middle East, and sending a very different message to Teheran and Damascus. A free and sovereign Iraq is also a decisive defeat for extremists and terrorists - because their hateful ideology will lose its appeal in a free, tolerant, successful country. The terrorists are doing everything they can to undermine Iraqi democracy, by attacking all who stand for order and justice, and committing terrible crimes to break the will of free nations. The terrorists have the ability to cause suffering and grief, but they do not have the power to alter the outcome in Iraq: The civilized world will keep its resolve ... the leaders of Iraq are strong and determined ... and the people of Iraq will live in freedom.

Iraq still faces hard challenges in the days and months ahead. Iraqs leaders are eager to assume responsibility for their own security, and that is our wish as well. So this week at our summit, NATO agreed to provide assistance in training Iraqi security forces. I am grateful to Turkey and other NATO allies for helping our friends in Iraq to build a nation that governs itself and defends itself.

Our efforts to promote reform and democracy in the Middle East are moving forward. At the NATO summit, we approved the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, offering to work together with nations of the broader Middle East to fight terrorism, control their borders, and aid the victims of disaster. And we are thankful for the important role that Turkey is playing as a democratic partner in the Broader Middle East Initiative.

For all of our efforts to succeed, however, more is needed than plans and policies. We must strengthen the ties of trust and good will between ourselves and the peoples of the Middle East. And trust and good will come more easily when men and women clear their minds, and their hearts, of suspicion and prejudice and unreasoned fear. When some in my country speak in an ill-informed and insulting manner about the Muslim faith, their words are heard abroad, and do great harm to our cause in the Middle East. When some in the Muslim world incite hatred and murder with conspiracy theories and propaganda, their words are also heard - by a generation of young Muslims who need truth and hope, not lies and anger. All such talk, in America or in the Middle East, is dangerous and reckless and unworthy of any religious tradition. Whatever our cultural differences may be, there should be respect and peace in the House of Abraham.

The Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk has said that the finest view of Istanbul is not from the shores of Europe, or from the shores of Asia, but from a bridge that unites them, and lets you see both. His work has been a bridge between cultures, and so is the Republic of Turkey. The people of this land understand, as Pamuk has observed, that "What is important is not [a] clash of parties, civilizations, cultures, East and West." What is important, he says, is to realize "that other peoples in other continents and civilizations" are "exactly like you."

Ladies and gentlemen, in their need for hope, in their desire for peace, in their right to freedom, the peoples of the Middle East are exactly like you and me. Their birthright of freedom has been denied for too long. And we will do all in our power to help them find the blessings of liberty.

Thank you, and God bless the good people of Turkey.

Posted by David Cohen at 1:36 PM


National Review Founder to Leave Stage (David D. Kirkpatrick, NY Times, 6/29/04)

As for conservatism today, Mr. Buckley said there was a growing debate on the right about how the war in Iraq squared with the traditional conservative conviction that American foreign policy should seek only to protect its vital interests.

"With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn't the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago," Mr. Buckley said. "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."

Below, OJ offers Mr. Buckley congratulations on a life well-lived, and I whole-heartedly agree. Because, however, his comment on the war is sure to be siezed on by the left, it is worth spending some time on this statement.

I do not take Mr. Buckley to be saying that "Bush lied", or even that the case for war, ex ante, was not convincing. Rather, at least seen through the lens of the New York Times, Mr. Buckley is saying that, because it turned out that there were no stockpiles of MWD's ready for use, and because it turned out that the ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda had not yet reached the level of cooperation to attack United States territory, there was in hindsight no conservative rationale for the war.

The more interesting question is, what difference does this make? Mr. Buckley certainly knows, even if the Times does not, that nothing can be known with certainty and the future least of all. This is a reason for war, not an argument against it. Mr. Buckley, according to the Times, was discussing the war in connection with a conservative idea that the foreign policy of the United States should only be concerned with the nation's vital interests. The Times' characterization is either much too broad or much too narrow. Does the left really want to cede to the right the idea that when we go to war, we should only do so to protect a vital interest? We joke that the left only supports wars, like Kosovo or Somalia (to stretch the term war) where we have no vital interest, but perhaps the left now agrees.

On the other hand, I don't believe that Mr. Buckley is suggesting, ex cathedra, that conservatives reject the idea of using our foreign policy to promote policies that are not vital to us. It is not conservative, in any sensible way, for us only to use jaw-jaw where we would be willing to use war-war. I assume that Mr. Buckley agrees that we should do what we can to discourage abortion in the Third World, but not go to war on Mexican abortionists.

All of which brings us to the real discussion. Given that the minimum requirement for a conservative war is that vital interests have been threatened, in what way does the Iraqi war not qualify. One supposes that Mr. Buckley was bringing up the difference between the paleocons and the neocons. But the true paleocons and the true neocons (read Jacksonians) have not wobbled. Those who supported the war for the right reasons understood that we should not change our behavior because the Islamists demand change, if our behavior is consistent with our values. Those who supported the war for the right reasons understood that terrorism is not caused by poverty, or Britney Spears or even Israel, but by the resentment of stagnant cultures that have lost the great arguments. Those who supported the war for the right reasons understood that our refusal to finish the job we began in 1991, our reliance on sanctions and the way in which we allowed the west to be scorned by the Ba'athists convinced our enemies we are vulnerable. Those who supported the war for the right reasons understood that peace for our children requires middle eastern governments that protect the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and thus the remaking of that region. We still do.

It is not conservative to go on grand crusades to remake the world. But it is conservative to see what has to be done to safeguard America, and then not stop until it is done.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:58 AM


First Ripple of a Political Tidal Wave? (E. J. Dionne Jr., June 29, 2004, Wasshington Post)

"I've never seen a time with so many Republicans expressing consternation about their party and a willingness to support the other party," said Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat whose district, in Washington's southwest corner, went for Bush four years ago.

Baird, a psychologist who has worked with statistics, is also skeptical of making too much of anecdotes. But he is running across plenty of them on the anti-Bush side. "If you contrast this campaign to the campaign of four years ago, you saw George Bush stickers everywhere and very few Al Gore stickers," he said. "Now, it's at least 50-50" between Bush and Kerry. Baird speaks of a man in a health club wearing a John Kerry T-shirt who told him: "What you have to understand is that I am a lifelong Republican." And the congressman chuckles over a car he spotted that "had an American flag, an 'I'm the NRA' bumper sticker and a John Kerry bumper sticker."

Inslee's metaphor of the 1994 Republican sweep piloted by former House speaker Newt Gingrich is intriguing because the Republican wave was not obvious in the polls at this moment in the campaign 10 years ago. A survey in mid-June 1994 by Republican pollster Richard Wirthlin, for example, found the Democrats with a three-point lead in the House races.

Yet many Republicans correctly argued that intense voter dissatisfaction with Congress, Bill Clinton and the status quo was moving the country decisively in the GOP's direction. Republicans then sensed that the energy on the Republican side could swamp Democrats by producing a turnout heavily tilted toward Republican candidates -- exactly what happened. Democrats feel a comparable energy could work for them this year.

All that's necessary to buy Mr. Dionne's thesis is that you ignore reality, in which Mr. Bush has stronger support within his party than any president of modern times. Of course, delusion is the stock in trade of the author of the comedic classic: THEY ONLY LOOK DEAD: Why Progressives Will Dominate the Next Political Era.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 AM

50-0 FILES:

U.S. June Consumer Confidence Index Rises to 2-Year High (Bloomberg, 6/29/04)

Confidence in the U.S. economy rose this month to the highest level in two years, spurred by job growth and a decline in gasoline prices, a private survey found.

``Some of the concerns about Iraq and terrorism have taken a back seat to the good news on the economy and employment,'' said John Shin, an economist at Lehman Brothers Inc. in New York, before the report.

The New York-based Conference Board's consumer confidence index increased to 101.9 this month, from a revised 93.1 in May. The figure exceeded the highest estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Assessments of both current and future conditions rose.

The percentage that saw jobs as hard to get declined to the lowest since September 2002. The economy has added 1.2 million jobs so far in 2004 and economists forecast another quarter- million were added this month, boosting incomes and providing thrust for spending and the economy. Federal Reserve policy makers meet later today and are predicted to raise their benchmark interest rate tomorrow by a quarter-point to 1.25 percent to keep inflation from accelerating.

``The economy is slowly improving and doing better, and a lot of people are out traveling -- maybe more so than they have since 9/11,'' said David Neeleman, chief executive officer at JetBlue Airways Corp., in an interview. The company is raising the number of flights between its base in New York and Florida to 71 a day from a peak last year of 55, he said.

Higher consumer confidence and an improving economy may help President George W. Bush in his re-election bid against Democratic candidate John Kerry, a Massachusetts senator.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:21 AM


Less-watched factors show strengthening economy (Matt Krantz, 6/28/04, USA TODAY)

Many investors might not know it, but Corporate America is in fine shape.

While stocks have been turning in a comalike performance in 2004, companies are healthier than they've been in years, if not decades. That's according to a number of financial measures that might be less-watched than earnings growth, but are just as important.

Everything from improving corporate bond ratings to soaring profit margins shows companies are turning in record performances, normal for early in an economic recovery. That flies in the face of fears the economy is delicate at best.

The big thing now is to keep the economy growing through the '06 midterm.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 AM


Faith and reason (Christopher Shea, June 20, 2004, Boston Globe)

IF YOU HAD TO LIST the problems afflicting America, lack of vigor in the culture wars would probably not be very high on the list. (Can any of us bear another red-state/blue-state story?) Yet two very different writers – from opposite sides of the secular/ religious divide – recently declared that there are two groups of people who ought to throw themselves into the fray with fresh energy: atheistic scientists and intellectual Christians.

In the spring issue of The American Scholar, the literary journal of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa, the science writer Natalie Angier tries to rally the skeptics – by definition a hard thing to do – in a piece called “My God Problem – and Theirs.” The inspiration for the essay, she writes, was her visits with top scientists in the course of researching a forthcoming book about “the essential vitamins and minerals” of scientific literacy.

The scientists were uniformly appalled by polls that found that 82 percent of Americans think there’s a heaven and 51 percent believe in ghosts while only 28 percent believe the theory of evolution. Please, the scientists implored, help us bump up that last figure by getting across that evidence for Darwinism is “overwhelming” and that “an appreciation of evolution serves as the bedrock of our understanding of all life on this planet.”

But Angier detects a whiff of hypocrisy here. Sure, she writes, scientists sharpen the skewers when quizzed about “creationist ‘science’ . . . astrology, telekinesis, spoon bending.” But when asked about a different kind of supernaturalism, “they are tolerant, respectful, big of tent.” When it comes to discussing the virgin birth – “an act of parthenogenesis,” as Angier wryly puts it, “that defies everything we know about mammalian genetics and reproduction” – or the resurrection, or the parting of the Red Sea, scientists “don the calming cardigan of a kiddie-show host on public TV.”

The virgin birth doesn't conflict with their holy text.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 AM


Bush Defies Chirac, Says Turkey Merits EU Place (Reuters, 06/29/2004)

President Bush said on Tuesday that Turkey belongs in the European Union and that Europe is "not the exclusive club of a single religion" in what amounted to a rejection of French President Jacques Chirac.

In remarks prepared for delivery at a Istanbul university, Bush refused to back down in the face of Chirac's criticism on Monday that Bush had no business urging the EU to set a date for Turkey to start entry talks into the union.

"America believes that as a European power, Turkey belongs in the European Union," Bush said.

Bush is to use the speech to try to mend relations between Muslims and Americans left tattered relations by the Iraq war.

"We must strengthen the ties and trust and good will between ourselves and the peoples of the Middle East," he said.

Bush held up Turkey as an example of a Muslim democracy and said its entry to the EU would be "a crucial advance in relations between the Muslim world and the West, because you are part of both."

"Including Turkey in the EU would prove that Europe is not the exclusive club of a single religion, and it would expose the 'clash of civilizations' as a passing myth of history," Bush said.

Chirac said on Monday that Bush should not comment on Turkey's EU entry hopes as EU affairs were none of his business.

Mr. Chretien is way out of his league.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 AM

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM


Hating America (Bruce Bawer, Spring 2004, Hudson Review)

[A]s my weeks in the Old World stretched into months and then years, my perceptions shifted. Yes, many Europeans were book lovers—but which country’s literature most engaged them? Many of them revered education—but to which country’s universities did they most wish to send their children? (Answer: the same country that performs the majority of the world’s scientific research and wins most of the Nobel Prizes.) Yes, American television was responsible for drivel like “The Ricki Lake Show”—but Europeans, I learned, watched this stuff just as eagerly as Americans did (only to turn around, of course, and mock it as a reflection of American boorishness). No, Europeans weren’t Bible-thumpers—but the Continent’s ever-growing Muslim population, I had come to realize, represented even more of a threat to pluralist democracy than fundamentalist Christians did in the U.S. And yes, more Europeans were multilingual—but then, if each of the fifty states had its own language, Americans would be multilingual, too.1 I’d marveled at Norwegians’ newspaper consumption; but what did they actually read in those newspapers?

That this was, in fact, a crucial question was brought home to me when a travel piece I wrote for the New York Times about a weekend in rural Telemark received front-page coverage in Aftenposten, Norway’s newspaper of record. Not that my article’s contents were remotely newsworthy; its sole news value lay in the fact that Norway had been mentioned in the New York Times. It was astonishing. And even more astonishing was what happened next: the owner of the farm hotel at which I’d stayed, irked that I’d made a point of his want of hospitality, got his revenge by telling reporters that I’d demanded McDonald’s hamburgers for dinner instead of that most Norwegian of delicacies, reindeer steak. Though this was a transparent fabrication (his establishment was located atop a remote mountain, far from the nearest golden arches), the press lapped it up. The story received prominent coverage all over Norway and dragged on for days. My inhospitable host became a folk hero; my irksome weekend trip was transformed into a morality play about the threat posed by vulgar, fast-food-eating American urbanites to cherished native folk traditions. I was flabbergasted. But my erstwhile host obviously wasn’t: he knew his country; he knew its media; and he’d known, accordingly, that all he needed to do to spin events to his advantage was to breathe that talismanic word, McDonald’s.

For me, this startling episode raised a few questions. Why had the Norwegian press given such prominent attention in the first place to a mere travel article? Why had it then been so eager to repeat a cartoonish lie? Were these actions reflective of a society more serious, more thoughtful, than the one I’d left? Or did they reveal a culture, or at least a media class, that was so awed by America as to be flattered by even its slightest attentions but that was also reflexively, irrationally belligerent toward it?

This experience was only part of a larger process of edification. Living in Europe, I gradually came to appreciate American virtues I’d always taken for granted, or even disdained—among them a lack of self-seriousness, a grasp of irony and self-deprecating humor, a friendly informality with strangers, an unashamed curiosity, an openness to new experience, an innate optimism, a willingness to think for oneself and speak one’s mind and question the accepted way of doing things. (One reason why Euro- peans view Americans as ignorant is that when we don’t know something, we’re more likely to admit it freely and ask questions.) While Americans, I saw, cherished liberty, Europeans tended to take it for granted or dismiss it as a naive or cynical, and somehow vaguely embarrassing, American fiction. I found myself toting up words that begin with i: individuality, imagination, initiative, inventiveness, independence of mind. Americans, it seemed to me, were more likely to think for themselves and trust their own judgments, and less easily cowed by authorities or bossed around by “experts”; they believed in their own ability to make things better. No wonder so many smart, ambitious young Europeans look for inspiration to the United States, which has a dynamism their own countries lack, and which communicates the idea that life can be an adventure and that there’s important, exciting work to be done. Reagan-style “morning in America” clichés may make some of us wince, but they reflect something genuine and valuable in the American air. Europeans may or may not have more of a “sense of history” than Americans do (in fact, in a recent study comparing students’ historical knowledge, the results were pretty much a draw), but America has something else that matters—a belief in the future. [...]

If America is founded on liberty—and on the idea that its preservation is worth great sacrifice—those who steer the fortunes of Western Europe have no strong unifying principle for which they can imagine sacrificing much. Their common cause is not liberty but security and stability; the closest thing they have to a unifying principle is a self-delusionary, dogmatic, indeed well-nigh religious insistence on the absolute value of dialogue, discussion, and diplomacy. This dedication has its positive aspects, but it can also make for moral confusion, passivity, and an antagonism to the very idea of taking a firm stand on anything. If, in the view of many Americans, a love of freedom and hatred of tyranny provide all the legitimacy required for taking actions like the invasion of Iraq, European intellectuals, having no such deeply held principles to guide them, turn instinctively to the U.N., as if it existed, like some divine oracle, at an ideal, impersonal remove from any possibility of misjudgment or moral taint.

John Kerry certainly would get along with them better than George Bush does--he too values security at the cost of liberty.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:08 AM


Internet Explorer Is Just Too Risky: Until Microsoft proves it can fix IE's security bugs, you're better off using one of a few good alternatives as much as possible (Stephen H. Wildstrom, JUNE 29, 2004, BusinessWeek)

In late June, network security experts saw one of their worst fears realized. Attackers exploited a pair of known but unpatched flaws in Microsoft's Web server software and Internet Explorer browser to compromise seemingly safe Web sites. People who browsed there on Windows computers got infected with malicious code without downloading anything (see BW Online, 6/29/04, "What's the New IE Flaw All About?"). I've been growing increasingly concerned about IE's endless security problems, and this epsiode has convinced me that the program is simply too dangerous for routine use.

Historians looking back will one day wonder how we managed to achieve so much technologically despite the blight of MicroSoft.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:01 AM


Canadian Liberals to Form Minority Government (David Ljunggren, 6/28/04, Reuters)

Canada's ruling Liberals will stay in power after Monday's federal election, but will lose their majority in Parliament and need support from the left-leaning New Democrats to govern.

CBC television said the Liberals, in power for a decade, would not win the 155 seats they needed to control the 308-seat parliament, although they would win more seats than the Conservative opposition.

That would produce Canada's first minority government for 25 years -- and many political analysts expect a new election within a year.

Well meaning folk keep underestimating how much the rest of the West would rather die peacefully than make the effort to live on.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


National Review Founder Says It's Time to Leave Stage (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 6/29/04, NY Times)

In 1954, when Ronald Reagan was still a registered Democrat and host of "General Electric Theater," the 28-year-old William Frank Buckley Jr. decided to start a magazine as a standard-bearer for the fledgling conservative movement. In the 50-year ascent of the American right since then, his publication, National Review, has been its most influential journal and Mr. Buckley has been the magazine's guiding spirit and, until today, controlling shareholder.

Tonight, however, Mr. Buckley, 78, is giving up control. In an interview, he said he planned to relinquish his shares today to a board of trustees he had selected. Among them are his son, the humorist Christopher Buckley; the magazine's president, Thomas L. Rhodes; and Austin Bramwell, a 2000 graduate of Yale and one of the magazine's youngest current contributors.

Mr. Buckley's "divestiture," as he calls it, represents the exit of one of the forefathers of modern conservatism. It is also the latest step in the gradual quieting of one of the most distinctive voices in the business of cultural and political commentary, the writer and editor who founded his magazine on a promise to stand "athwart history, yelling 'Stop,' at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who urge it." [...]

Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, called Mr. Buckley's sometimes baroque style "genially ridiculous."

Mr. Wieseltier added: "It is a kind of antimodern pretense, but of course he is in fact a completely modern man. His thinking and his writing have all the disadvantages of a happy man. The troubling thing about Bill Buckley's work is how singularly untroubled it is by things."

But Mr. Buckley's voice has always been singular. He was not much older than Mr. Bramwell when he founded National Review. The son of an oilman, Mr. Buckley was already famous for his first book, "God and Man at Yale" (1951). Conservatism in the United States was close to its 20th-century nadir, marked by Dwight D. Eisenhower's defeat of the conservative Robert Taft for the 1952 Republican nomination. [...]

[H]e professed more than a little pride at the country's rightward drift during his years in control of National Review. "We thought to influence conservative thought, which we succeeded in doing," he said.

It's difficult to think of anyone who had a greater influence on the course of the second half of the 20th Century than Mr. Buckley, and Mr. Wieseltier has--quite unintentionally--put his finger on one of the key reasons why: Mr. Buckley made conservatism not just respectable but fun. Conservatism, which proceeds from the correct understanding of Man's nature as revealed in the Fall, can be rather a dark business. It is also, however, the source of all comedy. Liberals like Mr. Wieseltier--with their mistaken belief that men are basically good and that the world is therefore perfectable--are necessarily "troubled" by its rather parlous state. To be untroubled, even happy, as Mr. Buckley unquestionably was, despite the myriad causes for unhappiness all around us, must be monstrous in the eyes of the Left. One corollary of the great truth that to a liberal life is a tragedy but to a conservative a comedy is that conservatives find liberals amusing while liberals find conservatives appalling. Indeed, Mr. Buckley will get a good chuckle from Mr. Wieseltier's quote, get the last laugh, so to speak.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Iraqis Rejoice on Talk Radio Airwaves (TAREK EL-TABLAWY, 6/28/04, Associated Press)

Iraqi voices filled the airwaves of the nation's first independent talk radio station Monday, applauding a surprise move by the U.S.-led coalition to return sovereignty to Iraq two days early.

The callers clogged Radio Dijla's telephone lines to congratulate interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, urging him to be strong, while warning insurgents against continued violence.

"I send my congratulations to all Iraqis and every Iraqi home," a woman who identified herself as Um Yassin gushed, her voice choked with emotion. "I want to tell Dr. Allawi to be bold, to be strong. We need him to build up the army because we need them at a time like this."

Her message was echoed by dozens on the day Prime Minister Allawi was given a letter transferring sovereignty back to the citizens of Iraq after about 14 months of coalition administration.

But in the midst of adulation for the new government, callers urged that all must be vigilant for insurgents seeking to sow more chaos in a country plagued by violence since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled.

"I send all the Iraqi people my blessings," said Ali, a caller from Baghdad. "But I warn these terrorists, all the Iraqis will rise up and strike them with steel."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Time to Polygraph the NY Times (Joel Mowbray, June 29, 2004, Townhall)

To a “small number” of civilian employees at the Pentagon, a New York Times story on June 3 came as quite a jolt: some of them had apparently already been polygraphed as part of an investigation into Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi.

Thing is, it never happened. Three weeks later, it appears that the implicated civilian employees at the Pentagon have not been polygraphed.

And the Times is unapologetic in the face of substantial evidence that it got the story wrong. [...]

Common knowledge inside the beltway is that the Times story identification of the “small number” of “civilian employees” was a thinly-veiled reference to people working for Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz or in the policy shop, headed by Undersecretary Douglas Feith. (Most in that group are political appointees and were hawks on Iraq.)

The practical result was a smear of State’s and CIA’s political enemies—Chalabi and the Pentagon’s hawks. That’s undoubtedly the exact outcome for which the Times’ sources hoped. [...]

Reading the June 3 article leaves one with the conclusion that the Pentagon did not dispute the polygraph story. Nowhere in the piece is there even a reference to the Pentagon’s side of the story.

You'd think they'd have at least been bothered that their original story--which featured an Iranian agent sending a message that we'd broken their code in the code he was saying we'd broken--made little sense.

June 28, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:58 PM


Speaking Out: Muslim reformers condemn Saudi Wahhabism (Steven Stalinsky, June 28, 2004, National Review)

Liberal Egyptian intellectual Tarek Heggy, author of Culture, Civilization and Humanity, recently wrote about the need for Muslim moderates to work against Wahhabism: "What needs to be done at this stage is to champion the cause of enlightenment by supporting moderates and promoting the humanistic understanding of Islam.... Efforts in this direction must go hand in hand with a counteroffensive against the rigid, doctrinaire, even bloodthirsty, version of Islam that first appeared among isolated communities separated from the march of civilization by the impenetrable sand dunes of the Arabian Desert."

Heggy, who will embark on a speaking tour in Washington, D.C., in late June to discuss his new Egyptian think tank and newspaper, added: "The time has come for the Saudi government to part ways with Wahhabism and to realize that the alliance between the House of Saud and the Wahhabi dynasty is responsible for the spread of obscurantism, dogmatism, and fanaticism, poisoning minds with radical ideas opposed to humanity...."

In addition to Heggy, an increasing number of reform-minded Muslims have begun to speak out against the impact of Saudi Wahhabism in the Muslim world. They have accused Wahhabism of serving as al Qaeda's guiding philosophy, "poisoning minds" of young Muslims, and being the main purveyor of anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Christian sentiment in the Arab and Muslim world.

Fortunate that same folks who funded Wahahabism have a vested interest in getting rid of it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:11 PM


Scans uncover secrets of the womb (BBC, 6/28/04)

A new type of ultrasound scan has produced the vivid pictures of a 12 week-old foetus "walking" in the womb.

The new images also show foetuses apparently yawning and rubbing its eyes.

The scans, pioneered by Professor Stuart Campbell at London's Create Health Clinic, are much more detailed than conventional ultrasound.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:26 PM


In 3 Rulings, Supreme Court Affirms Detainees' Right to Use Courts (DAVID STOUT, 6/28/04, NY Times)

Besides the basic issue in their case, there was a secondary but still vital question involving the status of Guantánamo Bay itself.

Since a 1950 Supreme Court case has been interpreted to mean that enemy combatants held outside the United States have no right to habeas corpus, the detainees had to show through their lawyers that Guantánamo Bay is functionally, if not formally, part of the United States.

On the one hand, a long-ago treaty with Cuba said that it retained sovereignty over the base. On the other hand, the treaty also said that the United States exercised jurisdiction and control.

In any event, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled last year that the federal courts lacked jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions from the detainees — a position that the Supreme Court rejected today.

The majority noted that the 1950 case cited by the administration involved German citizens captured by United States forces in China, then tried and convicted of war crimes by an American military commission in Nanking, and finally imprisoned in occupied Germany.

In contrast, the Supreme Court majority noted today, the Guantánamo detainees are not only held in territory arguably under United States control but they also have not had their guilt or innocence determined, unlike the Germans of a half-century ago, and have been held without formal charges.

Justice Scalia's dissent, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Thomas, was as emotional in tone as was Justice Stevens's dissent in the other direction in the Padilla case. The majority's holding in the Guantánamo case was so reckless as to be "breathtaking," Justice Scalia asserted.

Justice Scalia went on to declare that the majority's position needlessly upset settled law, and was particularly harmful in a time of war. "The commander in chief and his subordinates had every reason to expect that the internment of combatants at Guantánamo Bay would not have the consequence of bringing the cumbersome machinery of our domestic courts into military affairs," he wrote.

The solution seems pretty simple: the President should just suspend habeus corpus in Guantanamo.

Posted by David Cohen at 1:15 PM


Minority looms with today's vote: Leaders end six-week campaign (Norma Greenaway, CanWest News Service, 6/28/04)

Recent polls put the Liberals in a dead heat with the Conservatives, although the final seat projections from Barry Kay, a political scientist at Wilfrid Laurier University, based on previously published polls, suggest the Tories would win the most seats at 115, compared to 108 for the Liberals, 59 for the Bloc Quebecois and 26 for the NDP.

Dr. Kay's regional breakdowns give Atlantic Canada to the Liberals, who are projected to win 17 seats, to 11 for the Conservatives and four for the NDP. In Quebec, the Liberals are now projected to take 16 seats and the Bloc 59, a two-seat Liberal improvement from Dr. Kay's last projections.

In Ontario, the Liberals are projected to take 57 seats, to 40 for the Tories and nine for the NDP.

We tease Canada quite a bit around here because, well, what else can you do with it? But if final results are anything like what the polls now project, this will be a watershed election. Not only because the new Conservative party will have shown itself to be a real force, but because it will have shown itself to be a force in Ontario. This would be something like if the Republicans took more than 40% of the Massachusetts congressional delegation (current count: 0).

The problem for Canada's friends is worry over the price the Bloc Quebecois will extract for a vote establishing the coming minority government. A risk-taker, finding himself head of a conservative party with the most seats in Parliment might well sit out that bidding war, force the Bloc to sell its votes cheaply (much better for the nation) and bet that a minority Liberal government will continue to annoy the electorate during the short time before the wheels come off.

I must confess, though, that my typically shallow analysis is, when the subject is Canada, joined to a proud ignorace. I will be very interested in what actual Canadians think about this election.

MORE: I meant to post only that the election results can be followed at the CBC and the National Post, when the following poll, on the National Post homepage caught my eye:

With the nation gearing up for Canada Day, what uniquely 'Canadian' aspect do you think is most worthy of celebration?
Universal healthcare
Cultural diversity
Sometimes, I suspect that the real answer is "Yanking Yankee Chain". (The current leader, at better than 90%, is "Hockey.")

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:48 AM


Uncertainty About Interrogation Rules Seen as Slowing the Hunt for Information on Terrorists: Confusion about the legal limits of interrogation has begun
to slow government efforts to obtain information from suspected terrorists, officials said. (DAVID JOHNSTON, 6/28/04, NY Times)

Some intelligence officials involved in the C.I.A.'s interrogation program have told colleagues that they are bitter because their superiors, in the months after the September 2001 attacks, had assured them that aggressive interrogation techniques were necessary and legal.

Other intelligence officials have expressed a sense of resignation, saying they had a feeling that, from the early days in the war on terror, aggressive steps taken in an effort to protect the country from another attack would lead to criticism and internal investigations.

In his epic spy thriller, The Last Supper, one of Charles McCarry's characters complains about the restrictions being placed on the intelligence services during the Church era and about the media's genuine hatred of those trying to protect the country (admittedly incompetently): "Patriotism is the new pornography."

Considering the fetish they've made of Abu Ghraib they've truly combined the two.

He Has Seen The Future: It's in His Work: Charles McCarry's novels keep coming true. And his new book is about the end of the world. (BRIAN CARNEY, June 11, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

Charles McCarry's latest novel, "Old Boys," starts with the revelation that Jesus Christ may have been an unwitting agent in a Roman covert-action operation gone wrong. If this seems far-fetched, please pause to consider Mr. McCarry's record.

In 1979 he wrote a book, "The Better Angels," about an Arab princeling, made rich by oil, who decides to wage a terrorist war on America and Israel. His weapon of choice: passenger jetliners, blown up in flight over major metropolitan centers.

His 1995 novel, Shelley's Heart, describes the events surrounding the presidential election that would take place five years later. In Mr. McCarry's fictional world, the 2000 elections result in a Senate that is split 50-50 and a disputed outcome that hangs on a few thousand votes in a single state. An impeachment also figures in the tale. The state in question is Illinois, not Florida, but this bit of literary license can be forgiven, considering Illinois' long tradition of voter fraud. The title of the book, by the way, derives from the name of a fictional secret society at Yale that is central to the events surrounding Mr. McCarry's fictional anticipation of the 2000 election--a hint, perhaps, of the all-Skull-&-Bones contest looming in 2004. [...]

Charles McCarry, in a word, is a novelist with an uncanny imagination, and a compelling one, even if his work is less known than it should be. His masterpiece, The Last Supper, is a Cold War tale that ranks with the best of John le Carré--but without the moral cynicism. Now 70, Mr. McCarry knows spies, having worked for the CIA 40 years ago. The chief protagonist in most of his books, Paul Christopher, does not carry a gun or play card games with supercriminals in casinos. Instead he does what most real spooks do. He tries to gather information, make contacts and influence events, and occasionally to suborn those who work for the other side.

Were Mr. McCarry not conservative, his cycle of novels would have earned him comparisons to Anthony Trollope by now. Critics often complain that there are too few great novels of Washington and no great American novels--which is bunk anyway--but here's a living writer in the midst of a series of books that fill both bills. Shelley's Heart is especially good.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM


When Creators of 'Quality Television' Try the Opposite Approach (ALESSANDRA STANLEY, 6/03/04, NY Times)

It is hard to pinpoint exactly when it became safe to be a stupid slut on television.

There were always dumb blondes, of course, but even the bubbliest and most buxom of them — Donna Douglas on "The Beverly Hillbillies," Loni Anderson of "WKRP in Cincinnati" or Pamela Anderson of "Baywatch" — were sweet-natured objects of desire, not slatternly, intoxicated swingers.

Since then the devolution has spun ever downward to a world in which Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson and Lindsey Lohan are teenage role models and the hit movie "Mean Girls" revels in what it professes to mock. (Why exactly does Tina Fey, playing a math teacher, take off her top?) Even Washington is infested with gofers gone wild: a young Senate staffer who was fired last month for posting her sex diaries on the Internet (unacceptable use of Senate computers) assured The Washington Post that she and her girlfriends all accept money for sex — suggesting an ever-thinning line between "hooking up" and hooking. [...]

The dismantling of feminism in popular culture began long ago, but on television, at least, "Real World" on MTV was a bellwether. When it began in 1992, that voyeuristic show took the music video images of wanton women out of the realm of MTV fantasy and into the reality genre, training cameras on the carnal pursuits of ordinary people and teaching teenagers that fame, however fleeting, trumps shame. "Sex and the City" in 1998 also lent casual sex dignity, or at least glamour, but the imitations it inspired — both on television and in real life — kept getting more tawdry.

Network executives at Oxygen and other networks justify their slumming by insisting that such shows are breaking down unhealthy taboos; but there are no taboos left on television, except perhaps, girls behaving decently.

It's not that hard to pinpoint: August 18, 1920.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 AM


Aide Is Bush's Eyes and Ears on the Right: When Karl Rove cannot make certain calls, Timothy Goeglein steps in as the official White House liaison to
conservatives and Christian groups. (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 6/28/04, NY Times)

Mr. Goeglein, a slender, pink-cheeked 40-year-old Midwesterner who looks about half his age, is the official White House liaison to conservatives and to Christian groups. He is Mr. Rove's legman on the right.

"He is a constant set of eyes and ears," said Edwin J. Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation. Mr. Feulner said he saw Mr. Goeglein two or three times a week at meals, meetings or social events. "If I have a message I want to get to Rove or the administration, I will scribble out a note to Tim, and within 24 hours I will get a response back. For lots of things, he is sort of one-stop shopping for a point of access to the administration."

Christian conservatives, in particular, say that Mr. Goeglein (pronounced GAIG-line) has been an important conduit to the White House for their demands that Mr. Bush stop financing family planning groups that support abortion, heavily publicize a signing of anti-abortion legislation, block stem-cell research and oppose same-sex marriage - all calls that the president has heeded.

Mr. Goeglein also delivers special messages to the administration's most conservative supporters. After the most recent State of the Union speech, for example, Mr. Goeglein attended two meetings of conservative leaders in Washington to highlight elements of the speech that were most appealing to them, like support for teaching abstinence in schools. But he also gave assurances of the president's support for policies not mentioned in the speech, like an expansion of retirement savings accounts that would allow people to avoid taxes on most of their investment income.

In an interview in a briefing room near his office in the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House, Mr. Goeglein - an earnest speaker who punctuates his conversation with the phrase "and I really do mean this" - insisted that his job was to convey information to and from the whole administration, not just his boss, Mr. Rove. "The wonderful thing for me is that I recognize each and every day that I work for the president of the United States, the president of all the people, not some."

But conservatives outside the White House say they view Mr. Goeglein mainly as an extension of Mr. Rove. And stalwarts of the right say that, even as some conservatives have grown sharply critical of the administration's spending or of the war in Iraq, his function as a hot line to the White House helps keep the Bush administration more closely allied with their movement than any previous administration has been.

"This Bush administration does better than Reagan and better than his father, it is very methodical about reaching out to people to try to meet their concerns," said Paul Weyrich, a veteran conservative organizer.

By now everyone acknowledges that Mr. Bush is more conservative than his father, they've been slower to recognize that he's more conservative than Ronald Reagan and has a far more conservative administration.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:03 AM


Comparing Bush to Hitler no longer confined to loonies (John Leo, 6/28/04, Jewish World Review)

One hallmark of the new mainstream Hitler rhetoric is that the speakers typically try to soften the accusation right after making it. Greeley said, "He is not another Hitler. Yet there is a certain parallelism." Calabresi said he was "not suggesting for a moment that Bush is Hitler." No, course not. That was probably the furthest thing from his mind when he decided to link Bush with Hitler. In his heyday, Joe McCarthy used the same rhetorical device. If he wanted to plant the idea that someone was a traitor without quite saying it, he would announce that somebody or other "is a traitor to America's highest principles," which is not exactly an accusation of treason.

As a test of the state of "Bush the Nazi" rhetoric, I went to Google and typed in "Bush is a Nazi" and got 420,000 hits, well behind "Hitler was a Nazi" (654,000 hits), but then Hitler WAS a Nazi...

The gist of Mr. Leo's essay is that the Bush=Hitler comparisons are not confined to the margins of the Left, the loony Left, but are widespread. This begs the question of whether the Left isn't generally loony at this point.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:55 AM


Kerry cancels his speech to mayors: In a blow to Menino, will honor picket lines (Donovan Slack and Glen Johnson, June 28, 2004, Boston Globe)

Senator John F. Kerry last night canceled a planned speech today to the US Conference of Mayors in Boston, saying that he would not cross picket lines erected by workers engaged in a contract dispute with the city.

The announcement came as picketing firefighters and police officers dogged Mayor Thomas M. Menino at conference events for the third straight day yesterday. They had planned to picket the speech this morning at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

''I don't cross picket lines," Kerry said last night, shortly after attending Mass at St. Vincent's Waterfront Chapel. ''I never have."

The statement leaves open the question of what he will do if the contracts are not settled before next month's Democratic National Convention.

Menino, in a brief news conference after emerging from a Symphony Hall performance last night, said, ''I'm very disappointed. They should open the picket lines and let John Kerry in so that he can make the speech." In an interview afterward with the Globe, Menino said he had talked with Kerry about 10 p.m. and reiterated, ''I'm extremely disappointed in his decision."

Can we afford a president who's afraid to face down a gang of antidemocratic thugs?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM


The Empty Cradle Will Rock: How abortion is costing the Democrats voters--literally. (LARRY L. EASTLAND, June 28, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

• Republicans have fewer abortions than their proportion of the population, Democrats have more than their proportion of the population. Democrats account for 30% more abortions than Republicans (49% vs. 35%).

• The more ideologically Democratic the voters are (self-identified liberals), the more abortions they have. The more ideologically Republican the voters are (self-identified conservatives), the fewer abortions they have.

This isn't particularly surprising given the core constituencies of both political parties. But translating percentages into numbers for the purpose of evaluating their impact on politics makes the importance of these numbers real. It's one thing to quote percentages and statistics, it's quite another to look at actual human beings. For example:

• There are 19,748,000 Democrats who are not with us today. (49.37 percent of 40 million).

• There are 13,900,000 Republican who are not with us today. (34.75 percent of 40 million).

• By comparison, then, the Democrats have lost 5,848,000 more voters than the Republicans have.

These Missing Americans--and particularly the millions of Missing Voters--when compounded over time are of enormous political consequence... [...]

• Six out of 10 Americans call themselves conservatives. Only a quarter of them are having abortions.

• A little more than one-third of Americans call themselves liberals. More than four in 10 are having abortions.

• This means that liberals are having one third more abortions than conservatives.

This whole idea seemed mostly just a fun (if grim) way to annoy liberals when James Taranto started it, but those numbers are pretty compelling. One other factor to consider is gender selection abortion, which disfavors females, who tend to grow up to be considerably more liberal than males.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:32 AM


Families of 9/11 are 'the rock stars of grief' says sister of Pentagon pilot (Julian Coman, 27/06/2004, Daily Telegraph)

Among the activist leaders of 9/11 families' groups it is safe to say that Debra Burlingame - whose brother, Charles, was the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon - is not a uniformly popular figure.

Ms Burlingame, a staunch Democrat, has become the first public 9/11 "dissident" - a vocal critic of the "blame game" being played over the al-Qaeda attacks - and an unlikely defender of George W Bush. For good measure, the outspoken former lawyer describes some of the bereaved 9/11 families as America's "rock stars of grief".

"I've practically been thrown out of meetings," she says. "They've gotten very angry with me. But I've decided it's very important that another voice is heard in the September 11 debate." [...]

In blistering attacks last week on the 9/11 Commission and those who lobbied for it, she described the high-level hearings as a "Beltway soap opera - awash in politics and finger-pointing". Even more provocatively, in an article published in the Wall Street Journal, Ms Burlingame accuses prominent 9/11 activists of holding an unjustified "contempt for all the people whom they feel contributed to a loss of life on the day their loved ones didn't come home".

For good measure, she also states that the 9/11 families "are not a monolithic group that speaks with one voice". The activist organisations, she says, have been indulged too much. Standing by a memorial in Manhattan to the September 11 victims, with her back to Ground Zero, Ms Burlingame says: "I first felt the need to speak out when 'The Families of September 11' group protested against the use of images of Ground Zero in Bush campaign advertisements. The idea that relatives of victims 'own' September 11 and its images, and can give or withhold permission to use them, is frankly ridiculous.

"People held back from criticising the relatives because of who they were. But what's happening is that this prominent group of activists have become the rock stars of grief in this country. I think people are getting sick of them because they are being so demanding. I can say it because I'm a relative too."

Like the argument that folks who haven't served in the military don't deserve an opinion about war, the notion that these folks have a special moral claim when they speak on politics is vile.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 AM


'Fahrenheit 9/11' a No. 1 Hit Across America (Dean Goodman, 6/28/04, Reuters)

Bush-bashing became the nation's favorite spectator sport over the weekend as Michael Moore's red-hot documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" earned more in its first three days of release across North America than his previous record-breaking movie did in its entire run.

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, "Fahrenheit 9/11," in which Moore takes aim at President Bush, and the war in Iraq, opened at No. 1 after selling about $21.8 million worth of tickets in the United States and Canada since June 25.

Or a mere 2/3rds of what last week's #1 made: Dodgeball.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 AM


Unearthing the bombers: Weakened Palestinians vow revenge (Greg Myre, June 28, 2004, NY Times)

Mass Palestinian funerals and ominous warnings of future attacks have been fixtures throughout the past four years of Mideast violence. And with great regularity, the Palestinians have delivered on those threats, often within days.

But over the past few months, the Palestinians have been repeatedly thwarted in their attempts to unleash a threatened "earthquake" against Israel.

Israel's operation on Saturday killed three senior leaders of Palestinian factions responsible for much of the anti-Israeli violence. It was the latest in a series of raids that have eliminated Palestinians on Israel's most-wanted list, including the leader of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

Yet the Palestinians have not carried out a suicide bombing in three and a half months, the longest stretch between such attacks since the violence began in September 2000. No Israeli civilian has been killed since the shootings of a woman and her four daughters in the Gaza Strip on May 2.

Palestinians are still attempting attacks, and Israel attributes the relative calm to a combination of factors, including good intelligence, its West Bank separation fence and simple luck. Palestinian factions acknowledge they have been weakened, but say they will strike back.

It was inevitable that the movement would lose steam once Israel started unilaterally creating a Palestinian state. That's obviously not what the militants are fighting for, but it is what they've said they want. Why kill yourself for something someone's handing you?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:16 AM


Decline in savings rate a warning to reform-resistant politicians (TERUHIKO MANO, 6/28/04, Japan Times)

As Japan continues to maintain a current account surplus, it will remain subject to overseas criticism that its people should spend more and save less. However, the truth is that Japan's savings ratio has rapidly declined over the past decade. Let us look at some data and discuss why this is happening, and what should be done.

First of all, Japan's savings ratio, which stood at 15.1 percent in 1991, has dropped to 6.4 percent, according to the latest data available, and the pace of decline has accelerated in recent years.

Unlike Japan, the United States has long been criticized for its savings shortage. Americans are blamed for spending too much and thus incurring current account deficits -- one major reason behind the dollar's instability -- and have been urged to save more. Japan's current savings ratio is, of course, still higher than the roughly 4 percent observed in the U.S., but substantially lower than France's 12.2 percent and Germany's 10.4 percent.

Why is this happening? There are two key factors -- declining incomes and the aging of Japan's population.

Not to mention the foolishness of putting your savings in the types of instruments that these numbers measure.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM

nolens volens (Dictionary.com Word of the Day, 6/28/04)

nolens volens \NO-lenz-VO-lenz\:

Whether unwilling or willing. [...]

Nolens volens is from the Latin, from nolle, "to be unwilling"
+ velle, "to wish, to be willing."

Posted by David Cohen at 7:49 AM


Handover Completed Early to Thwart Attacks, Officials Say (Christine Hauser, New York Times, 6/28/04)

The United States-led occupation authority handed over sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government today in a low-key ceremony two days ahead of the June 30 it was scheduled to do so, a surprise move apparently timed to pre-empt any planned attacks by insurgents.

The transfer of power took place in the green zone, a heavily fortified compound where the American occupation authority has had its headquarters since American-led forces overthrew Saddam Hussein more than a year ago.

It's too bad, of course, that the terrorists have stolen the chance for a well-earned celebration from the provisional government and the Coalition Authority. The Iraqis now have a chance given to few peoples and nations. Let's hope they make the most of it.

June 27, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:49 PM


Evidence of Niger uranium trade 'years before war' (Mark Huband, June 27 2004, Financial Times)

The FT has now learnt that three European intelligence services were aware of possible illicit trade in uranium from Niger between 1999 and 2001. Human intelligence gathered in Italy and Africa more than three years before the Iraq war had shown Niger officials referring to possible illicit uranium deals with at least five countries, including Iraq.

This intelligence provided clues about plans by Libya and Iran to develop their undeclared nuclear programmes. Niger officials were also discussing sales to North Korea and China of uranium ore or the "yellow cake" refined from it: the raw materials that can be progressively enriched to make nuclear bombs.

The raw intelligence on the negotiations included indications that Libya was investing in Niger's uranium industry to prop it up at a time when demand had fallen, and that sales to Iraq were just a part of the clandestine export plan. These secret exports would allow countries with undeclared nuclear programmes to build up uranium stockpiles.

One nuclear counter-proliferation expert told the FT: "If I am going to make a bomb, I am not going to use the uranium that I have declared. I am going to use what I acquire clandestinely, if I am going to keep the programme hidden."

This may have been the method being used by Libya before it agreed last December to abandon its secret nuclear programme. According to the IAEA, there are 2,600 tonnes of refined uranium ore - "yellow cake" - in Libya. However, less than 1,500 tonnes of it is accounted for in Niger records, even though Niger was Libya's main supplier.

Information gathered in 1999-2001 suggested that the uranium sold illicitly would be extracted from mines in Niger that had been abandoned as uneconomic by the two French-owned mining companies - Cominak and Somair, both of which are owned by the mining giant Cogema - operating in Niger.

"Mines can be abandoned by Cogema when they become unproductive. This doesn't mean that people near the mines can't keep on extracting," a senior European counter-proliferation official said.

We know the bureaucrats at CIA opposed the war and that when they were asked to check out the yellowcake story they sent a CIA functionary's spouse to try and discredit it. He obliged by hanging around his hotel for a few days, manifestly trying to avoid finding anything. Maybe he could have visited the mines or something?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 PM


Blair bonded with Clinton, but he shares his beliefs with Bush (Rachel Sylvester, 28/06/2004, Daily Telegraph)

[A]s the British and American governments prepare for the handover of power in Iraq on Wednesday, the truth is that when it comes to foreign policy - the area where the transatlantic "special relationship" really counts - Mr Blair actually has far more in common with George W. Bush.

President Clinton was cautious, pragmatic and nationalistic - he prevaricated over Rwanda and refused to send ground troops into Kosovo, declaring himself wary of "missionary zeal" in international affairs.

President Bush is idealistic, moralistic and willing to take risks. Like the Prime Minister, he interprets the world as a fight between good and evil in which his role is zealously to "spread the word" of Western democracy among the unconverted masses. Christianity is not Mr Bush and Mr Blair's only shared faith.

There are differences between the two men of course - over Guantanamo Bay, climate change and steel tariffs - but their interventionist instincts are the same. When Labour MPs asked the Prime Minister whether he is supporting Mr Bush simply in order to preserve the alliance with the United States, he replied: "I'm afraid it's worse than that, I actually believe in this war."

Perhaps Mr Blair is a neo-Conservative. Like several of the Washington advisers and politicians who have such an influence on Mr Bush, the Prime Minister started out on the political Left and has moved to the Right. Like the American neo-cons, he believes that to defend the national interest following September 11 it is necessary to "re-order the world", even if that means launching pre-emptive military strikes. He argues that, in an age of globalisation of trade and terror, the limits of the nation state need to be redefined. He agrees with the concept of a "new imperialism", one not of territory but of values, put forward by the former No. 10 adviser Robert Cooper.

Richard Perle, the king of the neo-cons, thinks that the Prime Minister shares his "moral sense" of international affairs. "Oh yes, Tony's a neo-con," says one former minister who supported the war. "It's terrifying. He's bought the whole idea about remaking the Middle East."

They're actually theocons, of course, not neocons.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:07 PM

DEMOCRACY OF THE DEAD (via The Mother Judd):

Books Make You a Boring Person (CRISTINA NEHRING, 6/27/04, NY Times)

It is easy to fetishize things that we imagine are on their way out. In the age of Comcast and America Online, books seem quaint, whimsical, imperiled and therefore virtuous. We assume that reading requires a formidable intellect. We forget that books were the television of previous years -- by which I mean they were the source of passive entertainment as well as occasional enlightenment, of social alienation as well as private joy, of idleness as well as inspiration. Books were a mixed bag, and they still are. Books could be used or misused, and they still can be.

Writers themselves carried on about their danger. From Seneca in the first century to Montaigne in the 16th, Samuel Johnson in the 18th and William Hazlitt and Emerson in the 19th, writers have been at pains to remind their readers not to read too much. ''Our minds are swamped by too much study,'' Montaigne wrote, ''just as plants are swamped by too much water or lamps by too much oil.'' By filling yourself up with too much of other folks' thought, you can lose the capacity and incentive to think for yourself. We all know people who have read everything and have nothing to say. We all know people who use a text the way others use Muzak: to stave off the silence of their minds. These people may have a comic book in the bathroom, a newspaper on the breakfast table, a novel over lunch, a magazine in the dentist's office, a biography on the kitchen counter, a political expose in bed, a paperback on every surface of their home and a weekly in their back pocket lest they ever have an empty moment. Some will be geniuses; others will be simple text grazers: always nibbling, never digesting -- ever consuming, never creating.

''You might as well ask the paralytic to leap from his chair and throw away his crutch,'' Hazlitt said, ''as expect the learned reader to throw down his book and think for himself. He clings to it for his intellectual support; and his dread of being left to himself is like the horror of a vacuum.'' Such a one is comparable to a person addicted to talk shows or sitcoms or CNN; no worse and no better, no dumber but no smarter either. It is not because something comes between two covers that it is inherently superior to what passes on a screen or arrives on the airwaves.

There is, of course, a good way of reading -- a very good way, and the thinkers of old knew it. They were all readers, though none of them were smug readers: they did not expect compliments but rather offered excuses for their book consumption. ''Undoubtedly there is a right way of reading, so it be sternly subordinated,'' Emerson wrote. Thinking people ''must not be subdued'' by their ''instruments'' -- that is, by their library. They must be the master of it. They must measure a book's testimony against their own; they must alternate their attention to it with an even more passionate and scrupulous attention to the world around them. ''Books are for the scholar's idle times,'' Emerson said in a statement most academics today would find surprising, if not shocking.

The point is this: There are two very different ways to use books. One is to provoke our own judgments, and the other, by far the more common, is to make such conclusions unnecessary. If we wish to embrace the first, we cannot afford to be adulatory of books in the manner of Moskowitz; we must be aggressive. Even a hint of idolatry disables the mind. ''Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon have given; forgetful that Cicero, Locke and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books,'' Emerson reminded us -- at a time when he was, admittedly, already a middle-aged man in a library.

Perhaps the best lesson of books is not to venerate them -- or at least never to hold them in higher esteem than our own faculties, our own experience, our own peers, our own dialogues.

Here's a handy rule of thumb: life is too short to waste it on discussions with folks who don't recognize that Cicero, Locke and Bacon outrank their own peers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:39 PM

THE CLINTONS VS. CHOICE (via Kevin Whited):

Bill Clinton offers a surprising primer on marriage (Houston Chronicle)

In interviews before the book's release this week, Clinton discussed for the first time the professional assistance that he, Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea embarked on to decide their family's fate after the Monica Lewinsky debacle. Hillary Clinton, first of all, had simply to decide if she wanted to remain married. Clinton himself had to explore the "demons" that led him to veer so close to forever distancing his wife and daughter. He has said the family underwent not only individual therapy, but couples counseling and family therapy to assess and try to staunch the emotional damage.

Clinton's disclosure deserves attention for several reasons. First, though his marital problems were of spectacular proportions — harming not only his family, but disrupting the functioning of the U.S. government — the types of problems themselves were not all that unusual. Infidelity, unresolved conflicts from childhood, and the taking of a spouse for granted are frequent culprits in the roughly 50 percent of American marriages that fail. For the Clintons, as for many ordinary people whose marriages face collapse, mental health professionals can offer essential tools for restoring trust and function.

Even more useful, though, was Clinton's accurate portrayal of what counseling is really like: slow, difficult and without a guaranteed outcome. [...]

[C]linton was right in that, for any troubled family, quick fixes are illusory. In recent years, Americans have embraced a culture of voilà! We are fascinated by insta-marriage dating shows, prime-time makeovers and group-therapy reality TV. Clinton's account of therapy affirms that keeping real-life families intact needs patience, perseverance and hard work.

Anyone who can write the word "real-life" in relation to the Clinton family would seem to be referring to a different reality from the one we live in, but the durability of their marriage does teach another, equally valuable lesson for repairing damaged marriages. For the reality is that the Clintons had no choice but to stick it out. Hillary's political ambitions and Bill's eye on the history books made divorce impossible, so they soldiered through. Making divorce more difficult generally would likely have a similarly beneficial effect on other marriages.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:29 PM


Voucher Holders Shop Schools: Eager Parents and Children Pack Fair in First Step to Choice (Jay Mathews, June 23, 2004, Washington Post)

The doors of the former YMCA building on 12th Street NW were not supposed to open until 6:30 p.m. Monday, but Erica Shorter arrived an hour early, joining a line that soon stretched half a block to T Street.

Once she got inside, she rushed to a small table in the corner of the light-green gymnasium. Grabbing a pen, she signed up her two children for the St. Francis de Sales School on Rhode Island Avenue NE.

Shorter, 33, could not have afforded the Catholic school's tuition in the past. But her children were among 1,249 low-income students selected last week to receive the District's first tax-funded private-school vouchers, and she wanted them to be first on the school's list.

The public schools in Southeast Washington that her children have attended have low scores and limited programs, she said, "and I want them to be able to get all kinds of learning."

Shorter and the families of more than 500 other voucher recipients jammed into the small building, now called the Thurgood Marshall Center Trust, Monday evening and yesterday afternoon to visit tables staffed by representatives of 44 private D.C. schools that have agreed to participate in the program. [...]

Once she had time to read the scholarship fund's materials, Shorter realized that she had much more to do. She would need to complete an application form and provide her children's last report cards, test scores, birth certificates, Social Security numbers and immunization records.

All that, Shorter said, is fine with her. "It is such a great opportunity," she said.

This opportunity brought to you courtesy of the racist Republicans who hate the poor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:18 PM


The Big Opportunity Ronald Reagan Missed (Otis L. Graham, 6/21/04, History News Network)

In the late 1930s, Roosevelt gave voice and policy leadership to those who concluded that fascism, with its global ambitions, required a new world role for the United States. FDR, too, had the gift of conveying optimism and confidence and used those talents to ease the way toward difficult and necessary national readjustments. A sunny temperament, like FDR's and Reagan's, must be connected to a transformative mission matched to history's new directions and demands.

Reagan, when his turn came, cheered people up with the message that all of their old habits remained sound. Endless growth and expanding affluence had been the American formula, and this was what Reagan meant by "freedom." He told Americans that the old perpetual growth-as-usual formula should still be the nation's guide and goal. We know now that this is a recipe for mounting national and global disruptions and instability.

Indeed, it was known when he took office, for two national commissions (the 1972 National Commission on Population and the American Future, and the 1980 report, Global 2000) had arrived at similar conclusions: America had to get off the old unsustainable growth path, stabilize its population, then devise, and export, sustainable energy, agricultural, waste disposal and oceanic protection systems.

Reagan's predecessor, Jimmy Carter, understood and embraced these conclusions, but he entirely lacked the skills to deliver the message and point a new way without sounding like a pessimistic disciplinarian. Reagan had the gifts to rally the nation toward a difficult transition, to stitch it into the American story as a new, exciting phase of our journey and a tomorrow better than yesterday.

He squandered this opportunity and instead led in the opposite direction, toward economic and population expansion unhindered by the sort of environmentalist concerns nurtured in his own Republican Party during and for a few years after the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1908).

Let's give Mr. Graham and FDR the benefit of the doubt and assume that there was an incipient trend towards fascism in the early '30s, despite the fact that Hoover was a liberal who pursued policies largely indistinguishable from the New Deal.

The idea though that what was needed in 1980 was population controls and an orderly decline towards oblivion is just as monstrous as facism in its own way. That this what the Left envisioned (envisions?) as our appropriate future makes Raganism seem even greater than we already recognize it to have been.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:08 PM


Cashing In on Culture Wars, The Right Marches On: a review of What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, by Thomas Frank (Kevin Canfield, NY Observer)

Mr. Frank’s thesis goes like this: American conservatives have spent the last few decades orchestrating the "carefully cultivated derangement of places like Kansas," the author’s native state. With its dark brilliance for inciting moral outrage among the working and middle classes—the very people who are hurt when the G.O.P.’s economic programs favor the rich—the right has minted a generation "of sturdy blue-collar patriots reciting the Pledge while they strangle their own life chances; of small farmers proudly voting themselves off the land; of devoted family men carefully seeing to it that their children will never be able to afford college or proper health care; of working-class guys in Midwestern cities cheering as they deliver up a landslide for a candidate whose policies will end their way of life …. "

It is, in Mr. Frank’s words, a right-wing "backlash" against the liberal establishment, and its grip on the nation’s heartland—the "red states" on the electoral maps—helped to assure the election of George W. Bush. [...]

Mr. Frank traces the recent rightward tilt of Kansas politics to 1991, when conservatives throughout the Midwest were galvanized by the so-called Summer of Mercy, a series of acts of civil disobedience meant to prevent abortions. The local authorities handed victory to the protesters when they encouraged abortion clinics to close for a full week—an act that, to some pro-lifers, "represented a bona fide miracle." The pro-life movement finally had something to show for its efforts: "This was where the Kansas conservative movement got an idea of its own strength; this was where it achieved critical mass."

Emboldened to press on other issues—school curricula, farm deregulation, changes in the tax structure—conservatives have pushed states across the Midwest ever further to the right. Consider Kansas: Today its two Senators, Mr. Brownback and Pat Roberts, are among the most conservative lawmakers in Washington, and in 2000 Mr. Bush won the state by a greater margin than native son Bob Dole did in ’96.

The proof of the right’s real genius is not getting power in the Midwest, but keeping it. It has done so, Mr. Frank writes, through the "systematic erasure of the economic." In other words, conservatives have amped up the volume on cultural matters while ignoring the fiscal well-being of the working and middle classes. Preoccupied by the abortion debate or the fight against the teaching of evolution in public schools, Kansans, Mr. Frank argues, ignore what the government might do to help their pocketbooks. Instead, many vote with a mind toward fixing our land’s "crisis of the soul."

"Out here," Mr. Frank reports, "the gravity of discontent pulls in only one direction: to the right, to the right, farther to the right. Strip today’s Kansans of their job security, and they head out to become registered Republicans. Push them off their land, and next thing you know they’re protesting in front of abortion clinics. Squander their life savings on manicures for the C.E.O., and there’s a good chance they’ll join the John Birch Society. But ask them about the remedies their ancestors proposed (unions, antitrust, public ownership), and you might as well be referring to the days when knighthood was in flower."

One would like to think this is self-parody, but apparently not. You can probably search all of human history and not find any nation at any time that has enjoyed a better economic run--from the top to the bottom of the society--than the U.S., has over the past twenty years, but especially since we won the Cold War in 1991. It has been a period of high economic growth, real wage growth, minimal unemployment, low taxes, zero inflation, etc. and at the end of the day the American people have a staggering net worth of over $45 trillion. Now, Mr. Frank and Mr. Canfield are right that in order to achieve the massive financial gains of this epoch it was necessary to demonize and destroy the nostrums of the Left--unionism, nationalization, population control, Darwinism, etc.--but it was those ideas that gave us the '70s and the Europeans their dying society. Yet they can't figure out why the gravitational pull of our nation is towards the Right?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:04 PM


Nato gives Blair green light for more Iraq troops (James Cusick, 6/27/04, Sunday Herald)

NATO will tomorrow agree to send military personnel to Iraq to help train Iraqi security forces. Although the decision falls far short of earlier US ambitions for a large Nato troop deployment, it will allow Tony Blair to claim the post-war conflict has now been fully “internationalised” and, as a result, more British troops will now be sent to Iraq.

Nato ambassadors meeting yesterday ahead of the two-day summit which begins in Istanbul tomorrow, reached an initial agreement to respond positively to the request for assistance by Iraq’s newly installed prime minister, Iyad Allawi.

Up until last week, when Allawi’s plea was sent, there had been no formal contact between Nato and the new interim Iraqi administration and Nato had not played a direct role. The key members of Nato include the US, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Italy, Spain and Holland.

President George Bush, in Ireland for the mini-summit between the US and European Union, was informed in advance of the Nato decision. It allowed Bush to sound upbeat about the prospects of international involvement in dealing with post-war Iraq. He pointed to a joint agreement between the US and the EU to support the United Nation’s role in rebuilding Iraq, saying: “The bitter differences [over the war] are now over.”

Oh, yeah, Bush gets green light too....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 PM


Strangling Democracy (VACLAV HAVEL, 6/24/04, NY Times)

Zimbabwe's leaders know that the international community will cooperate with them only if they meet certain conditions. That is why they are trying to give the impression of democracy and thus escape international isolation, and why they distort the standard democratic mechanisms in order to create a semblance of citizens' participation. At the same time, they create legal instruments that violate human rights. Democratic institutions are partly controlled by the leadership, partly circumvented by it.

A report published this year by the International Crisis Group, an international nonprofit group that works to resolve conflict, showed that many opposition members of Parliament in Zimbabwe have been subject to murder attempts, torture, assault and arrest. In parliamentary elections, President Robert Mugabe nominates 20 percent of members, who then become parliamentarians without a democratic mandate. Elections are regularly accompanied by organized violence and intimidation. The independent judiciary, one of the pillars of democracy, has been severely compromised, with the benches packed with Mr. Mugabe's supporters.

A law adopted before the presidential elections in 2002 requires journalists to provide detailed information about themselves. If they do not, they will not receive a journalist license. The law, called the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, has been used to close Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper and to arrest people for "suspicion of journalism." The state now claims a virtual monopoly of written and broadcast media; foreign correspondents, meanwhile, are a thing of the past.

Another law restricts the freedom of association. The government in Zimbabwe has used this law, called the Public Order and Security Act, to stamp out any form of protest, to block practically any public activity of opposition groups. Under this law, women have been arrested for giving out flowers on Valentine's Day.

The Orwellian names of these laws are both chilling and relevant. Totalitarian regimes may differ in small details — by the nature of their deviations, the degree of their representatives' contrivance, the degree of their cruelty and brutality — but their nature is the same. And so is the manner of resisting such regimes.

President Bush has shown more interest in Africa than any of his predecessors, but it's still been too intermittent. If he and Tony Blair made regime change in Zimbabwe as much a focus of world attention as it was in Liberia and Haiti they'd succeed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 PM


MMR, autism and politics (Helene Guldberg, 6/23/04, Spiked)

spiked readers will be familiar with the writings of Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, east London GP and trenchant critic of official health policy. His new book, MMR and Autism: What parents need to know, develops the arguments put forward in his spiked columns around the MMR debacle, where highly dubious scientific claims about the potential damage caused by a triple vaccine have managed to throw the political and medical establishment into turmoil, and knock a major UK immunisation programme off course.

Dr Fitzpatrick persuasively and eloquently demolishes the key plank of the MMR panic: claims of a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Indeed, any risks associated with the MMR vaccine are virtually non-existent: 'when 500million doses of a vaccine have been given in 80 countries over more than 30 years, and serious adverse reactions are found to be extremely rare, then it is fair to describe it as "safe"', he says. Meanwhile the case for immunisation is indisputable: 'Diseases that had caused devastating epidemics in living memory, and had produced a significant toll of death and disability into the post-war period, have virtually disappeared.'

But while MMR and Autism is a thorough dissection of the scientific and medical issues arising from the MMR panic, the book's scope is much broader than that. 'It is not a self-help manual intended to reassure parents worried about the safety of the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, though it might very well do this', states an apt summary by Dr Anthony Daniels in the Sunday Telegraph. '[R]ather, it is a probing analysis of a continuing health scare, one that very soon suggests deep questions of political philosophy in general, and the nature of our society in particular.' Which begs the question - why focus on MMR in the first place? [...]

Fitzpatrick places the MMR controversy in the context of the collapse of traditional left and right politics, and the rise of a more individuated, risk-averse society. As Politics with a big 'P' has ceased to matter so much to people, issues relating to health - and those relating to lifestyle, education and other personal issues - have assumed an increasing importance in people's lives.

And as people have become more preoccupied with their own health and that of their children, the government has adopted a much higher profile on health issues. 'Health policy is no longer concerned primarily with providing services, but is more directed towards provoking individual anxieties and fears about smoking, obesity, and other "unhealthy" lifestyles, and relating to people's daily health concerns through initiatives like NHS Direct', he says.

In this situation, a health panic such as that surrounding the MMR vaccine is not a diversion from politics. It is politics. Like major political battles of the past, this scare has some very real and dangerous consequences - both for the state of debate, and for individuals' own lives.

The whole MMR-autism hoax is just part and parcel of our need to find someone to blame whenever anything goes wrong in the world.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:46 PM


Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore (C-SPAN, 6/27/04, 8 & 11pm)

PATRIOTIC WAR? (via Mike Daley):
The Terrors: One of the foremost scholars of Soviet history assesses an ambitious new biography of Stalin: Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore (Robert Conquest, The Atlantic)

Sebag Montefiore is at his best when writing about the dramatic days just before and after Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union-a story whose details come almost entirely from the new records and from the memories of crucial people in Moscow. The Nazi attack, in June of 1941, surprised and shook Stalin. After recovering from the shock, he again manifested his dictatorial strength. Some half a million Soviet soldiers had left the front. They were rounded up, and more than 10,000 were shot; the rest were formed into new units. This ruthlessness, which had the desired disciplinary effect, was accompanied by the execution of a group of experienced officers-and of the wives of previously executed officers.

The fate of the officers' wives was part of a widespread pattern-one to which Sebag Montefiore, with his interest in family matters, rightly calls our attention. According to a Soviet law written in 1935, the relatives of an accused person were also responsible for the "crime," even if they were
ignorant of it. It soon became routine for wives, children, brothers, and sisters of terror victims to suffer equally dire consequences. Consider the stories, recently learned, of the wives of Marshal Vasily Blyukher, who died under torture in 1938: his first and second wives were shot, and the third was sentenced to eight years in a labor camp.

In this regard it is instructive to compare the Stalinist epoch with that of the czars. For example, in the earlier period the execution of Lenin's brother on genuine grounds of treason (he participated in a terrorist plot) did not affect Lenin's academic career, much less result in his own execution. The decline in the government's humanity is remarkable. So is the difference between life in Stalin's gulag, whose inhabitants were starved and sweated, and the relatively comfortable "exile" to Siberian villages imposed on offenders by the czarist regime.

The impact of the terrors on Party members and other elites has long been known. Our most substantial gain in understanding the Stalinist era concerns how and to what extent they struck at the general population. This is now decisively documented, in papers signed by Stalin and specifying quotas for death and imprisonment by category and locale; these decrees resulted in
nearly 770,000 executions in 1937-1938. In addition, over the whole of his career Stalin signed 44,000 individual death sentences. The "anti-Soviet elements" targeted included former kulaks, former officials of the czarist state and army, former members of non-Bolshevik parties, religious
activists, and "speculators"-a wide swath of society. Those carrying out the orders were required to send "albums" of the victims to Moscow, to confirm that the quotas had been met.

There is no longer much serious dispute about what the terrors unleashed, or about the extravagant falsification practiced by the regime. If anything is still missing in Western understanding, it is a full recognition of the mental degradation inflicted by the regime. The entire population was forced to accept a supposedly all-explaining dogma, along with the notion that it
was living in a social and political utopia-when what it actually experienced, of course, was the opposite. A Russian academic told me recently that many Westerners he meets still don't realize how horrible and psychologically exhausting a life it was.

And because they don't there are still folks who believe that the population would have risen up and resisted an Allied effort to replace the regime after Hitler was defeated and/or fought on after a nuclear attack on Moscow had removed the higher levels of the regime. Even more inane is the belief that the tsar was even remotely as oppressive as the Bolsheviks. But folk who believe such nonsense aren't much interested in the truth, are they?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:30 PM


The Best Goebbels of All? (Frank Rich, 6/27//04, NY Times)

[G]oebbels is in fashion everywhere these days. As Mr. Moore implies that the Bush administration is in cahoots with the native country of 15 of the 9/11 hijackers, so the Bush administration has itself used a sustained campaign of insinuation to float the false claim that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with those hijackers, too. As Mr. Moore seeks to shape the story of what happened on 9/11, so the White House, President Bush included, collaborated on a movie project with the same partisan intent, "D.C. 9/11: Time of Crisis," seen on Showtime last fall. Instead of depicting Mr. Bush as continuing to read "My Pet Goat" to second graders for nearly seven minutes while the World Trade Center burned (as "Fahrenheit 9/11" does), "D.C. 9/11" showed the president (played by Timothy Bottoms) barking out take-charge lines like "If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell him to come on over and get me — I'll be home!"

In this fierce propaganda battle over the war on terrorism, the administration has been battling longer and harder than Michael Moore. And in John Ashcroft it has an even bigger camera hog in the starring role — no mean feat. While his on-screen persona needs work — he tries to come off like Robert Stack in "The Untouchables" but more often conjures up W. C. Fields in "The Bank Dick" — the attorney general's resources as a showman are considerable. He has a bigger budget than most filmmakers and can command far more free TV time for promoting his wares. His press conferences, whether to showcase his latest, implicitly single-handed victory in the war on terror or to predict the apocalypse he wants to make certain we won't blame him for, are now as ubiquitous as spinoffs of "C.S.I." and "Law & Order." While F.D.R. once told Americans that we have nothing to fear but fear itself, Mr. Ashcroft is delighted to play the part of Fear Itself, an assignment in which he lets his imagination run riot.

So Michael Moore is a Goebbels but John Ashcroft is even moreso? You'd think Mr. Moore's appeal to anti-Semitism would tilt the scales in his favor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:09 PM


Shuffling to the sound of the Morlocks' dinner bell (VIN SUPRYNOWICZ, 6/27/04, Las Vegas Review-Journal)

In Atlanta over the May 29 weekend, former movie producer, Bette Midler manager/paramour and Nevada gubernatorial candidate Aaron Russo -- who entered the Libertarian Party's national convention as the front-runner for the presidential nomination -- was doing himself no favors on the convention floor.

The Libertarian Party has more than its share of dorks and dweebs, who given the chance will corner you and seek a debate on the most arcane details of anything from private space exploration to the Federal Reserve.

I can understand Russo's reluctance to waste too much time on this stuff (though in fact, the Federal Reserve seems to have become one of his own favorite topics, of late). But eyewitnesses report Russo's response was to call such gadflies "idiots," sometimes throwing in a few extra modifiers which I can't print in a family newspaper. [...]

The majority of the LP's delegates in Atlanta concluded Aaron Russo might inject some money and some drama, but that he was a loose cannon.

"The delegates voted for the man who was the most like them, who presented in the most professional way the modal opinions and views and style of a Libertarian Party activist -- quiet, intense, no deviation from the catechism, more concerned with eternal ideological and philosophical verities than the political events of the day," summarizes Doherty.

A political party (and ideology) divorced from political reality--there's a recipe for success.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 AM


Iowa Governor Makes His Case for Stepping Into the National Limelight With Kerry: Tom Vilsack may not have the name recognition of John Edwards or Richard A. Gephardt, but make no mistake: He wants the job badly. (DAVID M. HALBFINGER, 6/27/04, NY Times)

"I've lived in a small town, I've worked in a small town, I've been the mayor of a small town," Mr. Vilsack continues. "I understand the hopes, the aspirations, the frustrations and the anxieties of people who live in communities all over America. If you look at battleground states, many of them have one thing in common: They border the Mississippi, just like Iowa. I know the people of small-town U.S.A."

Tom Vilsack may not have the name recognition of John Edwards or Richard A. Gephardt; he may not have legions of trial lawyers and donors or leaders of big unions lobbying Mr. Kerry to choose him. But make no mistake: He wants the job badly.

Just listen to him audition for a vice-presidential debate with Dick Cheney. How would Mr. Vilsack respond if Mr. Cheney dismissed him as inexperienced in defense and foreign policy?

He starts right in, as if he has already thought this through many times: "With all due respect, Mr. Vice President, with your vast experience in foreign policy, you didn't raise the questions about whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction, you didn't ask questions that would've allowed you to reach the conclusion that maybe there wasn't a nuclear program in full force and effect in Iraq, you didn't ask the questions specifically about what links existed in deed and in fact between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Why didn't you ask those questions? You're experienced - why didn't you ask those questions? Those are questions I would've asked."

Okay, so you've established your ignorance....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM


British Eyes Look at 1776 and See Less to Approve (ALESSANDRA STANLEY, 6/23/04, NY Times)

Since Sept. 11, television has done a decent job of explaining why they hate us. Tonight PBS reveals why they have always hated us. Rebels and Redcoats: How Britain lost America is a wickedly revisionist view of the American Revolution, a "Fahrenheit 1776."

When American soldiers are fighting Iraqi insurgents under a besieged banner of freedom and democracy, some viewers may not relish a re-examination of the Stamp Act and Yorktown from the point of view of the British Crown. And certainly the narrator, the British military historian Richard Holmes, gets a bit carried away in the heat of battle re-enactment. "Unsportingly," he says, "the Americans were picking off British officers who were easily identifiable by their scarlet rather than their faded red uniforms."

But the two-part documentary, being shown tonight and next Wednesday, is an engaging upside-down look at a period of American history that few Americans ever question. It may not be exactly fair — the British bias is blatant — but it is fairly accurate. Mostly, it gives viewers a sense of the world's more jaundiced view of a revolution that Americans cherish as a triumph of democracy and human rights. And a little like Michael Moore's polemical films, the documentary delivers its most striking indictments not in the facts but in the sly visual juxtapositions.

It's a bit whiny, but that's to be expected from the losers, no?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 AM


Biggest Task for U.S. General Is Training Iraqis to Fight Iraqis: A celebrated American field commander is charged with rebuilding an Iraqi security force that collapsed during April's uprisings. (DEXTER FILKINS, 6/27/04, NY Times)

On a recent afternoon in his new office in the heavily fortified Green Zone, Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, a celebrated American field commander, sketched his vision for how America's forces might one day extract themselves from this country.

"I know where this ends," said General Petraeus, 51, who earlier this month took control of a vast project to oversee the training of Iraqi security forces. "It ends with the Iraqis in charge of their country. You get as many Iraqis as possible to have a stake in the success of the new Iraq to defeat the insurgency."

General Petraeus seems a good man for the job.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:31 AM


Arafat gets rehab (EFRAIM INBAR Jun. 26, 2004, Jerusalem Post)

Haaretz has adopted an uncharacteristic dose of "religiosity" by becoming the vehicle for a pathetic attempt by the Israeli radical Left to politically resurrect Yasser Arafat.

The newspaper claims that Arafat was not the instigator of the September 2000 intifada but has consistently searched for a two-state solution in his quest for peaceful coexistence. Haaretz also published an interview with the Palestinian leader which refrained from posing difficult questions. Arafat was allowed to portray himself as a man of peace.

Israeli messianic doves have repeatedly saved Arafat from oblivion. Yossi Beilin and the crowd around him saved Arafat in 1993 at a time when the PLO was weak due to its strategic blunder of supporting Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War. The group, isolated in Tunis, was on the verge of bankruptcy.

But Beilin et al persuaded Yitzhak Rabin – against his better judgment – to enter into a deal with the PLO, which brought Arafat to the White House, allowed the PLO to regain its dwindling international status, and gave it a territorial foothold in the territories.

These same doves never stopped advocating – as if out of religious conviction – increasingly larger Israeli concessions and a policy of turning a blind eye to the Palestinian violations of the Oslo agreements. The failure of Arafat to honor his pledge to Rabin and desist from terrorist activities was invariably explained away.

The PLO chief's repeated calls for jihad were belittled as insignificant rhetoric. Early Israeli casualties resulting from Palestinian terrorism were seen as "sacrifices for peace."

But peace did not come. It took the majority of Israelis more than a decade and over 1,000 dead to realize the murderous nature of the Palestinian national movement. The swing in public opinion to a more realistic assessment of the conflict is the reason for the recent attempt by the radical Left to rewrite history.

Kill him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:26 AM


Defrosting Texas: Tom DeLay's redistricting may do in a 13-term Democrat. (Beth Henary, 07/05/2004, Weekly Standard)

TEXAS REPUBLICANS wanted to accomplish several things last year, when they began redrawing the state's congressional districts. They wanted to increase the number of safe Republican seats to give them a majority. And they wanted to take revenge on, among others, 13-term Democrat Martin Frost. This they did by divvying up his shoo-in, 61 percent Democratic district. Now Frost is challenging incumbent Republican Pete Sessions for the newly redrawn District 32.

Knocking off the wily former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman would be especially gratifying for Republicans. Frost was the chief architect behind the 1990s redistricting, which kept gains in Congress scarce for the Texas GOP in that decade. This came to a stop only when Republicans captured both houses of the Texas legislature in 2002.

Early renderings of last year's redistricting map were kinder to Frost and other senior Democrats. But after Democratic state representatives and senators ran, respectively, for the Oklahoma and New Mexico borders to try to avoid the special redistricting sessions, Republicans made sure Frost would be short on chances to continue his career in Congress.

It's probably a bad idea to play hardball with Tom DeLay.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM

50-0 FILES:

Bush Edges Kerry (Fox News, June 24, 2004)

President Bush currently has an advantage over Democratic candidate John Kerry in both the two-way matchup and three-way matchups. If the election were held today, the poll finds Bush at 48 percent and Kerry at 42 percent. When independent candidate Ralph Nader is included he receives three percent, Bush 47 percent and Kerry 40 percent. [...]

As has been the case since the end of the primary season, Bush’s strength of support is much higher than Kerry’s. Fully 75 percent of Bush voters say they support him "strongly" and 25 percent say "only somewhat." Among Kerry voters, just over half — 53 percent — say they support him "strongly" and 45 percent say "only somewhat." [...]

Regardless of how they plan to vote, half of the public believes Bush is going to win in November, 30 percent believe Kerry will win and 20 percent are unsure or think it is too early to say.

The president’s overall job approval rating is 49 percent, which is about where it has been holding for the last four months.

Coming out of the period during which America was bogged down in a new Vietnam and had lost three million jobs during the Bush presidency while Mr. Kerry was waltzing to the Democratic nomination, this race should have had the President down by ten points. Instead, he's led or been within the margin of error pretty nearly the whole time.

Now we head into a period where Iraq will disappear from public consciousness and the numbers will soon reflect net job gains, plus a burgeoning economy. Meanwhile, Ralph Nader looks like he's in the race to stay.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:28 AM


16 Afghans Slain by Taliban for Carrying Voter Cards (Reuters, New York Times, June 27th, 2004)

Taliban guerrillas kidnapped and then killed 16 people in an Afghan province after finding them with voter registration cards for the country's September elections, a district official said Sunday.

The guerrillas stopped a bus carrying 17 civilians through the district Friday, said Haji Obaidullah, chief of Khas Uruzgan district in the central province of Uruzgan.

The guerrillas took the passengers to the neighboring province of Zabul and killed all but one of them when they found they were carrying voter cards, he quoted the lone survivor as saying.

"They were apparently killed because they were carrying the registration cards,'' he said.

The greatest obscenity is not Moore or his film. It is that so many presumably decent, if confused, types accord him such respect during a week of beheadings and this kind of atrocity. Is it possible to win the war on terror while losing the war of outrage over terrorism?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:03 AM


And It’s Only June…: Bush and Kerry camps spar over whose Hitler images are more offensive (Michael Hastings, June 25, 2004, Newsweek)

On Friday, Democrats and Republicans went to war over a new Bush reelection campaign ad that uses images of Adolph Hitler in bashing Democrat John Kerry.

The Web video, e-mailed to 6 million Bush supporters Thursday evening, splices together clips of Al Gore, Howard Dean, Rep. Dick Gephardt, film director Michael Moore and Kerry. On two occasions in the 87-second-long “Webmercial,” Hitler is shown, speaking loudly in German. The fuhrer footage is overlaid with the words “sponsored by MoveOn.org” while the ad’s opening screen says “The Faces of John Kerry’s Democratic Party.”

MoveOn.org, a left-wing political fundraising group, immediately objected. “We never sponsored those [Hitler] ads, we didn’t condone them,” says Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn PAC. He says the Hitler clips originally appeared on the group’s Web site in January...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


McCain and Giuliani to Be Spotlighted at G.O.P. Convention (ADAM NAGOURNEY, June 26, 2004, NY Times)

Senator John McCain of Arizona, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Rudolph W. Giuliani have been chosen for prime-time speaking spots at the Republican convention in New York City this summer, campaign officials said Saturday.

The lineup is intended to spotlight party moderates while underlining a central theme of the Republican gathering: President Bush's response to the Sept. 11 attacks. Gov. George E. Pataki of New York will also speak in prime time, according to a schedule that will be officially released Monday. Mr. Pataki or Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, may well end up nominating Mr. Bush at the convention, party officials said. [...]

The convention schedule also suggests that the White House apparently agreed with Mr. Schwarzenegger about what role he could serve at the convention. Mr. Schwarzenegger said in a recent interview that "if they're smart," Republicans would put him in prime time, and they did.

Two of the other prime-time speeches will be given by Laura Bush, the first lady, and Rod Paige, the secretary of education.

Democratic Senator Zell Miller will also be addressing the GOP convention. Given his rock solid support on the Right, the President has the kind of room to play to the middle that his father never did.

June 26, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:36 PM

KNOWING YOUR ALLIES (via Eric Timmons):

Zarqawi Group Kidnaps Three Turks in Iraq (Fox News, June 26, 2004)

Terrorists loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were shown on Al-Jazeera television Saturday, holding three Turkish workers hostage and threatening to behead them in 72 hours, just as President Bush was arriving in Turkey for a NATO summit.

Zarqawi understands, as many in the West do not, that Turks are his enemies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM


All Hail Moore (DAVID BROOKS, 6/26/04, NY Times)

"They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet . . . in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of the human anatomy]," Moore intoned. "We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don't know about anything that's happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing." [...]

Before a delighted Cambridge crowd, Moore reflected on the tragedy of human existence: "You're stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe." In Liverpool, he paused to contemplate the epicenters of evil in the modern world: "It's all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton." [...]

In an open letter to the German people in Die Zeit, Moore asked, "Should such an ignorant people lead the world?" Then he began to reflect on things economic. His central insight here is that the American economy, like its people, is pretty crappy, too: "Don't go the American way when it comes to economics, jobs and services for the poor and immigrants. It is the wrong way."

In an interview with a Japanese newspaper, Moore helped citizens of that country understand why the United States went to war in Iraq: "The motivation for war is simple. The U.S. government started the war with Iraq in order to make it easy for U.S. corporations to do business in other countries. They intend to use cheap labor in those countries, which will make Americans rich."

But venality doesn't come up when he writes about those who are killing Americans in Iraq: "The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not `insurgents' or `terrorists' or `The Enemy.' They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win." Until then, few social observers had made the connection between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Paul Revere.

So we have our Sartre. And the liberal grandees Arthur Schlesinger, Ted Sorenson, Tom Harkin and Barbara Boxer flock to his openings. In Washington, a Senate vote was delayed because so many Democrats wanted to see his movie.

Of course we're stupid, you can't be both an intellectual and a patriot.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:20 PM


Mass. to Get Special Vote if Kerry Wins (Fox News, June 23, 2004)

If John Kerry is elected president, his seat in the Senate would be filled by the winner of a special election rather than a successor picked by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney under a bill approved Wednesday by the Massachusetts Senate.

The Senate voted largely along party lines, 32-8, after a sometimes testy debate pitting the badly outnumbered Republicans, who opposed the change, against Democrats. The measure now goes to the Democratic-controlled House.

The bill requires a special election not more than 160 days and not less than 145 days after a vacancy is created in the Senate. Under the bill, a vacancy is created when a letter of resignation is filed, even if the incumbent senator does not actually resign until a later date. The winner of the special election would serve out the remainder of the unexpired term. Kerry's term ends in 2008.

Although Romney could veto the measure, the Democrats have the votes to overturn it.

Democrats have learned an invaluable lesson over the past two election cycles--only the U.S. Supreme Court can stop them from subverting the orderly administration of electoral democracy and that only in rare cases.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:43 PM


Poll shows Bush ahead in Wisconsin (UPI, 6/26/04)

The latest Badger Poll showed President George W. Bush ahead of Sen. John F. Kerry in the critical swing state of Wisconsin.

Bush led Kerry, 46 percent to 42 percent, in the poll, which sampled opinions from 504 adults. Liberal independent Ralph Nader took 5 percent in the survey, which was conducted by the University of Wisconsin's Survey Center between June 15 and June 23.

Swing? If the Democrats have to play catch-up in WI they're in deep. Plus there's a Senate seat on the line for them--one the GOP picked up in the '80 landslide.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:37 PM


Senate Candidate Vows to Carry Christian Values to Capitol (Chad Groening, June 25, 2004, AgapePress)

A successful black businessman who is seeking to become Georgia's next U.S. senator says he will never waffle on the pro-family issues. Former pizza magnate Herman Cain believes God had a hand on the founding of America, and he says people have no right to redefine what God has defined.

Cain is facing two incumbent Republican congressmen in the July 20 Republican Primary. The former president and CEO of Godfather's Pizza says his Christianity governs his political stances. So when issues such as abortion and so-called homosexual marriage come up, he notes, "They are not difficult questions for me to answer because of my biblical basis."

The Senate candidate says without hesitation, "I am pro-life from conception, and I believe that God defined marriage as between a man and a woman. And I believe God knew what he was doing -- end of story."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:34 AM


Unsettled civilizations: How the US can handle Iraq (Reuven Brenner, 6/24/04, Asia Times)

There is an old clause in the law codes that King Ine of Wessex established in the 8th century. If fewer than seven men attack private property, they are thieves; if between seven and 35 attack, they are a gang, and if more than 35, they are a military expedition. According to these criteria, billionaire philanthropist and financier George Soros' view of the September 11 attacks as a criminal matter rather than an act of war - stating that "crime requires police work, not military action" - is erroneous. After all, the 19 people carrying out the attack were backed by well-organized groups of thousands of other people and by a financing network too. Al-Qaeda's goal has been to fight the United States, and declare war on it. Why shouldn't one take such declarations seriously?

Whereas Soros believes that the police and the US giving more foreign aid are the solutions for dealing with terrorism, others view the events unfolding since September 11, 2001 in a different light. Samuel Huntington sees these events as part of a "clash of civilizations", and suggests remedies such as strengthening the US's military power and increasing coordination with Western Europe, Russia, Japan, and Latin America. Most important, Huntington concludes, is "to recognize that Western intervention in the affairs of other civilizations is probably the single-most dangerous source of instability and potential global conflict in a multicivilizational world". Though this last observation from Huntington's Clash of Civilizations is often quoted, closer inspection reveals that it is either meaningless or wrong.

It is not clear how Huntington perceives a world where - to keep things stable - the West would "not intervene". Channels of communications being what they are, how can the West not influence other civilizations? Prohibit broadcasting, wireless communications and trading, perhaps? Stop selling or giving medicine? Cease buying oil? As to the second part of the statement, Huntington is wrong. Defeating "emerging civilizations" such as Nazi Germany's or communist Russia's have diminished conflicts and increased people's well-being.

It is easy to criticize both grandiose thesis and narrow ones. To come up with a different way of perceiving the events and offer solutions is a bit harder. Yet this brief does just that. It shows that today's conflict between Islamic groups and the West, as well as within Islamic societies, can be viewed as one between "mobile" and "immobile" civilizations, whose members can be found in every society. What distinguishes the US is that it has far more people sharing the outlook of a "mobile civilization" than any other country. And what characterizes many Islamic countries is that they have a large number of people sharing the values of an "immobile" civilization. "Relativist" orthodoxy notwithstanding, one point I make is that although one can understand the values and ideals of "immobile societies", as fitting certain situations, there cannot be a compromise between these two civilizations. Today's circumstances - demographic in particular - require moves toward "mobility".

Perceived from this angle, September 11 and the other terrorist attacks reflect the power struggle within the Islamic world, a type of struggle that Western Europe went through for centuries. As in Europe, the conflict within Islam, played out both within the countries and on the world stage, is an attempt of their "immobile", tradition-based constituents to prevent members of their "mobile" constituents - and whom the US supports - to gain the upper hand.

Lee Harris has made so many excellent points it's hard to choose among them, but perhaps the most important--as well as the most difficult for us to fathom in the wake of 9/11--is that we don't much matter to al Qaeda in and of ourselves--we are incidental to their real aims. Something of a corollary to this is that even when we weren't much concerned with them--prior to 9/11--because of the inevitable effect of globalization 9the End of History, imperialism, call it what you will) on the Middle East, we were the main threat to them.

What's important in all this is that even if we did as the Left and far Right wished and withdrew back into Fortress America, we would remain effectively engaged in this conflict because the force of our ideas is driving the liberalization of the Islamic World. Even if we were militarily passive we'd still be on the intellectual offensive and al Qaeda may not care about the nature of our society but they very much care about their own society not becoming ever more like ours. Like it or not, we are natural enemies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:00 AM


GM expansion in Poland angers German unions (Ralph Atkins, June 25 2004, Financial Times)

General Motors, the US carmaker, angered German trade unions on Friday by announcing that its Opel subsidiary would expand production of its new Zafira family car in Poland rather than at Rüsselsheim, its main German factory.

The announcement comes a week after GM reorganised its European operations, which also include the Saab and Vauxhall brands, to centralise control in Zürich, Switzerland. Opel said its works in Gliwice, Poland, offered "significant competitive advantages" compared with the group's other production facilities. [...]

GM confirmed its decision to build the Zafira in Poland was linked to Warsaw's agreement to buy fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, under which the US side committed itself to boosting investment into the Polish economy.

But the Opel workers' council said the decision had been taken "on purely political considerations". Its statement said: "It is economically wrong and directed against Germany as an investment location and the employees of Adam Opel."

No one boards a sinking ship.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 AM


Thirteen Dead in Attacks Across Iraq (Fox News, June 26, 2004)

Nine people, six of them rebels, died in the Sunni Triangle city of Baqouba, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. Two Iraqi National Guardsmen and a policeman died in Mahmoudiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.

A car bomb in the northern city of Irbil wounded a Kurdish politician and 15 others, and the politician's bodyguard was killed.

An American soldier died of wounds incurred in an ambush on his patrol in central Baghdad, but the U.S. military did not say when the attack occurred.

The attacks in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, occurred only two days after U.S. tanks and jets routed insurgents who assaulted police stations and government offices there as part of a widespread offensive that killed about 100 people nationwide.

In the Saturday attacks, rebels targeted offices of two political parties — one of them run by Iraq's prime minister — a police station and a government building. U.S. soldiers and Iraqi security forces took up defensive positions across the city, the center of Iraq's orange-growing region.

Helpful of al-Zarqawi to provide clarity: it's Kurdistan, Shi'astan, Britain, America & allies vs. Sunni Arab extremists.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM


U.S. and European Union Pledge Support for Iraq (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/26/04)

The United States and the European Union offered strong support for Iraq's urgent request for NATO military help Saturday. ``NATO has the capability and I believe the responsibility to help the Iraqi people defeat the terrorist threat that's facing their country,'' President Bush said.

"I think the bitter differences of the war are over,'' Bush said at the close of a U.S.-European Union summit. "There is a common interest and a common goal to help the Iraqi people.''

The United States and the European Union agreed in a joint statement to back Iraq's urgent request for NATO military and support the training of Iraqi security forces, and to reduce Iraq's international debt, estimated to be $120 billion.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 AM


Army Used Speed and Might, Plus Cash, Against Shiite Rebel: The operation against the militia of Moktada al-Sadr is already being studied by an Army struggling to learn the lessons of a war that continues to evolve. (THOM SHANKER and ERIC SCHMITT, 6/26/04, NY Times)

When the First Armored Division got orders to mount its counterattack against the Sadr militia, one-fourth of its 30,000 soldiers and more than half of its 8,000 tanks, armored vehicles and artillery pieces had already left Iraq. The division, along with the Second Light Cavalry Regiment, also under its command, did an about-face, recalling troops, unpacking gear and receiving unwelcome orders to extend its stay by 90 days.

"I called together all my commanders, and I told them that we were going to demonstrate that a heavy force could be agile — to put heavy and agile in the same sentence, a place where they had never been before," said Maj. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, commander of the First Armored Division, whose signature weapon is the 70-ton Abrams tank.

"And 15 hours later, from a standing start in Baghdad, we moved 170 kilometers down to Najaf, and were in contact with the enemy," General Dempsey said, referring to a distance of just over 100 miles.

As quickly as the military spent its ammunition, though, it spent its money in an effort to heal some of the wounds it was inflicting, and those dealt by the militia as well.

From the moment the Americans recaptured Kut, the first town where they reclaimed control, officers switched from military to civil operations. Having scattered the enemy, they pulled them back together and put them to work in an amusement park destroyed in the fight.

"These are young men who have been poisoned, unemployed, disenfranchised and very poorly led," General Dempsey said. "We found a local tribal sheik who said he could corral them. We hired him to repair the amusement park, and he in turn hired these young men."

The example was repeated in Diwaniya and all across south-central Iraq, where General Dempsey spent several hundred thousand dollars to pay locals to remove rubble, rebuild roads and finance claims for damaged homes and businesses.

The campaign against the Sadr militia in south-central Iraq also had to be fought elsewhere — inside military headquarters in Baghdad, in the command-and-control "Tank" at the Pentagon, inside the National Security Council at the White House and even at the United Nations, as senior commanders debated with civilian policy makers how best to counter this menacing militia presence that grew in the shadows of the American occupation.

On one side were those who believed that Mr. Sadr could be sidelined, and that to attack him would only stoke support among his followers in Iraq and beyond its borders. This view was convincing to the uppermost level of commanders in Iraq, and certainly was the stance of Bush administration officials, especially after they heard the opinions of Iraq's own nascent leadership. On the other side were those, mostly field commanders, who argued that Mr. Sadr was a growing threat in advance of the June 30 transfer of sovereignty, and that eventually he would have to be arrested or eliminated to guarantee the future of a stable and democratic Iraq.

Should have just asked al-Sistani.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:04 AM


VEEP: I DON'T @#&*%!ING REGRET IT (DEBORAH ORIN, June 26, 2004, NY Post)

Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday said he has no regrets about using the F-word to Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy — and in fact "felt better after I had done it."

"Instead of having a substantive debate over important policy issues, [Leahy] had challenged my integrity, and I didn't like that," Cheney said in an exclusive interview with Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto."

"Most of all, I didn't like the fact that after [Leahy] had done so, then he wanted to act like, you know, everything's peaches and cream. And I informed him of my view of his conduct in no uncertain terms. And as I say, I felt better afterwards."

Ah, for the good old days when he could have just caned the Senator.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:01 AM


Inside Ronald Reagan: A Reason Interview (REASON, July 1975)

Those of us concerned about liberty have had good reason of late to be interested in Ronald Reagan. Increasingly, California’s former governor has been turning up in first place among Republican figures in political opinion polls, among Independents as well as Republicans. In addition, in recent months Reagan has taken to using the term "libertarian" (or "libertarian-conservative") to describe his political philosophy. All of which naturally made us interested in taking a closer look at the man and his ideas. Thanks to the efforts of the late Ned Hutchinson (a former Reagan aide), REASON was able to obtain time out of Reagan’s busy schedule for him to be interviewed by Editor Manuel S. Klausner.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Illinois in 1911. After a varied career as a radio sports announcer, motion picture actor, and TV host, Reagan became active in conservative politics. After achieving national publicity for his televised speeches for Barry Goldwater in 1964, Reagan went on to win the California governorship in 1966 and was re-elected to a second four-year term in 1970. Throughout his eight years in office, Reagan stressed the idea of holding down the size and cost of government, nonetheless, the state budget increased from $5.7 billion to $10.8 billion during his time in office.

Reagan did institute property and inventory tax cuts, but during his tenure the sales tax was increased to six percent and withholding was introduced to the state income tax system. Under Reagan’s administration, state funding for public schools (grades K- 12) increased 105 percent (although enrollment went up only 5 percent), state support for junior colleges increased 323 percent, and grants and loans to college students increased 900 percent Reagan’s major proposal to hold down the cost of government was a constitutional amendment to limit state spending to a specified (slowly declining) percentage of the gross income of the state’s population. The measure was submitted to the voters as an initiative measure, Proposition One, but was defeated when liberal opponents pictured it as a measure that would force local tax increases.

Reagan instituted a major overhaul of the state welfare system that reduced the total welfare caseload (which had been rapidly increasing) while raising benefits by 30 percent and increasing administrative costs. He encouraged the formation of HMO-like prepaid health care plans for MediCal patients, a move that has drawn mixed reactions from the medical community. His Federally-funded Office of Criminal Justice Planning made large grants to police agencies for computers and other expensive equipment, and funded (among other projects) a large-scale research effort on how to prosecute pornographers more effectively. He several times vetoed legislation to reduce marijuana possession to a misdemeanor, and signed legislation sharply increasing penalties for drug dealers

Thus, Reagan’s record, while generally conservative, is not particularly libertarian. But one’s administrative decisions, constrained as they are by existing laws, institutions, and politics, do not necessarily mirror one’s underlying philosophy. We were therefore curious to find out more about the real Ronald Reagan. Looking relaxed and healthy despite his 64 years and a hectic schedule, Reagan welcomed us to his Los Angeles office on Wilshire Boulevard and talked political philosophy with us for over an hour. Here is what we learned. [...]

REASON: Governor, could you give us some examples of what you would consider to be proper functions of government?

REAGAN: Well, the first and most important thing is that government exists to protect us from each other. Government exists, of course, for the defense of the nation, and for the defense of the rights of the individual. Maybe we don’t all agree on some of the other accepted functions of government, such as fire departments and police departments–again the protection of the people.

REASON: Are you suggesting that fire departments would be a necessary and proper function of government?

REAGAN: Yes. I know that there was a time back in history in which fire departments were private and you insured your house and then had an emblem on the front of your house which identified which company was responsible for protecting it against fire. I believe today, because of the manner in which we live, that, you can make a pretty good case for our public fire departments–because there are very few ways that you can handle fire in one particular structure today without it representing a threat to others.

REASON: How would you distinguish "socialized" fire departments and "socialized" fire insurance companies? Or would you be in favor of socialized fire insurance also?

REAGAN: No. Nor am I in favor of socialized medicine. But, there’s bound to be a grey area, an area in there in which you ask is this government protecting us from ourselves or is this government protecting us from each other. [...]

REASON: Don’t you think the Food and Drug Administration basically serves the Big Brother role, the protectionist role, and that the free market could adequately deal with it in the absence of the regulations?

REAGAN: Well, if they would. And I’m sure the free market would today, but remember that the FDA was born at a time when people in this country were being killed. Back in the Spanish American War, for instance, we lost soldiers who were sent poisoned canned meat and this is when the scandal erupted that led to the pure food laws.

Maybe what we should look at are those areas where government should be a "Big Brother" in ensuring that the private sector is doing the job. In other words, suppose the whole food industry would police itself. Then I think government would have a legitimate place in keeping a watchful eye on them to make sure that industry did not gradually, for profit, erode the standards. This I think could hold true with a great many other things. [...]

REASON: Let me ask you–still in the area of tax reform, Governor–how you feel about the Liberty Amendment, which would abolish the income tax. Is that something you’re in favor of?

REAGAN: Well, let me tell you where my doubts are there. I am very critical of the income tax–the progressive features and the complications of it–it’s the one instance in your whole fiscal experience in life in which you figure out what you owe and government reserves the right to come back and tell you your figures are wrong. If you’re going to have a tax the people should know what the tax is and the government should be able to tell them without the people having to go to the expense of figuring it out themselves.

On the other hand, I have always felt that taxing income is probably as fair a method of raising revenue for government as any. Let’s take a simple case. Suppose 100 of us were shipwrecked on an island and we knew there was little chance of release and we established a community to get along–to survive there. I n a sense we set up a government. What you’d probably do is ask each individual to dedicate a certain amount of his time to such things as standing guard or hunting and fishing to keep the people alive and providing fresh water and so forth, so you’d probably each one contribute a certain amount of service to the community. You’d basically be on your own except for X amount of time. Well, this in a sense is what you do with your income tax.

REASON: Of course, if you’re talking about starting from scratch–the shipwrecked people on the island– you’re really talking about a voluntary approach, aren’t you–as against taxation?

REAGAN: Well, we’re inclined to think that our government here is a voluntary approach and that we’ve set up a government to perform certain things, such as the national protection, etc.

REASON: Aren’t we deluding ourselves to talk in terms of consent, though? When we talk about taxation, aren’t we really dealing with force and coercion and nothing less than that?

REAGAN: Well, government’s only weapons are force and coercion and that’s why we shouldn’t let it get out of hand. And that’s what the founding fathers had in mind with the Constitution, that you don’t let it get out of hand.

But you say voluntary on the island. Let’s take a single thing. Let’s say that there was some force on the island, whether it’s hostiles or whether it was an animal, that represented a threat and required round he-clock guard duty for the safety of the community. Now I’m sure it would be voluntary but you get together and you say look, we’re all going to have to take turns guarding. Now what do you think would happen in that community if some individual said "Not me; I won’t stand guard." Well, I think the community would expel him and say "Well, we’re not going to guard you." So voluntarism does get into a kind of force and coercion where there is a legitimate need for it. [...]

REASON: Are there any particular books or authors or economists that have been influential in terms of your intellectual development?

REAGAN: Oh, it would be hard for me to pinpoint anything in that category. I’m an inveterate reader. Bastiat and von Mises, and Hayek and Hazlitt–I’m one for the classical economists....

REASON: What about Rand or Rothbard?

REAGAN: No. I haven’t read Ayn Rand since The Fountainhead. I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged. The last few years, I must say, have been a little rough on me for doing that kind of reading–for eight years I found that when I finished reading the memorandums and reports and so forth, then I found myself digging into nonfiction, economists and so forth, for help on the problems that were confronting me.

Not that it's difficult to do so, but it's certainly fun to watch Mr. Reagan manhandle libertarianism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Foes of U.S. in Iraq Criticize Insurgents: Clerics and Militiamen Decry Violence (Edward Cody, June 26, 2004, Washington Post)

Key Iraqi opponents of the U.S. occupation expressed unease Friday over the wave of insurgent attacks that killed more than 100 Iraqis a day earlier, and rejected efforts by foreign guerrillas to take the lead in the insurgency and mate it with the international jihad advocated by Osama bin Laden.

The objections -- from anti-U.S. Shiite and Sunni Muslim leaders, including rebellious cleric Moqtada Sadr, and even from militia fighters in the embattled city of Fallujah -- arose in part from revulsion at the fact that victims of the car bombings and guerrilla assaults in six cities and towns Thursday were overwhelmingly Iraqis. But they also betrayed Iraqi nationalist concerns that the fight against U.S. occupation forces risked being hijacked by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian whom U.S. officials describe as a paladin in bin Laden's al Qaeda network. [...]

"Which religion allows anyone to kill more than 100 Iraqis, destroy 100 families and destroy 100 houses?" raged [Ahmed Abdul Ghafour Samarrae, a Sunni cleric with a wide following] in his sermon. "Who says so? Who are those people who do this? Where did they come from? . . . It is a conspiracy to defame the reputation of the Iraqi resistance by wearing its dress and using its name falsely. These people hurt the Iraqis and Iraq, giving the occupier an excuse to stay longer."

Samarrae said he had learned that some Iraqi insurgent leaders have begun to clash with Zarqawi loyalists, insisting the jihadists do not represent the "right and true resistance." He warned against those who he said want to tear the country apart in the name of Islam and suggested they were foreigners who should not be part of Iraq's conflict.

In Baqubah, where scores of fighters proclaiming allegiance to Zarqawi attacked police stations and government buildings in Thursday's offensive, clerics called on the faithful not to support such attacks. The attackers, they said in their Friday sermons, were foreigners attacking Iraqis.

"This is the first time we have heard the minaret broadcast support for the Iraqi government," said Edward Peter Messmer, the occupation authority's coordinator for the Baqubah region, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. "And it couldn't come at a better time."

Sadr, whose Mahdi Army has fought U.S. troops in the Sadr City slum in eastern Baghdad and in Najaf, 90 miles to the south, ordered his followers to lay down their weapons and cooperate with Iraqi police in Sadr City to "deprive the terrorists and saboteurs of the chance to incite chaos and extreme lawlessness." [...]

Abdul Hadi Darraji, a Sadr spokesman in Sadr City, said Sadr's order was issued in part to see whether U.S. occupation authorities were serious about transferring power to Allawi's government. If they were, he suggested, Sadr's movement could continue cooperating with Iraqi authorities in combating terrorists who, he said, come from outside the country.

"This gesture is designed to distinguish between honorable, legal resistance against the occupation and the dishonorable resistance, which does not target the occupation, but targets the Iraqi people," he said.

James Fallows was on Diane Rehm's Friday news roundup today and said he didn't see what difference it would make to the level of violence in Iraq whether we were occupying the country or the Iraqis had sovereignty. He's a professional.

June 25, 2004

Posted by David Cohen at 9:13 PM


Scientist Sees Space Elevator in 15 Years (Carl Hartman, AP, 6/25/04)

President Bush wants to return to the moon and put a man on Mars. But scientist Bradley C. Edwards has an idea that's really out of this world: an elevator that climbs 62,000 miles into space.

Edwards thinks an initial version could be operating in 15 years, a year earlier than Bush's 2020 timetable for a return to the moon. He pegs the cost at $10 billion, a pittance compared with other space endeavors.

"It's not new physics — nothing new has to be discovered, nothing new has to be invented from scratch," he says. "If there are delays in budget or delays in whatever, it could stretch, but 15 years is a realistic estimate for when we could have one up."

Posted by David Cohen at 8:40 PM


Sen. Miller to Speak at GOP Convention (Jeffrey McMurray, AP, 6/25/04)

Georgia Sen. Zell Miller, the highest profile Democrat to endorse President Bush for re-election, will speak at the Republican National Convention later this summer, a congressional aide said Friday. . . .

Miller drew a sharp rebuke from the dean of the state's congressional delegation, Democratic Rep. John Lewis, who called the senator's decision "a shame and a disgrace." . . .

"I think he has sold his soul for a mess of pottage," said Lewis, in a reference to a speech Miller gave as a congressional candidate 40 years ago in which he argued that President Johnson was "a Southerner who sold his birthright for a mess of dark pottage" because of his support for the Civil Rights Act.

Pottage is defined as a thick soup or stew of vegetables.

This article illustrates the meaning of "mess", too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:18 PM


Al Gore Speech (JUNE 24, 2004)

The Administration works closely with a network of "rapid response" digital Brown Shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors for "undermining support for our troops."

Don't let Naomi Wolf hear you bad-mouthing earth-toned shirts...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 PM


Japan's soaring debt now more than 700 trillion yen (Japan Times, 6/26/04)

Japan's outstanding debt rose 4.9 percent from a year ago to a record 703 trillion yen as of March 31, the government said Friday.

At 1.4 times gross domestic product, Japan's public debt burden is the highest in the industrialized world. Per person, the government's liabilities total 5.5 million yen.

In other words, Japan's debt is double ours.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 PM


Carr tells Latham to toe US line (Dennis Shanahan, June 26, 2004, news.com.au)

LABOR'S longest-serving leader, NSW Premier Bob Carr, has warned Mark Latham to exercise the "utmost diplomacy" on withdrawing troops from Iraq and urged him to accept the US free trade deal "the sooner the better".

Mr Carr, who has just returned from a two-week visit to the US, warned his federal counterparts Washington feels "wounded" and is sensitive "to any ally, any friend, turning their back on America".

The NSW Premier said he had been told in Washington that Canberra should think "carefully about a premature withdrawal from Iraq" because helping the US in a "tough time" meant Australia could have an influence on US policies.

Mr Carr's comments, made in Canberra yesterday and to be broadcast on ABC radio this weekend, increase the pressure on federal Labor's policy on two fronts - troop withdrawal by Christmas and opposition to the US trade agreement.

In an interview with the ABC's Sunday Profile radio program to be broadcast this weekend, Mr Carr said Australia was highly regarded in Washington because "we've got troops in Iraq".

"I'm contemplating a change of government - if Labor is to be elected in the forthcoming elections, this will be a major diplomatic challenge," he said.

In an apparent slight to Mr Latham, Mr Carr said "a lot of diplomacy and skill will be required" and suggested former Labor leader Kim Beazley and foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd and "other members of the Labor team, caucus and shadow cabinet" would be up to it.

A family adjusts itself to the most dysfunctional member.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:12 PM


Ohio a Good Campaign Backdrop for Kerry (CONNIE MABIN, 6/25/04, AP)

Residents of this northeast Ohio town have some advice for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry when he visits Friday: don't use their hard luck for political gain.

Local governments are struggling with budget deficits and, in the past month alone, two major area employers have announced plans to cut thousands of manufacturing jobs in a state already reeling from such losses.

"The job losses could hurt Bush, but Kerry's got to be careful not to be too political. That could rub people the wrong way," said Robert Chaney, who is retired from his job at Timken Co. (TKR), a bearings maker.

One of Kerry's central campaign issues remains the economy and job losses under President Bush, despite signs of an economic rebound and the creation of nearly 1 million new jobs this year.

On the stump, Kerry often derides an administration that he says has the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover in the Great Depression.

Here's a poignant thought: imagine how much better the world, but especially America, would be today if Herbert Hoover had this economy in 1932 and we avoided the New Deal/Great Society?

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 4:34 PM


Howard Zinn: You Can't be Neutral on a Moving Train (Movie Review, Boston Globe, 6/25/2004)

If Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" leaves you hungry for another movie about someone fighting the government on behalf of truth, justice, and the average American, "Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" might hit the spot....

The film ... [is] short enough to get you back out on the streets, challenging the system....

If Zinn weren't such a compelling, compassionate figure, and if his dedication to ideas of governmental honesty and human equality weren't so ineffable ...

His words ... are the gentle, temperate writings of a statesman. It's hard to find invective in them....

The ideas are generous and inclusive rather than divisive ...

So true. Remember when he was generous and inclusive to Sauron?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:50 PM


Why Is Religion Natural?: Is religious belief a mere leap into irrationality as many skeptics assume? Psychology suggests that there may be more to belief than the suspension of reason. (Pascal Boyer , March 2004, Skeptical Inquirer)

The first thing to understand about religion is that it does not activate one particular capacity in the mind, a "religious module" or system that would create the complex set of beliefs and norms we usually call religion. On the contrary, religious representations are sustained by a whole variety of different systems, of which I will describe some presently. A second important point is that all these systems are parts of our regular mental equipment, religion or no religion. In other words, belief in religion activates mental systems involved in a whole variety of non-religious domains. These two points have important consequences for our understanding of why there is some kind of religion in all human cultures, why religion is so easy to acquire and transmit. [...]

The lesson of the cognitive study of religion is that religion is rather "natural" in the sense that it consists of by-products of normal mental functioning. Each of the systems described here (a sense for social exchange, a specific mechanism for detecting animacy in surrounding objects, an intuitive fear of invisible contamination, a capacity for coalitional thinking, etc.) is the plausible result of selective pressures on cognitive organization. In other words, these capacities are the outcome of evolution by natural selection.

In other words, religious thought activates cognitive capacities that developed to handle non-religious information. In this sense, religion is very similar to music and very different from language. Every normal human being acquires a natural language and that language is extraordinarily similar to that of the surrounding group. It seems plausible that our capacity for language acquisition is an adaptation. By contrast, though all human beings can effortlessly recognize music and religious concepts, there are profound individual differences in the extent to which they enjoy music or adhere to religious concepts. The fact that some religious notions have been found in every human group does not mean that all human beings are naturally religious. Vast numbers of human beings do without it altogether, like for instance the majority of Europeans for several centuries.

Is religion "in the genes," and could it be considered a result of natural selection? Some evolutionary biologists think that is so, because the existence of religious beliefs may provide some advantages for individuals or groups that hold them. The evidence for this is, however, still incomplete. It may seem more prudent and empirically justified to say that religion is a very probable byproduct of various brain systems that are the result of evolution by natural selection.

Taking all this into account, it would seem that the "sleep of reason" interpretation of religion is less than compelling. It is quite clear that explicit religious belief requires a suspension of the sound rules according to which most scientists evaluate evidence.

Actually, the first thing to understand is that scientific belief too "requires a suspension of the sound rules according to which most scientists evaluate evidence." It too is a form of faith. Thus the very idea of explaining "religion" via "science" is inherently nonsensical, like an orange applying the rules of orangeness to explain fruit.

The answer to the question, "Why is religion natural?", is quite simple: it isn't.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:23 PM


"Michael Moore's next movie" (Steve Martinovich, 6/25/04, ESR: Musings)

ESR OBTAINS SCRIPT FOR NEXT MICHAEL MOORE MOVIE: It's apparently entitled "Pig at the Trough" and it blows apart conventional thinking about the Oil for Food scandal that has conservatives salivating at the prospect of embarrassing the United Nations. According to Moore's next movie, the villain behind the scandal isn't who you think it is.

OPENING CREDITS: Pig at the Trough: The United Nations, Steve Martinovich and a conservative conspiracy by Michael Moore.

A word of caution: the photographic evidence is very disturbing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:11 PM


Bush will have nothing to celebrate if he comes here: A presidential visit would be a furtive and humbling affair (Jonathan Steele, June 25, 2004, The Guardian)

What kind of Iraq will George Bush see when he comes here next week to celebrate the handover of sovereignty to the country's new interim government? It will certainly not be the scene that Karl Rove, the White House political adviser, must have hoped for when he hatched the idea last autumn of bringing his boss into the heart of downtown Baghdad for the ceremony.

Huge crowds of adoring Iraqis would line the streets as the presidential motorcade passed. George Bush would mount a platform at the very spot where Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in April 2003, the Great Liberator addressing the Iraqi nation and wishing them well as they embarked on the road to freedom and democracy. God Bless Iraq. God Bless America.

Now it will be a much more humble and humbling affair. There will be a speech, of course, but only after a helicopter dash to the heavily-fortified "green zone" where the occupation authorities have held sway for the past 14 months, handshakes with a small group of carefully selected Iraqis in the government which the Americans had a decisive role in appointing, and some hasty photo-ops with US troops.

Even this hole-in-corner performance will be enough to embarrass John Kerry, which is, after all, its main purpose. Like the Thanksgiving turkey platter which Bush carried out from behind a curtain in a hangar at Baghdad airport last November, next week's publicity coup will be hard for the Democratic party's candidate to denounce. You can't sneer at patriotism or deride a president for visiting the trenches.

By any wider scale of measurement Bush's Baghdad visit will only serve to highlight the failures of his overall Iraq strategy. Instead of enjoying peace and prosperity, Iraq is in a state of war.

The Bush visit has not been announced, and may yet be cancelled for security reasons, leaving Colin Powell, the secretary of state, or perhaps not even him, to come in the president's place. But like clues in a treasure hunt, telltale hints of the Bush/Rove plan are there for the finding.

The President should obviously be there for most important moment in Middle Eastern history, but it's smart of the Left to start trying to diminish the magnitude of an event that puts paid to all their "war for oil" and "imperialist" nonsense.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:03 PM


Get Over Yourselves: Here's a little constructive criticism for two liberal icons: Margaret Cho, be more funny; Tom Hanks, loosen up. (Noy Thrupkaew, The American Prospect)

Dear Margaret, [...]

I know you're getting attacked viciously all the time. I know about the Drudge Report thing – how Drudge selectively excerpted portions of your performance at a MoveOn.org event where you criticized Bush in your usual fierce manner. FreeRepublic.com then linked to it, and you got torrents of awful hate mail from right-wing conservatives – people were calling you a gook, a slut, a pig. And just a few weeks ago, the president of the Omni Hotels, where you were doing a convention gig, turned off the mic and stopped payment on your check. He's a close friend of George Bush, so I guess he didn't like what you had to say about the Mess o' Potamia.

When stuff like this happens, I'm reminded just how radical – and, yes, revolutionary – it is for you to be you: Korean-American, feminist, queer, sexual, and scatological, an unflagging advocate and political activist on so many fronts of injustice. I see your Web site in support of queer marriage: loveisloveislove.com. I see you stumping for Ms. Magazine. I want you to keep on keeping on, you know? But I want you to make me laugh, too. Is that so selfish?

Yes, you can still be political and funny – whoever says those things are incompatible is too stupid to live. The issue is the approach. Before, it was enough for you to lean on the "I" in the identity politics. I felt blessed that you even existed. When I interviewed you for a story long ago, I was plotzing the whole time, and I couldn't find the wherewithal to thank you for being a role model, an inspiration to this Mini-Cho wannabe. That "I Will Survive" feel to your comedy – the same thing that made some magazine call you and Cher, Ms. "Do You Believe?", comeback queens – was exhilarating and great. But your shtick is starting to feel indulgent. [...]

Dear Tom, [...]

First Margaret, now you. I so appreciate your support of queer causes, of liberal politics, of little indie movies, even if they turn out to be as hideous as My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But does being a card-carrying liberal or progressive mean that you can't be a little bit evil, a little bit funny anymore? Look at your buddy Steven Spielberg, the prototypical Hollywood liberal. Too bad his humanistic feelings toward his characters have run rampant – his deep concern, his sense of moral righteousness, his inability to inflict unhappy endings on characters he loves keeps him from following the natural arc of his storylines and making the art he so badly wants to create. If someone came by and guillotined the last twenty minutes of almost all his movies, we'd have a serious oeuvre. If ET kicked the bucket, if the little boy robot of A.I. froze to death, if Minority Report's Detective John Anderton (Tom Cruise) rotted in prison forever... well, those would be some damn fine movies, instead of some damn fine movies nearly wiped out by a landslide of goo at the end.

No one says you can't be political and funny, rather, as Ms Thrupkaew herself accidentally argues, there's no such thing as liberal humor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:54 PM


How the EU Really Works (Martin Hüfner | Monday, June 21, 2004, The Globalist)

Europe has been more successful than many would believe in taking courageous political steps and undertaking reforms in recent years — much more so than many originally expected.

The creation of the European Monetary Union, the eastern enlargement of the Union, the new European constitution are all huge projects. To my knowledge, they are larger than anything accomplished on a regional level anywhere in the world in this period.

Despite what critics say, Europe on the whole is anything but an impediment to reform. On the contrary, it is an engine for change.

In addition, there were important deregulations — for example — in the telecommunication sector from which consumers profit. In all fairness, however, it must be added that there are also areas — such as agricultural policy and the growth of bureaucracy — in which developments were more disappointing.

Despite what critics say, Europe on the whole is anything but an impediment to reform. On the contrary, it is an engine for change. The key question is a different one: Why has so much been achieved at the EU level — and so little at the national level?

Put that way what he's saying is a truism--of course the EU itself is the engine for giving the EU more power and the impediment is the sovereign states and peoples that recognize this is a terrible idea. The essay does contain a sentence though of exquisite beauty, which sums up everything that's wrong with these kinds of superbureaucracies: "The introduction of the euro and the demise of the deutschmark was the price which the Germans had to pay for the French consent to German reunification."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:46 PM


Martin Wolf Vs. the World Bank: Critics of globalization would never believe that they have anything in common with the Financial Times' Martin Wolf. And yet, Mr. Wolf's criticism of the World Bank is probably as harsh as anybody's. In his new book "Why Globalization Works," he offers his views on the disastrous failures of the World Bank — and the institution's uncertain future. (Martin Wolf | Friday, June 25, 2004, The Globalist)

By the late 1970s, I had concluded that — for all the good intentions and abilities of its staff — the World Bank was a fatally flawed institution.

The most important source of its failures was its commitment to lending — almost regardless of what was happening in the country it was lending to.

Bank lending made it easier for corrupt and occasionally vicious governments to ignore the interests and wishes of their peoples.

This was an inevitable flaw, since the institution could hardly admit that what it could offer — money — would often make little difference. But this flaw was magnified by the personality of Robert McNamara, former U.S. Defense Secretary, who was the World Bank's dominating president from 1967 to 1981.

McNamara was a man of ferocious will, personal commitment to alleviating poverty — and frighteningly little common sense.

That could pretty much be modern liberalism's epitaph: "ferocious will, personal commitment, and frighteningly little common sense."

Posted by Peter Burnet at 2:34 PM


Genetic mutation turns tot into superboy (MSNBC, June 25th, 2004)

Somewhere in Germany is a baby Superman, born in Berlin with bulging arm and leg muscles. Not yet 5, he can hold seven-pound weights with arms extended, something many adults cannot do. He has muscles twice the size of other kids his age and half their body fat.

DNA testing showed why: The boy has a genetic mutation that boosts muscle growth.

The discovery, reported in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, represents the first documented human case of such a mutation.
Many scientists believe the find could eventually lead to drugs for treating people with muscular dystrophy and other muscle-destroying conditions. And athletes would almost surely want to get their hands on such a drug and use it like steroids to bulk up.

The boy’s mutant DNA segment was found to block production of a protein called myostatin that limits muscle growth. The news comes seven years after researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore created buff “mighty mice” by “turning off” the gene that directs cells to produce myostatin.

“Now we can say that myostatin acts the same way in humans as in animals,” said the boy’s physician, Dr. Markus Schuelke, a professor in the child neurology department at Charite/University Medical Center Berlin. “We can apply that knowledge to humans, including trial therapies for muscular dystrophy.”

Given the huge potential market for such drugs, researchers at universities and pharmaceutical companies already are trying to find a way to limit the amount and activity of myostatin in the body. Wyeth has just begun human tests of a genetically engineered antibody designed to neutralize myostatin.

Gee, it looks like a whole new generation is going to be gulping miracle fashion drugs in order to all look like Schwarzenegger. You have a problem with that? What's the matter, buddy, are you saying you’re in favour of muscular dystrophy?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:33 PM


Sources: Ryan to drop out (SCOTT FORNEK, June 25, 2004, Chicago Sun Times)

Under fire for his handling of old allegations of taking his wife to sex clubs, Republican Jack Ryan is folding his bid for the U.S. Senate, campaign sources told party officials Friday. [...]

The 19-member Republican State Central Committee would select a replacement candidate. The deadline to put a name on the ballot is Aug. 27. Ryan’s replacement will become an instant underdog in a campaign against Democratic State Sen. Barack Obama. [...]

The poll showed the favored politician to replace Ryan would be former Gov. Jim Edgar, who, in a head-to-head contest still would trail 45 percent to 42 percent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:23 PM


Chirac's offer to Sarkozy: A poisoned chalice? (Katrin Bennhold, June 25, 2004, International Herald Tribune)

In the latest chapter of the simmering power struggle between France's two most closely watched politicians, President Jacques Chirac told his finance minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, that he was free to seek the presidency of the ruling party, traditionally seen as paving the way to the presidency.

The catch: Sarkozy has to give up his ministerial duties, according to sources close to Chirac.

It is yet another poisoned chalice dangling in front of Sarkozy, France's most popular minister, political experts said Thursday.

The proposal leaves the 49-year- old Sarkozy with a dilemma: quit his job at the Finance Ministry after barely three months, giving the impression that he puts his career before his country, or stay put and forgo the full-blown support of the financing and campaign machine that is the Union for a Popular Movement, or UMP, ahead of the next presidential election in 2007.

"This is very clever maneuvering," said Brice Teinturier, director of political studies at the Paris-based Sofres Institute. "Given how popular Sarkozy is, it would be very difficult for Chirac to oppose his candidacy, so he is trying to stifle his ambitions without saying it."

Why not just say you can do both and make Chirac fire you if he disagrees?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:32 PM

WRONG? (via ef brown)

In Allah's Name?: Muslims in America react to the recent beheadings. (NAOMI SCHAEFER RILEY, June 25, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

"At best, it's vigilantism. At worst it's anarchy. Islam is against both." That was the reaction of Daniel McBride to the recent beheadings of South Korean Kim Sun Il and Americans Paul Johnson and Nicholas Berg. Mr. McBride, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, Fla., wants to make clear that "for these radicals to even imply that what they're doing is Islamically correct is wrong."

Many Muslims are disturbed that such acts of terrorism are being committed in the name of their religion. The Council on American-Islamic Relations launched a petition a few weeks ago that notes: "We, the undersigned Muslims wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder, and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent."

Mohammad Tariq Sherwani, the director of the Muslim Center in Flushing, N.Y., signed the petition because he was concerned that "lots of times, Muslims don't speak up against violence." He expressed special sadness about the death of Paul Johnson. "That gentleman in Saudi Arabia. He was so honest. He lived there for years. He trusted the people. He was killed by the people he trusted."

Kareem Irfan, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations in Greater Chicago, cites the "strong traditions of the prophet Muhammad, which require dealings based on compassion, tolerance and mercy, even with military engagement." He emphasizes: "With civilians, there is no possible justification [for mistreatment] in the Koran or the actions of the Prophet."

That the terrorists were chanting "God is great" while executing Nicholas Berg is particularly disturbing for Yassir Fazaga, the imam at the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo, Calif. "As if that gives you an OK, that what you're doing is the will of God. . . . It's a disgrace."

As Mr. brown pointed out, one would like to see a bit more visceral outrage.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:17 PM


U.S. launches another strike against terrorist safehouse in Iraq (Associated Press, June 25, 2004)

The U.S. military launched its third airstrike in a week Friday in Fallujah, using precision weapons to destroy a suspected safehouse for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terror network. U.S. officials estimated 20-25 people were killed.

The Jordanian-born terrorist claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks in other Iraqi cities that killed more than 100 people Thursday - less than a week before Iraq's new government takes power. Insurgents set off car bombs and seized police stations in an offensive aimed at creating chaos before the handover.

"Wherever and whenever we find elements of the Zarqawi network, we will attack them,'' a military statement said of the strike. [...]

"Our culture, our customs have been destroyed,'' interim Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan said. "The time has come for a showdown.''

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 AM


Conspiracy theories: Attempts to cast the war in Iraq as a plot should give its critics pause (Jonathan Tobin, 6/25/04, Jewish World Review)

[N]utty conspiracy theories are not the sole province of the Jew-haters who seem to dominate the Muslim world these days. Although it would be unfair to draw a straight line between vile Islamic anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and those of the American far left, let's just say that the crackpots of Cairo might find something to talk about with the likes of, say, Tim Robbins or Michael Moore.

Robbins, the Hollywood star/playwright, had his anti-Iraq war satire "Embedded" produced at New York's Public Theater this spring. The play, which portrayed the war as a neoconservative conspiracy, will be remembered chiefly for the fact that, as Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout pointed out, Robbins actually used a publication put out by lunatic left-cult leader Lyndon Larouche as the source for a misquote of conservative philosopher Leo Strauss.

As for Moore, his new "documentary" film "Fahrenheit 9/11" is about to open after a huge buildup in the press. The flick, which won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, purportedly shows the war to have been a conspiracy cooked up by evil-doers in the White House.

Among the chattering classes, Moore is considered something of a comic genius, though his previous films were more agitprop than wit. I'll leave the skewering of his latest work to others after it comes out. But I will note that any one who could have written in a book, as Moore did in his best-seller "Dude, Where's My Country?" that George W. Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks, or that most Israelis "know they are in the wrong" in defending themselves against Palestinian suicide bombings, is not exactly a trusted source on the subject of the war on terrorism.

Though Moore belongs on the Sci-Fi Channel, his brand of analysis is being treated as the stuff of mainstream debate on C-Span. And that has consequences not just for the upcoming presidential election, but for the sanity of American democracy itself.

Why would it be wrong to draw that line? Doesn't it seem most likely that those who portray the war as a neocon (for which read "Jewish") conspiracy are trying to tap into ambient anti-Semitism in order to discredit a policy they don't like?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 AM


GOP lawmakers agree Ryan must go (LYNN SWEET AND SCOTT FORNEK, June 25, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

Led by Illinois' most powerful Republican, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, the state's 10 GOP members of Congress agreed Thursday that Jack Ryan cannot withstand the sex scandal dogging his campaign and needs to step down as the party's nominee for U.S. Senate.

It is the strongest signal to date that Hastert will use his clout to pressure Ryan to vacate the ticket and free the Illinois GOP leaders to pick a replacement.

The move comes as Ryan took a two-day hiatus to privately mull whether to pull the plug or mount a full-scale battle to get his beleaguered campaign back on track -- possibly through TV or full-page newspaper ads.

Were he a Democrat his behavior and lying about it wouldn't matter, but the GOP has standards.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:56 AM


Minister is left eating humble pie (HAMISH MACDONELL, 6/25/04, The Scotsman)

THE Scottish Parliament was in a frenzy over a new scandal yesterday as reports emerged of "Porky Piegate" - a tale of a minister, a hearty lunch and an embarrassing apology.

The minister was the gaffe-prone Frank McAveety, the arts minister, who was forced to apologise to his fellow MSPs yesterday for taking time out to enjoy a solid lunch in the MSPs’ canteen when he should have been answering questions in the chamber.

Mr McAveety’s late lunch of pie, roast potatoes and beans was rudely interrupted at 2:10pm yesterday afternoon when his one of his colleagues burst into the canteen and told him he should have been answering questions on behalf of the Executive in the chamber from 2pm.

Mr McAveety rushed to the chamber but then managed to compound his original error by telling MSPs he had been "unavoidably detained" because of a literary event, failing to mention that he had actually been late because of his desire for a pie and beans.

The minister had indeed been at an arts council book event but he had left in good time to make the chamber in time for ministers’ questions.

He had actually arrived late for the Scottish Arts Council's Book of the Year award as well and told the guests he had been detained by First Minister’s Questions in the parliament.

And, in an off-the-cuff remark which he may come to regret, Mr McAveety told guests at the awards ceremony: "I understand I have occasionally been described as a philistine. I have checked it in the dictionary and I can't find it under ‘F’ anywhere."

A man's gotta eat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 AM


Framing Michael Moore: What do Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Michael Moore have in common? They have all fallen victim to Michael Isikoff’s poison pen. (Joel Bleifuss, June 24, 2004, In These Times)

Yes, Fahrenheit 9/11 is propaganda, in the same way the nightly news is, or the front page of your daily paper. It’s just that Moore is more upfront with the point he is trying to make.

No argument there.

Posted by David Cohen at 10:14 AM


Three Men in a Boat (Jerome K. Jerome, 1889)

Will it be the same in the future? Will the prized treasures of to-day always be the cheap trifles of the day before? Will rows of our willow-pattern dinner-plates be ranged above the chimneypieces of the great in the years 2000 and odd? Will the white cups with the gold rim and the beautiful gold flower inside (species unknown), that our Sarah Janes now break in sheer light-heartedness of spirit, be carefully mended, and stood upon a bracket, and dusted only by the lady of the house?

That china dog that ornaments the bedroom of my furnished lodgings. It is a white dog. Its eyes blue. Its nose is a delicate red, with spots. Its head is painfully erect, its expression is amiability carried to verge of imbecility. I do not admire it myself. Considered as a work of art, I may say it irritates me. Thoughtless friends jeer at it, and even my landlady herself has no admiration for it, and excuses its presence by the circumstance that her aunt gave it to her.

But in 200 years' time it is more than probable that that dog will be dug up from somewhere or other, minus its legs, and with its tail broken, and will be sold for old china, and put in a glass cabinet. And people will pass it round, and admire it. They will be struck by the wonderful depth of the colour on the nose, and speculate as to how beautiful the bit of the tail that is lost no doubt was.

We, in this age, do not see the beauty of that dog. We are too familiar with it. It is like the sunset and the stars: we are not awed by their loveliness because they are common to our eyes. So it is with that china dog. In 2288 people will gush over it. The making of such dogs will have become a lost art. Our descendants will wonder how we did it, and say how clever we were. We shall be referred to lovingly as "those grand old artists that flourished in the nineteenth century, and produced those china dogs."

The "sampler" that the eldest daughter did at school will be spoken of as "tapestry of the Victorian era," and be almost priceless. The blue-and-white mugs of the present-day roadside inn will be hunted up, all cracked and chipped, and sold for their weight in gold, and rich people will use them for claret cups; and travellers from Japan will buy up all the "Presents from Ramsgate," and "Souvenirs of Margate," that may have escaped destruction, and take them back to Jedo as ancient English curios.

At this point Harris threw away the sculls, got up and left his seat, and sat on his back, and stuck his legs in the air. Montmorency howled, and turned a somersault, and the top hamper jumped up, and all the things came out.

Late last night, I finished rereading Three Men in a Boat for the umpteenth time. I recommend it whole-heartedly. First, it is a funny book. Second, it gives a better sense of the true nature of Victorian life than any history or contemporary fiction. Third, while not itself a conservative book, it demonstrates again that human nature has no history. You will instantly recognize Jerome's complaints about his hectic 19th century life or the sprawl that has grown up around English river towns and you will instantly recognize how easily he would fit in now, or we would fit in then. More directly, in his relationship with his friends (why is it that we will insult and assault our friends as we would never treat a stranger?) and himself, you will see that people have not changed at all in the last 115 years.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 9:35 AM


There is Hope in the Holy Land (Max Hastings, The Spectator, June 26th, 2004)

In one of hundreds of grey concrete breezeblock shanties that pass for houses in Shatila refugee camp, I drank coffee with Mohammed Khalout, who has lived there since he arrived as a small child in 1948. A score or so members of his family clustered around us as we talked, because in Gaza no one has any place to go. The Khalouts were a jolly crew that morning, obviously welcoming a distraction. Since Israeli punitive operations destroyed Gaza’s flickers of economic life, terrorism and the proclamation of grievances have become the only meaningful activities. Who can be surprised that refugees breed vast families? Procreation and suicide-bombing are their only forms of self-assertion. ‘We are not Jew-haters,’ says Mohammed. ‘But the way they treat us, when we see horrible things, innocent people and children being killed, of course we feel hate. They have no respect for us.’ What does he think of the suicide bombers? He hesitated perceptibly, then said, ‘The Israelis are killing the innocent. They don’t distinguish. Imagine 50 people living in three rooms in this house, which we can’t get out of. If you want to judge the suicide bombers, look at where they come from.’ The whole family is remarkably articulate, perhaps because they have had so much practice at rehearsing their miseries. From a rusty old tin box, they produce the handsomely crested British Mandate title deeds of the house and land in Israel they lost for ever in 1948, yet which dominate their folk memory.

Everything that Israelis say is true about the difficulty — perhaps impossibility — of making deals with the Palestinians. In Gaza and the West Bank scarcely the vestige of a political or social structure exists. Every man with a weapon is a warlord. Crime of all kinds — blackmail, intimidation, rape, murder — thrives unchecked.

It was impossible to spend an hour with the Khalout family without feeling a surge of anger and pity for their predicament. I asked the swarming tribe of children around us whom they like on TV. With one voice, they cried eagerly, ‘Rambo! Rambo!’ God in heaven, what a role model for these people. They exist, but they do not live. A Western diplomat remarked to me, ‘They’re queueing outside the mosques to become suicide bombers. It’s the fashionable thing to do. The only reason there have been few explosions lately is that closing the borders has made it hard to get bombs to their targets.’ Israel’s draconian security measures impose a huge economic cost, but have proved notably successful in curbing suicide bombing.

The Palestinians inhabit a fantasy world because never in their lives have they been permitted to make real choices, real decisions. As prisoners of their own ghastly leadership as well as of the Israelis, they have been denied access to adult life. Thus they have become incapable of living it — only of dying it. I came out of Gaza sated with tales of atrocity and recrimination, of murdered children and wrecked homes, which are the only currency valued by the inhabitants.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 9:32 AM


For what purpose are the innocents slain? The Daily Star (Beirut), June 25, 2004

Thursday was a very bloody day in Iraq, and for what? At least 75 more people have been killed. Among this number are less than a dozen military personnel - Iraqi national guardsmen and American soldiers. The majority were innocent Iraqis.

Similarly, the killing of individual, innocent South Korean and American civilians, whether by grisly beheadings or by shooting, in Iraq or elsewhere, serves little purpose other than to turn the world away in horror. What does the slaying of Nicholas Berg, Paul Johnson and Kim Sun-il add to the equation other than more gruesome death? How does their death advance the cause of the Arab and Muslim worlds? What do the Iraqi people and the Palestinian people gain from this bloodshed?

"Senseless" is an understatement. We are witnessing the actions of psychopaths, or, rather, of "psycho-politicopaths." They are doing little but expressing their own machismo rage in a way designed to make a spectacle of their own aimless existence. They are attempting, and failing, to invent a cause for themselves and to pathetically but tragically convince the world they have found one.

They and their creed must be firmly rejected. But they do represent a lesson for the international community, and this lesson is nowhere more pertinent than in the Middle East. The region's leaders and governments in particular should heed this lesson: Callous serial killers such as those who are currently shocking the world can only thrive in an environment where justice does not prevail. These beasts that pass themselves as human beings are an expression of disease, the product of injustice.

That disease and that injustice are homegrown - they are not inflicted by outside adversaries, real or imagined. Those who hold the reins of power in this region should hold up a mirror, and they should not like what they see.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 AM


Bush narrowing choices for CIA director (AP, 6/24/04)

Administration officials say President Bush has narrowed his field of candidates for CIA director to at least two people, just two weeks after outgoing director George Tenet announced his departure.

Two administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Bush is focusing on House Intelligence Chairman Porter Goss, R-Fla., and at least one other candidate. The officials spoke on the condition they not be identified because the president prefers to make his own personnel announcements.

"The president has not made a decision, and there's more than one candidate," said White House communications director Dan Bartlett.

An outsider with executive experience would be more useful.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 AM


THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: By describing various parts -- deregulation, media consolidation, pre-emptive war -- Americans fail to grasp the problem as a whole: failed conservative politics. (Laurie Spivak, AlterNet)

Search on Lexis-Nexis for the phrase "failed conservative policies," and you'll turn up a grand total of three articles: two in British newspapers and one magazine article, all referring to the conservative Tories in England.

Now try the same search but replace the word "conservative" with "liberal." You'll find that the phrase "failed liberal policies" has been echoed by a slew of conservative commentators and politicians including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Dan Quayle, George Pataki, Rudy Guiliani, Ralph Reed, and Tom DeLay. For more than a decade, "failed liberal policies" has been the conservative revolution's official unofficial mantra.

In 1988 at a rally for George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle, Ronald Reagan asked his audience, "Do we want to risk going back to the old, failed liberal policies of the past?" to which the crowd in unison responded, "No!" Throughout the rest of the Bush campaign, the phrase made regular appearances on the stump. Then, in the final days before the 1988 election, Bush delivered the wholesale indictment and definitive declaration, "If I win this election, it will be a rejection of the failed liberal policies of the past."

George H.W. Bush did win, but just four years later, after only one term, voters elected to reject Mr. Bush and arguably his failed conservative policies as well. Today, little more than a decade later, voters are being asked to weigh in on the performance of Mr. Bush's son, who according to George Will is the most conservative president in living memory next to Ronald Reagan, "and not second by much." Yet critics of the 43rd President, the second most conservative president in living memory, rarely, if ever, criticize failed conservative policies.

George Bush Senior lost because he raised taxes, a failed liberal policy. Meanwhile, his son is more conservative than Ronald Reagan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM

ONLY BETTER (via The Other Brother):

Europe's 'insult' to the Internet (Declan McCullagh, June 21, 2004, CNET News.com)

A report released last month by the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association shows that the usual heaping helpings of taxes and regulations continue to hurt the growth of stock markets and funds available for start-up companies in Europe. It rates the United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Ireland as the most attractive for investment.

That should be no surprise. Statistics compiled by the European governments bear this out. The total tax burden for the average worker is 48.3 percent in France, 50.7 percent in Germany, and an astonishing 52.6 percent in Hungary. Compare this to a total tax rate in Ireland of just 25.8 percent and the U.K. of 29.7 percent--the two countries that are most like the U.S. in political temperament.

Thomas Hellmann, a professor at Stanford Business School, said in a paper on developing a venture capital industry that the U.S. history "did not involve heavy-handed direct government intervention."

"Indeed, U.S. government took a market-enhancing approach, with policies designed mainly to enable private actors to develop new firms, markets and institutions," his paper said. "Most important, the government did not try to influence the specific course of development."

One result is that the average American is wealthier than the average European, and far more likely to have a job. France's socialist government, thanks to its unwillingness to relinquish control of companies like France Telecom and Air France, enjoys a per capita GDP of $27,500. Germany's economy is moribund, with a growth rate of approximately zero and a GDP per capita of $27,600. Thanks to high taxes and weighty labor regulations, Italy's per capita GDP is $26,800.

Compare those figures with a U.S. growth rate of around 4.2 percent, and a per capita GDP of $37,800 last year.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist put it well in a floor speech in March when he said: "European economies are buried by public-sector debt; European economies are drained of their vitality by excessive taxation; and European economies are strangled by excessive regulation from bureaucrats sitting in Brussels."

It's important to acknowledge that the U.S. legal and regulatory system has its own set of serious problems. But to attract entrepreneurs and tech startups, it doesn't need to be ideal. It only needs to be better than Europe.

That 25% in Ireland seems a good goal for us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 AM


Daily Liberty Quote (6/25/04)

Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies. Leave men free, and their natural inequalities will multiply almost geometrically, as in England and America in the nineteenth century under laissez-faire. To check the growth of inequality, liberty must be sacrificed, as in Russia after 1917.
--Will Durant (1885-1981)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 AM


Pakistani Army must go through the Pashtuns: The war on terror along the Afghan-Pakistani border has become more than a fight against militant Islam. Now, it's tribal. (Owais Tohid and Scott Baldauf, 6/25/04, CS Monitor)

Once a fight between Western democratic values and militant Islam, the war on terror along the Afghan-Pakistani border has become something murkier, complex, and ancient. Now, it's tribal.

The rules of this war are a far cry from the easy slogans of "you're either with us or against us." Indeed, Pashtun history is filled with heroes who played both sides for the benefit of tribe, family, and honor.

The latest such figure is tribal leader Naik Mohammad. Before being killed this month, Mr. Mohammad had cut deals with both his Al Qaeda guests and the Pakistani military trying to evict them. That it was the military who ultimately got double-crossed displays how much the antiterror coalition still must learn about how to influence the tribes who shelter top Al Qaeda leaders.

"The Army thinks they can give an order and people will just obey it," says a former Pakistani intelligence officer. "They should have paid more attention to history. The Pashtuns don't take orders from anybody."

Following a bruising fight with tribesmen in March, Pakistan opted to negotiate. Through the mediation of local mullahs and legislators, military officials and five local militant leaders struck a truce. The five chiefs, including Mr. Mohammad, pledged to stop using Pakistani territory for terrorist activity.

But the settlement quickly soured when Mohammad refused to help register foreigners with the authorities, disputing with officials who said that had been agreed. What Pakistan was asking was the impossible: handing over guests in a culture that demands protection of those who seek refuge. Amid the recriminations, Mohammad announced he would continue jihad and fighting erupted again (see timeline).

Tribal insiders say it was easy for the militants to break their deal with the Pakistani government, because the deal was perceived to be conducted through local mullahs - not through an assembly of tribal elders, called a jirga. In Pashtun society, form is everything.

"Nobody was sincere," says Mohammad Noor, an educated tribal member. "It was a deal with knives hidden under sleeves. Both sides are here to fight, not negotiate."

Which is why the war ends there, where the most, most bloody, and most dangerous killing will have to be done.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Iraqis, Seeking Foes of Saudis, Contacted bin Laden, File Says (THOM SHANKER, 6/25/04, NY Times)

Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990's were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq.

American officials described the document as an internal report by the Iraqi intelligence service detailing efforts to seek cooperation with several Saudi opposition groups, including Mr. bin Laden's organization, before Al Qaeda had become a full-fledged terrorist organization. He was based in Sudan from 1992 to 1996, when that country forced him to leave and he took refuge in Afghanistan.

The document states that Iraq agreed to rebroadcast anti-Saudi propaganda, and that a request from Mr. bin Laden to begin joint operations against foreign forces in Saudi Arabia went unanswered. There is no further indication of collaboration.

Last week, the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks addressed the known contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda, which have been cited by the White House as evidence of a close relationship between the two.

The commission concluded that the contacts had not demonstrated "a collaborative relationship" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The Bush administration responded that there was considerable evidence of ties.

The new document, which appears to have circulated only since April, was provided to The New York Times several weeks ago, before the commission's report was released. Since obtaining the document, The Times has interviewed several military, intelligence and United States government officials in Washington and Baghdad to determine that the government considered it authentic.

John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and the editorial board of the Times would have waited until Osama bin Laden said "yes" before they considered this a problem.

June 24, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:42 PM


Cheney Dismisses Critic With Obscenity (Helen Dewar and Dana Milbank, June 25, 2004, Washington Post)

A brief argument between Vice President Cheney and a senior Democratic senator led Cheney to utter a big-time obscenity on the Senate floor this week.

On Tuesday, Cheney, serving in his role as president of the Senate, appeared in the chamber for a photo session. A chance meeting with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, became an argument about Cheney's ties to Halliburton Co., an international energy services corporation, and President Bush's judicial nominees. The exchange ended when Cheney offered some crass advice.

"F[***] yourself," said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency. [...]

As it happens, the exchange occurred on the same day the Senate passed legislation described as the "Defense of Decency Act" by 99 to 1.

Shouldn't that be: F*** yourself, Leaky?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:01 PM


Religious Zionism at the crossroads (Isi Leibler, June 23, 2004, Israel Insider)

The recent government crisis highlighted [leader of the National Religious Party, Effi] Eitam's worst characteristics. Dismissing the majority decision of his colleagues and failing, in Haredi fashion, to persuade hard-line rabbis to order the NRP to leave the government, he and Yitzhak Levi unilaterally quit. Despite a grotesque band-aid compromise enabling one wing of the party to be in opposition while the other retains ministerial portfolios, the NRP effectively split. It is probable that the moderate majority, headed by Zevulun Orlev, will soon also be obliged to leave the government, a move which would virtually guarantee a return to power of Labor's unreconstructed architects of Oslo.

This would not be the first time the national camp has brought disaster upon itself and, by extension, the country. They broke up the Yitzhak Shamir government in 1992, which led to the 1993 Oslo disaster and also paved the way for the dysfunctional Ehud Barak regime by bringing down the Binyamin Netanyahu government in 1999.

The current party crisis is so serious that some even predict it portends the end of religious Zionism in the political arena.

That need not be so. The Frish Committee, commissioned to analyze the 1996 NRP election debacle, concluded that voter fallout was primarily due to the perception of the party concentrating exclusively on settlements and neglecting issues of wider Jewish concern.

However, the report also suggested that many disaffected NRP supporters could be enticed back were the party to restore its former moderate approach, concentrate on broader Jewish issues, and rebuild bridges with non-observant Israelis. In the past the NRP took pride in basing itself on the Maimonides middle-of-the-road outlook - the shvil hazahav or golden mean - that shuns extremism. It also considered as its primary responsibility the well being of the "soul of Israel," which meant enhancing the Jewish character of Israel's society while retaining its democratic values.

This is the central historic task and challenge facing the religious Zionist movement. At its heart is nourishing Jewish heritage and civilization within the general educational curriculum. Unless this challenge is confronted, Jewish identity in secular high schools will continue to deteriorate, and ever greater numbers of Hebrew-speaking Canaanite graduates will emerge.

This is particularly relevant because a review of the relationship between state and religion is now under way. It would be tragic if this were to be undertaken without representation of the religious Zionist movement in a government including the aggressively anti-traditional Shinui and perhaps even Labor.

We can see here the danger that true believers tend to pose to their own cause, by holding out for every inch of territory they might so marginalize themselves as to make it easier for the Left to secularize the state of Israel--that would be a real tragedy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 PM


Former French PM: Israel's creation a "historic mistake" (Ellis Shuman June 21, 2004, Israel Insider)

Former French prime minister Michel Rocard said last week that the 1917 Balfour Declaration leading to the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state had been an "historic mistake."

Rocard, a member of the French Socialist Party who also serves in the European Parliament, told an audience at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, on June 16 that Israel was an "abnormal case in the world."

Referring to England's promise to create a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine, Rocard described the Israel state as a "unique and abnormal condition because it was created with a promise, and that millions of Jews gathered from all around the world, creating an entity that continues to pose a threat to its neighbors until today," the Palestinian International Press Center reported.

Rocard drew attention to the fact that Israel was historically created on a "racist basis," depending on armed conflict to set its borders.

Exactly how many nations were not created on a racist basis with borders defined by armed conflict?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 PM


Bill: Hil eyes run for Prez (Daily News, 6/24/04)

Bill Clinton offered a window into his wife's presidential ambitions yesterday, drawing a parallel with his own early calculations that a Democratic victory would end his White House hopes.

"She's now where I was in 1988," Clinton told ABC's "Good Morning America."

"When I didn't run in 1988, I thought I would never get another chance to run because I thought the Democrats were going to win."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 PM

CFR VS. FREE SPEECH (via John Thacker):

‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ ban?: Ads for Moore’s movie could be stopped on July 30 (Alexander Bolton, 6/24/04, The Hill)

Michael Moore may be prevented from advertising his controversial new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” on television or radio after July 30 if the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today accepts the legal advice of its general counsel.

At the same time, a Republican-allied 527 soft-money group is preparing to file a complaint against Moore’s film with the FEC for violating campaign-finance law.

In a draft advisory opinion placed on the FEC’s agenda for today’s meeting, the agency’s general counsel states that political documentary filmmakers may not air television or radio ads referring to federal candidates within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.

The opinion is generated under the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law...

On the GOP side, do the ads for The Lord of the Rings and The Passion have to stop?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 PM


The Real Air War Has Now Started (James K. Glassman, 6/24/04, Tech Central Station)

A free-market conservative organization -- called a "527 political organization" after a section in the tax code -- goes public on Friday with hard-hitting independent issue ads on television. It's about time.

The ads ask viewers to imagine how Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), the likely Democratic presidential candidate, would have reacted to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, especially considering his voting record of opposition to spending on measures to increase U.S. security.

The ads, which may provoke an uproar in the media because they show footage shot at the World Trade Center site after the attacks, contrast Kerry's likely reaction to the courage and determination shown by President Bush.

The new commercials, the work of the Progress for America Voter Fund, place conservative messages on a field that has been dominated, up until now, by the Left.

Isn't the GOP the monied party?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:49 PM


Top Colleges Take More Blacks, but Which Ones? (SARA RIMER and KAREN W. ARENSON, 6/24/04, NY Times)

At the most recent reunion of Harvard University's black alumni, there was lots of pleased talk about the increase in the number of black students at Harvard.

But the celebratory mood was broken in one forum, when some speakers brought up the thorny issue of exactly who those black students were.

While about 8 percent, or about 530, of Harvard's undergraduates were black, Lani Guinier, a Harvard law professor, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., the chairman of Harvard's African and African-American studies department, pointed out that the majority of them — perhaps as many as two-thirds — were West Indian and African immigrants or their children, or to a lesser extent, children of biracial couples.

They said that only about a third of the students were from families in which all four grandparents were born in this country, descendants of slaves. Many argue that it was students like these, disadvantaged by the legacy of Jim Crow laws, segregation and decades of racism, poverty and inferior schools, who were intended as principal beneficiaries of affirmative action in university admissions.

What concerned the two professors, they said, was that in the high-stakes world of admissions to the most selective colleges — and with it, entry into the country's inner circles of power, wealth and influence — African-American students whose families have been in America for generations were being left behind.

There's a core truth here--one which Thomas Sowell has written about--black immigrants to the United States perform just as well as white immigrants and have for some time, which suggests that the continued underperformance of native blacks must not be attributable to current racism. Yet that underperformance is no less real, so why does it exist?

One haunting possibility is that Black America was done particularly intractable damage when it was deprived of an initial "immigrant" generation and therefore never had the chance to follow the classic immigrant pattern--where the first generation busts its collective hump to provide a better life for the second, inculcating a set of values in the process. The crime of chattel slavery thus lives on, seemingly permanently.

But this possibility raises another: without absolving people of responsibility for their own failures, perhaps we can acknowledge that white America stacked the deck against them those many years ago, and so reparations aren't such a bad idea. Maybe it's time for that 40 acres and a mule?

Posted by Peter Burnet at 12:31 PM


Fahrenheit 9/11 filmmaker burns Harper (CBC News, June 24th, 2004)

U.S. filmmaker Michael Moore sounded off Wednesday on Canada's election, warning voters not to elect a Conservative government.

Moore, in Washington for the official American premiere of his movie Fahrenheit 9/11, said he hopes his film will convince Canadians to bypass Stephen Harper.

"You've got four days after it opens, to get people out to the polls to make sure that Mr. Harper doesn't become your next prime minister," he said.

"We're trying to get rid of our conservative, you know. We're going one way, you guys shouldn't be going the opposite direction," said Moore, whose new documentary takes a critical look at U.S. President George W. Bush's response to the Sept. 11 attacks and the Iraq war.

"You should be saying, 'You know what? We don't want this country, Canada, to become like Bush's America,'" he said.

Fortunately, Mr. Moore’s message appears to have been neutralized by the warm encouragement and support of the Brothersjudd regulars.
Posted by Peter Burnet at 12:18 PM


Are we becoming more stressed at work? (The Telegraph, June 24th, 2004)

New Government figures show that more than £2 billion a year is spent on benefits for people claiming they have been disabled by stress, depression and anxiety.

Critics claim that these benefits are being paid out for vaguely defined disorders that encourage the workshy and artificially lower unemployment figures.

More than 700,000 people - a quarter of all claims - receive up to £84 a week incapacity benefit on grounds of poor mental health, a 38 per cent increase since 1997.

Stress and depression - the two causes showing the sharpest increases since 1997 - now account for 65 per cent of all mental health cases.

Paul Goodman, the Conservative social security spokesman, says that if doctors are signing people off too easily then these figures represent hidden unemployment. He warned of the danger of a "can't cope" culture.

However, figures from the Office of National Statistics show that depression is experienced by 1 in 10 adults at any one time and Mind, the mental health charity, has called for more understanding.

Conservatives tend to be suspicious and see these people as slackers, but why wouldn’t mental health decline in an atomistic society marked by fragile families, social isolation, declining employer-employee loyalty, pessimistic atheism and a destructive cult of impersonal sex?

Posted by David Cohen at 10:30 AM


Kerry fights label of economic pessimist: Challenges fiscal record of Reagan (Patrick Healy, Boston Globe, 6/24/04)

Democrat John F. Kerry yesterday countered Republican attempts to label him a pessimist about the US economy, arguing that criticism of the Bush administration's record of job creation actually reflected optimism that the economy could do better.

The Massachusetts senator also challenged the fiscal record of the GOP's favorite optimist, Ronald Reagan -- Kerry's first broadside against the former president since his death June 5. . . .

Kerry aides said that the senator wanted to make the case that calling for economic progress was not divisive, and that Republicans were in fact dividing the electorate by painting Kerry as a doom-and-gloom candidate. Kerry's remark about Reagan was unusual and awkward, given the senator's praise for Reagan's optimism after his death.

Awkward? Quelle surprise.

Posted by David Cohen at 10:08 AM


Mid-East coverage baffles Britons (James Read, BBC London, 6/24/04)

An academic study suggests that TV news coverage in the UK on the Middle East conflict confuses viewers and features a preponderance of Israeli views.

So much so, that many viewers think Israeli territory is occupied by Palestinians, not the other way round.

And despite extensive media coverage of the conflict on television, some Britons believe Palestinians are refugees from Afghanistan. . . .

The report says the main shortcomings include:

Preponderance of official Israeli perspectives
Origins of the conflict overlooked
Israeli actions contextualised but not Palestinian actions
Emphasis on Israeli casualties
From reading a summary of the report, it appears that the origins of the conflict include the fact that in
1967 Israel fought a further war with its Arab neighbours and in the process of this, occupied Gaza and the West Bank, thus bringing the Palestinian refugees under its military control. East Jerusalem, which has great religious and cultural significance for both Israelis and Palestinians was also occupied (taken from Jordan).
How unneighborly. Of course, to really put everything in context, every report on the middle east should note that Abraham, the first Jew, exiled his son Ishmael, the first Arab, to the desert.

The point, of course, is that this sort of "context" is infinately reductive, with each side able to point to one earlier step of which they were the victim and which, had it not occurred, would have averted all the succeeding violence. In the west we still distinguish, perhaps naively, between people strapping bombs to themselves and seeking out civilians to murder, on the one hand, and military action, on the other. We also have noticed that, if the Palestinians simply wanted a state, they could have had one years ago. Unfortunately, they don't simply want a state, they want a particular state and that state has different ideas.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 AM


A Crowning at the Capital Creates a Stir (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, 6/23/04, NY Times)

As a shining symbol of democracy, the United States capital is not ordinarily a place where coronations occur. So news that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the eccentric and exceedingly wealthy Korean-born businessman, donned a crown in a Senate office building and declared himself the Messiah while members of Congress watched is causing a bit of a stir.

One congressman, Representative Danny K. Davis, Democrat of Illinois, wore white gloves and carried a pillow holding one of two ornate gold crowns that were placed on the heads of Mr. Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, at the ceremony, which took place March 23 and capped a reception billed as a peace awards banquet.

Mr. Davis says he held the wife's crown and was "a bit surprised'' by Mr. Moon's Messiah remarks, which were delivered in Korean but accompanied by a written translation. In them, he said emperors, kings and presidents had "declared to all heaven and earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent.'' [...]

"I remember the king and queen thing,'' said Representative Roscoe G. Bartlett, Republican of Maryland, "But we have the king and queen of the prom, the king and queen of 4-H, the Mardi Gras and all sorts of other things. I had no idea what he was king of.'' [...]

At 84, Mr. Moon cuts a curious figure in Washington, where he mingles with the city's power elite by dint of his dual roles as religious leader and media mogul. He owns The Washington Times, which bills itself as a conservative alternative to The Washington Post, as well as United Press International, the wire service. He calls himself "Father'' and has drawn notoriety for officiating at mass weddings. Mr. Moon's Unification Church has many tentacles, including the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, which held what it called an Ambassadors for Peace awards banquet in the Dirksen Office Building on March 23. An initial invitation, sent to all members of Congress, stated that Mr. Moon and his wife would also be present and honored for their work. But follow-up letters, including one provided by Mr. Dayton, mentioned only the peace foundation and simply told lawmakers who from their states was being honored.

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, an organization devoted to preserving the separation of church and state, said Mr. Moon often drew lawmakers into his fold in this way. Mr. Lynn said it seemed Mr. Moon was courting black lawmakers, including Mr. Davis of Illinois and Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who attended but said he did not stay for the crowning ceremony. [...]

Mr. Bartlett said he attended to support The Washington Times. "I'm a conservative," he said. "I'm delighted that we have a middle-of-the-road paper in Washington."

Anybody who can maintain a conservative news daily, get folks to marry and improve black communities is some kind of savior.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 AM

50-0 FILES:

Time-tested formulas suggest both Bush and Kerry will win on Nov. 2 (Susan Page, 6/23/04, USA TODAY)

Of six measurements for predicting the outcome of presidential contests, all with excellent track records, each signals a clear outcome in November. The problem is, they're pointing in different directions.

A formula by a Yale University economist that has correctly predicted five of the last six elections shows President Bush winning in the biggest landslide since Ronald Reagan's 49-state victory in 1984. It says Bush is a shoo-in.

But Bush's job-approval rating has slid below 50%; not since Harry Truman in 1948 has a president in that territory won the election. By this standard, Bush is guaranteed to lose.

Recent polling already shows the President back at 50% approval or above, a number that will only rise as Iraq recedes from the headlines and economic good news continues. Mort Kondracke said last night that historically incumbent presidents have received one point higher than their approval number in their re-election bids. That makes 54-55% look doable for the President.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:33 AM


Doom and Gloom by 2100: Unleashed viruses, environmental disaster, gray goo--astronomer Sir Martin Rees calculates that civilization has only a 50-50 chance of making it to the 22nd century (Julie Wakefield, 6/21/04, Scientific American)

Death and destruction are not exactly foreign themes in cosmology. Black holes can rip apart stars; unseen dark energy hurtles galaxies away from one another. So maybe it's not surprising that Sir Martin Rees, Britain's Astronomer Royal, sees mayhem down on Earth. He warns that civilization has only an even chance of making it to the end of this century. The 62-year-old University of Cambridge astrophysicist and cosmologist feels so strongly about his grim prognostication that last year he published a popular book about it called Our Final Hour. [...]

Innovation is changing things faster than ever before, and such increasing unpredictability leaves civilization more vulnerable to misadventure as well as to disaster by design. Advances in biotechnology, in terms of both increasing sophistication and decreasing costs, means that weaponized germs pose a huge risk. In a wager he hopes to lose, Rees has bet $1,000 that a biological incident will claim one million lives by 2020. "In this increasingly interconnected world where individuals have more power than ever before at their fingertips, society should worry more about some kind of massive calamity, however improbable," Rees states.

In calculating the coin-flip odds for humanity at 2100, Rees adds together those improbabilities, including those posed by self-replicating, nanometer-size robots. These nanobots might chew through organic matter and turn the biosphere into a lifeless "gray goo," a term coined by nanotech pioneer K. Eric Drexler in the 1980s. Gray goo achieved more prominence last year after Prince Charles expressed concern about it and Michael Crichton used it as the basis for his novel Prey.

It's not just out-of-control technology that has Rees worried. Basic science can present a threat. In July 1999 Scientific American ran a letter by Princeton University physicist Frank Wilczek, who pointed to "a speculative but quite respectable possibility" that the Brookhaven National Laboratory's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) could produce particles called strangelets. These subatomic oddities could grow by consuming nearby ordinary matter. Soon after, a British newspaper posited that a "big bang machine"--that is, RHIC--could destroy the planet.

The ensuing media flurry led then Brookhaven director John H. Marburger to pull together an outside panel of physicists, who concluded that the strangelet scenario was remote, about a one-in-50-million chance of killing six billion people. (Another panel, convened by CERN near Geneva, drew a similar conclusion.) In Our Final Hour, Rees noted that the chances can be expressed differently--namely, that 120 people might die from the RHIC experiments. He thinks experts should debate in public the merits and risks of such work.

While he's certainly right that the worth and wisdom of scientific work should be debated, and if decided against should be forbidden, predictions about the imminent end of the world are inevitably boastful.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:29 AM


The Connection: How Saddam collaborated with Osama. (Jamie Glazov, FrontPage)

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Stephen F. Hayes, the author of The Connection: How al-Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America. [...]

Hayes: [...] The Clinton Administration deserves some credit for at least recognizing the problem. In fact, in its spring 1998 indictment of Osama bin Laden, Janet Reno's Justice Department included what it termed an "understanding" between Iraq and al Qaeda whereby al Qaeda agreed not to agitate against the Iraqi regime and, in exchange, Saddam promised help on "weapons development" to al Qaeda. Later that same year, top Clinton official disclosed several pieces of intelligence that tied Iraq to al Qaeda-linked chemical weapons programs in the Sudan. Where the Clinton Administration failed, I think, is that even after having recognized the threat that an Iraq-al Qaeda alliance posed to America, it did very little to eliminate it.

FP: What did you think of Tenet's resignation?

Hayes: I have very mixed feelings about George Tenet's resignation. It is clear that no significant intelligence reform was going to happen under his watch. He was protective of a slow-moving bureaucracy that in many cases didn't deserve protecting. One example: in March 2002 Jeffrey Goldberg from the New Yorker magazine published a remarkable story in which he interviewed several detainees in a Kurdish prison who spoke openly about extensive contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. The Kurds who had captured the prisoners let them speak to Goldberg in part because the CIA, having been informed of their presence and given the basic outlines of their allegations, showed little interest in interviewing them. I assumed that after Goldberg's article, the Agency would have been so embarrassed of its negligence that it would have immediately dispatched interrogators to northern Iraq. Wrong. A senior intelligence official told the Washington Post some six months later that although the agency was aware of the prisoners and their stories, no one had yet been sent to interview them. Inexcusable. Tenet probably should have been fired on the spot.

But from that point forward, Tenet consistently showed an openness to exploring the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship that put him squarely at odds with the bureaucracy beneath him. He authored a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee in October 2002 that laid out some highlights of the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship and reiterated many of his points in congressional testimony as late as March 2004. Publicly discussing the relationship in that fashion certainly didn't make the agency look good since, as you've pointed out, they downplayed it for years.

FP: What do you think our next steps should be in the War on Terror in general and in Iraq in particular?

Hayes: Get Iraq right. Nothing is more important to a victory -- in the long-term -- in the War on Terror. This is not only because there are so many terrorists operating in Iraq today, but also because by establishing some form of representative government in Iraq those in the Middle East will see that we're finally serious about reform in the region. One of the complaints you hear most from moderates in the Middle East is that the U.S. has long talked a good game about democracy and human rights in the region, but our actions have sent the opposite message. We've paid lip service to self-determination and, at the same time, funded oppressive regimes. These changes will, and must, come slowly, but we've already seen some progress. The G-8 leaders this past week endorsed democratic change (however vague) in the Middle East and even the Arab League has made some noises about reform. This big-picture stuff often gets lost in the news-of-the-day reporting that results from a 24-hour news cycle. But it's happening.

I'm cautiously optimistic about the interim government in Iraq. There's reason for Iraqis to be skeptical about new Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi (chiefly, his close association with the CIA), but his almost singular focus on security is precisely what Iraqis need. If he create in Iraqi security forces a sense that they are fighting for the future of their own country, that will be more important that anything we can do at this point.

The moment when Britain and the U.S. willingly hand over the sovereignty [and the oil fields] they wrested from the Ba'athists to the Iraqi people will be the single most important in modern Middle Eastern history.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 AM

WHEN I HE (via Mike Daley):

Mourning Families Touched by President (Diane Lacey Allen, June 17, 2004, The Ledger)

Petty Officer Ron Ginther was the stern one. He always helped 8-year-old Alayna with her homework, searching the Internet for tips on preparing for the FCAT. He was the backbone of the Auburndale family.

So when the Seabee was killed by mortar fire last month, Donna Ginther worried how she would carry on without her husband. She was terrified her daughter would grow up to be a different adult without Ginther to lead the way.

Donna Ginther told President George W. Bush about her fears Wednesday when he met with families of fallen servicemen following a speech to troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

"When I told him that, he pressed his forehead against mine and said, `You can do it, and we'll all help you through it,"' she said.

Donna Ginther took his words to heart.

"It wasn't something he was saying to make me feel better. Like trying to pacify me and walk away and forget it," she said. "He wasn't afraid to touch you. It wasn't like he was better than us. He kissed us. He cried with us. When I was crying, he cried."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:11 AM


I’m With My Dad on Stem Cell Research (Michael Reagan, 6/22/04, Chronically Biased)

Listen to what Ronald D.G. McKay, a stem cell researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke told the Washington Post: “People need a fairy tale,” he said, explaining why scientists have allowed society to believe wrongly that stem cells are likely to effectively treat Alzheimer's disease. He added “Maybe that's unfair, but they need a story line that's relatively simple to understand.”

A story line that is a flat out lie.

Writing in the Weekly Standard, lawyer, ethicist and human life advocate Wesley J. Smith reported that “Researchers have apparently known for some time that embryonic stem cells will not be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's, because as two researchers told a Senate subcommittee in May, it is a ‘whole brain disease,’ rather than a cellular disorder (such as Parkinson's). This has generally been kept out of the news. But now, Washington Post correspondent Rick Weiss, has blown the lid off of the scam, reporting that while useful abstract information might be gleaned about Alzheimer's through embryonic stem cell research, ‘stem cell experts confess . . . that of all the diseases that may be someday cured by embryonic stem cell treatments, Alzheimer's is among the least likely to benefit.’”

People such as Nancy, however, have been allowed to believe otherwise - “a distortion,” Weiss writes that “is not being aggressively corrected by scientists.” Why? The false story line helps generate public support for the biotech political agenda. As Weiss noted, “It [Nancy Reagan's statement in support of ESCR] is the kind of advocacy that researchers have craved for years, and none wants to slow its momentum.”

Unlike the hyped embryonic stem cell research, adult stem cell research is already paying dividends. According to Michael Fumento, one of the nation’s most skilled debunkers of junk science, “Over the horizon are so-called adult stem cells (ASCs), extracted from people of any age and from umbilical cords and placentas. Not only don't they carry the moral baggage of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), but research with them is much further along.

Fumento adds, ”Unfortunately, embryonic stem cell researchers have so powerful a PR machine that many influential people don't even know there's an alternative.“

It's not about medicine. It's about the dehumanization of the unborn. People want to destroy embryos just to show that they're disposable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:06 AM


Maggie Sanger and the Human Weeds (Shawn Macomber, 6/23/2004, American Spectator)

After a lengthy incubation, the sick dreams of Margaret Sanger are finally hatching. Against the excuses of her modern defenders, it should be remembered that the founder of Planned Parenthood's main interest in the legalization of abortion was not that women should be freed from the bonds of childbearing, but that unsavory types should be cleansed from the larger population.

In fact, Sanger only turned to abortion when her original plan to "apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation" to those with "objectionable traits" -- sometimes derided as the stronger epithet "human weeds" -- found little support. Turned out folks felt a bit queasy about sending those of certain ethnic backgrounds and with disabilities and mental illnesses off to "farm lands and homesteads" to be "taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives."

Sounds a bit like a concentration camp, no? Then again, she was a great admirer of the Nazi eugenics movement. Like Hitler, she had a long list of folks she wanted to eliminate from society, including "illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, dope fiends." [...]

[N]ow, ABORTION ON demand, combined with ever more rigorous screening of children in the womb, has provided the perfect backdoor for other eugenic obsessions to quietly slip back into American life.

If Darwinism is true and if fetuses aren't human, why not apply biology?

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:47 AM


The man who sucks up all the available oxygen ( Mark Steyn, Jerusalem post, June 24th, 2004)

There was a photo in The New York Post a few weeks back of Bill Clinton and some other fellow entering a room. Seven-eighths of the picture was Clinton with a big broad smile and his arms outstretched, like a cheesy Vegas lounge act acknowledging the applause of the crowd before launching into his opening number (I Get a Kick Out of Me).

The gaunt, cadaverous fellow wedged into the left-hand sliver of the photograph proved on closer inspection to be Senator John Kerry, looking like a gloomy, aged retainer trying to remind the big guy that his 10 o'clock appointment was waiting. If I were a Democrat, that picture would have been more depressing than one of the oxymoronic "Kerry rallies."

"His glamor is undersung," panted Tina Brown – about Clinton, not Kerry – after wangling an invite to the White House. "A man in a dinner jacket with more heat than any star in the room – he is vividly in the present tense and dares you to join him there."

The problem for Kerry is that the Clinton presidency is now half a decade in the past, but the guy is still vividly in the present tense, daring Tina and co. to join him there. And if it's a choice between Bill's heat-exuding tuxedo or John Kerry, it's no contest.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Frequent-Flying Senator Pays After a Challenge by a Rival (MICHAEL SLACKMAN, 6/24/04, NY Times)

Howard Mills does not have much money, or support, or, for that matter, basic name recognition in his bid to unseat United States Senator Charles E. Schumer. But Mr. Mills did manage to land a blow in his long-shot bid this week.

Mr. Mills's staff pored over documents and maps and found that during his years in office, Mr. Schumer chartered private planes 603 times, spending $409,253 of taxpayer money. They asserted that they had caught the senator using tax dollars to fly around the state to raise campaign cash, which would be illegal, and turned their findings over to The New York Times.

Asked for a response to Mr. Mills's claims, Mr. Schumer's staff began its own review, and found that on some 35 occasions, Mr. Schumer had let taxpayers foot the bill for his political and fund-raising trips.

It was, if nothing else, a humbling moment for Mr. Schumer, a Democrat, whose office described the questionable billing as "accounting errors." After having tried to effectively ignore his opponent as irrelevant, Mr. Schumer's staff instead had to announce that the senator's campaign was - because of Mr. Mills's initial inquiries - returning some $20,000 to the federal government.

A longshot paid off in the 1980 landslide.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


The 2004 Arts & Faith Top 100 Spirtually Significant Films

(in alphabetical order -- click here for an analysis by director or here for a chronological view)

The Addiction, 1995, Abel Ferrara

Amadeus, 1984, Milos Forman

American Beauty, 1999, Sam Mendes

Andrei Rublev, 1969, Andrei Tarkovsky

The Apostle, 1997, Robert Duvall

Au Hasard Balthazar, 1966, Robert Bresson

Babettes Gæstebud ("Babette's Feast"), 1987, Gabriel Axel

Bad Lieutenant, 1987, Abel Ferrara

Bad ma ra khahad bord ("The Wind Will Carry Us"), 1999, Abbas Kiarostami

The Big Kahuna, 1999, John Swanbeck

Blade Runner, 1982, Ridley Scott

Breaking The Waves, 1996, Lars von Trier

Changing Lanes, 2002, Roger Michell

Chariots of Fire, 1981, Hugh Hudson

Code inconnu ("Code Unknown"), 2000, Michael Haneke

Crimes And Misdemeanors, 1989, Woody Allen

Days of Heaven, 1978, Terrence Malick

Dead Man Walking, 1995, Tim Robbins

Dekalog ("The Decalogue"), 1987, Krzysztof Kieslowski

Dersu Uzala, 1975, Akira Kurosawa

Dogma, 1999, Kevin Smith

Dogville, 2003, Lars von Trier

La Dolce vita, 1960, Federico Fellini

The Elephant Man, 1980, David Lynch

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004, Michel Gondry

Fearless, 1993, Peter Weir

Fight Club, 1999, David Fincher

Le Fils ("The Son"), 2002, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne

Fuori dal mondo ("Not of This World"), 1999, Giuseppe Piccioni

Grand Canyon, 1991, Lawrence Kasdan

Groundhog Day, 1993, Harold Ramis

Hell House, 2001, George Ratliff

Henry V, 1989, Kenneth Branagh

Der Himmel über Berlin ("Wings of Desire"), 1987, Wim Wenders

Ikiru ("To Live"), 1952, Akira Kurosawa

It's A Wonderful Life, 1946, Frank Capra

Jean de Florette, Manon des sources, 1986, Claude Berri

Jésus De Montréal ("Jesus of Montreal"), 1989, Denys Arcand

Jesus Of Nazareth, 1977, Franco Zeffirelli

Le Journal D'un Curé De Campagne ("The Diary of a Country Priest"), 1951, Robert Bresson

Ladri di biciclette ("The Bicycle Thief"), 1948, Vittorio De Sica

The Last Days of Disco, 1998, Whit Stillman

The Last Temptation Of Christ, 1988, Martin Scorsese

Life of Brian, 1979, Terry Jones

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The
Return of the King
, 2001-2003, Peter Jackson

Ma nuit chez Maud ("My Night At Maud's"), 1969, Eric Rohmer

Magnolia, 1999, Paul Thomas Anderson

A Man For All Seasons, 1966, Fred Zinnemann

The Matrix, 1999, Andy & Larry Wachowski

Mies vailla menneisyyttä ("The Man Without A Past"), 2002, Aki Kaurismaki

The Miracle Maker, 2000, Derek W. Hayes & Stanislav Sokolov

The Mission, 1986, Roland Joffé

Nema-ye Nazdik ("Close-Up"), 1990, Abbas Kiarostami

The Night Of The Hunter, 1955, Charles Laughton

Offret - Sacrificatio ("The Sacrifice"), 1986, Andrei Tarkovsky

On The Waterfront, 1954, Elia Kazan

Ordet ("The Word"), 1955, Carl Theodor Dreyer

La Passion De Jeanne D'arc ("The Passion of Joan of Arc"), 1928, C. Dreyer

The Passion Of The Christ, 2004, Mel Gibson

Peter and Paul, 1981, Robert Day

Ponette, 1996, Jacques Doillon

The Prince Of Egypt, 1998, Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, Simon Wells

La Promesse, 1996, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne

Punch-Drunk Love, 2002, P.T. Anderson

Roma, città aperta ("Open City"), 1945, Roberto Rossellini

Sansho Dayu ("Sansho the Bailiff"), 1954, Kenji Mizoguchi

Schindler's List, 1993, Steven Spielberg

Secrets & Lies, 1996, Mike Leigh

Shadowlands, 1993, Richard Attenborough

The Shawshank Redemption, 1994, Frank Darabont

Signs, 2002, M. Night Shyamalan

The Sixth Sense, 1999, M. Night Shyamalan

Det Sjunde Inseglet ("The Seventh Seal"), 1957, Ingmar Bergman

Smultronstället ("Wild Strawberries"), 1957, Ingmar Bergman

Solyaris ("Solaris"), 1972, Andrei Tarkovsky

Stalker, 1979, Andrei Tarkovsky

Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, 1977, 1980, 1983, George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Richard Marquand

Stevie, 2002, Steve James

The Straight Story, 1999, David Lynch

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, 1927, F.W. Murnau

Sånger från andra våningen ("Songs From the Second Floor"), 2000, Roy Andersson

The Sweet Hereafter, 1997, Atom Egoyan

Tender Mercies, 1983, Bruce Beresford

13 Conversations About One Thing, 2001, Jill Sprecher

Trois coulers: Bleu, Trzy kolory: Bialy, Trois coulers: Rouge ("Three Colors: Blue, White, Red"), 1993, 1994, 1994, Krzysztof Kieslowski

Tokyo Monogatari ("Tokyo Story"), 1953, Yasujiro Ozu

The Truman Show, 1998, Peter Weir

2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968, Stanley Kubrick

Unforgiven, 1992, Clint Eastwood

Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo ("The Gospel According to Matthew"), 1964, Pier Paolo Pasolini

Vanya on 42nd Street, 1994, Louis Malle

Le Vent souffle où il veut ("A Man Escaped"), 1956, Robert Bresson

La Vita è bella ("Life is Beautiful"), 1997, Roberto Benigni

Vredens dag ("Day of Wrath"), 1943, Carl Theodor Dreyer

Waking Life, 2001, Richard Linklater

Werckmeister Harmonies, 2000, Béla Tarr

Witness, 1985, Peter Weir

The Year Of Living Dangerously, 1982, Peter Weir

Yi yi ("Yi Yi: A One and a Two"), 2000, Edward Yang

Zerkalo ("The Mirror"), 1975, Andrei Tarkovsky

A few of our favorites are missing, including:

Pi (1998) (Darren Aronofsky)

Donnie Darko (2001) (Richard Kelly)

Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace (2000) (Eric Till)

Field of Dreams (1989) (Phil Alden Robinson)

Cool Hand Luke (1967) (Stuart Rosenberg)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) (Milos Forman)

Unbreakable (2000) (M. Night Shyamalan)

Bruce Almighty (2003) (Tom Shadyac)

Song of Bernadette (1943) (Henry King)

-Moving Pictures: These movies will keep your video player—and your conversations—going for a long time: the Arts & Faith Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films. (Ron Reed, Christianity Today)

June 23, 2004

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:53 PM


Paul Krugman: The Wicked Economist? (Footnotes, May/June 2004)

“An Indian born economist once explained his personal theory of reincarnation to his graduate economics class,” Paul Krugman writes in the opening paragraph of his Preface to Peddling Prosperity. “‘If you are a good economist, a virtuous economist,’ he said, ‘you are reborn as a physicist. But if you are an evil, wicked economist, you are reborn as a sociologist.’” Krugman then continues, “A sociologist might say that this quote shows what is wrong with economists: they want a subject that is fundamentally about human beings to have the mathematical certainty of the hard sciences.... But good economists know that the speaker was talking about something else entirely: the sheer difficulty of the subject. Economics is harder than physics; luckily it is not quite as hard as sociology.” (1994:xi)

A good story, but he left off the part about sociology being, luckily, not quite as hard as alchemy.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:48 PM


Further Tests of Abortion and Crime (Ted Joyce, NBER Working Paper)

Abstract: The inverse relationship between abortion and crime has spurred new research and much controversy. If the relationship is causal, then polices that increased abortion have generated enormous external benefits from reduced crime.... First, I examine closely the effects of changes in abortion rates between 1971 and 1974.... If abortion reduced crime, crime should have fallen sharply as these post-legalization cohorts reached their late teens and early 20s, the peak ages of criminal involvement. It did not. Second, I conduct separate estimates for whites and blacks because the effect of legalized abortion on crime should have been much larger for blacks than whites, since the effect of legalization of abortion on the fertility rates of blacks was much larger. There was little race difference in the reduction in crime. Finally, I compare changes in homicide rates before and after legalization of abortion, within states, by single year of age. The analysis of older adults is compelling because they were largely unaffected by the crack-cocaine epidemic, which was a potentially important confounding factor in earlier estimates. These analyses provide little evidence that legalized abortion reduced crime.

I gather it's Joyce's position that the War on Drugs reduced crime circa 1990 by locking up drug addicts and dealers, while the Donohue-Levitt position is that beginning circa 1973 mothers aborted future criminals while giving birth to future law-abiders. I have not examined the papers but Joyce's position seems more plausible.

The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime (JOHN J. DONOHUE III, Stanford Law School; STEVEN D. LEVITT, University of Chicago; Aug 1999)

Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime? (THEODORE JOYCE, National Bureau of Economic Research, Jun 2001)

Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce (JOHN J. DONOHUE III, Stanford Law School; STEVEN D. LEVITT, University of Chicago; Mar 2003)

Posted by David Cohen at 8:49 PM


OFF DEADLINE (Harry Eagar, Maui News, 6/22/04)

There have been quite a few references to something called the Geneva Conventions lately.

In the interest of clear thinking, it would be well to understand there isn't any such thing, despite a signing ceremony in 1949. Never has been.

Nor were there Hague Conventions in 1899 and 1907, nor a Brussels Conference in 1874. . . .

The protection [of American prisoners held by the Germans] came, in fact, from the only system yet devised by any nation to protect its nationals in unfriendly hands: reprisal.

For Americans, the doctrine of reprisal was begun by Gen. George Washington. The British threatened to hang POWs as rebels, and Washington, who controlled British prisoners, informed the English that he'd match them neck for neck.

Treaties are legal documents, and should be treated as such. They mean what they say, and no more. The Geneva Convention is built upon the threat of reprisal. Under its terms, it applies among signatories, and doesn't bind a country whose own soldiers are not treated properly. And those prisoners who do not qualify for the protections of the Convention, under its terms, can be killed. (Thus, the threats in war movies and Hogan's Heroes that a soldier captured out of uniform can be shot on sight.)

Mr. Eagar notes that the Japanese did not treat Allied prisoners as the Convention demands. He does not note that American soldiers, too, shot Japanese prisoners and were even known to have mutilated their bodies before burial. Since then, we have become more fastidious in our treatment of our enemies. It is now assumed that, if any prisoner is not granted the rights accruing to American criminals, we have violated not just our (wholly fictional) treaty obligations, but also fundamental human rights.

We must, then, go on to ask the questions that Mr. Eagar doesn't ask: are we saps to require that the Secretary of Defense sign off on "shoving" prisoners or making them stand up for 8 hours, while our enemies cut off their prisoners' heads? The answer is obviously "yes", but that might be the modern test of power. We are powerful enough to be saps.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:27 PM


This is a really extraordinary moment. Millions, billions, trillions? of words have been written over the course of human history but the following essay from the Guardian may well be the most idiotic assemblage of them ever recorded, The struggle for sovereignty: Democracy in Europe grew out of popular action against unrepresentative rule; the resistance in Iraq is part of the same story (Karma Nabulsi, June 23, 2004, The Guardian)

The United States and Britain claim to be handing sovereignty to Iraq next week. In fact, the occupying power cannot legally transfer sovereignty on June 30 for one simple reason: it does not possess it. Sovereignty is vested in the Iraqi people, and always has been: before Saddam Hussein, after him, under the martial law of the American proconsul Paul Bremer today.

This fact is reflected in the language of the most recent UN resolution - 1546, on June 8 - as well as previous ones, all of which "reaffirm the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq". The constant need of George Bush and Tony Blair to claim sovereignty reflects more than a misunderstanding of the laws of war and basic international law. It demonstrates an alarming ignorance of the democratic structures of the very countries they were elected to represent. This ignorance also provides us with some clues as to why they have no understanding either of what they are doing in Iraq, or what is happening on the ground there.

When the formal apparatus of a state crumbles during invasion and occupation, and authority is exercised by a foreign military power, sovereignty returns to its bearers, a country's citizens. Sovereignty is vested in the people, and not in the apparatus of state. This is the fundamental principle from which modern democracies draw their legitimacy, and the basis for all representative government. It is also the cornerstone of modern international law. [...]

The young men who defended Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank and Rafah refugee camp in Gaza, and who recently won back the Iraqi cities of Falluja and Najaf from the occupying power, are not the terrorists - or the enemies of democracy. They are our own past torchbearers, the founding citizens of popular sovereignty and democratic practice, the very tradition that freed Europe and that we honoured on D-day.

It would be sufficiently moronic were Ms Nabulsi only asserting that international law requires democracy before a state is recognized as sovereign, something which it ought to do, but does no currently--as witness the UN's recognition of any number of totalitarian regimes as sovereign, including Saddam's own. The Third Restatement of Foreign Relations Law of the United States Sect. 201 (1987) defines a state thus: “…an entity which has a defined territory and permanent population, under the control of its own government, and which engages in, or has the capacity to engage in, formal relations with other such entities.” By this unfortunate standard it is obvious that Saddam had sovereignty over Iraq until we seized it from him.

Remarkably though, Ms Nabulsi tops this idiocy by arguing that the thugs who are trying to prevent the transfer of sovereignty to a representative government in Iraq are fighting for democracy.

But wait, these are only the affirmative assertions she makes that are obviously wrong--unbeknownst to her she's done something even more mindnumbingly stupid: in an essay where she seeks to attack Tony Blair and George Bush and to support the Ba'ath Party remnants, disgruntled al-Sadrites, and al Qaeda terrorists who are trying to destabilize Iraq, she has instead made the moral argument in favor of the war. The revolution that America and Britain are jointly effecting in foreign affairs--from Grenada to Panama to Kosovo to Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond--has led to the point where the democratic nations of the world need not recognize the sovereignty of any state which is not itself a liberal democracy. The mere fact that Saddam Hussein oppressed his own people is, as her essay suggests it should be, reason enough for us to have deposed him and restored sovereignty to the Iraqi masses. In effect, the test of a state is no longer the capacity of its government to exercise power but the legitimacy of its rule. At the End of History, that legitimacy depends on the government being chosen by and representing the interests of the people. Regimes that aren't legitimate and organizations that oppose democracy are fair game. The torchbearers remain--by her own standards, properly applied--we who fought against Saddam and who are fighting against those who resist the coming of democracy.

As for Ms Nabulsi, she should probably retire and rest on her laurels--she'll never top this.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:30 PM



ENCOURAGING preliminary ratings for all-liberal Air America in New York have collapsed along with the fledgling radio network's finances.

An unofficial "extrapolation" of Arbitron data released last Friday — which Air America's hosts crowed about last month but virtually ignored yesterday — showed WLIB's ratings dropping back to their lowly levels before the net's April launch. [...]

According to the article, many Air America investors thought the network had raised $30 million — when, in fact, only $6 million had been raised before the network launched.

"We have a new influx of cash coming up," said Franken, whose contract promises more than $1 million a year, according to the Journal.

"I am being paid now," he told listeners yesterday. "I've been paid for weeks."

America is so wealthy that some nitwit thought Al Franken was worth as much as a third-string, left-handed catcher?

Posted by Peter Burnet at 3:01 PM


Boston Globe, June 23rd, 2004

Memos detail debate on prisoners (By Bryan Bender and Charlie Savage, Globe Staff)

In late 2002, the Pentagon approved a set of harsh interrogation techniques to be used on Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees, including threatening them with attack dogs, stripping them naked, and pushing, grabbing, and poking them, according to government documents released yesterday.

Militants behead hostage from S. Korea (By Robert H. Reid, Associated Press)

Islamic militants yesterday beheaded a South Korean who pleaded in a heart-wrenching videotape that "I don't want to die" after his government refused to pull its troops from Iraq. He was the third foreign hostage decapitated in the Middle East in little over a month.

It appears any hope of intelligent debate on the issue of prisoner treatment is fading fast. By taking the question right out of the realm of reality and throwing it into abstract, one-sided idealism, those targeting the Administration are ensuring many people will die unnecessarily.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:31 PM

THE GODLESS PARTY FIGHTS BACK (via Christianity Today: Weblog):

The Anti-Slackers: Young Christians are pushing the edges of faith. Here's a glimpse into the hearts and dreams of a few of them, in their own words. (Sojourners, March 2002)

Mara Louise Vanderslice, Outreach coordinator, Jubilee USA Network [...]

"I was raised as a Unitarian Universalist; I'm really grateful for the openness that tradition gave me. When I later learned about Jesus..."

What that quote says about Unitarianism is funny enough, but it gets better: Ms Vanderslice is now John Kerry's religious outreach director.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:18 PM


Just Like Stalingrad: If Bush is another Hitler, what words are left to describe Hitler? (BRET STEPHENS, June 23, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

According to Sidney Blumenthal, a onetime adviser to president Bill Clinton who now writes a column for Britain's Guardian newspaper, President Bush today runs "what is in effect a gulag," stretching "from prisons in Afghanistan to Iraq, from Guantanamo to secret CIA prisons around the world." Mr. Blumenthal says "there has been nothing like this system since the fall of the Soviet Union."

In another column, Mr. Blumenthal compares the April death toll for American soldiers in Iraq to the Eastern Front in the Second World War. Mr. Bush's "splendid little war," he writes, "has entered a Stalingrad-like phase of urban siege and house-to-house combat."

The factual bases for these claims are, first, that the U.S. holds some 10,000 "enemy combatants" prisoner; and second, that 122 U.S. soldiers were killed in action in April.

As I write, I have before me a copy of "The Black Book of Communism," which relates that on "1 January 1940 some 1,670,000 prisoners were being held in the 53 groups of corrective work camps and 425 collective work colonies. In addition, the prisons held 200,000 people awaiting trial or a transfer to camp. Finally, the NKVD komandatury were in charge of approximately 1.2 million 'specially displaced people.' "

As for Stalingrad, German deaths between Jan. 10 and Feb. 2, 1943, numbered 100,000, according to British historian John Keegan. And those were just the final agonizing days of a battle that had raged since the previous August.

Mr. Stephens goes on to argue that, while it is possible that these critics are simply reflecting reality, the more plausible explanation is that they are insane. But there's a third explanation that seems even more likely--the intent is not to explain the truth of what is happening nor to demonize George Bush but to minimize the Gulag and the Holocaust and the evil of Stalin and Hitler. The Left has plenty of reason to rehabilitate the Soviet Union, having been complicit in its crimes and has become so anti-Zionist, if not outright anti-Semitic, in recent years that they may subconsciously (hopefully not consciously) wish to remove the moral authority that has attached to Judaism and the state of Israel since the Holocaust was revealed.

Posted by David Cohen at 2:04 PM


Army unit claims victory over sheik (Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times, 6/23/04)

Once he had targets, Gen. Dempsey could then map a battle plan for entering four key cities — Karbala, Najaf, Kufa and Diwaniyah. This would be a counterinsurgency fought with 70-ton M-1 Abrams tanks and aerial gunships overhead. It would not be the lightning movements of clandestine commandos, but rather all the brute force the Army could muster, directed at narrowly defined targets.

Last week, Sheik al-Sadr surrendered. He called on what was left of his men to cease operations and said he may one day seek public office in a democratic Iraq.

Gen. Hertling said Mahdi's Army is defeated, according the Army's doctrinal definition of defeat. A few stragglers might be able to fire a rocket-propelled grenade, he said, but noted: "Do they have the capability of launching any kind of offensive operation? Absolutely not."

The division estimates it killed at least several thousand militia members.

This article should be read in full to see the Army react quickly with new tactics to a new situation, ending with a devastated enemy and our victorious army. Also, note the great help received from the Iraqis, including clerics, then remember the universal pessimism with which Sadr's "uprising" was greated in the western press.

Posted by David Cohen at 12:05 PM


THE UNKNOWABLE: Ronald Reagan’s amazing, mysterious life. (Edmund Morris, The New Yorker, 6/21/04)

The first subsection deals with Ronald Reagan’s body. In 1988, at seventy-seven years of age, the President stood six feet one and weighed a hundred and ninety pounds, none of it flab. He boasted that any punch aimed at his abdomen would be jarringly repulsed. After a lifetime of working out with wheels and bars, he had broadened his chest to a formidably walled cavern forty-four inches in circumference. He was a natural athlete, with a peculiarly graceful Algonquin gait that brought him into rooms almost soundlessly. No matter how fast he moved (that big body could turn on a dime), he was always balanced.

One recalls how elegantly he choreographed Mikhail Gorbachev up the steps at the 1985 Geneva summit: an arabesque of dark blue flowing around awkward gray. Reagan loved to swim, ride, and foxtrot. (Doris Day remembers him as “the only man I ever knew who really liked to dance.”) Eleven weeks after nearly dying in the assassination attempt of 1981, he climbed onto the springboard at the Camp David swimming pool and threw a perfect half pike before anybody could protest.

Gorbachev once remarked on Reagan’s “balance” to me in an interview. But he used the Russian word ravnovesie in its wider sense, of psychological equilibrium. The President’s poised body and smooth yet inexorable motion telegraphed a larger force that came of a lifetime of no self-doubt (except for two years of despair in 1948-49, after Jane Wyman, his first wife, left him for boring her). Reagan redux did not care whom he bored, as long as nobody tried to stop him. His famous anecdotes, recounted with a speed and economy that were the verbal equivalent of balance, were persuasive on the first, and even the fourth, telling. But when you heard them for the fourteenth, or the fortieth, time, always with exactly the same inflections and chuckles and glances, you realized that he was a bore in the sense that a combine harvester is boring: its only purpose is to bear down upon and thresh whatever grain lies in its path. Reagan used homilies to harvest people.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM


In New Tests for Fetal Defects, Agonizing Choices (AMY HARMON, 6/20/04, NY Times)

Fetal genetic tests are now routinely used to diagnose diseases as well known as cystic fibrosis and as obscure as fragile X, a form of mental retardation. High-resolution sonograms can detect life-threatening defects like brain cysts as well as treatable conditions like a small hole in the heart or a cleft palate sooner and more reliably than previous generations of the technology. And the risk of Down syndrome, one of the most common birth defects, can be assessed in the first trimester rather than waiting for a second-trimester blood test or amniocentesis.

Most couples say they are both profoundly grateful for the new information and hugely burdened by the choices it forces them to make. The availability of tests earlier in pregnancy mean that if they opt for an abortion it can be safer and less public.

But first they must decide: What defect, if any, is reason enough to end a pregnancy that was very much wanted? Shortened limbs that could be partly treated with growth hormones? What about a life expectancy of only a few months? What about 30 years? Or a 20 percent chance of mental retardation?

Striving to be neutral, doctors and genetic counselors flood patients with scientific data, leaving them alone for the hard conversations about the ethics of abortion, and how having a child with a particular disease or disability would affect them and their families. There are few traditions to turn to, and rarely anyone around who has confronted a similar dilemma.

Against the backdrop of a bitter national divide on abortion, couples are devising their own very private scales for weighing whether to continue their pregnancies. Often, political or religious beliefs end up being put aside, trumped by personal feelings.

A culture which sets aside moral judgments in favor of personal feelings on matters of life and death is no longer civilized.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM


Rare Kerry appearance causes uproar in Senate: Arriving for vote, he dismisses GOP calls to resign (Patrick Healy, June 23, 2004, Boston Globe)

Under fresh attack by Republicans to resign his Senate seat after missing months of votes, John F. Kerry returned to the Senate chambers yesterday to be in position to vote on a bill providing improved health care for veterans -- a move that triggered a partisan battle among his colleagues. [...]

Kerry waited seven hours on the Hill yesterday in hopes of voting on a proposal to increase health care spending for veterans by 30 percent, but Republicans used procedural tactics to delay any vote until at least after Kerry had left for a campaign trip to San Francisco last night. [...]

Kerry, who turned his campaign plane around in Denver Monday night and flew to the capital in a rare moment of political spontaneity, waited hours to speak on the issue. On the Senate floor yesterday afternoon, Kerry accused Republicans of playing politics with the needs of veterans by refusing Democrats the ''normal courtesy" of speaking and voting on a legislative proposal put forward by their leader, Daschle. [...]

The partisan politicking forced Kerry to scuttle a $500,000 fund-raiser in New Mexico last night, but it reaped other rewards for his campaign. By portraying Republicans as silencing him in the Senate, Kerry gained a useful new weapon to fight opponents who are pressuring him to step down for skipping 89 percent of Senate votes so far this year.

He also was able to sit for a ''class picture" yesterday afternoon of the full Senate; had he not been there, Kerry aides said, Republican media strategists would have had a photo at their disposal of all but Kerry present on a day when senators were debating veterans' benefits and Pentagon spending.

In what Kerry aides said was a coincidence of timing, the senator returned to the Hill just as Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney -- the most prominent advocate of a Kerry resignation -- repeated that call yesterday during an appearance nearby to testify about gay marriage. Kerry aides said that the senator did not return here to rebut Romney's contention that Kerry was shirking his duties.

Are you really being spontaneous when you dance to your opponents' tune?

Posted by Peter Burnet at 5:53 AM


Slaying Firms Korean Resolve (Reuben Staines, Korea Times, June 23rd, 2004)

Fear hardened into angry resolve on Wednesday following the execution of interpreter Kim Sun-il by Iraqi insurgents, with experts predicting the incident will swing public opinion in favor of the planned troop dispatch to Iraq.

While many South Koreans had previously opposed the government’s plan to send 3,000 additional troops to assist the U.S.-led postwar effort in Iraq, the beheading will draw Seoul and Washington closer together, said Lee Sang-hyun, director of security studies at the Sejong Institute.

"The foremost reaction of most of the Korean public is anger”, Lee said. "People are terrified by this inhumane and barbaric act.”

He said some opponents of the Iraq war will continue their calls for President Roh Moo-hyun to scrap the troop dispatch plan but a majority want the government to stand firm.

It is sad that so many people will go to such extreme lengths to deny evil and only recognize it when innocent folks die. It is even sadder that so many refuse to recognize it even then.

June 22, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:31 PM


Contreras's Wife, Daughters Leave Cuba (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/22/04)

Jose Contreras' family defected from Cuba this week, and the New York Yankees pitcher left the team Tuesday and traveled to Miami to reunite with his wife and two daughters.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Barbara Gonzalez said she did not know details on how the family got out of Cuba. A call to U.S. Border Patrol officials was not immediately returned.

"It's spectacular news,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said before Tuesday night's game at Baltimore.

Wife Miriam, 11-year-old Naylan and 3-year-old Naylenis were taken by the border patrol to immigration offices, where they were interviewed and released.

After being examined by Miami-Dade County medical officials, they left with Contreras' agent, Jaime Torres, early Tuesday evening. [...]

"Thanks to God, they are free,'' Torres said.

Amen, brother.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 PM


Bush Claimed Right to Waive Torture Laws (SCOTT LINDLAW, 6/22/04, Associated Press)

Bush outlined his own views in a Feb. 7. 2002, document regarding treatment of al-Qaida detainees from Afghanistan. He said the war against terrorism had ushered in a "new paradigm" and that terrorist attacks required "new thinking in the law of war." Still, he said prisoners must be treated humanely and in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

"I accept the legal conclusion of the attorney general and the Department of Justice that I have the authority under the Constitution to suspend Geneva as between the United States and Afghanistan, but I decline to exercise that authority at this time," the president said in the memo, entitled "Humane Treatment of al-Qaida and Taliban Detainees."

In a separate Pentagon memo, dated Nov. 27, 2002, the Defense Department's chief lawyer, William J. Haynes II, recommended that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approve the use of 14 interrogation techniques on detainees at Guantanamo Bay, such as yelling at a prisoner during questioning and using "stress positions," like standing, for up to four hours.

Haynes also recommended approval of one technique among harsher methods requested by U.S. military authorities at Guantanamo: use of "mild, non-injurious physical contact such as grabbing, poking in the chest with the finger and light pushing."

Among the techniques that Rumsfeld approved on Dec. 2, 2002, in addition to that one, the yelling and the stress positions:

_ Use of 20-hour interrogations.

_ Removal of all comfort items, including religious items.

_ Removal of clothing.

_ Using detainees' "individual phobias such as fear of dogs to induce stress."

In a Jan. 15, 2003, note, Rumsfeld rescinded his approval and said that a review would be conducted to consider legal, policy and operational issues relating to interrogations of detainees held by the U.S. military in the war on terrorism.

Rumsfeld's decision was prompted at least in part by objections raised by some military lawyers who felt that the techniques approved for use at Guantanamo Bay might go too far, officials said earlier this year.

The review was completed in April 2003, and on that basis Rumsfeld reissued his guidance on April 16, 2003. He approved 24 interrogation techniques, to be used in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions, but said that any use of four of those methods would have to be approved by him in advance. Those four were use of rewards or removal of privileges from detainees; attacking or insulting the ego of a detainee; alternating the use of friendly and harsh interrogators, and isolation.

If anything the Administration appears to have been overly scrupulous.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 PM


How America can win the intelligence war (Spengler, 6/15/04, Asia Times)

Every US intelligence assessment of Soviet military strength and morale available in 1981 was dead wrong. Washington learned better by putting Moscow under stress. How adaptable was Russian weapons technology? Start a high-tech arms race with the Strategic Defense Initiative and find out. How good were Russian avionics? Help the Israeli air force engage Syria's MiGs in the Bekaa Valley in 1982, and the destruction with impunity of Russian-built fighters and surface-to-air missile sites would provide a data point. How solid was Russian fighting morale? Instigate irregular warfare against the Russian army in Afghanistan and learn.

The United States lacks the aptitude and inclination to penetrate the mind of adversary cultures. In the so-called war on terror, it lacks the floating population of irredentist emigres who provided a window into Russian-occupied Eastern Europe back during the Cold War. But the best sort of intelligence stems not from scholarship but from decisiveness of command and clarity of mission. "War is not an intellectual activity but a brutally physical one," observes Sir John Keegan in Intelligence and War, published last year. President George W Bush might do well to read it carefully before choosing the next CIA director.

It was not the intellectuals but the bullyboys of the Reagan administration who shook loose the relevant intelligence. In 1981 the CIA enjoyed a surfeit of Russian speakers, in contrast to today's paucity of Arabic translators. But William Casey routinely ignored the legions of Russian-studies PhDs, reaching out instead to irregulars who could give him the insights he required.

Intelligence in warfare presents a different sort of intellectual challenge than academics are trained to address. President Reagan, no intellectual in the conventional sense, nonetheless formed a clear assessment of what the enemy was, what it wanted, and how it might be defeated. Without the courage to define and then engage the enemy, intelligence services will wander randomly in the dark. [...]

Bush might as well shut down the CIA and re-create something like the wartime Office of Strategic Services, for which Casey parachuted agents into occupied Europe. Most of the CIA amounts to a make-work project for second-rate academics, drawn from an academic environment generally hostile to US strategic interests. Even if US universities still produced strategic thinkers rather than multicultural mush-heads, and even if the CIA could recruit them, little would change. In spite of the academics, Bill Casey won his intelligence war because the US convinced enough players on the other side that it would win. To win to its side the best men and women of the Islamic world, the United States must make clear what it wants from them.

What the stupid Ronald Reagan understood was that Communism had to be more feeble than we could see clearly just because of the type of system it was. So while intelligence agencies well into the 90s still thought it viable economically and formidable militarily, he'd already destroted. His was the intelligence of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:
Yes, yes, of course, we all know you cannot poke a stick through the walls of a concrete tower, but here's something to think about: what if the walls are only a painted backdrop?

Today the stupid president understands that Islamicism too is just a painted backdrop. Confronting the world with that fact will do more than all the resources squandered on intelligence ever could.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 PM


Live babies being born after abortions (Rebecca Smith, 22 June 2004, Evening Standard)

Leading doctors today called for a major overhaul to avoid babies being born alive after abortions.

Pregnancy expert Professor Stuart Campbell has demanded rules should be tightened after it was revealed that at least nine babies are known to have survived terminations in recent years.

He said injections that were supposed to end their lives in the womb failed to do so - and he called for stricter regulations to be enforced on the methods of abortion. [...]

"It is really unfair on the nurses and the parents to see the baby making some sort of movement after birth."

Can't be too pleasant for the child either, eh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 PM


Bush Looks to Heaven While Iraq Goes to Hell (Nicholas Von Hoffman, May 27, 2004, www.dissidentvoice.org)

To listen to George Bush, you would think that he was elected Pope or Chief Rabbi or something. With Mr. Bush, it’s him and God all the time. "I also have this belief, strong belief, that freedom is not this country’s gift to the world," he averred at his recent press conference. "Freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in this world."

Freedom is not the Judeo-Christian divinity’s gift to anybody. None of the political and social ideals upon which the nation was begun come from either of these two religions. Remember St. Paul’s injunction that slaves should obey their masters.

Freedom and democracy have their origins with the Greeks and the Romans, who had a bunch of gods whose idea of family does not comport with George Bush’s. Holy moley, their big god, Zeus/Jupiter, was a cross-dresser and not above an occasional bout with bestiality. A very lusty god was/is he. The rest of that troop of Olympians were little better, tumbling in and out of each other’s beds, extorting sexual favors from mortals and generally disporting themselves in ways not approved of by the Republican National Committee, the Sanhedrin or the National Baptist Convention.

A dispassionate look would lead a person to conclude that freedom and democracy arose out of what George Bush and his fellow holy rollers would consider the libertine, permissive, anti-family culture of classical antiquity. If that’s overstating it, it is not an overstatement to say that freedom, even the idea of the individual as we conceive it, was invented by the pagans of Greece and Rome, the same people who threw away the oppressive belief that laws come from God and replaced it with man-made legislation. [...]

In 1941, Adolf Hitler sent his tank divisions flying into the Ukraine, where the Roman Catholic, Communist-hating peasantry can still be seen in the old newsreels running out of their little houses greeting the invading army with flowers and offers of food. Within a year, thanks to the Nazi genius at interpersonal relations, those same peasants were hiding in hill and forest, staging surprise attacks against the Germans.

While the American Army’s welcome in Iraq was by no means as fulsome and unanimous as that accorded Hitler’s legions in the Ukraine, there is no doubt that many an Iraqi was happy to see the Yankees come in and give their dictator the boot. Although American-sponsored polls of Iraqi public opinion have to be regarded as worthless, much other evidence exists of the local good will toward the invaders. Here is an excerpt taken from an e-mail written a few days ago by an American soldier hunkered down in an area hostile to the invaders: "We are operating on other people’s courage. They come to us or call. These are Iraqis who have taken the word of the Prophet to heart and only think of their community. Not that I think the Coalition is optimal, and I don’t think that these people do either, yet they have decided that of the choices, modernization and/or reform with the Coalition is the best thing for the community. I know that their behavior is unselfish devotion for two good reasons: 1) We are not paying these people anything and 2) If they are discovered, they will be killed out of hand—well not quite, first they will be taken to the Sharia court, tortured, then killed." Thus, even now favorably disposed Iraqis are still to be found.

How stupid can the Iraqis be that they don't recognize, as a smart liberal like Mr. Von Hoffman does, that we're the Nazis?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 PM


Out of the shadows, into the world: Slowly, but sometimes showily, the female half of the population is beginning to find a voice (The Economist, 6/17/04)

Outsiders commonly assume that Islam itself is the cause of sexual inequality in the Arab world. This is not strictly true. Earlier this year, for instance, Morocco adopted a progressive family status code which, among other things, grants both sexes equal rights to seek divorce and to argue before a judge for custody of children. It also places such tight conditions on polygamy as to render the practice virtually impossible. Yet the new law won backing not just from King Muhammad VI, who declared it to be “in perfect accordance with the spirit of our tolerant religion”, but also from the country's main Islamist parties.

In Kuwait, too, religion is being used to push reform. Five years ago, Islamists in the country's parliament blocked a law that would have granted women the right to vote and run for office. The same law is being tabled again this year, but this time several Islamist MPs have defected to the liberals. One reason is a fatwa recently issued by a prominent cleric, which questions the reliability of the source who, 14 centuries ago, reported the Prophet Muhammad as saying “A nation commanded by woman will not prosper.”

Aside from giving them the short stick on inheritance, and having their testimony in law considered half as weighty as men's, and letting husbands marry up to four wives, whom they may beat if they are disobedient, the Koran itself is not unkind to women. Centuries before Christian women in the West, Muslim women freely enjoyed full property rights. In many Arab societies, it has been customary to evade statutory inheritance laws by simply signing over property to female relations before your death.

The trouble, in places like Saudi Arabia, lies more in how the holy text—as well as the hadiths, or Prophet's sayings, that inform the Sharia—are interpreted. Such texts are often not so much interpreted, as twisted to fit pre-existing traditions. The ban on driving, for instance, is unique to Saudi Arabia. Yet even Saudi clerics are hard-put to find support for the rule in holy scripture. (And in any case, according to one survey, 29% of Saudi women say they already know how to drive.)

The extreme Saudi phobia regarding ikhtilat, or mixing of the sexes, also has no textual justification. And although the Koran mentions modesty in dress, how much is a matter of opinion. Most scholars agree that hadiths about fuller covering relate to the Prophet's own wives. Whether to follow their example should be a free choice, as indeed it is in most Muslim societies.

Some countries, such as non-Arab Tunisia, have simply bypassed such questions by imposing fully secular laws. For the time being, Arab public opinion is strongly opposed to this; the link to Islamic roots is seen as essential. Yet when it comes to women's rights, the evidence is that Arabs, even the men among them, acknowledge the need for improvement. In a 2002 survey of social attitudes carried out in seven Arab countries by Zogby International, 50% of respondents considered the improvement of women's rights a high priority. Significantly, the firmest support for change came from Saudi Arabia.

The reformers will eventually get their way. Saudi women are, in fact, already chalking up important gains. Last month they were granted the right to hold commercial licences, a significant advance considering that women own a quarter of the $100 billion deposited in Saudi banks, with little opportunity to make use of it. In 2001, they won the right to have their own identity cards (though a male guardian must apply for them). Saudi businesswomen spoke eloquently, to long applause, at a major conference in Jeddah earlier this year. Since January, Saudi state TV has employed female newscasters.

The kingdom's best-known TV personality also happens to be a woman. Rania al-Baz won further fame earlier this year when her husband beat her almost to death. Instead of staying silent, as her mother would have done, Mrs al-Baz invited photographers into her hospital room to show the world her broken face. She has now formed a group to combat the abuse of women in Saudi Arabia.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:57 PM


Inflated fertility rate used for pension bills: Ministry allegedly sat on lower figure (REIJI YOSHIDA, June 23, 2004, The Japan Times)

Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry officials said Tuesday they had estimated a record-low fertility rate in 2003 of 1.29 almost two weeks before the contentious pension reform bills were pushed through the Diet on June 5, based on a rosier figure.

The government's pension reform package was based on a more optimistic fertility rate of 1.32 for the year, forecasting it to eventually recover to around 1.39. A figure above 2.08 is needed to sustain the population. [...]

The government's fertility rate forecasts have been consistently overoptimistic for more than two decades, forcing it to repeatedly revise down pension premium revenue assumptions.

A higher birthrate prediction is politically favorable for the government, which has been trying to bathe its social security plan in a rosy glow.

The correct number was lost in translation...

Effects of zero-interest rates (Japan Times, 6/23/04)

More than a decade has passed since the Bank of Japan brought benchmark interest rates to almost zero. Now that Japan's economy is showing signs of steady recovery, it stands to reason that this extraordinary policy of quantitative monetary easing should come to an end. Yet, reversing a policy that has persisted for so many years may prove difficult. [...]

One major consequence of rock-bottom interest rates is an enormous glut of government bonds. Over the years the Finance Ministry has issued massive amounts of long-term debt, which have been purchased mainly by financial institutions and institutional investors. Now, however, they are beginning to sell some of their bloated bond holdings to avoid risks. As a result, bond prices are falling while long-term interest rates are rising.

The numbers boggle the mind. The balance of government bonds stood at 460 trillion yen at the end of March. Of this, 85 trillion yen (including bonds issued to finance the fiscal loan and investment program) was held by the BOJ, 120 trillion yen by banks and 116 trillion yen by insurance companies and pension funds.

Lower bond prices lead to higher valuation losses for bondholders. In the business year that ended March 31, however, these holding losses by banks were apparently offset by rising stock prices. By contrast, the BOJ recorded its first current-account deficit in 32 years, mainly due to a huge holding loss of 1.1 trillion yen. As a result, the bank's capital adequacy ratio reportedly dropped below the international standard of 8 percent.

Falling bond prices, if the trend continues, will also hit banks. The bonds they hold will depress profits if these assets become new "nonperforming loans." If that happens, banks will be left holding the bag again. The timing could not be worse because their painstaking efforts to clean up nonperforming loans to businesses are finally bearing fruit.

Who would buy the bonds of a dying nation?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:54 PM


Poll: 64% of Israeli Jews support encouraging Arabs to leave (Yulie Khromchenco, 6/22/04, Haaretz)

A University of Haifa poll released Monday reveals that a majority of the Jewish public in Israel - 63.7 percent - believes that the government should encourage Israeli Arabs to emigrate from Israel.

The survey, conducted by the university's National Security Studies Center, also found that 48.6 percent of the Israeli Jews polled said the government was overly sympathetic to the Arab population.

Compared to similar polls conducted in 2001 and 2003, the current survey indicates an increase in the public's extremism.

The majority of Jewish respondents, 55.3 percent, said Israeli Arabs endangered national security, while 45.3 percent of those polled said they supported revoking Israeli Arabs' right to vote and hold political office.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:15 PM


Clinton Book Weighs Failures and Successes: Memoir Contradicts Testimony on Lewinsky (John F. Harris and Linton Weeks, June 22, 2004, Washington Post)

Clinton's own legal battle with independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr accounts for one of the book's more peculiar revelations. In his August 1998 grand jury testimony, Clinton said he began an inappropriate sexual relationship with Monica S. Lewinsky in "early 1996." His testimony, as was widely noted at the time, was in conflict with Lewinsky's story: She testified the relationship began on Nov. 15, 1995, in the midst of a government shutdown.

Starr's prosecutors, in their report to Congress, accused Clinton of lying about the date of their relationship in order to avoid admitting that he had sexual relations with an intern, as Lewinsky still was in the fall of 1995 before being hired for a paying job in the winter.

Without explanation, in his memoir Clinton departs from his grand jury testimony and corroborates her version: "During the government shutdown in late 1995, when very few people were allowed to come to work in the White House, and those who were there were working late, I'd had an inappropriate encounter with Monica Lewinsky and would do so again on other occasions between November and April, when she left the White House for the Pentagon."

Clinton aides yesterday said they could not explain the discrepancy, and his attorney, David Kendall, was traveling and did not return a call.

Hard to keep all your different versions of a story straight sometimes...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:01 PM


Large Explosions Rock Fallujah in Iraq (AP, 6/22/04)

Large explosions rocked Fallujah late Tuesday in the same area as a U.S. airstrike last weekend, witnesses said. The Americans said the weekend attack was against a safehouse of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's movement.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:48 PM


Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate (March 18, 2003)

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.



Posted by Peter Burnet at 3:16 PM


Unfairenheit 9/11: The lies of Michael Moore. (Christopher Hitchens, Slate, June 21st, 2004)

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.

In late 2002, almost a year after the al-Qaida assault on American society, I had an onstage debate with Michael Moore at the Telluride Film Festival. In the course of this exchange, he stated his view that Osama Bin Laden should be considered innocent until proven guilty. This was, he said, the American way. The intervention in Afghanistan, he maintained, had been at least to that extent unjustified. Something---I cannot guess what, since we knew as much then as we do now---has since apparently persuaded Moore that Osama Bin Laden is as guilty as hell. Indeed, Osama is suddenly so guilty and so all-powerful that any other discussion of any other topic is a dangerous "distraction" from the fight against him. I believe that I understand the convenience of this late conversion. [...]

Moore has announced that he won't even appear on TV shows where he might face hostile questioning. I notice from the New York Times of June 20 that he has pompously established a rapid response team, and a fact-checking staff, and some tough lawyers, to bulwark himself against attack. He'll sue, Moore says, if anyone insults him or his pet. Some right-wing hack groups, I gather, are planning to bring pressure on their local movie theaters to drop the film. How dumb or thuggish do you have to be in order to counter one form of stupidity and cowardice with another? By all means go and see this terrible film, and take your friends, and if the fools in the audience strike up one cry, in favor of surrender or defeat, feel free to join in the conversation.

However, I think we can agree that the film is so flat-out phony that "fact-checking" is beside the point. And as for the scary lawyers——get a life, or maybe see me in court. But I offer this, to Moore and to his rapid response rabble. Any time, Michael my boy. Let's redo Telluride. Any show. Any place. Any platform. Let's see what you're made of.

Put your feet up, grab a glass of your favourite refreshment, and enjoy...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:49 AM


Senate Backs Ban on Photos of G.I. Coffins: The Bush administration's policy of barring the media from photographing the coffins of service members killed in Iraq won the backing of the Senate on Monday. (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, 6/22/04, NY Times)

PBS Masterpiece Theatre is running a terrific detective series this month, Foyle's War. It stars Michael Kitchen as Christopher Foyle, as a DCI who gets stuck fighting crime at home instead of the Nazis abroad. What makes the show fascinating is that the home front is populated by petty bureaucrats, fascists, pacifists, cowards, profiteers, and the like and thick with the atmosphere of fear and anti-German/anti-Italian hysteria. At any rate, this week's installment included a mysterious military installation that ultimately turned out to be shrouded in secrecy for a simple but surprising reason: they were making coffins there to bury the anticipated dead of the Blitz, but they were keeping it quiet for reason of morale. The foreman said he hoped Foyle would understand and, of course, he did.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 AM


With Kerry's choices, you'd want McCain, too (Peter A. Brown, 6/22/04, Jewish World Review)

Kerry ideally would like one of three things in a running mate:

—A senator, but preferably a governor, from a major battleground state whose presence on the ticket might push it into the Democratic column.

—A racial minority or woman who could energize voters because of the candidacy's precedent-setting nature, but still pass the crucial threshold for popular support that requires such a nominee be considered presidential.

—A candidate who complements the presidential nominee in a way that sends a clear message, as the 1992 choice of Al Gore by Bill Clinton showed that the Democrats would offer a youthful, fresh-faced alternative to the Reagan/Bush years.

Yet none of those Kerry is reportedly considering seems to fit any of those molds.

Start from the proposition that Senator Kerry can't win this race but also doesn't want to be responsible for the final meltdown of the Democratic Party and there's really only one pick that makes any sense: Hillary. If nothing else it would be a way of getting Bill Clinton out on the campaign trail without acknowledging complete desperation. Ms Clinton would keep suburban women in the fold and the ex-President could help boost black turnout.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 AM


Oil as a curse (Amity Shlaes, 6/22/04, Jewish World Review)

[T]here was a sense of relief when Putin said the Russian government did not want to smash Yukos altogether.

But perhaps there ought not to have been. That, at least, is the conclusion we can draw from an article by Nancy Birdsall and Arvind Subramanian in the newest issue of Foreign Affairs. The authors — Birdsall heads the Washington-based Center for Global Development, while Subramanian is at the International Monetary Fund — offer a one-word explanation for the globe's diverse troubles: oil. [...]

The market-oriented right has bridled at the idea that any capital, even petro-capital, is evil. Then, in the last century, free-market thinkers such as Mancur Olson and P.T. Bauer pointed out that the natural resources themselves, and not the colonizers, were the problem. Indeed, a lack of oil constitutes an advantage. Japan, West Germany and Singapore all profited when, absent what nature provides, they were forced to develop industrial or intellectual capital.

Now Birdsall and Subramanian are adding to the debate. They note that oil wealth relieves a nation of the pressure to tax (Saudi Arabia). The state therefore has no stake in the private-sector creation of wealth or citizens' day-to-day well-being. There is no need for a civic relationship — on either side. Property rights, contract law, reliable courts — to us, basics — seem dispensable. And the state is free to bully.

That's how Bernard Lewis stated the case in What Went Wrong?.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM


Filling Kerry's shoes (Renee Loth, June 22, 2004, Boston Globe)

Our story so far: Democrats are trying to change a nearly century-old law in order to prevent Governor Romney from filling the Senate seat that will be vacant should Kerry become president. The Democrats gravely speak of ``letting the people decide,'' trying to claim the high ground in an argument that involves nothing but partisan swamp.

The ``reformers'' over at Romney Inc., meanwhile, are trying to sweeten their own power grab by hinting broadly that the governor would appoint a woman or minority to the post, loosening the white-boy stranglehold on the congressional delegation. (Apparently Barney Frank's status as a gay man doesn't earn any points in this diversity varsity.)

Fearful of letting a Romney designee earn two years of incumbency before the next statewide election in 2006, Democrats want a special election, probably sometime in February 2005. They are pushing legislation on Beacon Hill that would negate the system in effect since 1913, when the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, providing for the popular election of US senators.

Mr. Romney will get to fill the seat far sooner than that. Most likely with Paul Cellucci who would hold it easily in the following election. Though Mr. Romney might prefer to name someone who wouldn't be an automatic presidential and vice-presidential rival.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:03 AM


Dissecting the Marlins-Sox blowout one year later (CHRISTOPHER YOUNG, Portland Phoenix)

When the clock struck midnight last October 25, the Florida Marlins were in the midst of a raucous celebration following their Game-Six whitewash of the New York Yankees, which climaxed the Marlins’ stunning World Series triumph.

But four months earlier, they weren’t so jubilant. Not as such. Because back on the night of June 27, on a picture-perfect summer evening at Fenway Park, the Jack McKeon–led Marlins suffered a defeat of ignominious proportions — a pasting so complete and embarrassing that it painted the Florida baseball team’s professional credentials as somewhat more than dubious.

Indeed, if you had asked a baseball fan following that night’s fiasco — a 25-8 Red Sox victory — which team would likely find itself in the Fall Classic in four months’ time, it would have been a no-brainah: humiliated on a level rarely seen beyond suburban T-ball leagues, the Marlins seemed destined for the cellar.

Instead, against all reasonable odds, the Marlins rebounded from this disgraceful performance to reach the pinnacle of the baseball world. Numerous records were set during the debacle, and those remarkable stats alone provide the gist for today’s look back at that Sox-Fish tilt. But first, let’s set the stage.

Those of us who watched Teddy Higuera and the Brewers beat the Sox 18-0 one Patriot Day, without hitting a homerun, might argue about Fenway's most perfect pastings....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:42 AM


A W-for-President scenario (Larry Kudlow, June 22, 2004, Townhall)

There's a lot of angst these days over the threat of rising inflation. Sensitive market prices are saying don't worry about it, but economists are worrying nonetheless. Should you worry, too? No. Markets are smarter than economists.

Key leading indicators are showing 5 percent to 6 percent real growth of gross domestic product this year, with roughly 2.5 percent inflation. This is quite a good scenario. It's a pro-stock market scenario. It's a pro-growth scenario. It's an anti-budget-deficit scenario. And it's a George W. Bush-for-president scenario.

Liquidity and inflation indicators do not suggest that virulent inflation is headed our way. The mere hint of a slightly less-accommodative policy from the Federal Reserve has driven down the prices of gold and other metals by roughly 10 percent this spring. (Commodities, remember -- in particular gold -- are leading indicators of changes in general price levels.) And even with rising energy prices, the Commodity Research Bureau's broad-based futures index has declined about 6 percent.

True enough, consumer prices have moved up to 3 percent and producer prices have jumped to 5 percent. However, buried inside the latest producer price report, crude materials (less food and energy) have registered a 19 percent annual decline rate over the past three months, picking up the recent commodity weakness. The 10-year Treasury -- another inflation-sensitive indicator -- is hovering around a historically low yield of 4.7 percent.

If they just keep predicting the return of inflation, they'll be right eventually, but likely not for a decade or two.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 AM


Look Who’s Feuding: Suddenly it’s Republicans (for a change!) who are at one another’s throats over Iraq. There’s even talk of a postelection neocon purge. The sun sets on national greatness conservatism. (Danny Postel, 07.01.04, American Prospect)

These have been, to state the obvious, a rough couple of months for the Republicans. Talk of the administration's "wheels coming off" abounds. Consider these recent developments: In light of the "house of horrors" at Abu Ghraib, neocon stalwart Max Boot calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to step down. The secretary's "failure to offer his resignation over the Abu Ghraib scandal is sadly typical of the lack of accountability that permeates the U.S. government," Boot thunders in the Los Angeles Times.

# The editors of the National Review, a bedrock of support for the war from day one, call for "An End to Illusion" and urge their readers to "downplay expectations" in Iraq. "The administration," they editorialize, "clearly wasn't ready for the magnitude of the task that rebuilding and occupying Iraq would present."

# Crossfire host Tucker Carlson joins the ever-expanding conservatives-who-have-changed-their-minds-on-Iraq club. "I think it's a total nightmare and disaster," he tells The New York Observer, "and I'm ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it. It's something I'll never do again. Never. I got convinced by a friend of mine who's smarter than I am, and I shouldn't have done that. No. I want things to work out, but I'm enraged by it, actually."

# One vice chairman at the American Conservative Union, Donald Devine, declines to shake hands with the president and does not applaud during George W. Bush's keynote address to the group. A Zogby poll shows that Devine is hardly alone, with one out of five Republicans not committed to voting for Bush, which conservative columnist Robert Novak says "could spell defeat in a closely contested election."

# In response to the rolling thunder of right-wing disaffection with the war, William Kristol tells The New York Times that the neoconservatives have "as much or more in common with the liberal hawks than with traditional conservatives." He fulminates, "If we have to make common cause with the more hawkish liberals and fight the conservatives, that is fine with me … ."

And that's just what's been reported in the press. Republican anxieties and grumblings go considerably deeper...

Shocking, eh? The Buchananites, McCainiacs and Libertarians inside the Beltway still haven't reconciled themselves to the fact that George W. Bush represents the mainstream of American conservatism today and the GOP is his party, not theirs. Seems like the only Republicans who support the President are pretty much all of those who don't work at think tanks and vanity journals.
From: Orrin Judd [mailto:orrin@brothersjudd.zzn.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 7:31 AM
To: Danny Postel
Subject: Re: Postel: On the Verge of a Purge--Inside the
Posted it. Do they really charge for their stuff now?

From: "Danny Postel"
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 10:19:07 -0500
To: "'Orrin Judd'"
Subject: RE: Postel: On the Verge of a Purge--Inside the RepublicanCrack-Up
Thanks for the nod, Orrin. They don't charge for most of their stuff,
just select pieces they think might lure people into subscribing.

Alas, as for your comment:

< Beltway still haven't reconciled themselves to the fact that George W.
Bush represents the mainstream of American conservatism today and the
GOP is his party, not theirs. Seems like the only Republicans who
support the President are pretty much all of those who don't work at
think tanks and vanity journals.>>

I'm afraid you've *completely* missed the point of my article! Did you
read this paragraph?

< alliance of conservatives -- realists, libertarians, and paleocons --
opposed to the Iraq War and to the expanding American empire [see
"Realistpolitik," page 11]. But conservative estrangement from the
administration has now spread well beyond that circle, into the ranks of
Republicans who supported the war but have either changed their minds or
grown increasingly weary of the occupation -- and who are concerned that
it could cost Bush the election.>>

In other words, your comment relates to my *previous* article
) but not at all to this one. The people I'm talking about in this
article are *precisely* mainstream Republicans who feel that Buchanan
and the libertarians are out of step with reality; they *supported* the
Iraq war and eventually came to have serious doubts about it (unlike
Buchanan and the libertarians, who opposed it from the get-go). Of
course I can't identify the insiders and strategists I quote in the
article, but I can guarantee you that they are neither Buchananites nor
libertarians; on the contrary, they are as straight-no-chaser Republican
as they come, hard core party loyalists, who want the neocons out
because of the strong possibility that the Iraq war they sold the
president on will cost him the election. Whatever their feelings about
the war, they do not feel it was worth losing the election for it.

Now, you can disagree with these Republicnas. Be my guest. But *that's*
their position, not what you incorrectly attribute to them in your
comment. I hope you'll post a revision to reflect this. Or perhaps this
note. Maybe we can have an exchange about it.

Again, thanks for the post.



No, sorry, I didn't read that--just the portion that was available publicly for free. There you have neo and paleo cons griping. If in the rest of the essay you have Northeastern establishment Republicans complaining about the war that wouldn't be surprising. They opposed Reagan winning the Cold War too. Again though, none of them matter. It's a theocon party and George W. Bush exemplifies it as precisely as Reagan did. There may be mewling at the margins but in the country at large Mr. Bush is supported by Republicans at record levels. The Atlanticists, paleocons, libertarians and neoconservatives are useful--each in their own way, on their pet issues--but W drives the bus.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 AM


Indian PM calls for mutual trust with US in high tech areas (AFP, Jun 21, 2004)

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Monday mutual trust between India and the United States was key to a strategic partnership in high-tech areas, including commerce.

"India and the United States recognise that there is a vast scope for bilateral high technology commerce, including civilian space commerce," Singh said in a speech read out by junior minister Prithvi Raj Chauhan at the start of an India-US Conference on Space Science, Applications and Commerce.

"Strong economic ties in high technology based on mutual trust can greatly supplement our shared values and political interest."

While Democrats and pundits remain trapped in the Atlanticism of the mid-20th Century, the president of the UnitedStates should be judged by our relations with India.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 AM


Inside Air America's troubles: Optimism and shaky finances (JULIA ANGWIN, The Associated Press and SARAH MCBRIDE, The Wall Street Journal, 6/21/04)

On March 30, the night before Air America went on the air, the liberal radio network threw itself a $70,000 party at Manhattan's hip Maritime Hotel. More than 1,000 guests, including Yoko Ono and Tim Robbins, drank red, white and blue vodka cocktails as they toasted the network's bid to challenge the dominance of conservative talk radio.

But behind the scenes, Air America was running out of money. Today several employees say they still haven't been reimbursed for the costs of attending the New York launch. "It was a fun party, until I knew I was paying for it," says Bob Visotcky, Air America's former Los Angeles market manager, who hasn't been reimbursed for his hotel room and flight.

Mr. Visotcky wasn't the only insider in the dark about the company's problems. Many of Air America's investors and executives say they thought the network had raised more than $30 million, based on assurances from its owners, Guam-based entrepreneurs Evan M. Cohen and Rex Sorensen. In fact, Air America had raised only $6 million, Mr. Cohen concedes. Within six weeks of the launch, those funds had been spent and the company owed creditors more than $2 million.

When the problems came to light, "we realized that we had all been duped," says David Goodfriend, the company's acting chief operating officer.

On the other hand, aren't you really duping yourself if you think there's an audience for this stuff?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 AM

A BEEMAN'S MOMENT (via Glenn Dryfoos):

Up, up and away - 62 miles high: In a first, test pilot guides craft out of the atmosphere (John Schwartz, June 22, 2004, NY Times)

A veteran civilian test pilot on Monday became the first human to reach space in a privately financed mission, soaring more than 62 miles above the California desert in a tiny spacecraft that nonetheless encountered some serious in-flight malfunctions before gliding home to a safe and festive landing on a runway here.

Michael Melvill, the diminutive test pilot at the controls of SpaceShipOne, emerged from the cockpit upon his return, climbed atop the plane, spread his arms and let out a primal ‘‘Yeeeeeeee-haaah!’’

That elation was in sharp counterpoint to some moments during the flight.

As it rocketed toward the threshold of space 62 miles up, mission officials later said, the craft unexpectedly rolled 90 degrees, and then a wing flap moved out of alignment, taking the craft off course and forcing Melvill to take swift corrective actions. Those problems limited the ship to a high point of 328,491 feet, project officials said, but still a few hundred feet greater than 100 kilometers (62.2 miles) aove Earth, the altitude that the Federation Aeronautique International recognizes as the boundary of space.

The craft’s pioneering designer, Burt Rutan, who had hoped that SpaceShipOne would reach 360,000 feet, said that the malfunctions were ‘‘the most serious safety problems we have had’’ with the ship, which had flown less eventfully on lower-altitude test flights.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Ryan papers contain allegations he pressured wife for public sex (MAURA KELLY LANNAN, 6/22/04, Associated Press)

Republican Senate candidate Jack Ryan pressured his wife, actress Jeri Lynn Ryan, to have sex in clubs while others watched, she charged in custody documents related to their divorce that were released Monday.

The ``Boston Public'' and ``Star Trek: Voyager'' actress said she angered Ryan by refusing. She did acknowledge infidelity on her part, which she said took place after their marriage was irretrievably broken.

In the documents Ryan denied the allegations, saying he had been ``faithful and loyal'' to his wife. [...]

Jeri Lynn Ryan charged during a custody hearing that Ryan took her on surprise trips to New Orleans, New York and Paris in 1998, and that he insisted she go to sex clubs with him on each trip.

She said that after going out to dinner with Ryan in New York, he demanded that she go to a club with him.

``It was a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling,'' she said.
She said Ryan asked her to perform a sexual act while others watched, and she refused.

She said they left and Ryan apologized to her and said it was out of his system. But then, she said, he took her to Paris and again took her to a sex club.

She said she cried and became physically ill at the club, and her husband got angry with her.

She said she could never get over that incident.

She also accuses him in the papers of being controlling and lying repeatedly throughout the proceedings.

``I did arrange romantic getaways for us, but that did not include the type of activity she described,'' Ryan said in the papers. ``We did go to one avant-garde nightclub in Paris which was more than either one of us felt comfortable with. We left and vowed never to return,'' he told the court.

He said he felt bad for their son that she would falsely accuse him and said she said she knew he had political aspirations.

In a statement released Monday evening, Jeri Lynn Ryan made no mention of the allegations, but said she now considered Ryan a good man and loving father.

He obviously failed to honor his wife consistently, but if he remained faithful to her and didn't force her to do anything this story seems likely to go away. But, it's the GOP and he may be gone before the story is.

June 21, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:51 PM

PICK 2, GET 4?:

Beating Kerry to Punch, Nader Picks a No. 2 (MARK GLASSMAN, 6/22/04, NY Times)

Ralph Nader, who twice ran for president on the Green Party ticket, chose as his running mate on Monday a member of that party. The selection rekindled his association with the Greens and raised the outside possibility that they might endorse him and thereby put him on the ballot in 22 states and here in Washington.

Mr. Nader's choice, Peter Miguel Camejo, 64, was a candidate for governor of California in 2003 and the second-most-popular presidential candidate in the Green Party primaries this year.

But no sooner had Mr. Nader announced Mr. Camejo's selection in Washington than he upstaged it by saying that he would accept the party's endorsement if offered.

He said he would continue to run as an independent but welcomed support from alternative parties because his campaign, he said, aimed to be "an ecumenical gathering of third parties."

The Green Party endorsed Mr. Nader in 1996 and 2000, and many members have indicated that they are ready to do so again at the 2004 Presidential Nominating Convention in Milwaukee, which begins on Wednesday. Mr. Camejo will attend and speak on Mr. Nader's behalf.

Given the personal unpopularity of John Kerry and that he's not running on any of the issues that matter to the Left--especially as regards the War on Terror--that his candidacy offers little reason for blacks to turn out in any great number (making the Left electorate whiter); and that the race may not be close enough come November for folks to grit their teeeth and vote Democratic just because their votes might matter, it seems reasonable to think that Mr. Nader could get to 4% this time.

The Men Who Defeated John Kerry?: Ralph Nader`s running mate, Peter Camejo, is a self-avowed "Watermelon": Green on the outside, Red on the inside. And that may mean trouble for the Democrats. (Lowell Ponte, 6/22/04, FrontPage)

[E]ven though Nader decided to run in 2004, Democrats for a time believed they had dodged a bullet when he refused to seek the Green Party's official nomination. This has opened the door in Milwaukee for Democratic Party ally David Cobb to grab the Green brass ring himself and become the 2004 Green Party candidate.

A lawyer-activist from the shrimpboat village of San Leon, Texas, David Cobb got into third party politics when Nader asked him to manage the Green Party 2000 campaign in Texas. Cobb has traveled to dozens of states courting support from Green Party leaders, but he has fallen short of enough support among the 2,000 expected activists gathering Wednesday in Milwaukee to win outright. Unlike Nader, he has zero name recognition and zero support outside the Green Party itself -- and hence has no hope of approaching the 2.8 million votes that long-famous Ralph Nader got while running as a Green in 2000.

Nader this year is asking not for the Green Partyís nomination but for its "endorsement." His goal is to go beyond the limits of one party and get on the ballot lines of several parties. Nader already has such endorsement and potential ballot access from the Reform Party in up to seven states, including Florida, where an April American Research Group poll found that Nader would win 3 percent, enough to push Bush above Kerry by 46-45 percent. (The Democrats, needless to say, are using everything in their bag of dirty tricks to keep him off state ballots.)

Cobb has pledged not to run a Green campaign in as many as 17 states where he might cause Democrat candidate Kerry to lose. He is, in effect, promising if nominated to turn the Green Party from a genuine political party into just one more leftist auxiliary of the Democratic Party, into another Emilyís List, Sierra Club or MoveOn.org. If nominated, Cobb has pledged to neuter and neutralize the Green Party, removing any reason the Democratic Party might have for including Green Party policies in its platform. Cobb would offer the Green Party as a salad course to be devoured and absorbed by the Democratic Party.

Nader, by contrast, has already exerted serious pressure on Kerry not to move right-ward (that is, to the center). But from the point of view of a hard-Left Green Party "progressive," Kerry is already center-right, a politician who voted for the war in Iraq and has not backed away from that vote. Kerry has admitted committing war crimes and atrocities against women and children himself in Vietnam. Kerry also supported President Bill Clintonís international trade agreements including NAFTA, which according to leftists exploit foreign workers, pollute the global environment and send unionized American jobs to non-union workers overseas. How can any serious Green Party delegate in Milwaukee vote for David Cobb, knowing that Cobb has pledged to help secure votes and victory for the likes of Kerry?

The dynamics of the Green convention in Milwaukee -- a left-wing labor town that proudly hosted the national convention of the Communist Party USA three years ago-- changed dramatically on Monday with Ralph Naderís selection of his running mate, Peter Miguel Camejo.

Don't "progressives" deserve a party too?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:24 PM


The Allies Must Step Up (Ivo Daalder and Robert Kagan, June 20, 2004, Washington Post)

One would think, therefore, that the new U.N. consensus on Iraq would offer real hope not only for putting Iraq on the right track but also for healing some of the rifts between the United States and its European allies. France and Germany demanded a significant U.N. role, and they've gotten it. They demanded a rapid turnover of sovereignty to the Iraqis, and they got that, too. With the two countries having gotten their way in the negotiations on the resolution, the time has come for them to pitch in and join in the effort to build a peaceful, stable, democratic future for Iraq. After all, French, German and other European officials have insisted all along that the success or failure of Iraq is as much a vital interest for them as for the United States. They've also insisted, understandably, that if the United States wanted their help, it would have to give them a say over policy in Iraq.

Unfortunately, now that the Bush administration has finally acquiesced to their requests, it appears that France and Germany are refusing to fulfill their end of the bargain. Leaders of both countries have declared they will not send troops to assist in Iraq under any circumstances. Still more troubling was French President Jacques Chirac's declaration at the Group of Eight summit last week that he opposed any NATO role in Iraq, even though the resolution France supported explicitly calls on "Member States and international and regional organizations to contribute assistance to the multinational force, including military forces."

The positions staked out by the French and German governments are an abdication of international responsibility.

The next time the French or Germans accept an international responsibility will be the first, but guys like these two keep looking to them...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:20 PM


AUDIENCE GASPS AS JUDGE LIKENS ELECTION OF BUSH TO RISE OF IL DUCE: 2nd Circuit’s Calabresi Also Compares Bush’s Rise to That of Hitler (JOSH GERSTEIN, 6/21/04, The New York Sun)

A prominent federal judge has told a conference of liberal lawyers that President Bush’s rise to power was similar to the accession of dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler.

“In a way that occurred before but is rare in the United States…somebody came to power as a result of the illegitimate acts of a legitimate institution that had the right to put somebody in power.That is what the Supreme Court did in Bush versus Gore. It put somebody in power,” said Guido Calabresi, a judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which sits in Manhattan.

“The reason I emphasize that is because that is exactly what happened when Mussolini was put in by the king of Italy,” Judge Calabresi continued, as the allusion drew audible gasps from some in the luncheon crowd Saturday at the annual convention of the American Constitution Society.

“The king of Italy had the right to put Mussolini in, though he had not won an election, and make him prime minister. That is what happened when Hindenburg put Hitler in. I am not suggesting for a moment that Bush is Hitler. I want to be clear on that, but it is a situation which is extremely unusual,” the judge said.

Judge Calabresi, a former dean of Yale Law School, said Mr. Bush has asserted the full prerogatives of his office, despite his lack of a compelling electoral mandate from the public.

“When somebody has come in that way, they sometimes have tried not to exercise much power. In this case, like Mussolini, he has exercised extraordinary power. He has exercised power, claimed power for himself; that has not occurred since Franklin Roosevelt who, after all, was elected big and who did some of the same things with respect to assertions of power in times of crisis that this president is doing,” he said.

Now there's a novel theory of the Constitution: the amount of power the president is allowed to exercise is directly related to the % of his victory? Does that mean that, since he got 100%, George Washington was elected God?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 PM

IT'S ALWAYS DARKEST BEFORE AT DAWN WE SLEPT (via Eric Timmons & Charlie Herzog):

The End of Power: Without American hegemony the world would likely return to the dark ages. (NIALL FERGUSON, June 21, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

Waning empires. Religious revivals. Incipient anarchy. A coming retreat into fortified cities. These are the Dark Age experiences that a world without a hyperpower might find itself reliving. The trouble is, of course, that this Dark Age would be an altogether more dangerous one than the one of the ninth century. For the world is roughly 25 times more populous, so that friction between the world's "tribes" is bound to be greater. Technology has transformed production; now societies depend not merely on freshwater and the harvest but also on supplies of mineral oil that are known to be finite. Technology has changed destruction, too: Now it is possible not just to sack a city, but to obliterate it.

For more than two decades, globalization has been raising living standards, except where countries have shut themselves off from the process through tyranny or civil war. Deglobalization--which is what a new Dark Age would amount to--would lead to economic depression. As the U.S. sought to protect itself after a second 9/11 devastated Houston, say, it would inevitably become a less open society. And as Europe's Muslim enclaves grow, infiltration of the EU by Islamist extremists could become irreversible, increasing trans-Atlantic tensions over the Middle East to breaking point. Meanwhile, an economic crisis in China could plunge the Communist system into crisis, unleashing the centrifugal forces that have undermined previous Chinese empires. Western investors would lose out, and conclude that lower returns at home are preferable to the risks of default abroad.

The worst effects of the Dark Age would be felt on the margins of the waning great powers. With ease, the terrorists could disrupt the freedom of the seas, targeting oil tankers and cruise liners while we concentrate our efforts on making airports secure. Meanwhile, limited nuclear wars could devastate numerous regions, beginning in Korea and Kashmir; perhaps ending catastrophically in the Middle East.

The prospect of an apolar world should frighten us a great deal more than it frightened the heirs of Charlemagne. If the U.S. is to retreat from the role of global hegemon--its fragile self-belief dented by minor reversals--its critics must not pretend that they are ushering in a new era of multipolar harmony. The alternative to unpolarity may not be multipolarity at all. It may be a global vacuum of power. Be careful what you wish for.

One thing about Americans, we don't much like being a [or the] pole around which the world rotates, but the essence of our historic Jacksonianism is that once we're annoyed enough we do grasp the role for just long enough to smack down whoever was bugging us. Folk like Mr. Ferguson would like to see us make our interventions in the world more systematic and coherent, but that's unlikely to ever happen. It's fun to go Crusading once in awhile, but then it's back to being the Promised Land

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 PM


Mass Men? (Paul J. Cella, 06/21/2004, Tech Central Station) 

It is interesting question to contemplate: does education, in the modern sense, make a man more or less susceptible to propaganda, which I define here as mendacious manipulation of the mind? The conventional answer is, of course, less -- but the more I think on that convention the less I am convinced by it. [...]

[John Henry] Newman thought, very sensibly, that universities ought to teach students what is good, true and beautiful. But the whole edifice of modern education, to which, by and large, most Conservatives have conceded, is debased by an utilitarian ethos that has cast such ideas from its compass; this, in part, because our shared ideas about the Good and the True have fragmented, leaving only worldly success as the standard. If men cannot agree on what is good, the unspoken argument goes, at least they can agree on what is profitable or successful.
Yet there is no utilitarian method of resistance against propaganda short of the cultivation of the intellect. There is no easy formula; no heuristic shortcut. That resistance must be active and individual; it cannot be passive and general. When people are told blithely that Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal revived the American economy from the Depression, they must have ready in their minds the contrary fact that it did little of the sort; that, rather, it was not until the War began that any sustained revival occurred. But when they are elsewhere told that war is a positive good for a nation's economy, they must have ready the contrary fact that no enterprise dedicated to massive destruction can possibly be the cause of a real growth of wealth.* The work of propaganda is too multifarious, too subtle, too ubiquitous to suffer neat shorthand methods of inoculation. To defy this empire of influence requires vigorous, ably-trained intellects.

It's a noble enough ideal, but the notion that intellects can be trained is rather dubious. Rather than wasting time trying to get people who are incapable of the task to think for themselves, schools should teach them the universal traditional Western truths and not flatter them that their own analyses are worthwhile.

Ortega y Gasset well understood the limitations of the masses:

WE take it, then, that there has happened something supremely paradoxical, but which was in truth most natural; from the very opening-out of the world and of life for the average man, his soul has shut up within him. Well, then, I maintain that it is in this obliteration of the average soul that the rebellion of the masses consists, and in this in its turn lies the gigantic problem set before humanity to-day.

Is it not a sign of immense progress that the masses should have "ideas," that is to say, should be cultured? By no means. The "ideas" of the average man are not genuine ideas, nor is their possession culture. An idea is a putting truth in checkmate. Whoever wishes to have ideas must first prepare himself to desire truth and to accept the rules of the game imposed by it. It is no use speaking of ideas when there is no acceptance of a higher authority to regulate them, a series of standards to which it is possible to appeal in a discussion. These standards are the principles on which culture rests. I am not concerned with the form they take. What I affirm is that there is no culture where there are no standards to which our fellow-men can have recourse. There is no culture where there are no principles of legality to which to appeal. There is no culture where there is no acceptance of certain final intellectual positions to which a dispute may be referred.  There is no culture where economic relations are not subject to a regulating principle to protect interests involved. There is no culture where aesthetic controversy does not recognise the necessity of justifying the work of art.

When all these things are lacking there is no culture; there is in the strictest sense of the word, barbarism. And let us not deceive ourselves, this is what is beginning to appear in Europe under the progressive rebellion of the masses. The traveller who arrives in a barbarous country knows that in that territory there are no ruling principles to which it is possible to appeal. Properly speaking, there are no barbarian standards. Barbarism is the absence of standards to which appeal can be made.

Albert Jay Nock thought the best one could hope for was to reach the Remnant

What do we mean by the masses, and what by the Remnant?

As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, laboring people, proletarians. But it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority. The mass-man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct, and because such people make up the great, the overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.

The picture which Isaiah presents of the Judean masses is most unfavorable. In his view, the mass-man--be he high or lowly, rich or poor, prince or pauper--gets off very badly. He appears as not only weak-minded and weak-willed, but as by consequence, knavish, arrogant, grasping, dissipated, unprincipled, unscrupulous. . . .

As things now stand, Isaiah's job seems rather to go begging. Everyone with a message nowadays is, like my venerable European friend, eager to take it to the masses. His first, last, and only thought is of mass-acceptance and mass-approval. His great care is to put his doctrine in such shape as will capture the masses' attention and interest. . . .

The main trouble with this [mass-man approach] is its reaction upon the mission itself. It necessitates an opportunist sophistication of one's doctrine, which profoundly alters its character and reduces it to a mere placebo. If, say, you are a preacher, you wish to attract as large a congregation as you can, which means an appeal to the masses; and this, in turn, means adapting the terms of your message to the order of intellect and character that the masses exhibit. If a writer, you aim at getting many readers; if a publisher, many purchasers; if a philosopher, many disciples, if a reformer, many converts; if a musician, many auditors; and so on. But as we see on all sides, in the realization of these several desires the prophetic message is so heavily adulterated with trivialities, in every instance, that its effect on the masses is merely to harden them in their sins. Meanwhile, the Remnant, aware of this adulteration and of the desires that prompt it, turn their backs on the prophet and will have nothing to do with him or his message.

Isaiah, on the other hand, worked under no such disabilities. He preached to the masses only in the sense that he preached publicly. Anyone who liked might listen; anyone who liked might pass by. He knew that the Remnant would listen. . . .

Indeed, as Ralph Adams Cram pointed out, never mind being educable, most folk are barely human beings:

We do not behave like human beings because most of us do not fall within that classification as we have determined it for ourselves, since we do not measure up to standard. And thus:

With our invincible—and most honourable but perilous—optimism we gauge humanity by the best it has to show. From the bloody riot of cruelty, greed and lust we cull the bright figures of real men and women. Pharaoh Akhenaten, King David, Pericles and Plato, Buddha and Confucius and Lao Tse, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius and Virgil, Abder-Rahman of Cordoba, Charlemagne and Roland; St. Benedict, St. Francis, St. Louis; Godfrey de Bouillon, Saladin, Richard Coeur de Lion; Dante, Leonardo, St. Thomas Aquinas, Ste. Jeanne d'Arc, Sta. Teresa, Frederick II, Otto the Great, St. Ferdinand of Spain, Chaucer and Shakespeare, Strafford and Montrose and Mary of Scotland, Washington, Adams and Lee. These are but a few key names; fill out the splendid list for yourselves. By them we unconsciously establish our standard of human beings.

Now to class with them and the unrecorded multitude of their compeers, the savage and ignorant mob beneath, or its leaders and mouthpieces, is both unjust and unscientific. What kinship is there between St. Francis and John Calvin; the Earl of Strafford and Thomas Crumwell; Robert E. Lee and Trotsky; Edison and Capone? None except their human form. They of the great list behave like our ideal of the human being; they of the ignominious sub-stratum do not—because they are not. In other words, the just line of demarcation should be drawn, not between Neolithic Man and the anthropoid ape, but between the glorified and triumphant human being and the Neolithic mass which was, is now and ever shall be.

What I mean is this, and I will give you this as a simile. Some years ago I was on the Island of Hawaii and in the great crater of Kilauea on the edge of the flaming pit of Halemaumau. For once the pit was level full of molten lava that at one end of this pit, at the iron edge of old lava, rose swiftly from the lowest depths, then slid silently, a viscous field of lambent cherry colour, along the length of the great pit, to plunge and disappear as silently, only to return and rise again, when all was to happen once more. Indeterminate, homogeneous, it was an undifferentiated flood, except for one thing. As it slid silkily onward it "fountained" incessantly. That is to say, from all over its surface leaped high in the air slim jets of golden lava that caught the sun and opened into delicate fireworks of falling jewels, beautiful beyond imagination.

Such I conceive to be the pattern of human life. Millennium after millennium this endless flood of basic raw material sweeps on. It is the everlasting Neolithic Man, the same that it was five or ten thousand years B.C. It is the matrix of the human being, the stuff of which he is made. It arises from the unknown and it disappears in the unknown, to return again and again on itself. And always it "fountains" in fine personalities, eminent and of historic record, or obscure yet of equal nobility, and these are the "human beings" on whose personality, character and achievements we establish our standard.

The basic mass, the raw material out of which great and fine personalities are made, is the same today as it was before King Zoser of Egypt and the first architect, Imhotep, set the first pyramid stones that marked the beginning of our era of human culture. Neolithic it was and is, and there has been no essential change in ten thousand years, for it is no finished product, but raw material and because of its potential, of absolute value. We do not realize this, for it is not obvious to the eye since all that greatness has achieved in that period is as free for the use of contemporary Neolithic Man as it is for those who have emerged into the full stature of humanity. Free and compulsory education, democratic government and universal suffrage, and the unlimited opportunities of industrial civilization have clothed him with the deceptive garments of equality, but underneath he is forever the same. It is not until we are confronted in our own time with a thing like the original Bolshevik reign of terror, the futility of popular government, not only national but as we see it close at home in the sort of men that we choose to govern us in our cities, our state legislatures, the national Congress; in the bluntness of intellect and lack of vision in big business and finance, or when we read Mr. Mencken's "Americana" or consider the monkey-shines of popular evangelists, "comic strips", dance- and bicycle- and Bible-reading marathons, that we are awakened to a realization of the fact that there is something wrong with our categories.

Those that live in these things that they have made are not behaving like the human beings we have chosen for ourselves out of history as determinants of that entity, and this for the reason that they still are the veritable men of the Neolithic age that no camouflage of civilization can change.

Perhaps we have set our standard too high. Perhaps we should, in accordance with the alleged principles of Mr. Jefferson, count the mob-man as the standard human being; but since the gulf that separates him from the ideal we have made for ourselves is too vast to be bridged by any social, political or biological formula, this would force us back on the Nietzschean doctrine of the Superman which, personally, I reject. It seems to me much more fitting to accept our proved ideal as the true type of human being, counting all else as the potent material of creation.

I cannot blind myself to the fact that if what I have said is taken seriously it will probably seem revolting, if not grotesque and even impious. I do not mean it to be any of these things, nor does it seem so to me. Put into few words, and as inoffensively as possible, all I mean is that the process of creation is continuous. That as the "first man" was said to have been created out of the dust of the earth, so this creation goes on today as it ever has. As this same "dust of the earth" may have been Neolithic or more probably Paleolithic sub-man, so today the formative material is of identical nature and potency—but it is still, as then, the unformed, unquickened, primitive or Neolithic matter. Within its own particular sphere it is invaluable, indispensable, but we treat it unfairly when, through our vaporous theorizing we are led to pitchfork it into an alien sphere where it cannot function properly, and where it is untrue to itself, and by its sheer weight of numbers and deficiency of certain salutary inhibitions, is bound to negative the constructive power of the men of light and leading, while reducing the normal average to the point of ultimate disaster.

If there is any modicum of truth in what I have said I must leave to you the noting of those implications that must follow in respect to the doctrine and workings of democracy as these are manifested today in society, politics and religion.

And now, in these last days we stand aghast at the portent of our own Gotterdammerung. The high gods we had revered and before whom we had made sacrifice of so much of the best we had, show thin and impotent, or vanish in the flame of disaster. Political and social democracy, with their plausible devices and panaceas; popular sovereignty, the Protestant religion of the masses; the technological triumphs that were to emancipate labour and redeem the world; all the multiple manifestations of a free and democratic society fail of their predicted issue, and we find ourselves lapped in confusion and numb with disappointment and chagrin.

I suggest that the cause of comprehensive failure and the bar to recovery is the persistence of the everlasting Neolithic Man and his assumption of universal control.

If it's too much to expect schools to make students human it's obviously unrealistic to expect them to train intellects. Let them restrain themselves to the simplest of pedagogic functions, to instructing students in the rudiments of Western Civilization. As Alfred North Whitehead said:

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 10:04 PM


Piper adds Madonna's material skirl (Angie Brown, Scotsman, June 22nd, 2004)

WHEN Lorne Cousin received a voicemail from Madonna on his home phone asking him to call her, the Edinburgh lawyer thought his friends were playing a practical joke.

So the 31-year-old got the surprise of his life when the very same global megastar answered the return call and invited him to play his bagpipes on stage with her during the artist’s five month Reinvention world tour.

For months Mr Cousin was ordered to remain quiet about the exciting proposal - even suffering a scare when news reports mistakenly said another Scottish piper had been chosen to play on the tour.

However, following reassurances from Madonna that she wanted the 6ft 1in lawyer to star in her shows until October, Mr Cousin has now taken leave from his job with Edinburgh law firm Turcan Connell to appear on stage with the world famous singer.

A gentleman was once defined as someone who knows how to play the bagpipes, but doesn’t.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 10:00 PM


Royal Navy team is seized by Iran (Michael Smith and Behzad Farsian, The Telegraph, June 22nd, 2004)

Iran seized eight Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel in three patrol boats on the Shatt al Arab waterway yesterday, claiming that they had strayed across the border with Iraq.

The boats, which were being delivered to the Iraqi riverine patrol service, were flying the White Ensign. They were travelling up the waterway towards Basra.

Teheran said: "British boats entered territorial waters of the Islamic Republic of Iran and officials of the naval force, in accordance to its laws, seized the boats and arrested the eight crew members aboard.

"Interrogation of those detained will continue until the matter is clarified."

An Iranian Arabic-language television station which broadcasts to the mainly Shia population of southern Iraq said the Royal Navy personnel had "confessed that they have made a mistake".

British sources in Baghdad appeared to confirm that the boats had crossed into Iranian territorial waters in the waterway, which has long been a matter of contention between Iran and Iraq

There was immediate speculation that the arrests were linked to the row over Iran's nuclear programme.

The Iranians were infuriated after Britain helped to draft a highly critical resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, condemning Teheran's failure to co-operate fully with international inspections.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 PM


Pork choc on the menu in Ukraine (Helen Fawkes, 6/21/04, BBC)

Dasha prods the 's' shaped chocolate bar in front of her.

You can understand why she's in no rush to eat it - the Ukrainian student has just been served pork fat covered in chocolate.

Chocolate salo: Salty on the inside, sweet on the outside

"It's salty on the inside and very sweet on the outside. It's unusual yes, but it's completely disgusting," says Dasha Khabarova.

Forget deep-fried Mars bar. One of the unhealthiest snacks in the world can now be found in Ukraine.

For years people here have loved pork fat, known as salo.

Normally, small slices of the white fat are eaten with black bread, raw garlic and vodka.

But this new twist is designed to appeal to Ukraine's love of all things fatty.

How much sooner might we have had this culinary revelation had we toppled the USSR in 1945?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:37 PM


Against Happiness (JIM HOLT, 6/20/04, NY Times Magazine)

Sad people are nice. Angry people are nasty. And, oddly enough, happy people tend to be nasty, too.

Such (allowing for a little journalistic caricature) were the findings reported in last month's issue of Psychological Science. Researchers found that angry people are more likely to make negative evaluations when judging members of other social groups. That, perhaps, will not come as a great surprise. But the same seems to be true of happy people, the researchers noted. The happier your mood, the more liable you are to make bigoted judgments -- like deciding that someone is guilty of a crime simply because he's a member of a minority group. Why? Nobody's sure. One interesting hypothesis, though, is that happy people have an ''everything is fine'' attitude that reduces the motivation for analytical thought. So they fall back on stereotypes -- including malicious ones.

The news that a little evil lurks inside happiness is disquieting. After all, we live in a nation whose founding document holds the pursuit of happiness to be a God-given right. True to that principle, the United States consistently ranks near the top in international surveys of happiness. In a 1994 survey of 41 countries, only the supposedly dour Swedes surpassed us in ''positive affect.'' (Elaborate scales have been invented to measure individual happiness, but researchers admit that difficulties remain; for example, a person is more likely to express satisfaction with his life on a sunny day than on a cloudy one.) Of course, happiness has always had its skeptics. Thinkers like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn have criticized it as a shallow and selfish goal. But the discovery that happiness is linked to prejudice suggests a different kind of case against it. Does happiness, whether desirable or not in itself, lead to undesirable consequences? In other words, could it be bad for you, and for society?

Mr. Solzhenitsyn, naturally, has a more important idea to contribute to the discussion:
It was granted to me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.

The notion that happy people wouldn't be evil completely misapprehends human nature.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:25 PM


High Court Rules on Police ID Requests: Decision Sides With Nev. Law That Requires Compliance (Gina Holland, June 21, 2004, The Associated Press)

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that people do not have a constitutional right to refuse to tell police their names.

The 5-4 decision frees the government to arrest and punish people who won't cooperate by revealing their identity.

The decision was a defeat for privacy rights advocates who argued that the government could use this power to force people who have done nothing wrong, other than catch the attention of police, to divulge information that may be used for broad data base searches.

Pretty strange to argue that a constitution that mandates a census entitles you to hide your identity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:19 PM


Kerry and the Mark of McCain (Colbert I. King, June 19, 2004, Washington Post)

So what if picking McCain would have meant turning to the right and away from moderate Democratic candidates? The Kerry camp believes Democrats are willing to do -- or tolerate -- anything to break George Bush's hold on the White House. Kerry insiders are counting on differences with the Bush administration on jobs, health care and tax cuts to keep Democratic voters in Kerry's camp.

Besides, goes the thinking, so what if grass-roots Democrats are disenchanted with Kerry? Where do they turn? To the party of Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Donald Rumsfeld?

That, by the way, was the thinking of Maryland lieutenant governor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend two years ago when she tapped a former Republican, Adm. Charles Larson, to be her running mate. She, too, thought a prominent ex-military officer and longtime Republican on her ticket would appeal to conservative voters who weren't likely to look her way. It turned out, however, that Larson, a former Naval Academy classmate of McCain and a supporter of McCain's GOP presidential bid in 2000, was of little help to Townsend at the polls.

Her party's most loyal constituency, African Americans, hurt by her snub of better Democratic candidates and angered by her taking them for granted, failed to turn out on Election Day as she needed. [...]

One more thing. Despite what Kerry may have been told by his handlers and fundraisers, his candidacy is not a sure thing in communities where concerns for justice, civil rights and economic empowerment are live issues. Townsend found that out for herself. Kerry needs to keep that in mind. His dalliance with McCain didn't win him any points in precincts that can make or break him in November.

Yeah, but they'll swoon over Dick Gephardt, huh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:02 PM


PLAN B: As June 30th approaches, Israel looks to the Kurds. (SEYMOUR M. HERSH, 2004-06-28, New Yorker)

[Patrick Clawson, of the Institute for Near East Policy] told me that Israel’s overwhelming national-security concern must be Iran. Given that a presence in Kurdistan would give Israel a way to monitor the Iranian nuclear effort, he said, “it would be negligent for the Israelis not to be there.”

At the moment, the former American senior intelligence official said, the Israelis’ tie to Kurdistan “would be of greater value than their growing alliance with Turkey. ‘We love Turkey but got to keep the pressure on Iran.’” The former Israeli intelligence officer said, “The Kurds were the last surviving group close to the United States with any say in Iraq. The only question was how to square it with Turkey.”

There may be no way to square it with Turkey. Over breakfast in Ankara, a senior Turkish official explained, “Before the war, Israel was active in Kurdistan, and now it is active again. This is very dangerous for us, and for them, too. We do not want to see Iraq divided, and we will not ignore it.” Then, citing a popular Turkish proverb—“We will burn a blanket to kill a flea”—he said, “We have told the Kurds, ‘We are not afraid of you, but you should be afraid of us.’” (A Turkish diplomat I spoke to later was more direct: “We tell our Israeli and Kurdish friends that Turkey’s good will lies in keeping Iraq together. We will not support alternative solutions.”)

“If you end up with a divided Iraq, it will bring more blood, tears, and pain to the Middle East, and you will be blamed,” the senior Turkish official said. “From Mexico to Russia, everybody will claim that the United States had a secret agenda in Iraq: you came there to break up Iraq. If Iraq is divided, America cannot explain this to the world.” The official compared the situation to the breakup of Yugoslavia, but added, “In the Balkans, you did not have oil.” He said, “The lesson of Yugoslavia is that when you give one country independence everybody will want it.” If that happens, he said, “Kirkuk will be the Sarajevo of Iraq. If something happens there, it will be impossible to contain the crisis.”

In Ankara, another senior Turkish official explained that his government had “openly shared its worries” about the Israeli military activities inside Kurdistan with the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “They deny the training and the purchase of property and claim it’s not official but done by private persons. Obviously, our intelligence community is aware that it was not so. This policy is not good for America, Iraq, or Israel and the Jews.”

Turkey’s increasingly emphatic and public complaints about Israel’s missile attacks on the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip is another factor in the growing tensions between the allies. On May 26th, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, announced at a news conference in Ankara that the Turkish government was bringing its Ambassador in Israel home for consultations on how to revive the Middle East peace process. He also told the Turkish parliament that the government was planning to strengthen its ties to the Palestinian Authority, and, in conversations with Middle Eastern diplomats in the past month, he expressed grave concern about Israel. In one such talk, one diplomat told me, Gul described Israeli activities, and the possibility of an independent Kurdistan, as “presenting us with a choice that is not a real choice—between survival and alliance.”

A third Turkish official told me that the Israelis were “talking to us in order to appease our concern. They say, ‘We aren’t doing anything in Kurdistan to undermine your interests. Don’t worry.’” The official added, “If it goes out publicly what they’ve been doing, it will put your government and our government in a difficult position. We can tolerate ‘Kurdistan’ if Iraq is intact, but nobody knows the future—not even the Americans.”

Once a people start thinking of themselves as a nation they are one--official recognition of that reality is just a formailty.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:19 AM


Source: Connecticut governor to resign (AP, 6/21/04)

Connecticut Gov. John Rowland will announce his resignation Monday night, amid a federal corruption investigation and a growing move to impeach him, an administration source told The Associated Press.

The governor was planning to announce his resignation on a live television address to the state at 6 p.m., an administration official and another source familiar with the situation told the AP on Monday. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

The governor's plans to resign were first reported Monday morning by WTNH-TV.

Rowland's resignation would elevate Lt. Gov. M. Jodi Rell to governor.

Rowland, 47, a Republican easily re-elected to a third term in 2002, admitted late last year that he lied about accepting gifts and favors from friends, state contractors and state employees.

Posted by David Cohen at 11:07 AM


Passengers Told Not To Peek When Flight Lands At Air Force Base (AP, 6/20/04)

Robert Morrell wondered what was up after his Northwest Airlines flight touched down.

Nobody from the flight crew got on the intercom to welcome passengers to Rapid City, S.D. He looked out the window and saw barracks-like structures and military officials. And then the crew told passengers to pull down their window shades.

Turns out it wasn't Rapid City Regional Airport. It was Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Hands up, everyone who thinks it was a security lapse not to blow this plane out of the sky.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM


Bridging the partisan gap in foreign affairs: Can US set aside political differences to meet the terror threat in an election year? (Howard LaFranchi, 6/21/04, CS Monitor)

Among political leaders, one of the more forceful voices for making the global fight against terrorism less an American military fight and more a multilateral "war of values" is Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D) of Connecticut. In a recent speech before the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, the senator warned that Osama bin Laden and other Islamic extremists are determined to establish what he called a "new evil empire" in the Middle East. "What we are fighting for in Iraq and around the world is freedom," says the Democratic 2000 vice-presidential candidate. "What we are fighting against is an Islamic terrorist totalitarian movement which is as dire a threat to individual liberty as the fascist and communist totalitarian threats we faced and defeated in the last century."

By the 80s neither Mr. Lieberman's party nor the international community were any help in fighting the original Evil Empire, why would this time be any different? And why shouldn't American voters have a choice between one party that advocates fighting evil and one that counsels accommodating it?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 AM


Backing Bush's Mideast Vision (Jackson Diehl, June 21, 2004, Washington Post)

Though Bush's mismanagement of Iraq has put his democracy advocates on the defensive, there nevertheless now exists the beginning of a broad pro-reform coalition in and outside the region. It includes a handful of people in Arab governments, but many more outside, in rapidly growing civic and human rights movements. There are European parliamentarians and policymakers in expanding numbers, especially in Germany. And in Washington, there are not only Bush's neocons but an important group of Democrats.

A lot of these people don't think much of George Bush, which is one reason why the coalition hasn't entirely coalesced. But almost all of them say that Bush's preaching on democracy over the past year, and the modest action that has come with it, has changed the terms of debate about the future of the Middle East, both in and outside the region. Bush's campaign "frightened people," King Abdullah of Jordan said in an interview here last week. "But it also allowed some of us to say that if we don't come up with our own initiative, something will be forced on us. And once you say you are going to reform, you trigger a process that you can't turn back."

So his rhetoric and the fear generated by his regime change policy has forced a wide-scale reform movement but it's despite him? Kind of reminds one of how Ronald Reagan just happened to preside over a moral confrontation with the Soviets, an arms build-up and a policy of regime change at the exact moment the Bolsheviks realized their system was falling apart. If nothing else we should elect dim-witted conservative Christians just because of the coincidences that happen during their administrations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 AM


Hispanic Republicans surge in California (Steve Miller, June 20, 2004, The Washington Times)

It was predicted, and doubted, years ago.

There are seven Hispanic Republicans challenging Democratic incumbents for congressional seats and another dozen or so running for the state Assembly. [...]

The Democratic utopia of California makes such a proposed transformation all the more unlikely because it is a state where Democrats have ruled with the faithful help of the nationally coveted Hispanic vote.

Even state pundits don't doubt some of these challenges.

"You know, Loretta Sanchez is vulnerable," Dick Rosengarten, publisher of the state political news weekly California Political Week, said of the 47th District incumbent. "And some of these other Hispanic candidates can make things tough for the incumbents. The state party has done a tremendous job of recruiting here." [...]

Today's 7.65 percent gap in voter registration between Republicans and Democrats is the narrowest since the 1930s.

Some state Republicans are so confident that they believe President Bush can take the state in November. Party chiefs, off the record, doubt such a thing.

"I applaud [California Republican Party Chairman] Duf Sundheim for rolling out these Hispanic Republicans," says Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party. "The incumbents do need to watch out, and it's healthy."

Retirements and deaths will have changed the numbers somewhat, but the current Congress began with something like 205 Democratic members and fully 33 of them hailing from CA. The GOP is poised to dominate Congress for years anyway, but if they start making inroads in CA the Democrats will be reduced to praying for the next Depression.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM


U.S. Is Accused of Trying to Isolate U.N. Population Unit: Pressed by abortion opponents, the Bush administration is seeking to isolate the U.N. Population Fund from groups that work with it, U.N. officials and diplomats say. (CHRISTOPHER MARQUIS, 6/21/04, NY Times)

The Population Fund, known as Unfpa, has long been a favorite target of abortion opponents in Congress and in religious-based organizations, who contend that it assists in coercive abortions in China. The critics prevented American financing of the fund for most of the last two decades, and they have now set their sights on curbing its operations with other United Nations agencies.

The administration's position has frustrated some United Nations officials and family planning advocates, who have complained that advances in education and awareness on reproductive issues are being undermined by the United States, where abortion is legal. Those critics, most of whom spoke anonymously because the United States government is the leading contributor to their agencies, charged that the administration was pandering to conservative supporters, and said that doing so placed the United States in alliance with tradition-bound Islamic countries and the Holy See.

Last year, the State Department cut financing to Marie Stopes International, a British charity involved in AIDS programs, because it worked with the Population Fund in China.

In a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Friday, four Democratic members of Congress demanded a legal explanation for withholding money from the fund and for the "threatened defunding of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund."

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat at the fore of efforts to restore support to the fund, said the administration was jeopardizing programs in women's and family health that should not be considered contentious.

"When will the president's right wing be satisfied - when they close down the U.N.?" she asked...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM


 U.S. strike hit terrorist nest, top Iraqi says (Fooad a Sheikhly, Jeffrey Gettleman, 6/21/04,New York Times)

A day after a U.S. air strike destroyed six homes in this flash- point city, a senior Iraqi official said Sunday that 23 of 26 people killed in the attack were foreign terrorists, including men from Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

U.S. officials had justified the strike on Saturday, the first major military action in Fallujah since U.S. forces pulled out of the city in early May, by saying that the homes that were singled out were being used by agents of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq and the suspected mastermind of dozens of suicide attacks. [...]

"The Americans had very good information," the official said. "It was like trying to catch a sparrow. They had a small moment to catch the fighters in those houses and they did."

On Sunday, there were no serious mortar attacks against U.S. forces, no fiery sermons at the mosques, no marches in the street. Instead, Fallujah, a battered city that just weeks ago was the scene of some of the most intense urban combat in Iraq since the occupation began, was functioning normally, with police officers at checkpoints, traffic flowing smoothly and boys selling roasted cashews on the sidewalk.

What ever happened to the "Arab Street"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 AM


Democrats deal gives super choice to workers (The Age, June 21, 2004)

Australians will have the right to choose where their retirement savings are invested from next year after a deal between the government and the Australian Democrats.

Prime Minister John Howard said choice of superannuation fund had been on the table since 1993 and he was delighted the Democrats had decided to support the changes in the Senate.

"This is a first class decision and I do thank the Australian Democrats," Mr Howard said.

Under the changes, to apply from July next year, workers will be able to nominate the fund their superannuation is paid into.

Super funds and managed investment schemes will also have to include a table which highlights the annual fees and charges for each fund.

Mr Howard said the changes would allow people to take a more active interest in their own superannuation.

"It is a proper expression of individual choice that people should have the right to decide ... to have their superannuation in a fund other than the award fund or the fund it has been in to up until now," he said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:11 AM


Word of the Day (Doctor Dictionary, Monday June 21, 2004)

deipnosophist \dyp-NOS-uh-fist\, noun:

Someone who is skilled in table talk. [...]

Deipnosophist comes from the title of a work written by the Greek Athenaeus in about 228 AD, Deipnosophistai, in which a number of wise men sit at a dinner table and discuss a wide range of topics. It is derived from deipnon, "dinner" + sophistas, "a clever or wise man."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 AM


9/11 panel: New evidence on Iraq-Al-Qaida (Shaun Waterman, 6/20/2004, UPI)

The commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has received new information indicating that a senior officer in an elite unit of the security services of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein may have been a member of al-Qaida involved in the planning of the suicide hijackings, panel members said Sunday.

John F. Lehman, a Reagan-era GOP defense official told NBC's "Meet the Press" that documents captured in Iraq "indicate that there is at least one officer of Saddam's Fedayeen, a lieutenant colonel, who was a very prominent member of al Qaida."

The Fedayeen were a special unit of volunteers given basic training in irregular warfare. The lieutenant colonel, Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, has the same name as an Iraqi thought to have attended a planning meeting for the Sept. 11 attacks in January 2000, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting was also attended by two of the hijackers, Khalid al Midhar and Nawaf al Hamzi and senior al-Qaida leaders.

That's what happens when you challenge a president and his vp to put up or shut up, huh?

June 20, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:15 PM


Algeria Kills Head of Group Allied to Al Qaeda (Paul de Bendern, 6/20/04, Reuters)

The Algerian armed forces said on Sunday they had killed the leader of a major Islamic rebel group with ties to al Qaeda.

"Units of the People's National Army, engaged in a vast anti-terrorist operation... have killed a number of criminals, including Nabil Sahraoui, alias Mustapha Abou Ibrahim, chief of the terrorist group known as the GSPC, as well as his (three) main aides," the army said in a statement obtained by Reuters. It said the militants died in the province of Bejaia, some 120 miles east of the capital Algiers. It did not say when they were killed, but said the military operation was still going on.

Pakistan killing weakens Al Qaeda, inflames tribes: US, Pakistan call raid that killed terror tribal leader Naik Mohammad a 'big success.' (Owais Tohid, 6/21/04, CS Monitor)
For many tribesmen, he was like David fighting the Goliath of Pakistani and US forces, and his "martyrdom" Thursday ensures him a place in the myths and legends of Pashtun culture.

Naik Mohammad, a top Al Qaeda supporter, led the armed resistance against Pakistan's security forces and protected hundreds of Arab, Chechen, and Uzbek guerrillas hiding in the tribal region of South Waziristan.

The long-haired holy warrior and seven comrades were killed in a rocket attack in a village named Doag outside the regional capital of Wana. His hideout, a fellow tribesman's mud hut, was located after tracing a satellite phone call by Mr. Mohammad - perhaps with US help.

As thousands of tribesmen mourn his death, Pakistan and US officials are hailing the strike as a success for their coordinated strategy to trap Al Qaeda remnants - possibly including Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri - along the Afghan border.

"This is a big success in our ongoing war against terrorism," said military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan. In Kabul, Lt. Col. Tucker Mansager of the US coalition forces said, "It is our hope that his death will help disorganize the ongoing fight by foreign terrorists in the tribal areas of Pakistan and allow the Pakistan military to better destroy the terrorists that remain in the area."

Some analysts agree that Mohammad's death will disrupt the local support network relied upon by the foreign militants.

Pakistan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq...tough week to be an al Qaeda, eh? If we were winning the war instead of being distracted by the establishment of a democratic Iraq, this is what winning would look like.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:01 PM


Al Qaeda terror riles Saudi public: The grisly nature of the latest attacks seems to have cost local militants significant support. (Faiza Saleh Ambah, 6/21/04, CS Monitor)

The kidnapping and beheading of American Paul Johnson Jr. marks a turning point in Saudi public opinion against his Al Qaeda slayers.

Celebrations broke out at the news Friday night that Abdelaziz al-Miqrin, the man responsible for Johnson's death, had been killed. It was the first time in the kingdom's 13-month fight against terrorism that ordinary citizens expressed spontaneous joy at security forces' success.

"Whatever their disagreements with the United States, however much they are against US support for Israel or the war in Iraq, Saudis feel that Americans and foreigners in general should be able to feel safe in the kingdom," says Turki al-Dakheel, who hosts a show on the Al Arabiya network. [...]

[T]he public's awareness of Johnson's decade in the kingdom and his sympathy toward Islam - as well as an appeal by a Saudi colleague praising him as a good man - made his violent death particularly distasteful.

"There was general shame at what was happening, a collective feeling of guilt that innocent foreigners that had come to our country not to kill us, but to work, were abused here," says Mr. Dakheel.

Indeed, Saudi businessman Zaid al-Sulaiman issued an open letter in Arab News last week, stating, "To every foreigner working in this country, I repeat that you are in your country. And we will not leave the job of protecting you, and your safety, to security men alone."

Dakheel received more than 30 messages from friends congratulating each other on the "end of that bloodthirsty terrorist." And crowds cheered police at the Malaz neighborhood where Mr. Miqrin and three other Al Qaeda linked members were killed. Abeer Hamza, a housewife, said, "It was the best news I heard in a long time. He had put us through a very scary period. I feel safer with him dead."

Imagine the contempt you have to have for your own religion to think that you'll win the favor of the faithful by committing the sorts of acts al Qaeda does.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:01 PM


THE SPECTER THAT IS HAUNTING EUROPE (Amir Taheri, June 16, 2004, Arab News)

The official arguments advanced against admitting Turkey into the European Union are well known.

Turkey, we are told, has a large peasantry that could bankrupt the union by demanding subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). But that argument fades when we note that the CPA has already reached a dead-end with the admission of new members from Central and Eastern Europe and mounting pressure for the removal of farm subsidies as the last impediment to global free trade.

Another argument is that Turkey is not democratic enough to enter the union. This is true. It may take Turkey many more decades before it can be regarded as a mature democracy. But one must also note that membership of the European Union could accelerate the process of democratization as it did in Portugal and Greece and is doing in the formerly Communist states.

Turkey made its first moves toward Europe in the 1970s and started its pursuit of full membership in the 1980s. The Europeans reacted by demanding massive economic, political and social reforms as a means of delaying serious negotiations about the Turkish application. Over the past two decades the Turks have patiently worked on a package of reforms, starting with a large dose of economic liberalization under Turgot Ozal. Under the previous center-left coalition government, Turkey started constitutional reforms designed to reduce the influence of the military in politics, and to improve human rights. The process has continued under the current center-right government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan with even greater determination.

And yet Turkey's compliance with European demands, including some that were hard to swallow, appear to have had little effect on those who are determined to block its membership.

This is because those who oppose Turkey's membership do so for ideological rather than political or economic reasons.

I raised the issue with Helmut Kohl, Germany's former Chancellor at a breakfast in Paris just over a year ago. Kohl has been a consistent opponent of Turkey's membership since the 1980s.

The fact that his son has married a Turkish lady has not changed his position.

Kohl asserted that the European Union was "an association of nations with a Christian heritage" and that Turkey, a nation with "an Islamic heritage", had no place in it.

Slightly later I heard a similar argument from Valery Giscard d'Estaing, a French former president after a session of the European constitution committee in London. "Turkey belongs to a different civilization," Giscard asserted. "As a Muslim society, Turkey will not be at home in Europe."

I admire Kohl and Giscard for having the courage to speak their minds, even though doing so when one is out of power is that much easier.

They are saying aloud what most European leaders think in silence. Turkey means Islam and Islam is the code word for ancestral fears in Europe.

This the same EU that won't mention its Christian heritage in its new constitution, which presumably will have some provision to toss France and Germany out of the Union when they become majority Muslim in a few decades?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:47 PM


Because They Could (MAUREEN DOWD, 6/20/04, NY Times)

The Clinton alpha instinct on Monica, fueled by a heady cocktail of testosterone and opportunism, was the same one that led W. into his march of folly with Iraq.

Because she offers no evidence to the contrary, it seems safe to assume that Ms Dowd is so morally obtuse that she is incapable of differentiating between getting fellatio for oneself and winning freedom for 23 million people.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:36 PM


French Nazi hunter encourages Jews to leave France (Etgar Lefkovits, Jun. 19, 2004, Jerusalem Post)

Six decades after the end of the Holocaust, the prominent French Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld said this weekend that French Jews would be best off leaving the country.

"One of the lessons of the Holocaust is that even if you want to fight against a wave of anti-Semitism, the best [thing] is to leave if you can," Klarsfeld said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post during a visit to Israel.

At the same time, Klarsfeld, who lives in Paris, said that he does not expect there be a great wave of Jewish emigration from France to either Israel or the US because most French Jews are well off.

While clearly differentiating between the rise of Nazi power in the late 1930s and the situation in France today, Klarsfeld drew a direct parallel to the Holocaust, stating that history has proven it would have been best "had the Jews of Poland and the Jews of Austria left Europe when they could have."

Klarsfeld's remarks come on the heels of reports that the Jewish Agency was planning to launch a campaign to persuade French Jews to immigrate to Israel to escape a wave of anti-Semitism.

Why would any decent person stay in France?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:12 AM


Pitch counts once didn't matter (Chris Dufresne, June 13, 2004, Los Angeles Times)

Thirty years ago Monday night, in the cavernous confines of near-empty Anaheim Stadium, Denny Doyle doubled home Mickey Rivers in the bottom of the 15th inning to lift the California Angels to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

Barry Raziano pitched two innings of relief to earn what was his only major league victory.

Raziano, who runs a construction company in Louisiana, said recently he has no recollection of the game, which puts him in the overwhelming majority.

You could argue, however, that someone will eclipse Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak before another game is played like the one on June 14, 1974.

Standing at his clubhouse cubicle before a recent game, Angel pitcher Jarrod Washburn eyeballed a copy of the disco-era game log and shook his head.

"No," Washburn said, "it won't happen again."

What happened was this:

Boston starter Luis Tiant pitched 14 1/3 innings and took the loss.

Nolan Ryan of the Angels lasted 13 innings, struck out 19 batters, walked 10 and — hold onto your helmets — threw 235 pitches.

When contacted for this story, Ryan asked that the box score from that game be faxed to his office in Texas.

After reviewing it, Ryan said two memories stood out: striking out Cecil Cooper six times and "not wanting to come out" after heaving his final pitch, which yielded a ground out to second by Carl Yastrzemski.

By today's standards, Tiant and Ryan each pitched more than two "quality starts" — six innings, three earned runs or fewer allowed — on the same night.

"Quality start?" Ryan chuckled over the phone. "In those days, if I had pitched only six innings and gave up three runs I had a bad outing and I was hacked off.

"And I can tell you what: My manager and general manager weren't happy either."

What makes the 1974 game seem remarkable now is how unremarkable it seemed then.

The Los Angeles Times' game account acknowledged "Tiant and Ryan dueled tenaciously," yet there was no mention of Ryan's pitch count in the game story or the following-day notes. Ryan knows he threw 235 only because Tom Morgan, the Angel pitching coach, kept track on a hand-held clicker.

"I think he did it out of, I don't know if it was curiosity or what," Ryan said.

"It obviously ruined his arm because he had to retire 19 years later," said Bill James, a renowned chronicler of baseball facts and figures.

Ryan's mechanics were so good--having come up through a Met organization that actually taught them--that he could probably take the mound and throw a hundred pitches this afternoon.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 AM


Bush Brought a Gift for the Pope: The Alliance Between Catholics and Evangelicals: It is an absolute novelty in the history of the United States, and has been consolidated with the present administration. The key role of Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus in the inner circle of the White House (Sandro Magister, www.chiesa)

The conjunction between evangelicals and Catholics, in the United States, began ten years ago with a joint document with an unequivocal title: Evangelicals and Catholics together. For the former, at the head of the dialogue there was Charles Colson, a former assistant to Nixon and destroyed with him by the Watergate scandal, then born again in the faith. For the Catholics, there was Fr. Neuhaus, with the support of cardinal O'Connor and the future cardinal Dulles.

A book by Neuhaus had made a great impression on the evangelicals: it was The Naked Public Square, an analysis of the growing disappearance of religion from public life. The book brought to light the fact that there are many traits common to both Catholic and evangelical thought, and that some of them can be put into practice.

Since then, the evangelicals have made great progress. They are the fastest-growing Christian group in the world. In the United States, they now make up 43 percent of the population, according to a survey by Gallup. Their influence has been decisive in many of the choices of the Bush presidency: from support of the family to the fight against abortion; from the defense of religious liberty in the world to the battle against the modern slave trade; from peace in Sudan to the war in Iraq and more decisive support than ever for Israel. In foreign policy, within the historic confrontation between the "realists" and the "idealists," they have aligned themselves with the latter. The doctrine of the exportation of democracy is typically evangelical. And Bush is evangelical when he says, "I believe freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world."

And so, slowly, the evangelicals have met and associated with the neocons, with Jews like Michael Horowitz, a great defender of persecuted Christians throughout the world, and with Catholics. Or better, with a current of Catholicism that was marginal at first, but is now more consistent and authoritative.

In an interview with Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times, on May 31, 2004, Fr. Neuhaus said: "It is an extraordinary realignment that if continues is going to create a very different kind of configuration of Christianity in America."

Meanwhile, the pope of Rome is no longer the Antichrist for the evangelicals of the United States. In a recent survey of them, John Paul II won first place for popularity, with 59 percent saying they view him favorably, ahead of Pat Robertson, with 54, and Jerry Falwell, with 44 percent.

And the pope returns the affection, with an eye for the November presidential election. In the June 4 edition of "Corriere della Sera," Luigi Accattoli, the Vatican journalist who most faithfully reports the views from the pontifical palazzo, wrote that the pope has already decided: he prefers the evangelical Bush to the Catholic Kerry. And "he wants to help him with the Catholic voters."

One additional factor to keep in mind here is that Father Neuhaus and other theocons, like Michael Novak, have made similar efforts to reconcile Christians to Judaism. They've created an interesting situation whereconservative Jews (and Zionists) are forced to recognize that they ultimately have more in common and greater shared interests with many Christians than with liberal and secular Jews--a dynamic on display most prominently in the cordial relations between the Sharon government and evangelicals. As conservative religious groups reach out further to blacks, Hispanics, and Asians of faith also we may see the first truly integrated political movement that is held together by common ideas--as opposed to the Democratic Party, for instance, which is merely an assemblage of different groups with specialized interests.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:58 AM


UN-Iran cooperation on nukes at risk (Jim Bencivenga, Christian science Monitor, June 18th, 2004)

The UN atomic agency on Friday adopted a tough resolution rebuking Iran for failing to divulge more information about its nuclear program. The action was favorably greeted by the United States and strongly criticized by Iran, 1. reports CNN.

In harsh language, the resolution approved by the 35-member board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 'deplores' that 'Iran's cooperation has not been as full, timely and proactive as it should have been,' and notes 'with concern that after almost two years' since Iran's undeclared program came to light, 'a number of questions remain outstanding.'

Originally scheduled for release on Thursday, the resolution was delayed as diplomatic language was sought to strike the right tone between condemnation of Iran's apparent stonewalling and not causing the Islamic Republic to withdraw from the IAEA process, as it has threatened, reported The Christian Science Monitor on Thursday.

Noticeably absent this time in the IAEA report were previous European concerns about how the wording might offend Iran, reports the Monitor: [...]

The stakes are high, as an editorial in the Jerusalem Post - prior to the IAEA resolution on Friday - declared:

The time has come for a simple question: Does Europe want Iran to go nuclear?... To some, standing up to Iran's brazen nuclear bid will be seen as starting another war. It is the opposite. It is not too late to attempt, by economic means alone, forcing Iran to go the way of Libya and getting out of the nuclear and terrorism business. The longer Europe and the US wait to act, the more the options will become limited to living with Iran as a terrorist base with a nuclear umbrella, or taking military action.[...]

The AP quotes a Western diplomat familiar with the US position as saying on Thursday that the Americans were content because they "feel this ... helps tee [Iran] up" for Security Council action at the next board meeting in September.

But such a measure is of immense concern to the drafters of the resolution, Britain, France, and Germany, reports the Monitor. "Europe wants to know what on earth would happen [if] they went to the Security Council," says the Brookings Institution's Levi, "and no one can give them a straight answer."

As in the thirties, the bankruptcy of European diplomacy and their beloved international law is chracterized by their desperate addiction to process and institutions. At Durban, just about every country but the U.S. shamed itself by persisitng in and giving credibility to that anti-Semitic festival for fear that the “process” would collapse. In this world of abstract and dangerous dreams, tyrants are suffered endlessly and mortal threats endured provided everyone stays at the table.

There is no greater glory to present American foreign policy than that it refuses to surrender principle and its moral underpinnings to keep some corrupt international order afloat. That is also the source of the widespread hatred it inspires.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:41 AM


For single guys, more hurdles to adoption (G. Jeffrey McDonald, Christian Science Monitor, June 20th, 2004)

Six years ago, a 7-year-old Cuban-Puerto Rican boy named Jeremy was living with a foster family in Massachusetts and wondering if anyone would ever adopt him. After all, most adopters want infants. At 7, he might be considered too old.

But Matt Paluszek, who was in his mid-30s, was also doing some wondering: Would he ever get married and have children - or if not, might he be able to adopt?

Like an increasing number of single men, Mr. Paluszek explored the adoption option and found it just right for him.

As Father's Day arrives this Sunday, he and other single dads are giving thanks for the children they've recently adopted - more than 5,000 of them between 1998 and 2001 - either in spite of or because of their ages and special needs.
Yet even as they claim a niche as appreciated dads to the needy, the single man's adoptive path to parenthood is not getting easier.

Several factors dot the landscape with obstacles. For one, most foreign countries - even if they are willing to part with their orphaned or abandoned children - prohibit adoption by single men. And in America, where all 50 states permit single adults to adopt, church-related abuse scandals have recently raised the bar for single men trying to prove their fitness for parenthood.

"For some agencies, men are suspect because of the sex-abuse scandals. They wonder why a man would ever want to adopt," said Grace Brace, executive director of the International Adoption Services Centre, a nonprofit agency in Gardiner, Maine that supports single male adoption. "With everything that's happening, I believe it is becoming harder for men to adopt."

It is an open secret that, despite gender neutral laws, family courts continue to award children, especially small children, to the care of their mothers in most cases. All sorts of trendy catchphrases and psychobabble are used to justify this, but much of it stems from an unspoken, atavistic unease we have with the idea of men raising children on their own. This puts modern law in a position of hypocrisy, but is it wrong to feel this way despite the obvious truth that many widowers and divorced dads do splendid jobs with their kids?

The fact is we have fears about men and children, especially their non-biological children, we do not generally have with women. At the most extreme, sexual abuse of children is almost always a male crime. We are enraged and retributive when men harm or even kill their children, but in the much rarer cases when mothers do so, our sense of meaning is completely shattered. Men abandon their children much more often than women. At the other end, even the best of fathers know that there are certain emotional needs they simply cannot deliver to the young ones. A toddler may absolutely adore his doting father, but when his fever rises half a degree all thoughts and needs are directed at Mom. Sad indeed is the child who finds that vessel empty.

Men really come into their own when the child is old enough to start needing a guide, model and mentor. That is about the same age a child starts having some capacity to defend himself from paternal severity and excess. Given the unsatisfactory nature of much foster care, a wise and compassionate policy here would be to allow these selfless single men to adopt boys who are at least about seven or eight, but not girls or toddlers. This is probably impossible, as speaking openly about gender differences and what we all viscerally feel is as shocking to many today as talking about sex was to the Victorians. Our political correctness trumps the welfare of children every time.

June 19, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 PM


Bush Leads In All-Important Florida (CPOD, Jun. 17, 2004)

George W. Bush could carry the key state of Florida in the 2004 United States presidential election, according to a poll by Survey USA released by WFLA-TV. 50 per cent of respondents would vote for the Republican incumbent, while 43 per cent would support prospective Democratic nominee John Kerry.

There's not a state he carried that the President will even have to defend hard while Senator Kerry already looks dubious in places like PA, NJ, WA, etc.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 PM


Democracy in Arabia?: Liberal scoffers underestimate its prospects. (Amir Taheri, 06/28/2004, Weekly Standard)

[T]he process of change triggered by the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq shows no sign of coming to a close. In liberal circles in Europe and North America, the idea that George W. Bush could inspire any democratic revolution may provoke derision, but in the Middle East, U.S. action in Afghanistan and Iraq is seen as marking the end of an era--the era in which the region's politics was dominated by pan-Arabism and Islamism.

The Taliban was the epitome of Islamism: No one could claim to be more Islamist than Mullah Muhammad Omar. The Iraqi Baath represented the most radical version of Arab nationalism, inspired by Nazism and communism. If anybody could have created the pan-Arab Utopia, it was Saddam Hussein. The defeat of those two "models" has given democrats in the Muslim world a chance to get their message through to the masses previously captivated by Islamism and pan-Arabism.

"The genie will not return to the bottle," says Iraqi scholar Faleh Abdul-Jabbar. "There is a growing feeling in the region that the days of despotic regimes are numbered."

"The thing is, this is open debate that wasn't there three or four months ago," Jordan's King Abdullah told the Washington Post last week. "Once you open that door, it is very hard to shut it. So countries that are resistant to it are now having to look at the issues of reform."

One reason for this optimism is the belief that the Bush administration is determined to shift the United States from being a supporter of the status quo in the Middle East to being a champion of democratic change.

"The United States understands that its security is contingent on change in the Middle East," says Saudi novelist Turki al-Hamad. "The Americans have learned that as long as our societies are not reformed, they cannot be safe."

It would seem impossible to overstate the psychological effect our handing over power in Iraq at the end of June will have, marking the moment when it becomes undeniable that our goal in the Middle East is not empire and oil but democracy and peace.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 PM


Chirac feels the heat as his former protege goes on the offensive: The French president is having to rally support to thwart Nicolas Sarkozy, but some believe his finance minister is the only man who can save the Gaullists (Kim Willsher, 20/06/2004, Sunday Telegraph)

The French finance minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, threw down the political gauntlet to Jacques Chirac last week. In the race to become the country's next president he invited more than 200 MPs from Mr Chirac's Gaullist UMP to a lavish lunch.

According to Mr Sarkozy, known as "Super Sarko", the MPs had been asked to discuss controversial proposals to open France's energy industry to private investment. That the lunch quickly became the hottest ticket in town, however, suggested a different agenda.

Is there a cause less worth saving than Gaullism?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:15 PM


Clinton rages against Dimbleby in Panorama confrontation over Lewinsky (Chris Hastings and Charles Laurence, 20/06/2004, Sunday Telegraph)

Bill Clinton loses his temper with David Dimbleby during a BBC television interview to be broadcast this week when he is repeatedly quizzed about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

The former American president, famed for his amiable disposition, becomes visibly angry and rattled, particularly when Dimbleby asks him whether his publicly declared contrition over the affair is genuine.

His outrage at the line of questioning during the 50-minute interview, to be broadcast on Panorama on Tuesday night, lasts several minutes. It is the first time that the former President has been seen to lose his temper publicly over the issue of his sexual liaisons with Ms Lewinsky.

The President initially responds to Dimbleby's questions by launching a general attack on media intrusion. When the broadcaster persists with the question of whether the politician was truly penitent, Clinton directs his anger towards Dimbleby.

The atmosphere, which was initially warm, then turns decidedly chilly.

It's somehow reminiscent of the great Frontline about how forensic psychiatrists and dedicated cops exposed Ken Bianchi's dual personality hoax, only this time in reverse.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 PM


As Handover Nears, U.S. Mistakes Loom Large: Harsh Realities Replaced High Ideals After Many Missed Opportunities (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, June 20, 2004, Washington Post)

Viewed from Baghdad since April 2003, the occupation has evolved from an optimistic partnership between Americans and Iraqis into a relationship riven by frustration and resentment. U.S. reconstruction specialists commonly complain of ungrateful Iraqis. Residents of a tough Baghdad neighborhood that welcomed U.S. forces with cold cans of orange soda last spring now jeer as military vehicles roll past. A few weeks ago, young men from the area danced atop a Humvee disabled by a roadside bomb, eventually torching it.

In many ways, the occupation appears to have transformed the occupier more than the occupied. Iraqis continue to endure blackouts, lengthy gas lines, rampant unemployment and the uncertain political future that began when U.S. tanks rolled into Baghdad. But American officials who once roamed the country to share their sense of mission with Iraqis now face such mortal danger that they are largely confined to compounds surrounded by concrete walls topped with razor wire. Iraqis who want to meet them must show two forms of identification and be searched three times.

The Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S. entity that has administered Iraq, cites many successes of its tenure. Nearly 2,500 schools have been repaired, 3 million children have been immunized, $5 million in loans have been distributed to small businesses and 8 million textbooks have been printed, according to the CPA. New banknotes have replaced currency with ousted president Saddam Hussein's picture. Local councils have been formed in every city and province. An interim national government promises to hold general elections next January.

But in many key quantifiable areas, the occupation has fallen far short of its goals.

The Iraqi army is one-third the size U.S. officials promised it would be by now. Seventy percent of police officers have not received training. When violence flared across the country this spring, many soldiers and policemen refused to perform their duties because U.S. forces failed to equip them, designate competent leaders and win trust among the ranks.

About 15,000 Iraqis have been hired to work on projects funded by $18.6 billion in U.S. aid, despite promises to use the money to employ at least 250,000 Iraqis by this month. At of the beginning of June, 80 percent of the aid package, approved by Congress last fall, remained unspent.

Electricity generation remains stuck at around 4,000 megawatts, resulting in less than nine hours of power a day to most Baghdad homes, despite pledges from U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer to increase production to 6,000 megawatts by June 1.

Iraq's emerging political system is also at odds with original U.S. goals. American officials scuttled plans to remain as the occupying power until Iraqis wrote a permanent constitution and held democratic elections. Instead, Bremer will leave the Iraqis with a temporary constitution, something he repeatedly promised not to do, and an interim government headed by a president who was not the Bush administration's preferred choice.

The CPA, which had 3,000 employees at its peak, will dissolve on June 30, the date designated to confer sovereignty to Iraq's interim government. U.S.-led military forces -- 138,000 U.S. troops and 23,000 from other nations -- will remain, free to conduct operations without the approval of the interim government. The management of reconstruction projects and other civilian tasks will be handled by a new U.S. embassy.

Over the course of the occupation, the relationship between the CPA and the military has become increasingly bitter. Soldiers have blamed civilians for not performing enough reconstruction to pacify the country, while civilians have blamed the military for not providing enough security to enable the rebuilding. In the view of several senior officials here, a shortage of U.S. troops allowed the security situation to spiral out of control last year. Attacks on U.S.-led forces and foreign civilians now average more than 40 a day, a threefold increase since January. Assassinations of Iraqi political leaders and debilitating sabotage of the country's oil and electricity infrastructure now occur routinely.

On the eve of its dissolution, the CPA has become a symbol of American failure in the eyes of most Iraqis. [...]

From the start of the occupation, the American effort to transform Iraq's political system was challenged by another Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, a cleric far more established than Sadr. The CPA's inability to deal with him forced a series of compromises that will affect Iraq long after Bremer departs.

Sistani is a man in his seventies with a snowy beard who has lived in isolation for the past six years in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. With millions of followers, he is seen as the most influential leader of Iraq's Shiite majority, a man whom Shiite politicians do not want to cross.

Sistani's position was straightforward: Iraqis, not Americans, should determine the country's political future.

There'll be no end of dissections of the post-war and it seems unlikely there'll ever be much consensus on what might have been done differently--for instance, had the military been left generally intact there would have been just as much complaint that it wasn't de-Ba'athified as there is now that it was disbanded too hastily--but one large point that will have applicability elsewhere does seem to stand out: we treated Iraq as if it were similar to Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan--a nation where the totalitarian regime had been fairly popular and the society cohesive behind it--rather than like a Soviet satellite, where the government was oppressing a hostile population and had never managed to replace important countervailing institutions like the religious faith, practice, and clergy of the majority of the population.

If we look at things through this lens we can see that it would have been unthinkable for American troops to occupy Poland and dictate terms to its population in the late 80s/early 90s as Communism collapsed. Arguably our doing so might have eased the transition to democratic capitalism, but peoples are not to be treated in such a manner when they are not broadly implicated in the crimes of the previous regime. Thus, in Iraq, full sovereignty could (should?) have been handed over to especially the Kurds and the Shi'ite South far faster than it has been, even immediately. The Sunni Triangle is more problematic, bearing a greater resemblance to Japan and Germany, but one would think that it would have been at least somewhat easier to put down the resistance there had it been clear that the rapid return of sovereignty was our goal and had we had large co-operative and basically autonomous regions in the North and South supporting our efforts.

At any rate, if there is something to this analysis our failure does not appear to have been fatal and was obviously a product of good intentions. The important thing is to apply the lesson as we go forward, especially because the other regimes on our hit-list are so unpopular with their own people: Syria, N. Korea, Iran, etc. Regime change is a worthy goal in all these places but we should avoid becoming an occupying power, a situation where we in effect replace the prior despot with ourselves, continuing to deprive people of control over their lives and their nation's future. Letting them have that control may seem inefficient and will be sloppy--as the post-communist transition of Eastern Europe has been--but they'll get where they're going.

Iraq's Allawi Defends U.S. Strike That Killed 22 (Fadel Badran, 6/20/04, Reuters)

Iraq's prime minister on Sunday defended a U.S. air strike that killed 22 people in Falluja, but Iraqi officers in the town said the dead included women and children and no foreign Muslim militants.

"We know that a house which had been used by terrorists had been hit. We welcome this hit on terrorists anywhere in Iraq," interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told a news conference.

He said the U.S. military had informed the government before carrying out Saturday's air strike on what it said was a safe house used by militants led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian described by the Americans as al Qaeda's leader in Iraq.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:13 PM


Kurds Advancing to Reclaim Land in Northern Iraq (DEXTER FILKINS, June 20, 2004, NY Times)

Thousands of ethnic Kurds are pushing into lands formerly held by Iraqi Arabs, forcing tens of thousands of them to flee to ramshackle refugee camps and transforming the demographic and political map of northern Iraq.

The Kurds are returning to lands from which they were expelled by the armies of Saddam Hussein and his predecessors in the Baath Party, who ordered thousands of Kurdish villages destroyed and sent waves of Iraqi Arabs north to fill the area with supporters.

The new movement, which began with the fall of Mr. Hussein, appears to have quickened this spring amid confusion about American policy, along with political pressure by Kurdish leaders to resettle the areas formerly held by Arabs. It is happening at a moment when Kurds are threatening to pull out of the national government if they are unable to ensure their autonomy.

In Baghdad, American officials say they are struggling to keep the displaced Kurds on the north side of the Green Line, the boundary of the Kurdish autonomous region. The Americans agree that the Kurds deserve to return to their ancestral lands but they want an orderly migration to avoid ethnic strife and political instability.

It's not the push South, or even the one to the West, that matters, but the one to the North, which will exacerbate tensions with Turkey.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:34 PM


Signing the constitution is Mr Blair's big blunder (Daily Telegraph, 19/06/2004)

At EU summits, there is always a row and always a deal – and the European constitution negotiations did not disappoint. Tony Blair's spin doctors did not quite say, "Gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves accursed they were not here," but he was, apparently, battling like Henry V against the French and also the Germans. But he signed the constitution anyway, even though last week's election results clearly show he had no mandate to do so.

Wellington swears.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:32 PM


Neck and neck: Survey reveals no dramatic shift with one week left: NDP picks up strength with 20.5 per cent support (SUSAN DELACOURT, 6/19/04, Toronto Star)

The election campaign has become a nail-biting tug-of-war, with a new Toronto Star poll showing the Liberals and Conservatives virtually tied heading into the final week.

It now seems to be either party's election to win or lose on June 28, and voters are shrugging off their old expectations.

The poll, conducted by EKOS Research Associates this week for the Star and La Presse, shows the Conservatives still with a narrow lead, with 31.4 per cent support of decided voters, while Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberals are at 29 per cent. The survey's margin of error is 3.3 percentage points.

The NDP has picked up some strength, with 20.5 per cent, while the Bloc Québécois is at 14.2 per cent. The Green party has 4.3 per cent.

There are still about 6.6 per cent of voters undecided, EKOS said. That is down from about 12 per cent last week.

Last week's poll had the Tories at 33.8 per cent nationally, the Liberals 30 per cent and the NDP 18.9 per cent. The Bloc was at 12.3 per cent and the Greens 4.6 per cent.

Think I'll paint the ceiling gray.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:22 PM


Let Europe be Europe: You won’t be our friends? Fine, protect yourselves and at least be neutral. (Victor Davis Hanson, 6/18/04, National Review)

The ethicists of Europe don't want to see success in Iraq, since it might be interpreted as a moral refutation of their own opposition to Saddam's removal. So let us in turn stop begging old Europe, NATO, and the EU to participate in the rebuilding or policing of the country. To join or help, in the collective European mind, would be to suggest that an emerging democracy far away was worth our own sacrifice to rid the world of Saddam Hussein. Liberating Iraq, shutting down Baathist terror, and establishing consensual rule, after all, was a dangerous — and mostly Anglo-American — idea, antithetical to all the Europeans have become.

Understandably, they do not want to be lumped in with the "missionaries of democracy" who evoke the ire of terrorists or the disdain of oil-producing grandees. They do not wish to forgive the debts run up by Saddam Hussein for their overpriced junk. And they most certainly are not willing to do any favors for Texas-twanged George W. Bush, whom they hope will be gone in less than six months. All this is not their world, which operates on self-interest gussied up with the elevated rhetoric of the utopian EU — appealing to an Al Gore's Earth-in-the-Balance mindset rather than to serious folk who worry about genocide and mass murder.

So there are reasons our alliances cannot simply be glued back together again, and they transcend neo-con zeal and Bush as el Loco cowboy. Europeans, aside from a few tiny brave countries and courageous individuals, will no more participate in the "illegal" action in Iraq than they did in the "approved" and "legal" Afghanistan intervention, where about 7,000 NATO troops now help a postbellum liberated population of 26 million. Even if we sent Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Jesse Jackson as an obsequious trio, the Euros would not act in a resolute, muscular way.

To the small degree Mr. Bush supposedly encountered a more conciliatory attitude from Europeans, it was likely because wiser heads in Germany finally saw that their animus had nearly succeeded in generating an American consensus to end the free defense of Europe — not because of a new remorseful "multilateralism" by the president. A quarter of Americans now see France as an enemy — not an ally or even a neutral — and the number is growing. Any sane person who carefully examined America's relationship to Europe over the last 60 years would have advised the Germans and French not to throw away something so advantageous to their own national interests. But they did, and now we must move on. [...]

Most Frenchmen either refused to resolutely fight the Germans or passively collaborated. The idea of a broad resistance was mostly a postwar Gallic nationalist myth. Those who spearheaded a few attacks on German occupiers were more likely led by Communists than by allied sympathizers, and thus fought in hope more of an eventual Soviet victory over the Nazis than an American one.

Just out of curiosity, how are the Spanish doing in their war against al Qaeda? Presumably they sent the troops they pulled out of Iraq to Western Pakistan to hunt down the folk who plotted 3-11, right?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 AM


The Shrinking Clinton: Big book, small legacy. (Fred Barnes, 06/28/2004, Weekly Standard)

A BOOK CANNOT ELEVATE a president. That's true even for a book marketed by Dan Rather for an hour on 60 Minutes, its publication treated like a show-stopping event by the media, its author's tour seen as the equivalent of a high-octane political campaign, and its importance signified by the expectation of an entire summer in which the author will never be far from the spotlight. Bill Clinton should not get his hopes up. Presidents are judged by their record, not their memoirs. At best, Clinton is Calvin Coolidge without the ethics and the self-restraint.

Clinton is not a failed president, only an insignificant one. In his interview with Rather to plug My Life, he claims two great accomplishments. One is "the creation of 22 million jobs." The other is the toppling of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in the Balkan war. So Clinton takes credit, above all, for high job growth and a positive outcome in a relatively minor foreign policy crisis. One qualification: On jobs, while Clinton deserves credit, presidents merely make jobs a bit easier or harder for the economy to create. They don't create jobs themselves, except by expanding government. In sum, Clinton's twin achievements match Coolidge's almost exactly. The highlights of Coolidge's term were a flourishing economy and triumph in three minor foreign ventures.

Clinton had three major successes in Congress during his eight years in office, but it's no surprise he downplays them. They reflect his weakness as a president. The first was passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993. This measure was proposed by President Reagan, negotiated and signed by the first President Bush, and ratified with Republican votes as congressional Democrats abandoned Clinton in droves. The second was welfare reform that reduced the rolls dramatically. He signed this Republican bill reluctantly in 1996 only after his political adviser, Dick Morris, told him his reelection would be jeopardized if he didn't. The third Clinton success was the arrival of a balanced budget, again a goal Clinton had warily endorsed but not expected to achieve so soon.

Now consider these achievements for a moment. Do they remind you of anyone's agenda? The answer is Reagan's. All three were longstanding aims of Reagan, not of Clinton or Democrats.

The comparison to Coolidge is unfair to one of our best presidents. Warren G. Harding seems a better yardstick.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM


Ryan Won't Appeal Release Of Divorce Papers: Senate Candidate's Divorce Records To Be Partially Unsealed (NBC5, June 18, 2004)

Senate candidate Jack Ryan decided Friday not to appeal a California court's order unsealing potentially embarrassing child-custody records stemming from his 1995 divorce from television actress Jeri Lynn Ryan. [...]

The release of the child-custody records could deliver a powerful blow to Ryan's campaign against Democrat Barack Obama for the U.S. Senate seat being opened by the retirement of Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill. [...]

Rumors about what is in the documents have been circulating since before the March 16 primary.

Ryan has repeatedly assured GOP leaders the files contain nothing embarrassing enough to torpedo his bid for the Senate. But he tempered that a bit on Monday, telling reporters at a news conference: "Is there anything in there that might be embarrassing to me? Maybe. But that's not the criterion."

He said Monday, as he has all along, that he has no problem with the public seeing anything pertaining to him but he would try to block any disclosure that would threaten the well-being of his son. [...]

State Republican leaders asked the Republican National Committee recently whether they had the authority to name a replacement candidate if Ryan decided to withdraw, according to a GOP source speaking only on condition of anonymity. The source said the RNC told them the state party did have such authority.

Given Mr. Ryan's public persona it would be disappointing if there's really damaging information in the files--something worse than heterosexual extramarital affairs--but we're all long past the point where we get starry-eyed about pols.

However, if the GOP gets a free Toricelli-twist, why not just name popular former governor and current 9-11 Commissioner Jim Thompson to the ticket? He's only in his 60's and his qualification edge over the Democratic candidate, State Senator Barrack Obama, is massive.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:52 AM


Kerry's Cruel Realism (DAVID BROOKS, 6/19/04, NY Times)

Sometimes in the unscripted moments of a campaign, when the handlers are away, a candidate shows his true nature. Earlier this month, Andres Oppenheimer of The Miami Herald asked John Kerry what he thought of something called the Varela Project. Kerry said it was "counterproductive." It's necessary to try other approaches, he added.

The Varela Project happens to be one of the most inspiring democracy movements in the world today. It is being led by a Cuban dissident named Oswaldo Payá, who has spent his life trying to topple Castro's regime. Payá realized early on that the dictatorship would never be overthrown by a direct Bay of Pigs-style military assault, but it could be undermined by a peaceful grass-roots movement of Christian democrats, modeling themselves on Martin Luther King Jr. [...]

This drive, the Varela Project, quickly amassed the 10,000 signatures, and more. Jimmy Carter lauded the project on Cuban television. The European Union gave Payá its Sakharov Prize for human rights.

Then came Castro's crackdown. Though it didn't dare touch Payá, the regime arrested 75 other dissidents and sentenced each of them to up to 28 years in jail. This week Payá issued a desperate call for international attention and solidarity because the hunt for dissidents continues.

John Kerry's view? As he told Oppenheimer, the Varela Project "has gotten a lot of people in trouble . . . and it brought down the hammer in a way that I think wound up being counterproductive."

Imagine if you are a Cuban political prisoner rotting in a jail, and you learn that the leader of the oldest democratic party in the world thinks you're being counterproductive. Kerry's comment is a harpoon directed at the morale of Cuba's dissidents.

There were a number of patently absurd stories earlier this week about how John Kerry was trying to claim the Reagan mantle too. In fact, he's the anti-Reagan. Witness Natan Sharansky's memory upon hearing a very different statement while imprisoned in the Soviet Gulag:
Were there any particular Reagan moments that you can recall being sources of strength or encouragement to you and your colleagues?

I have to laugh. People who take freedom for granted, Ronald Reagan for granted, always ask such questions. Of course! It was the great brilliant moment when we learned that Ronald Reagan had proclaimed the Soviet Union an Evil Empire before the entire world. There was a long list of all the Western leaders who had lined up to condemn the evil Reagan for daring to call the great Soviet Union an evil empire right next to the front-page story about this dangerous, terrible man who wanted to take the world back to the dark days of the Cold War. This was the moment. It was the brightest, most glorious day. Finally a spade had been called a spade. Finally, Orwell's Newspeak was dead. President Reagan had from that moment made it impossible for anyone in the West to continue closing their eyes to the real nature of the Soviet Union.

It was one of the most important, freedom-affirming declarations, and we all instantly knew it. For us, that was the moment that really marked the end for them, and the beginning for us. The lie had been exposed and could never, ever be untold now. This was the end of Lenin's "Great October Bolshevik Revolution" and the beginning of a new revolution, a freedom revolution--Reagan's Revolution.

Throughout his life Senator Kerry has instinctively supported tyrannical Communist regimes from Vietnam to Cambodia to Nicaragua to Grenada to even (when he wasn't running for president) the Stalinist Saddam Hussein. His opposition to an anti-Castro movement is of a piece with that despicable record.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:32 AM


Steyn’s way: Write, twist, smear, and sneer. Repeat! Meet Mark Steyn, the most toxic right-wing pundit you’ve never heard of. (DAN KENNEDY, 6/18/04, Boston Phoenix)

WITHIN THE TIGHT little world of conservative punditry, there are lines of demarcation that are rarely, if ever, crossed. Respectable commentators such as Paul Gigot, George Will, and David Brooks work for respectable outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. When they appear on television or radio, they carry that aura of respectability with them. Right-wing carny barkers such as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity, on the other hand, play it strictly for laughs, even when they swear they’re not. And even though the Gigots and Wills and Brookses of the world may often agree with the freak-show politics of talk radio and the Fox News Channel, they would never sully their reputations by actually taking part.

Then there is Mark Steyn, a pungent columnist, essayist, and critic who’s not well known in the United States, but whose political screeds are published in English-speaking countries around the world. A native of Canada who divides his time among New Hampshire, Quebec, and London, Steyn is a self-described right-wing warmonger. Like a respectable conservative, he has some high-tone affiliations. Steyn writes obituaries of the famous and not-so-famous for the Atlantic Monthly. He pens theater reviews for the New Criterion, a conservative arts-and-culture journal with a vaunted reputation. And he reviews movies for the Spectator, a venerable, classy London weekly magazine owned by the Hollinger media empire, his principal benefactor.

But if Steyn’s sharp, clear writing, quick mind, and wide-ranging curiosity appeal to the pretensions of the intelligentsia, there is another side to him as well. Steyn may possess more depth and range than Limbaugh or Coulter, but he shares much in common with them. To wit: a shrill, mocking tone of moral certainty that consigns those who disagree with him to the status of appeasers or even terrorists; and a willingness to distort, misrepresent, and omit facts in order to advance his argument. And if you think he couldn’t possibly be as bad as, say, Coulter, whose shtick is to pop up on television and denounce liberals as "traitors," consider this: in perhaps his sleaziest column of 2004, a condescending dismissal of triple-amputee war hero Max Cleland, Steyn’s principal source was Coulter.

"He’s kind of a glib guy, and he’s a better writer than most of them. And that gets you a long way on that side," says Joe Conason, a liberal columnist for the New York Observer and Salon. "I mean, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter can’t write. The thing he shares with the rest of them, obviously, is that he has no idea of limits or boundaries or decency." [...]

SO WHO IS Mark Steyn? According to his Web site, MarkSteyn.com, and other bits of biographical data I’ve been able to pick up, he is, despite his Canadian origins, the product of an English boys’-school education. His formal education ended with high school, and he worked as a disc jockey and BBC radio host before launching his writing career, about 15 years ago. He is ethnically Jewish, was baptized in the Catholic Church, was confirmed as an Anglican, and today attends an American Baptist church.

Steyn describes himself as "the one-man global content provider," and that is not inaccurate. His main source of income is the Hollinger chain, a worldwide media conglomerate run, until recently, by Conrad Black, now in trouble for allegedly lying about money, or lying about alleged money, or some such thing. Steyn’s political columns appear in a number of Hollinger properties, including the Chicago Sun-Times; the well-regarded, conservative Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph of London; and the Jerusalem Post, which is also conservative. He’s written for the Age, in Melbourne, Australia, in which Black at one time had an ownership interest. The non-Hollinger Irish Times carries his column as well. In the US, Steyn’s political pieces appear from time to time in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, National Review, the New York Sun, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Oddly enough, the English-speaking country where Steyn’s voice is least heard these days is Canada. The National Post, which Conrad Black founded in 1998 to compete with the dominant Toronto Globe & Mail, changed hands within the past few years, and Steyn’s column was dropped. The Post’s commentary editor, Jonathan Kay, is an unabashed Steyn admirer, calling him "brilliant" and comparing him to P.J. O’Rourke. Yet Kay also suggests that Steyn can be prickly to work with, recalling the time he changed "Mrs." to "Ms." in a Steyn reference to Abraham Lincoln’s wife so as to conform with the Post’s house style. "I don’t think he talked to me for a year after that," Kay says. "I took out a letter for political correctness, and that’s a grave sin in his book. I learned my lesson — I never changed a letter after that." Steyn’s only current regular Canadian outlet: the Western Standard, a new magazine that describes itself as "the independent voice of the New West."

Tucker Carlson, a commentator for CNN and, soon, PBS, who was recently attacked by Steyn as a "conservative cutie" who’s gone soft on the war, says of Steyn, "He’s kind of pompous. He’s obviously smart, he can be quite witty. I mean, I agree with a lot of what he writes. But the problem with being a columnist for too long is that a) you tend to repeat yourself and b) you tend to forget that you need to marshal facts to support your opinions."

Michael Miner, media critic for the Chicago Reader, says of Steyn: "I enjoy reading him. He writes very well. And he can be highly annoying. I’ve always sensed that he’s the quintessential Hollinger writer — very smart, very conservative, very sarcastic."

The nonpartisan media-watch Web site Spinsanity.org has whacked Steyn on several occasions — such as in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when Steyn strongly hinted that he wished a peace advocate could have been on one of the four planes that were hijacked, or, more recently, about a John Kerry appearance, of which Steyn wrote that "Kerry sounded awfully like America’s first French president." Spinsanity’s Brendan Nyhan told me by e-mail, "We’ve written several times about Steyn’s aggressive, inflammatory rhetoric and loose regard for logic and factual accuracy." [...]

STEYN WAS NOT interviewed for this piece. I sent him an e-mail requesting an interview on June 8. Two days later one of his assistants, Tiffany Cole, e-mailed back to me, "Mark isn’t sure what he’s done to merit the attention of the Boston Phoenix, but he wishes you all the best with the piece. He says he prefers not to speak to writers on these kinds of stories because ‘he always sounds like a jerk in interviews.’" Despite the rejection, I followed up later that day with detailed questions, including the matter of the Globe and the fake-rape pictures. This past Monday another assistant, Chantal Benoît, e-mailed to me that Steyn is traveling while doing research for a book, and had not seen my questions. "I do not think it would make any difference, so by all means move ahead," she wrote.

I mention this because I want to make it clear that Steyn’s staff knew I was preparing a harsh profile, and that I had given him ample opportunity to respond.

If you're going to attack your betters for their alleged inaccuracies it's probably a good idea to have your own ducks in a row. So, leave us set aside the notion that there is a "tight little world of conservative punditry" in a piece which then cites writers for the Times, the Post, Newsweek, etc.; Mr. Steyn's own rather wide range of publications he writes for; and his disagreements with several other conservative pundits--so much for tight and for little--instead let us start by asking if the Spectator even runs movie reviews, never mind whether Mr. Steyn writes them. Typically, as this week, he seems to have the lead essay. Presumably this would elevate him in Mr. Kennedy's eyes, as opposed to being a mere reviewer. If he does both weekly movie reviews and major essays for the same magazine it would be downright impressive, no?

Some of the assertions can probably be excused as hyperbole, even though they're just wrong. For example Paul Gigot has appeared on Fox with Brit Hume periodically and Charles Krauthammer, of the uptown Washington Post, is a regular. David Brooks was a regular essayist at--and one of the founding editors (?) of --Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard, so it seems strange to draw a bright line as regards whether he'll appear on Mr. Murdoch's tv network.

Most amusing though is that an ink-stained drudge like Mr. Kennedy, at an alternative press no less, thinks that a fellow scribe has multiple personal assistants. When we contacted Mr. Steyn through his website to get a review copy of his terrific essay collection, Face of the Tiger, we were answered by an "assistant" who had a sense of humor and a tongue of marked similarity to the author. I'm willing to believe there's more than one Chantal Benoit, but find it hard to believe that Mr. Kennedy wasn't being toyed with via reference to this one. Suffice it to say, neither Ms Benoit nor Tiffany Cole are listed in our local phonebook. Mr. Steyn obviously guards his privacy, so he isn't either, but neither of his "assistants"?

Anyhow, it seems that what Mr. Kennedy has rendered here is a tendentious and error filled piece about an "aggressive" and purportedly error-plagued conservative whose worst sin would appear to be saying that John Kerry sounds French. In that regard we'd simply note the following story, Kerry tries to reclaim New Jersey (Charles Hurt, 6/16/04, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

Asked whether Mr. Kerry's patrician — some say French — face and wife worth an estimated $550 million hurts his ability to relate to the working class, [William T. Mullen, president of New Jersey's building trades union] replied, "Yeah, but he's our rich French guy and we got to stick with him."

We eagerly await the Boston Phoenix hit piece on the indeceny of William Mullen, part of the tight little world of trade unionists...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:43 AM

WALKS KILL (via The Mother Judd):

Baseball Stats Say: Let Barry Bonds Hit (BRUCE WEBER, 6/19/04, NY Times)

Jerry Reiter, who grew up and played high school baseball in Yankee territory, near Morristown, N.J., is a Boston Red Sox fan, for some reason. (O.K., he went to Harvard eventually, but still.) In any case, he's worried about his club, and he has something to contribute to the cause. In fact, it is rather urgent because this weekend the Red Sox are in San Francisco, home of the Giants and more to the point, of the Giants' left fielder, Barry Bonds.

Mr. Reiter's message to the Red Sox, to their manager, Terry Francona, and to the pitching staff, runs counter to the prevailing wisdom in baseball these days. But it's simple: do not walk Bonds. [...]

Mr. Reiter would like the world in general — and the Red Sox in particular — to know that this strategy is not only lily-livered but also self-defeating. An assistant professor of statistics at Duke University, Mr. Reiter, 34, has done what statistics professors and baseball fans everywhere do: he has run the numbers. The results, he said, make it clear that the Giants are likelier to score when Bonds is walked than when he is pitched to, and that overall they score more runs.

"What I did was go back to the last three seasons and look at every one of Bonds's plate appearances and examine what happened in the inning after the first pitch to him," Mr. Reiter said in a telephone interview. "In innings where he was walked and innings where he was pitched to, how many runs did the Giants score after the first pitch to Bonds?"

To account for different game situations, Mr. Reiter divided his study according to the number of outs and whether the bases were empty when Bonds came to bat or there was a runner on first base (these are the situations when giving away a walk is generally considered ill advised). For example, over the last three years Bonds came to the plate 377 times with nobody on and nobody out. He walked 79 times; the Giants scored in 37 of those innings, 47 percent of the time, and overall scored 0.9 runs per inning. But when Bonds was not walked with no one out and no one on, the Giants scored in 107 of 298 innings, 36 percent of the time, and an average of 0.6 runs per inning.

"According to the data," Mr. Reiter said, "the only situation where the numbers favor walking him are none on and one out." With none on and two out, he said, the risk of pitching to him and walking him is about the same. "You could flip a coin," he said.

You should never walk him--just hit him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 AM


Hall of Fame Catchers Honor Piazza (HAL BOCK, June 18, 2004, AP)

In a convention of Hall of Fame catchers, Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter and Yogi Berra gathered Friday night to honor Mike Piazza, who earlier this season broke the home run record for catchers.

Piazza snapped Fisk's mark of 351 homers on May 5 and entered play Friday with 355 while playing the position. Now, he is primarily a first baseman. [...]

Bench is third on the catchers' home run list with 327 followed by Berra (306), Lance Parrish (299), Carter (298), Roy Campanella (239) and Ivan Rodriguez (234).

Parrish, now the Tigers bullpen coach, and Rodriguez, now catching for Detroit, joined the ceremonies along with Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda, Piazza's first manager, and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner -- a longtime Mets broadcaster.

Our local paper has an even better wire photo, one that includes Rodriguez, who is the best of the bunch.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 AM


Chris Heinz on the stump in city for stepdad (Jack Kelly, June 17, 2004, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Chris Heinz yesterday campaigned in Pittsburgh for his stepfather, Sen. John F. Kerry, meeting supporters at a personal level and talking about personal matters. [...]

At the intimate "house party," one of nine he attended in Western Pennsylvania yesterday and Tuesday, Heinz said his stepfather had a "slim to small" lead over President Bush in national polls, one he predicted would expand once Kerry started talking more about issues.

The primary purpose of the parties is to enlist campaign volunteers for the fall. More than 500 are active in the "Western Pennsylvania for Kerry" organization, Pearson said. The Bush campaign claims 6,259 volunteers in Western Pennsylvania and 33,807 statewide.

Kerry is likely to name a running mate within two weeks, Heinz said, offering no inside information. "I was very pro-[North Carolina Sen. John] Edwards in the spring," he said. "But now I think we may need someone with stronger credentials on foreign policy."

By which he presumably means "any".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM


Australia, US in missile pact (Courier Mail, 19jun04)

AUSTRALIA would formally commit to the US missile defence program at a joint conference to be held in the US next month, Defence Minister Robert Hill said today.

Senator Hill said the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) would formalise Australia's long-term commitment to participate in the US missile defence program.

"We intend to sign the MOU at the next Australia-US Ministerial Consultations planned in the US for early July," Senator Hill said.

Senator Hill said the MOU would provide a 25-year framework under which broad areas of cooperation can be agreed, before entering into more specific arrangements once individual projects were agreed to.

"This is a long-term commitment to securing our future and strengthening the alliance," he said.

Senator Hill said the first area of cooperation would involve research, development, testing and evaluation of technologies that could be used in the missile defence program.

"This will not only be in our strategic defence interests by further developing our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, but also provide maximum opportunities for Australian industry," he said.

June 18, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 PM


President Bush Salutes Soldiers in Fort Lewis, Washington (6/18/04)

Thank you all very much. It's great to be here in the state of Washington. (Applause.) I think the Senator would say it's great to be out of Washington -- the other Washington. (Laughter.) We're honored to be in your presence. We're honored to be with the soldiers who proudly wear our uniforms. (Applause.) And we're honored to be here with the families that support them. (Applause.)

I want to thank Senator John McCain for joining us. (Applause.) It is a privilege -- it is a privilege to be introduced to our men and women in uniform by a man who brought such credit to the uniform. (Applause.) When he speaks of service and sacrifice, he speaks from experience. The United States military has no better friend in the United States Senate than John McCain. (Applause.) [...]

To win this war, we are confronting regimes with ties to terror that arm to threaten the peace. We will remove threats before they arrive, instead of waiting for the next attack, the next catastrophe. That is one of the lessons of September the 11th we must never forget. Saddam Hussein's regime posed a threat to the American people, and people around the world. Iraq was a country in which millions of people lived in fear, and many thousands disappeared into mass graves. This was a regime that tortured children in front of their parents. This was a regime that invaded its neighbors. This is a regime that had used chemical weapons before. It had used weapons not only against countries in its neighborhood, but against its own citizens. This is a regime which gave cash rewards to families of suicide bombers. This is a regime that sheltered terrorist groups. This is a regime that hated America.

And so we saw a threat, and it was a real threat. And that's why I went to the United Nations. The administration looked at the intelligence, saw a threat, and remembered the facts and saw a threat. The Congress, members of both political parties, looked at the intelligence. They saw a threat. The members of the United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence and saw a threat, and voted unanimously to send the message to Mr. Saddam Hussein, disarm or face serious consequences. As usual, he ignored the demands of the free world. So I had a choice to make -- either to trust the word of a madman, or defend America. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)

Thanks to our troops, and thanks to the troops of our friends, one of the most evil and brutal regimes in history no longer exists. Iraq is better off today, America is more secure today, because Saddam Hussein sits in a prison cell. (Applause.)

To win this war, we will not only keep the pressure on the enemy, we will spread freedom and democracy throughout the Middle East. We will spread freedom and democracy as an alternative to bitterness and terror. We believe that when men and women are given to opportunities and choices of a free society, they will turn their energy to the pursuits of peace. That's what we believe. We fully understand freedom is not America's gift to the world, freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world. (Applause.)

And our enemies understand the power of free societies. They understand that the spread of freedom will be a major defeat for their dark vision. And so freedom -- those who long for freedom in Iraq, and those who help the Iraqis to see freedom, and those who long for freedom in Afghanistan, and those who are helping the Afghans achieve freedom faced deadly and determined enemies. We're fighting those enemies with skill and courage.

You know, our American soldiers not only are showing great courage and bravery, but they're showing great respect for the cultures of those countries. That's because we have sent decent people into harm's way, good, honorable men and women who represent the best of America.

These are difficult tasks, I know, and they're hard tasks. And people wonder whether we'll succeed. I know that. But I'm here to tell you, these are essential tasks for our security and for peace of the world. You see, by fighting the terrorists in distance land -- distant lands, you are making sure your fellow citizens do not face them here at home. (Applause.) By helping the rise of democracy in Iraq and throughout the world, you are giving people and alternative to bitterness and hatred, and that is essential to the peace of the world.

This week, President Karzai came to the White House and the U.S. Capitol, and thanked the American people, and thanked our soldiers and their families, for helping to free his country and for being a friend. The President of Iraq came to America last week and expressed his gratitude, as well. These are thankful people, because they know what you've done. They've seen firsthand the power of liberation. See, they have seen our mission. We don't come to conquer, we come to liberate. (Applause.) And we will stand with them until their freedom is secure.

We're moving forward with a five-point plan for Iraqi self-government. We're handing over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government; we're encouraging more international support for the Iraqi transition; we're helping the Iraqis take responsibility for their own security; we're continuing to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure; and we are moving toward free elections. A turning point will come in less than two weeks. On June the 30th, full sovereignty will be transferred to the interim government. The Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, an American embassy will open in the capital of a free Iraq. (Applause.)

Iraq's new leaders are rising to their responsibilities. That's what you're seeing. They're assuming responsibility. Our coalition and the United Nations are working to prepare the way for national elections. The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to endorse the Iraqi interim government and their plans for political transition. The Iraqi people are making steady progress toward a free society in a partnership with the United States of America and many other nations. And we will not let thugs and killers stand in the way of democracy in Iraq. (Applause.)

It is essential that Iraq gain the means of self-defense. So we're now leading an international effort to train new Iraqi security forces. You see, there are now 200,000 Iraqis on duty or in training in various branches of the Iraqi security operations. And we need work. We need more -- there's more work to do. They need to work better -- I know that. And one way to do so is to build Iraqi chains of command, because Iraqi citizens, naturally, want to take orders from Iraqi officers. So we're helping to prepare a new generation of Iraqi military commanders who will take the lead in defending their country.

And we're beginning to see results of people stepping up to defend themselves. Iraqi police and Civil Defense Corps have captured several wanted terrorists, including Umar Boziani. He was a key lieutenant of this killer named Zarqawi who's ordering the suiciders inside of Iraq. By the way, he was the fellow who was in Baghdad at times prior to our arrival. He was operating out of Iraq. He was an al Qaeda associate. See, he was there before we came; he's there after we came. And we'll find him. And he will be brought to justice, for the sake of peace and security. (Applause.)

The Commander of Task Force Olympia -- you might have heard of him -- Brigadier General Carter Ham -- (applause) -- said recently about a response by Iraqi forces in Mosul that the Iraqi forces "stood strong." I suspect General Ham is someone who likes to tell the truth. In Najaf, Iraqi police are back on the streets. The citizens are glad to see them there. See, they want what we want. They want their families to grow up in a peaceful society. In al Kharma, soldiers of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps were awarded medals for valor after battling insurgents and rescuing a wounded Marine. "I feel very, very bad the Marine was shot because they're like my brothers," said one of the decorated Iraqi soldiers, "but I'm ready to go out again. I'm always ready," he said.

You see, these brave Iraqis are setting an example for their fellow citizens. They're staying in the fight. They're taking the battle to the terrorists and the foreign fighters and the Saddam holdouts. They're securing a future of liberty and opportunity for their children and their grandchildren. And when the history of modern Iraq is written, the people of Iraq will know their freedom was finally secured by the courage and the sacrifice of Iraqi patriots. (Applause.)

The future of a free Iraq is now coming into view. As the interim government assumes sovereignty, and Iraq security forces defend their country, our coalition will play a supporting role. And this is an essential part of our strategy for success. Terrorists who attack a self-governing Iraq are showing who they really are. They're not fighting foreign forces. They're fighting the Iraqi people. They're the enemies of democracy and hope. They are the enemies of a peaceful future for Iraq.

As President al-Yawar said last week, "These people who are doing these things are the armies of the darkness." That's what the President said, of Iraq. These are the enemies of the Iraqi nation. They are trying to take Iraq back to the dark ages that we used to live in, until last year. The President and I share the same resolve -- Iraq will never return to the dark ages of tyranny. Iraq will be a free nation. (Applause.)

At the same time that we're helping the Iraqis bring the terrorists to justice, we're helping the Iraqi people to rebuild the basic infrastructure of their country. This is tough work. It's hard work. It's hard work to go from a society terrorized by a tyrant to a free society. But we have done this kind of work before. I want you to listen to how The New York Times described conditions in Germany in November, 1946. This was 18 months after the fall of Berlin. "Germany is a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. The basic elements of recovery and peace are lacking. European capitals are frightened by the prospect of a German collapse. In every military headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their best to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy they admit has failed."

Fortunately, the pessimists did not have their day. Fortunately, our predecessors had great faith in the power of free societies to change society. Fortunately, our predecessors stood firm in the face of cynicism and doubt. Because, you see, we helped the German people rise above hunger and hopelessness. We helped them resist the designs of the Soviet Union. We overcame many obstacles because we knew that the hope for a secure America was a peaceful and democratic Europe. (Applause.)

We face the same challenges today. It's just in a different part of the world. There are those who doubt, there are those who are pessimistic. Fourteen months have passed since the fall of Baghdad -- 14 months. And today, in spite of the insurgency, in spite of the attempts of the terrorists, Iraq's economy is moving forward and democracy is taking hold. Most Iraqi cities and many towns now have local councils chosen by their communities, which are handling problems such as trash collection and traffic, sanitation and education. More than 170 newspapers have begun publishing. Dozens of political parties have formed. At one Iraqi university, a team is translating the great works of democracy into Arabic. (Applause.)

Life is getting better for the Iraqi people who have suffered for decades. Our coalition has rehabilitated thousands of schools. We're training thousands of secondary school teachers in modern teaching methods. Electric power is being restored, despite continued attacks, and is no longer distributed based on loyalty to Saddam Hussein. (Applause.) Iraqi oil revenues have now reached more than $11 billion since liberation. And as Prime Minister Allawi pointed out last week, those revenues are not being used to build gaudy palaces for Saddam Hussein, they're being used to serve the Iraqi people. (Applause.)

With each step forward on the path to self-government and self-reliance, the terrorists will grow more desperate and more violent. They see Iraqis taking their country back. They see freedom taking root. And these killers know they have no future in a free Iraq. They want us to abandon our mission -- that's what they want. They want us to break our word. And so they're attacking us and they're attacking free Iraqis. They don't understand our country. They don't understand our resolve. When America says we'll do something, we are going to do it and finish the job. (Applause.)

We're not intimidated, and neither is the new Iraqi Prime Minister. He went to the scene of yesterday's bombing in Baghdad. He stood amongst the rubble. He said, "This was a cowardly attack." He said, "We're going to face these escalations. The Iraqi people are going to prevail and the government of Iraq is determined to go ahead in confronting the enemies, whether they are here in Iraq or anywhere else in the world." That's what the Prime Minister of Iraq said. He and I share the same determination.

You see, these terrorists will fail. They will fail, because the Iraqi people will not accept a return to tyranny. They will fail because the resolve of America and our allies will not be shaken. And they will fail because of the courageous men and women like you who are standing in their way. (Applause.)

All who serve in the United States military can take great pride in the work you've accomplished. Your fellow citizens know your work is not easy. The days are hot, the mission is hard work. Many of you faced long deployments, sometimes longer than you expected. You've missed your families, and, believe me, they miss you. You've said farewell to brave friends who did not return. We pray for their families. We pray that the good Lord will comfort them in their grief. Our nation will never forget their sacrifice and their service.

All of you are sacrificing for the cause of this country, and America has needed that sacrifice. By standing for the cause of freedom, you're making our world more peaceful. By fighting terrorists abroad, you're making the American people more secure at home. And by acting in the best traditions of duty and honor, you're making our country and your Commander-in-Chief very proud.

May God bless you. (Applause.)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 PM


Pelosi: 'Bush Administration Misrepresents (P.R.Newswire, 6/18/2004)

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today after Vice President Cheney's mischaracterization of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda:

"For nearly three years, the Bush Administration has misrepresented the depth of the relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda. They continue to do so, even after the 9/11 Commission concluded this week that there is no evidence of a working association between Iraq and al Qaeda, despite evidence of some contacts over a 10-year period.

"Last night in a TV interview, Vice President Cheney mischaracterized the commission's findings when he said: 'The notion that there is no relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda just simply is not true.'

"The Commission did not say there was 'no relationship;' it said there was no 'collaborative relationship.' That's an important distinction."

Okay, we'll bite: how much of a relationship would our enemies be allowed to develop with al Qaeda before a Democratic administration did something about it?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 PM


The Plain Truth (NY Times, June 17, 2004)

It's hard to imagine how the commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks could have put it more clearly yesterday: there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda...

So, since the Times considers the Commission's opinion to be dispositive, can we assume that having read this they'll apologize to the Administration:
"[T]here were connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government." (Lee H. Hamilton, September 11th Commission Vice Chair, 6/17/04)

What about the dupes who fell for the Times's lies, Anti-anti-Saddamism (William Kristol, 06/28/2004, Weekly Standard)
PERHAPS JOHN KERRY simply made the mistake of believing what he read in the New York Times. There it was, the lead headline on Thursday, June 17: "Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie." Or perhaps he read the Los Angeles Times headline: "No Signs of Iraq-Al Qaeda Ties Found." Or the Washington Post: "Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed." Or maybe he was watching CBS News the night before, as John Roberts explained that "one of President Bush's last surviving justifications for war in Iraq" took "a devastating hit" as the 9/11 Commission "put the nail in that connection" between Saddam and al Qaeda.

So Kerry pounced. No matter that this coverage ranged from tendentious to false. The Bush administration, he claimed, "misled America." "The administration took its eye off al Qaeda, took its eye off of the real war on terror in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan and transferred it for reasons of its own to Iraq." And "the United States of America should never go to war because it wants to; we should only go to war because we have to."

So we didn't have to go to war against Saddam, and (presumably) shouldn't have. After all, "the real war on terror" is in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan. And since the Bush administration, Kerry implies, knew perfectly well that there was no link between the "real" terrorists and Saddam Hussein, it went to war to remove Saddam only "because it want[ed] to." The New York Times reports, incidentally, that this last line, about the
administration "wanting" to go to war, is "one Mr. Kerry has been using with increasing frequency in campaign appearances," and is one that receives "loud applause." Why any administration should "want" to fight an unnecessary war Kerry does not explain. Or does Kerry now agree with his colleague Ted Kennedy that the Bush administration went to war because it knew it "was going to be good politically"?

This is surely a major moment in the presidential race. John Kerry had, until last week, been running a disciplined general election campaign, carefully suppressing his left-leaning foreign policy instincts, soberly emphasizing his commitment to fighting the war on terror and to seeing through the effort in Iraq. Then he couldn't resist the temptation to jump on the (misleading) press accounts of the (sloppy) 9/11 Commission staff report, in order to assault the Bush administration on the issue of terror links between Saddam and al Qaeda.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 PM


Paris arrests 'used to seal Iran deals' (Henry Samuel, 19/06/2004, Daily Telegraph)

France has been accused of agreeing to a crackdown on exiled opponents of Iran in return for lucrative commercial contracts.

Lawyers for France's human rights league, speaking on the anniversary of a huge police raid on the National Council of Resistance of Iran near Paris, pointed out "troubling coincidences" in the timing of the operation and a series of deals with Teheran.

Having happily traded Jews for nylons it can't be too difficult to swap Muslims for millions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 PM


The Ronald Reagan Effect?: President Bush's lead over Kerry widens and Cabinet members' ratings also rise (Harris Interactive, June 18, 2004)

Is it the effect of the nation's memories of Ronald Reagan or the expanding economy? Whatever the cause, the latest Harris Poll has a lot of good news for President Bush and the Republicans. The good news includes:

* A very modest improvement in President Bush's job ratings (which is within the possible margin of sampling error) to 50% positive, 49% negative.

* Significantly improved job ratings for Vice President Dick Cheney (from 36% positive to 42% positive), Secretary of State Colin Powell (from 63% positive to 67% positive), and Attorney General John Ashcroft (from 40% positive to 43% positive).

* Improved ratings for the Republicans in Congress (from 35% to 39% positive), House Speaker Dennis Hastert (from 25% to 29% positive), and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (from 26% to 30% positive).

However, the most startling change in the new Harris Poll compared to a comparable survey in April, is that President Bush has widened his lead over Senator John Kerry, from three points among likely voters then to 10 points now.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 PM


Daggers drawn over the dinner table (George Jones and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, 19/06/2004, Daily Telegraph)

The 10 new entrants to the European Union must yesterday have been wondering what sort of club they had entered.

At their first summit as full members, they were treated to a spectacle of bitter wrangling by EU leaders over who should take charge of the executive machinery. "This was not a happy family event," one diplomat said yesterday.

On Thursday night, the eve of the 189th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, they sat down on the 24th floor of the Justus Lipsuis buildings to a dinner of wild Irish smoked salmon, Wicklow lamb with asparagus and Irish farmhouse cheeses, washed down with Chateau MacCarthy, St Estephe, 2000.

Pat Cox, the Irish president of the European Parliament, said yesterday that the EU leaders "suffered a degree of indigestion".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 PM


GOP has star-power dilemma: How will party use Schwarzenegger? (Carla Marinucci, June 18, 2004, SF Chronicle)

With less than three months to go before the Republican National Convention in New York City, a prime-time cliffhanger is in the works over whether the Bush camp will use it or lose it -- the megawatt influence and star power of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Among the most sensitive issues is whether Schwarzenegger, a GOP marquee name, will be given a prized prime-time speaking spot at the party's presidential convention August 30-Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden.

On the pro side: As the party's star actor, Schwarzenegger would get worldwide attention, and -- to the delight of networks -- draw millions of potential viewers to the now scripted-for-television political convention.

On the con side: The White House worries about lavishing too much attention on one Republican elected official who has shown an uncanny ability to upstage the party's star, Bush himself. A prominent role for Schwarzenegger also could anger the Republican right wing, which opposes his social views on such issues as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Let him introduce Condi for her acceptance speech--she's a Californian--and the rest of the week he does the morning news shows.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:05 PM


Reports: Al Qaeda Leader in Saudi Arabia Killed (Fox News, June 18, 2004)

The leader of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia was killed Friday, Arab satellite stations Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera reported.

The news was given in a scrolling news bar at the bottom of the screens.

Abdulaziz al-Moqrin is at the top of the list of suspects in Saudi Arabia and is believed to be the leader of the group calling itself Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which claimed responsibility for the beheading of American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr.

Reportedly he and two others were killed while disposing of the bodies. The Sa'uds appear to be doing better than we're doing with al-Zarqawi.

Qaeda Beheads American in Saudi Then Chief Killed (Ghaida Ghantous, 6/18/04, Reuters)

Al Qaeda militants in Saudi Arabia beheaded American hostage Paul Johnson Friday and their leader was then killed in a shootout with security forces as he tried to dispose of the body, Saudi officials said.

Abdulaziz al-Muqrin's Islamist group displayed photographs of the 49-year-old aviation engineer's severed head on a Web site. Shortly afterwards, as Muqrin and two other top militants deposited the body in the capital Riyadh, they were surrounded by Saudi security men and gunned down, a security source said.

Muqrin, a young man driven by revenge and hatred for the United States and its Arab allies, was Saudi Arabia's most wanted al Qaeda leader. His death will be portrayed as a major blow to Saudi-born Osama bin Laden by the kingdom's rulers, once chided by their U.S. allies as being soft on terrorism.

"will be portrayed"? Why isn't it?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:25 PM



Sen. Ted Kennedy, one of America's most prominent Catholic politicians, has ripped into Pope John Paul II over threats to deny Communion to his close ally, Democratic nominee-to-be John Kerry, a new report claims.

Ted Kennedy vs. The Pope? The last time we saw a match-up like this Regan MacNeil hung in the balance.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:16 PM


Nader, Although Weaker, May Reprise His Spoiler Role: In what's expected to be a close race, the slightest breeze could tip the balance. (Charles E. Cook Jr., June 18, 2004, LA Times)

As paradoxical as it seems, though Ralph Nader will probably receive significantly fewer votes in his independent candidacy for president than he received in 2000, he could again easily make the difference in this year's race.

In 2000, the consumer activist got 2,882,955 votes, 2.7% of the 105,405,100 votes cast. This time, even if he were to win just a half, a quarter, even a 10th of the vote he got last time, he could still be the deciding factor. Why will Nader lose votes this year? Although the country was as highly polarized then as it is now — both between Democrats and Republicans, and along pro-Clinton/Gore and anti-Clinton/Gore lines — the George W. Bush of 2000 was a far less polarizing figure than he is today.

And this time, voters perceive significant differences between the candidates. Traveling tens of thousands of miles across the United States, meeting thousands of people in every corner and in most of the 50 states, I have yet to find a single American who didn't believe that George W. Bush and John F. Kerry would be very different presidents, taking the country in different directions. Half believes that it is very important to reelect Bush; the other half believes it equally important to replace him. Some of the latter are enthusiastic about Kerry, but for most in this half, it is "Anybody but Bush."

This seems wrong in almost all particulars:

(1) Al Gore, who isn't one, ran as an LBJ liberal. Kerry, who is one, is instead running as a moderate.

(2) Ralph Nader is polling in about the same range as he did in 2000--between 2 & 6%. And, given that Mr. Kerry supports the war--the single most important issue to the Left--the Nader candidacy makes more sense this time around than it did in 2000. Having the peace position to himself should make him a more significant candidate this time around.

(3) With the more personally popular candidate also being the incumbent in the most of an economic boom, as opposed to the challenger last time, there's little chance of this election being close enough for Mr. Nader to decide it.

Given these factors the likely effect of the Nader candidacy is to depress Mr. Kerry's vote down closer to 40% than to 50%.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:57 PM



A Federal grand jury in Manhattan returned a 238-count indictment yesterday charging the Saudi exile Osama bin Laden in the bombings of two United States Embassies in Africa in August and with conspiring to commit other acts of terrorism against Americans abroad. [...]

Both indictments offer new information about Mr. bin Laden's operations, including one deal he is said to have struck with Iraq to cooperate in the development of weapons in return for Mr. bin Laden's agreeing not to work against that country.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:47 PM


Kerry's absence from senate not reducing his impact (Scrappleface, 6/18/04, Jewish World Review)

"If you examine my 16-year record in the Senate, you'll see that I'm just as effective when I'm not there as I was when I was there," said Mr. Kerry. "The major legislation on health care, energy and homeland security that I didn't introduce then, I'm not introducing now. The colleagues who I didn't rally to my causes then, remain unrallied. I think it's disingenuous for Gov. Romney to suggest that my absence from the Senate harms America in any way."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:39 PM


After Lewinsky confession, Clinton slept on couch (HILLEL ITALIE, June 18, 2004, AP)

Bill Clinton says in his new autobiography that his wife looked as if he had punched her in the gut when he finally confessed to his affair with Monica Lewinsky, and he slept on the couch for at least two months after that.

The couch? If he were my husband he'd have been sleeping with the fishes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:33 PM


Bush, McCain meet wounded soldiers in Western stop (JESSE J. HOLLAND, June 18, 2004, Associated Press)

Surrounding himself with soldiers fresh from the battlefield, President Bush on Friday used a western campaign swing to compliment America's military for the fight against terrorism and pick up praise from Sen. John McCain, who has rebuffed overtures from Democrat John Kerry to be his running mate.

"People from all over the country join me in saying, 'Thank you for what you are doing,'" the president told hundreds of camouflage-garbed soldiers gathered in a hanger. "There is no cave or hole deep enough to hide from American justice."

McCain, a popular Republican senator who rejected calls to join Kerry's campaign on a unity ticket, praised Bush's efforts in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"You will not yield," McCain told the troops, "and neither will he."

Bush, in turn, praised McCain's work in the Senate and as a Navy pilot. "It is a privilege to be introduced to the men in uniform by a man who brought credit to the uniform," Bush said.

McCain offered his support to Bush's decision to take America to war, saying it is a "just and necessary fight."

"It is a fight between right and wrong, good and evil," McCain said. "It is no more ambiguous than that."

Hard to believe he turned down a chance to be Wrong's vice president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:29 PM


American hostage beheaded (Salah Nasrawi, June 18, 2004, Associated Press)

An al-Qaida group said Friday it killed American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr, posting three photos on the Internet showing his body and severed head. [...]

In Washington, a U.S. official confirmed that Johnson had been beheaded. At the top of the list of suspects is Abdulaziz Issa Abdul-Mohsin al-Moqrin, the top al-Qaida figure in Saudi Arabia, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"In answer to what we promised ... to kill the hostage Paul Marshall (Johnson) after the period is over ... the infidel got his fair treatment,'' the al-Qaida statement said.

"Let him taste something of what Muslims have long tasted from Apache helicopter fire and missiles,'' the statement said.

Johnson, 49, who worked on Apache attack helicopter systems for Lockheed Martin, was kidnapped last weekend by militants who threatened to kill him by Friday if the kingdom did not release its al-Qaida prisoners. The Saudi government rejected the demands.

This is obviously heinous but the family was on tv yesterday asking the Administration and the Sa'uds to let the al Qaeda guys go in exchange for their Dad. That's unfortunate behavior.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:23 PM


Kerry calls for $7 an hour minimum wage (UPI, 6/18/04)

U.S. presidential hopeful John Kerry said Friday the minimum wage should be increased to $7 an hour as part of an economic plan announced this week.

The junior senator from Massachusetts and likely Democratic Party nominee for president said the increase from the current $5.15 an hour to $7 an hour by 2007 would mean raises for some 7.4 million workers.

NPR just played a clip in which the Senator accidentally refuted the Democrats entire health care coverage argument. He asked a young woman--who apparently earns minimum wage--if she had health coverage:


Does that worry you?


Have you been sick & needed coverage?


So you have the Bush Plan: Pray you don't get sick.

The point--which he, of course, missed--is that young people don't really need health coverage, just a catastrophic plan is adequate and then they could pay for the few things they do need out of pocket. Or, even better, put them in Health Savings Accounts and all those years when they're young and healthy and don't consume much medical care would allow them to build up a huge amount of savings for when they do need it, money they could borrow against over the course of their lives for other pressing needs.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:06 PM


Putin: Russia Warned U.S. of Possible Iraq Attack (Kim Murphy, June 18, 2004, LA Times)

In a move whose timing is widely seen in Russian political circles as an attempt to support Bush's reelection, Putin said Russian agents received information after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that Iraqi agents were plotting strikes against other U.S. targets, both at home and abroad.

"After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services several times received information that the official services of the Saddam regime were preparing terrorist acts on the United States, and beyond its borders against the U.S. military and other interests," Putin told reporters during a visit to the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.

"This information was passed on to our American colleagues," he said.

But Putin said Russia had no reason to believe that Iraq had engineered any attacks.

The Russian president's confirmation comes a day after an unnamed Russian intelligence officer made a similar revelation to the Interfax news agency. That officer was critical of the report this week from the U.S. commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, which found there was "no credible evidence" that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated in attacks against the United States. It said reports of contacts between the two did not appear to have resulted in a "collaborative relationship."

Then why'd they oppose the war?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:17 PM


Kerry advisers tell hopeful to 'keep cool' on religion (Julia Duin, June 18, 2004, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

Sen. John Kerry's advisers are telling the presidential candidate to steer clear of talking about religion after running afoul of several Catholic bishops and after the campaign's new director of religious outreach was criticized this week for espousing left-wing causes.

The Rev. Robert Drinan, a Jesuit priest who served in Congress during the 1970s, says he has advised the campaign to clamp down on religious rhetoric and "keep cool on the Communion thing" after four Catholic bishops either barred Mr. Kerry by name from taking Communion in their dioceses or said pro-choice Catholics should be denied the sacrament. [...]

Meanwhile, the Kerry campaign also has sidelined its new religion adviser, closing journalists' access to Mara Vanderslice and ignoring her advice on how to appeal effectively to religious voters.

"Every time something with religious language got sent up the flagpole, it got sent back down, stripped of religious language," a Kerry campaign source said of Miss Vanderslice's ideas on overcoming Mr. Kerry's secular image.

The campaign source also said former Clinton aides Paul Begala, John Podesta and Mike McCurry have tutored campaign operatives on more aggressively using religion to appeal to voters.

"Why the campaign is not listening to any of them, I don't know," the source said. "Conservatives are about 20 years ahead of us on this stuff."

Two hundred years behind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:10 PM


The Real Inquisition: Investigating the popular myth. (Thomas F. Madden, 6/18/04, National Review)

[H]istorians have long known that the popular view of the Inquisition is a myth. So what is the truth?

To understand the Inquisition we have to remember that the Middle Ages were, well, medieval. We should not expect people in the past to view the world and their place in it the way we do today. (You try living through the Black Death and see how it changes your attitude.) For people who lived during those times, religion was not something one did just at church. It was science, philosophy, politics, identity, and hope for salvation. It was not a personal preference but an abiding and universal truth. Heresy, then, struck at the heart of that truth. It doomed the heretic, endangered those near him, and tore apart the fabric of community.

The Inquisition was not born out of desire to crush diversity or oppress people; it was rather an attempt to stop unjust executions. Yes, you read that correctly. Heresy was a crime against the state. Roman law in the Code of Justinian made it a capital offense. Rulers, whose authority was believed to come from God, had no patience for heretics. Neither did common people, who saw them as dangerous outsiders who would bring down divine wrath. When someone was accused of heresy in the early Middle Ages, they were brought to the local lord for judgment, just as if they had stolen a pig or damaged shrubbery (really, it was a serious crime in England). Yet in contrast to those crimes, it was not so easy to discern whether the accused was really a heretic. For starters, one needed some basic theological training — something most medieval lords sorely lacked. The result is that uncounted thousands across Europe were executed by secular authorities without fair trials or a competent assessment of the validity of the charge.

The Catholic Church's response to this problem was the Inquisition, first instituted by Pope Lucius III in 1184. It was born out of a need to provide fair trials for accused heretics using laws of evidence and presided over by knowledgeable judges. From the perspective of secular authorities, heretics were traitors to God and the king and therefore deserved death. From the perspective of the Church, however, heretics were lost sheep who had strayed from the flock. As shepherds, the pope and bishops had a duty to bring them back into the fold, just as the Good Shepherd had commanded them. So, while medieval secular leaders were trying to safeguard their kingdoms, the Church was trying to save souls. The Inquisition provided a means for heretics to escape death and return to the community.

As this new report confirms, most people accused of heresy by the Inquisition were either acquitted or their sentences suspended. Those found guilty of grave error were allowed to confess their sin, do penance, and be restored to the Body of Christ. The underlying assumption of the Inquisition was that, like lost sheep, heretics had simply strayed. If, however, an inquisitor determined that a particular sheep had purposely left the flock, there was nothing more that could be done. Unrepentant or obstinate heretics were excommunicated and given over to secular authorities. Despite popular myth, the Inquisition did not burn heretics. It was the secular authorities that held heresy to be a capital offense, not the Church. The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.

During the 13th century the Inquisition became much more formalized in its methods and practices. Highly trained Dominicans answerable to the Pope took over the institution, creating courts that represented the best legal practices in Europe. As royal authority grew during the 14th century and beyond, control over the Inquisition slipped out of papal hands and into those of kings. Instead of one Inquisition there were now many. Despite the prospect of abuse, monarchs like those in Spain and France generally did their best to make certain that their inquisitions remained both efficient and merciful. During the 16th century, when the witch craze swept Europe, it was those areas with the best-developed inquisitions that stopped the hysteria in its tracks. In Spain and Italy, trained inquisitors investigated charges of witches' sabbaths and baby roasting and found them to be baseless. Elsewhere, particularly in Germany, secular or religious courts burned witches by the thousands.

Compared to other medieval secular courts, the Inquisition was positively enlightened.

Trying to derive the truth about the Inquisition from the writings of Protestant and secular propagandists isn't terrinbly different than trying to derive the truth about Judaism from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:37 PM


Blair launches broadside at 'dictator' Chirac (Joe Murphy, 6/18/04, Evening Standard)

Tony Blair fired a blistering attack at Jacques Chirac today, accusing the French president of trying to dictate to the rest of Europe.

In unusually brutal language, he charged President Chirac with treating countries including Britain as "second-class" states and acting as though only France and Germany mattered.

Mr Blair was almost equally tough with German chancellor Gerhard Schrˆder, named and shamed for using "unfortunate" tactics at the Brussels summit. His official spokesman - referring to French and German efforts to impose their choice as the new president of the European Commission - said no country should order the others around.

"We accept it is not for us to dictate who is the next president," said the spokesman. "Equally that is not for others to do. What we all have to accept is we are now in a Europe of 25 - not of six, or two, or one."

No one at today's summit was left in any doubt about the target of Mr Blair's assault, scripted after a night pondering a tirade by President Chirac at a dinner for the 25 leaders last night.

The pair later squared up in a "heated" confrontation, diplomatic sources revealed. Mr Chirac was accused of bullying and insulting

leaders of small countries who refused to support him against Mr Blair.

Mr Blair's counter-attack today appeared to be an open challenge to Franco-German dominance of the EU, and a bid to rally the newly joined former eastern bloc states.

Mr. Blair would seem to have realized that he can ride the well-deserved British hatred of the Germans and French to another term as PM.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:43 AM

60-40 NATION:

A Nation Divided? Who Says? (JOHN TIERNEY, 6/13/04, NY Times)

If you've been following the election coverage, you know how angry you're supposed to be. This has been called the Armageddon election in the 50-50 nation, a civil war between the Blue and the Red states, a clash between churchgoers and secularists hopelessly separated by a values chasm and a culture gap.

But do Americans really despise the beliefs of half of their fellow citizens? Have Americans really changed so much since the day when a candidate with Ronald Reagan's soothing message could carry 49 of 50 states?

To some scholars, the answer is no. They say that our basic differences have actually been shrinking over the past two decades, and that the polarized nation is largely a myth created by people inside the Beltway talking to each another or, more precisely, shouting at each other.

These academics say it's not the voters but the political elite of both parties who have become more narrow-minded and polarized. As Norma Desmond might put it: We're still big. It's the parties that got smaller.

Just because a state votes red or blue in a presidential election doesn't mean that its voters are fixed permanently on one side of a political divide or culture gap. The six bluest states in 2000, the ones where George W. Bush fared worst - Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii, Connecticut and Maryland - all have Republican governors. Even California went red last year when Arnold Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican, became governor.

Mr. Tierney is about as good as it gets at the Times, so it can only be his libertarianism that prevents him from seeing the point of his own story: the nation has shifted back towards the Right after the long New Deal/Great Society interlude and is now back to being a 60-40 Nation--as those Republicans governors in putatively Blue states demonstrate and as will be punctuated by this Fall's presidential and congressional landslides.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 AM

50-0 FILES:

Poll: Bush Has the Highest Number of Positive Supporters in Recent History, Kerry the Lowest (George W. Bush: Official Blog, 6/18/04)

A Pew poll out today shows a seven-point shift in President Bush's direction in the election and rising confidence in the mission in Iraq. Furthermore, the poll confirms something we've suspected for a long time, while President Bush's grassroots overwhelmingly supports him because of his leadership and positive agenda, an unusually low number of Kerry supporters are inspired anything having to do with the candidate's agenda or leadership qualities. For Kerry supporters, it's mostly about anger.

73% of President Bush’s supporters say that their choice is a vote "for" him, rather than a vote "against" Kerry, while just 37% of Kerry’s supporters say that their vote is "for" him. Pew has been asking this question since 1988, and Kerry had the lowest percentage of positive support ever while President Bush had the highest.

You really need to check out their chart to get the full impact of the divergence here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 AM


Bush Spends a Long Day (and Night) on the Trail (ELISABETH BUMILLER, 6/18/04, NY Times)

President Bush swooped into Spokane on Thursday night to raise $750,000 for Representative George Nethercutt, the Republican who is challenging Senator Patty Murray for a seat in a politically competitive state important to Mr. Bush's re-election chances in November. [...]

Mr. Bush included in his speech a lengthy quotation from a 1946 New York Times article describing the occupation of postwar Germany, some two years before the Marshall Plan began pouring billions of dollars into what became a successful reconstruction.

"In every military headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their best to deal with the consequences of an occupation policy that they admit has failed," Mr. Bush read aloud from the article.

The lesson for Iraq, he said, was optimism.

"Fortunately, my predecessors were not pessimistic people," Mr. Bush said, adding that "someday an American president will be sitting discussing world peace with a duly elected leader from Iraq."

On Friday, Mr. Bush is to appear at stops in Fort Lewis, Wash., and Reno, Nev., Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who ran a bitter race against Mr. Bush in the 2000 presidential primaries.

Washington is one of the Senate seats they'll pick up if this race gets ugly enough in the Fall--current economic numbers suggest it'll be coyote ugly.

State's voters split on 2004 Presidential race (Seattle Biz Journal, 6/18/04)

The early stages of the presidential race is a dead heat in Washington, with 44 percent of Washington residents supporting President George Bush and 45 percent saying they would vote for Democrat challenger Sen. John Kerry, according to a poll by Moore Information, a public-opinion research firm based in Portland, Ore.

Four percent of the respondents supported third-party candidate Ralph Nader, while the remaining 7 percent of voters were undecided.

Moore Information surveyed 500 Washington voters between June 9 and June 11. The poll's sampling error margin is plus or minus 4 percent, making the polling results for Bush and Kerry too close to call.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM


Couple has goodnight kiss, but no tongue (Chicago Sun-Times, June 18, 2004)

A goodnight kiss turned into a man's nightmare when his girlfriend bit off part of his tongue.

The 43-year-old woman told police she became frightened Wednesday morning when her boyfriend squeezed her too tightly while they kissed -- and her reflex was to bite down.

''I guess I bit down too hard,'' the woman told officers, adding that she has been victimized by men in the past.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 AM


In praise of English (George Weigel, June 16, 2004, The Catholic Difference)

[E]ven as I regret not being able to work comfortably in four or five languages, I continue to exult in English. It’s frequently said that English has become the world language because of its plasticity, its ability to create and absorb new words as the technological revolution roars ahead at full throttle. There’s certainly something to that. Still, I’d argue that what gives English its unique strength is not so much its flexibility as its subtlety.

Why is it important, as Waugh said, that English has several, slightly-differently-shaded words for every idea? Because that gives English an unparalleled capacity to capture in language the human drama, with all its own subtle shades of difference and nuances of meaning. English gives us the human world in technicolor, with pastels and greys and chiaroscuro as well as bright primary colors.

Is it possible to love your native language? I hope so. Because mine is eminently lovable. Why? Because it’s eminently human and thus, in a sacramental perspective, eminently revelatory of the divine.

Even God chose to speak to Man in the English of King James.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:03 AM


Hungary quits pro-Palestinian UN panel (Melissa Radler Jun. 17, 2004, Jerusalem Post)

The Hungarian mission to the United Nations received accolades this week from its Israeli counterparts and US Jewish groups for resigning from a UN committee best known for promoting the Palestinian cause and denouncing Israel.

According to the Hungarian mission's counselor on the Middle East, Levente Szekely, Hungary resigned from the UN Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People ahead of joining the European Union...

Gee, from the name who would have guessed they carried Palestinian water?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 AM


Quantum leap to evil: Hidden in the ancient words of this week's Torah (Bible) portion are timeless lessons about reaching human perfection (Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, 6/18/04, Jewish World Review)

When one reads the account of Korach's rebellion (Numbers 16:1-35), one is astounded by the incident. Not only was Moses the one who led the Jews from Egypt, but all the Israelites were eyewitnesses to the many miracles that were wrought through him. They saw him wave his staff over the Reed Sea, causing the waters to divide. There could be no doubt that he was commissioned by G-d to be the leader. How could anyone question the authenticity of Moses' leadership? It simply defies all logic. [...]

Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz (Sichos Mussar 5731:21) helps us understand this. He cites the Talmudic statement, ''Envy, lust and pursuit of acclaim remove a person from the world'' (Ethics of the Fathers 4:28). The expression ''remove a person from the world'' is rather strange. Rabbi Shmulevitz explains that the usual deviation from proper behavior is a very gradual one. The Talmud says that the tactic of the yetzer hara (Evil Inclination) is to seduce a person to commit a very minor infraction, then lead him on to progressively more serious transgressions (Shabbos 108b). That is the nature and order of the world. The yetzer hara will not entice a person into doing something patently absurd.

However, if a person is overtaken by envy, one escapes the natural order of the world. One is no longer bound by logic. The passion of envy can be so great that it can overwhelm all rational thought, and leave one vulnerable to the yetzer hara's seduction to behave in the most irrational manner. Envy indeed removes a person from the natural order of the world.

That is what happened with Korach. Moses understood this, and delayed the trial until the next day (see Rashi to Numbers 16:5).

The Korach episode conveys a most important teaching. We are all vulnerable to envy, and envy is not a difficult emotion to identify. If you feel yourself being envious, do nothing for a while. Envy can suspend all logical thinking and make one do things that one will regret.

The desire for liberty can lead, at one extreme, to a monstrous selfishness and a return to the animalistic state of nature. So, at the other extreme, the desire for equality, which proceeds from envy, leads to a complete departure from nature and the murderous imposition of dystopia. Sadly for Man's recent history, two powerful prophets came along in the mid-19th century to justify these two anti-human extremes: Darwin on the one end and Marx on the other. Our awesome task is to return to being human again and: Love one another. The evidence of Europe suggests this task will be too much for most.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 AM


Jacek Kuron, of Solidarity, Dies at 70 (MICHAEL T. KAUFMAN, 6/18/04, NY Times)

Jacek Kuron, who inspired and tutored generations of Poles to struggle against Communist rule, serving as the ultimately successful godfather of a resistance that coalesced around the Solidarity labor union movement, died yesterday in Warsaw. He was 70 years old and had been ill for more than a year.

A spokesman for the Hospital of the Interior Ministry announced his death, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Kuron's death came under the jurisdiction of the same ministry that had been his host for an imprisonment of almost 10 years in the Communist era. At the end, however, it was a benevolent ministry in a democratic Poland that cared for him as an honored citizen who had helped to bring about Poland's emergence from totalitarian rule...

That last paragraph is as good an epitaph as a man could hope for in this life.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 AM


Pakistan kills tribal leader (CNN, June 18, 2004)

A tribal leader accused of harboring al Qaeda militants in Pakistan's western border region was killed Thursday night in a targeted missile strike, along with four other suspected militants, according to Pakistan intelligence sources.

Pakistan stepped up its hunt for Nek Mohammed after he claimed responsibility for the attempted assassination of Karachi's top military officer, last week.

After leading the fight against Pakistani forces in March, Mohammed agreed to cooperate with the army in their search for al Qaeda militants and remnants of Afghanistan's Taliban regime, hiding in Pakistan's tribal areas near the Pakistani-Afghan border.

However, the Pakistani government later accused Mohammed of reneging on that deal, and declared him a wanted man.

Maj. General Shaukat Sultan told CNN Mohammed was an al Qaeda agent.

If they just happen to be effective it's a bonus; the real point here is that the Pakistani government is willing to take on its internal menace.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 AM


Teenagers' Graduation Proves Activist's Vision: For the class of '04 at a Lennox-area charter school, education continues after diploma. (Jean Merl, June 18, 2004, LA Times)

Steve Barr, 44, has no formal background in education, but he parlayed his considerable political savvy and enviable connections into the founding of Green Dot Public Schools, the Inglewood-based nonprofit launching pad for his education improvement ideas.

Barr's vision was to open small charter schools in crowded, urban neighborhoods whose schools are plagued by high dropout rates and low achievement. And he wanted to show that it could be done for the same — or less — funding given to public schools. [...]

When California authorized the establishment of charter schools in 1992, Barr soon found another avenue for his activism.

Charter schools are tax-funded, public campuses that are allowed to operate free of many education code regulations with the expectation that their innovations will improve student achievement. California has about 500 charter schools.

Friendly with some leaders in the charter school movement, including Silicon Valley entrepreneur Reed Hastings, now a member of the state Board of Education, Barr began planning his own charters in the Los Angeles area.

Using his life savings of about $100,000, Barr founded Green Dot in 1999. Collaborating with nearby Loyola Marymount University and the Lennox School District, he opened Animo (Spanish for "spirit" or "vigor") in the fall of 2000.

The school leases space from the University of West Los Angeles law school; Barr hopes to buy the building or another campus nearby. He drew no salary in the beginning but, starting a year and half ago, began earning $130,000 a year.

School officials in Lennox, a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade district, sponsored the charter because they wanted an alternative for their students, well over half of whom dropped out of high schools in the Centinela Valley Union district.

Despite opposition from the Inglewood Unified School District, which was starting an honors high school, Barr opened his second charter, Animo Inglewood High School, with state approval in 2002.

Both Animos outperform regular public schools in their area. On the 2003 California Academic Performance Index, for example, Animo Leadership earned 649 out of a possible 1,000 points and received a statewide ranking of 5, placing it in the middle tier of all the state's high schools. By contrast, Leuzinger High School scored 518 with a ranking of 1, putting it among the bottom schools in the state. Hawthorne High scored 528, also ranking in the bottom. Lawndale High, scoring 589, earned a 3 ranking.

Each class of 140 students at the Green Dot schools was chosen by lottery from twice as many applicants, not by academic achievement or other measures. However, officials acknowledge that they are likely to attract the more motivated families and students.

Ninety-eight percent of Animo Leadership students are Latinos, and 94% qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches, a common indicator of low family income.

"I'm very pleased with the progress he is making with these young people," said Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt F. Dorn, a former Juvenile Court judge who helped Barr make important contacts in the city. "This is a school that is headed in the right direction and provides an alternative for our parents."

Sure, alternatives are great for kids and their parents, but no good for teachers' unions, government bureaucrats, and leftist ideologues.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 AM


Word of the Day (Dictionary.com, Friday June 18, 2004)

favonian \fuh-VOH-nee-uhn\, adjective:

Pertaining to the west wind; soft; mild; gentle.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 AM


Calmer times in Israel? (Charles Krauthammer, June 18, 2004, Townhall)

While no one was looking, something historic has happened in the Middle East. The Palestinian intifada is over, and the Palestinians have lost.

For Israel, the victory is bitter. The last four years of terrorism have killed almost 1,000 Israelis and maimed thousands of others. But Israel has won strategically. The intent of the intifada was to demoralize Israel, destroy its economy, bring it to its knees and thus force it to withdraw and surrender to Palestinian demands, just as Israel withdrew in defeat from southern Lebanon in May 2000.

That did not happen. Israel's economy was certainly wounded, but it is growing again. Tourism had dwindled to almost nothing at the height of the intifada, but tourists are returning. And the Israelis were never demoralized. They kept living their lives, the young people in particular returning to cafes and discos and buses just hours after a horrific bombing. Israelis turned out to be a lot tougher and braver than the Palestinians had imagined.

The end of the intifada does not mean the end of terrorism. There was terrorism before the intifada and there will be terrorism to come. What has happened, however, is an end to systematic, regular, debilitating, unstoppable terror -- terror as a reliable weapon. At the height of the intifada, there were 9 suicide attacks in Israel killing 85 Israelis in just one month (March 2002). In the last three months, there have been none.

The overall level of violence has been reduced by more than 70 percent. How did Israel do it? By ignoring its critics and launching a two-pronged campaign of self-defense.

The Israeli withdrawal from Palestine is little different than that from Lebanon, as is the US withdrawal from Iraq, which will presumably have similar results. These terrorists movements, for all their psychoses, are ginned up with rather reasonable demands for sovereignty and freedom, at least they derive popular support from otherwise sensible people with such. Give them their state and you deflate the movement--then it's just a matter of hunting down the psychotics, a hunt made easier because the new government has an interest in getting rid of them too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 AM


Failed Preemption (Washington Post, June 18, 2004)

NINE MONTHS AGO, as a confrontation loomed between Iran and the United Nations over Iran's illicit nuclear programs, three European governments staged a preemptive operation. Flying to Tehran, the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany struck a deal with Iran's Islamic regime: The Europeans would block a referral of Iran's violations to the U.N. Security Council and provide technical cooperation, and in exchange Iran would stop its work on uranium enrichment, fully disclose its nuclear programs and accept a new U.N. protocol giving inspectors greater access. The Bush administration was upstaged; some in Paris and Berlin smugly suggested that it had been given an object lesson by the Europeans in how "soft power" could be used to manage the rogue states in President Bush's "axis of evil."

This week, with the world's attention focused on the troubled situation in Iraq, the European version of preemption is yielding its own bitter -- if less bloody -- result.

Of course the biggest difference between the two attempts at pre-emption has nothing to do with bloodshed. The fact is Saddam is gone, so our military solution worked. The mullahs still run Iran and have their nuclear program, so Europe's jaw-jaw solution failed. Lucky they can fall back on us and the Israelis.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 AM


Commission confirms links (Stephen J. Hadley, 6/17/04, USA Today)

A 9/11 commission staff report is being cited to argue that the administration was wrong about there being suspicious ties and contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda. In fact, just the opposite is true. The staff report documents such links.

The staff report concludes that:

•Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden "explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan."

•"A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting bin Laden in 1994."

•"Contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan."

Chairman Thomas Kean has confirmed: "There were contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda, a number of them, some of them a little shadowy. They were definitely there."

Following news stories, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton said he did not understand the media flap over this issue and that the commission does not disagree with the administration's assertion that there were connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government.

FOX, if no one else, played the press conference clip with Chairmen Kean and Hamilton expressing perplexity at how badly the press had covered the story of Iraq's undisputed connections to al Qaeda.

N.B. Here's the quote: SEPTEMBER 11th COMMISSION VICE-CHAIR LEE H. HAMILTON (D-IN): "I must say I have trouble understanding the flap over this [Al Qaeda ties to Iraq]. The Vice-President is saying, I think, that there were connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government. We don't disagree with that, so it seems to me the sharp differences that the press has drawn -- the media has drawn are not that apparent to me." (Lee H. Hamilton As Quoted On Fox News' "Special Report," 6/17/04)


Wrong again (Richard Miniter, June 18, 2004, Townhall)

Those who try to whitewash Saddam's record don't dispute this evidence; they just ignore it. So let's review the evidence, all of it on the public record for months or years...


[T]here are plenty of "Stalin-Roosevelt" partnerships between international terrorists and Muslim dictators. Saddam and bin Laden had common enemies, common purposes and interlocking needs. They shared a powerful hate for America and the Saudi royal family. They both saw the Gulf War as a turning point. Saddam suffered a crushing defeat which he had repeatedly vowed to avenge. Bin Laden regards the U.S. as guilty of war crimes against Iraqis and believes that non-Muslims shouldn't have military bases on the holy sands of Arabia. Al Qaeda's avowed goal for the past ten years has been the removal of American forces from Saudi Arabia, where they stood in harm's way solely to contain Saddam.

The most compelling reason for bin Laden to work with Saddam is money. Al Qaeda operatives have testified in federal courts that the terror network was always desperate for cash. Senior employees fought bitterly about the $100 difference in pay between Egyptian and Saudis (the Egyptians made more). One al Qaeda member, who was connected to the 1998 embassy bombings, told a U.S. federal court how bitter he was that bin Laden could not pay for his pregnant wife to see a doctor.

Bin Laden's personal wealth alone simply is not enough to support a profligate global organization. Besides, bin Laden's fortune is probably not as large as some imagine. Informed estimates put bin Laden's pre-Sept. 11, 2001 wealth at perhaps $30 million. $30 million is the budget of a small school district, not a global terror conglomerate. Meanwhile, Forbes estimated Saddam's personal fortune at $2 billion.

So a common enemy, a shared goal and powerful need for cash seem to have forged an alliance between Saddam and bin Laden.

June 17, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:51 PM


'Global South' flexes its trade muscle in Brazil: At trade talks this week, the world's poorer countries worked to expand trade among themselves. (Abraham McLaughlin, 6/18/04, CS Monitor)

At trade talks among 180 nations in Brazil this week, the world's poorer countries - often called the global South, even if some are above the equator - are working to expand trade among themselves. They're also flexing their bigger trade muscles in preparation for coming talks with rich neighbors up north, like the US and the European Union.

Consider that last year, for the first time in history, the US spent more on goods and services from poorer countries than from rich ones - more toys, stereos, and cars from places like China, Brazil, and South Africa than from Germany or Japan. The South's overall share of global trade has risen from 20 percent in the mid-1980s to 30 percent today, according to a new United Nations report.

As the South increasingly leverages this power, it could start to tilt the long-term balance of prosperity away from Iowa corn growers or Florida sugar producers, and toward Brazilian maize farmers and cotton growers in the African nation of Mali.

It all represents what the UN calls "the new geography of international trade." Or as Harvard University economist Robert Lawrence puts it, "It's no longer the 'G-2' " - the US and the European Union making all key decisions on global trade. Today, he says, "We have a multipolar system," in which "players like South Africa, Brazil, India, and China are much more active and capable." [...]

A deal may also be crucial to the world's poorest people. Traditional means of development - aid money doled out by rich nations - don't seem to be enough. UN development chief Mark Malloch Brown said this week that rich nations aren't meeting Millennium Development Goals they set in 2000, which aim to cut world poverty in half by 2015. In Africa, he said, at current rates, the goals won't be met for 43 years - in the year 2047.

That's why trade deals are essential. "These are the issues," says Francis Kornegay of the University of the Witwatersrand here, "that make the world go 'round."

It'll be great fun to hear the anti-globalization whackos go after the poor nations for advocating freer trade than even the developed world has been pushing for.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 PM


In the Line of Fire: Journalist Robert D. Kaplan joined U.S. Marines as they stormed Fallujah, and returned to share his impressions (Atlantic Unbound, June 15, 2004)

When The Atlantic Monthly's correspondent Robert D. Kaplan signed on this spring as an embedded journalist in Iraq, he had no way of knowing what the experience would bring. [...]

Before the call to arms came, he had felt a strong sense of kinship with these fighting men; like him "they had soft spots, they got sick, they complained." But differences announced themselves as soon as the battle preparations began. Kaplan was struck first by their strict adherence to hierarchy—what he refers to as "the incontestability of command." Whenever the most senior officer present in a given planning session made a decision, there was no further argument or discussion; deliberations simply moved efficiently on to the next matter at hand. Kaplan also became keenly aware of the pervasiveness of Christian religious sentiment among the troops. "The spirit of the U.S. military is fiercely evangelical," he writes, "even as it is fiercely ecumenical." Indeed, a few hours before the scheduled attack, a military chaplain issued a blessing in which he reminded them that it was Palm Sunday and referred to the task at hand as "a spiritual battle" and to the Marines themselves as "tools of mercy." The most stark reminder of the difference between himself and the men among whom he was embedded, however, didn't come until they were in the thick of battle. On the second night of the operation, Kaplan was with a group that had penetrated far into the city when it began to take enemy fire. Kaplan struggled to suppress his own natural instinct to flee. To his amazement, his companions ran straight toward the gunfire. [...]

During the 1980s you spent time among the Islamic holy warriors (mujahideen) in Afghanistan as they battled the Soviets. How did your experiences there compare with your more recent travels with the U.S. Marines? Were the dangers you were exposed to and the privations you endured in Afghanistan similar to what you dealt with in Iraq? How did the two very different kinds of fighting groups compare?

Traveling with the muj was much rougher. The food was awful and the relationships were somewhat stilted because of the language difficulty. By contrast, I never saw staying with the Marines as work: it was always fun. But I think the Marines could benefit in some ways by becoming more like the Afghan warriors. I believe our military future will consist of a mixture of high-tech warfare and radical low-tech unconventional warfare, which will require the ability to live off the earth like the nineteenth-century Apaches. Iraq was one of the last classic infantry wars. The Special Ops branches of the various services will dominate the future.

You describe the Marines as having a strong religious streak, which gives them "a stark belief in their own righteousness and in the iniquity of the enemy," but which also inspires them to show "compassion for innocent civilians." Given how difficult it seems to be in Iraq to sort out the troublemakers from the innocent bystanders, did the Marines have trouble determining which attitude they should take toward the Iraqis they encountered?

All the time. But the way you show compassion without needlessly putting yourself at risk is through professionalism and strict adherence to Rules of Engagement. If someone has a weapon in a hostile situation you can shoot; if not, you can't. When you detain a group of people you separate them so that they can't coordinate their stories. Beyond that you don't mistreat them, unless there's a specific purpose for the harsh treatment, and even then the treatment has to be very controlled. What I'm saying is that there is no inherent contradiction between humanitarianism and tough, controlled measures meted out to High Value Targets.

You observe that Iraqis tend to be responsive to strong shows of force—"the chieftain mentality," you write, "is particularly prevalent" in Iraq. Does that suggest to you that the U.S. military in Iraq should be focusing more on displays of power than on displays of kindness and cultural sensitivity? (How effective are gestures like having U.S. troops in Iraq grow moustaches?)

The moustaches were very effective, according to what Iraqis told me. The Marines made it quite clear to the Fallujah insurgents in the first days there how tough they were. And the Army has been displaying the same kind of toughness in the Shiite south. But toughness and cultural sensitivity can go hand in hand. As General Jim Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division, says about his Marines in regards to the Iraqis: "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy."

Mr. Kaplan underlines the degree to which this is a religious war fought by crusaders--as most American wars have been--and implicitly raises an interesting question: in a society where the two parties are diverging so completely on the question of religious faith and the military tilts so heavily towards one party's position, is there a danger that at some point a vital institution might become totally alienated from the political leadership of the country. The Clinton administration gave us a small foretaste of the possibility.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:16 PM


Iraqi People Must Take Responsibility, Kurdish Leader Says (Kathleen T. Rhem, 6/17/04, American Forces Press Service)

The Iraqi people must be responsible for their own security and not depend on American troops to defeat terrorism in Iraq, the leader of the People's Union of Kurdistan said today.

Following dinner with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and other members of an American delegation, Jalal Talibani spoke with American reporters traveling with the group.

"Fighting terrorism must be the job of Iraqis; we must not depend on our American friends," he said, in English. "If we need their helicopters we will ask them, but it must be our responsibility."

He also said Iraqis must take responsibility for the state of their own affairs. "We can't always blame the Americans," he said.

Talibani said Kurdish attitudes toward Americans are different from those of many other Iraqis; the vast majority of Kurds want a continued American presence in Iraq.

Both Talibani and Wolfowitz stressed that a unified Iraq with a representative government is the only way forward for the country.

"The way to get unity is to give each party a reasonable degree of say in their own affairs," Wolfowitz said.

Talibani agreed, suggesting that people are able to look out for their own rights and at the same time recognize the rights of others. "We think Kurds within a democratic Iraq can play a role for their own self-interests and for the self-interests of Iraq," he said.

Lucky thing Kurds aren't Muslims or he wouldn't talk that way...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:10 PM


House Narrowly Passes Tax and Tobacco Bill (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, June 17, 2004)

Democrats helped give Republicans the margin of victory Thursday as the House passed a $155 billion bill that would cut taxes for American producers and pay tobacco farmers to give up a federal program that shores up crop prices.

The 251-178 vote saw an unusual number of Democrats cross party lines and back a GOP tax bill during an election year. A new federal deduction for state sales taxes and the tobacco program successfully attracted their votes.

The core of the bill aims to resolve a trade dispute with Europe that has slapped punishing tariffs on some American exports. The trade sanctions, now 8 percent, rise another 1 percent each month.

The tariffs retaliate for a U.S. tax break that world trade courts ruled an illegal export subsidy. The White House warned that unless lawmakers quickly change American tax laws, ``then the tariffs that were imposed by the EU on March 1st will inflict an increasing burden on American exporters, American workers and the overall economy.''

House Republicans said resolving the European standoff and infusing new tax cuts into the economy would mean better economic growth and more jobs.

"Tariffs is another word for taxes,'' said Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz.

The bill is by all accounts a monstrosity and we should get out of the WTO rather than allow our sovereignty to be tampered with, but buying out farmers we've subsidized in the past could provide a template for getting rid of farm supports in the long run.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:57 PM


Public Support for War Resilient: Bush's Standing Improves (Pew Research Center, June 17, 2004)

Americans are paying markedly less attention to Iraq than in the last two months. At the same time, their opinions about the war have become more positive. The number of Americans who think the U.S. military effort is going well has jumped from 46% in May to 57%, despite ongoing violence in Iraq and the widening prison abuse scandal. And the percentage of the public who believes it was right to go to war inched up to 55%, from 51% in May.

The new Pew survey indicates that many Americans are becoming less connected to the news about Iraq and possibly more hardened to events there. Just 39% say they are tracking developments in Iraq very closely -- down 15 points since April and the lowest level this year. In addition, 35% say that people they know are becoming less emotionally involved with the news from Iraq, a sharp increase from 26% last month.

How many trees have been pulped so that folks with no idea what they were talking about could tell us that the war would determine the election? It won't even be a factor--all that matters is the economy (which is booming) and the possibility of another successful terrorist attack (who knows how that might cut?).

Speaking of which, U.S. Index of Leading Economic Indicators Rose 0.5% in May (Bloomberg, 6/17/04)

The index of leading U.S. economic indicators rose 0.5 percent in May as factories added hours and the money supply grew, a sign the expansion will continue.

The increase in the Conference Board's gauge of the economy's likely performance over the next three to six months follows a rise in April of 0.1 percent. The index, a composite of several measures, has advanced in 13 of the past 14 months.

Production workers put in longer weeks, and delivery times slowed as companies tried to replenish inventories stripped by rising demand. The expanding economy is helping boost sales and profit at companies such as Yellow Roadway Corp., the biggest U.S. hauler of freight by truck, giving them money to buy equipment and add to payrolls.

``The data reflect a robust economic environment this spring and point to more of the same this summer,'' said Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board in New York. ``The confluence of economic strengths is a recipe for continued job gains, and possibly a little more inflation.'' [...]

Economists had projected a 0.4 percent increase in the leading index, based on the median of 51 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:35 PM


Borderline Republicans: The internal GOP battle over immigration gets ugly. (Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2004)

For the most part, President Bush's calls for immigration reform seem to have fallen on deaf Congressional ears. And one of the main reasons is the anti-immigrant groups on the political left that have been making inroads with Republicans. It behooves GOP restrictionists to better understand their new bedfellows.

The cool reaction to Mr. Bush's guest-worker proposals is the most prominent example of party division on immigration. But it's not the only example. The phenomenon has also manifested itself in a number of House and Senate GOP primary races, where some Republicans have teamed up with radical greens and zero-population-growth-niks to intimidate and defeat other Republicans willing to defend immigration. [...]

Groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Numbers-USA, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), ProjectUSA and the Coalition for the Future American Worker (CFAW) continue to use direct mail, television, radio and other media to target pro-immigration lawmakers throughout the country. [...]

Extra special attention is being paid to a GOP House primary in Utah, where incumbent Chris Cannon is facing a June 22 runoff against Matt Throckmorton. Mr. Cannon, now serving his fourth term, hasn't had a primary challenger since 1998. This one comes courtesy of deep-pocketed restrictionists campaigning on behalf of his opponent, who is running hard on xenophobia. CFAW and ProjectUSA have used billboards in Mr. Cannon's district to denounce him as a supporter of blanket amnesty for illegals.

Mr. Cannon tops the restrictionists' target list because he's been one of the few politicians in either party to expose the extreme nature of their underlying agendas, which has less to do with immigration per se and more to do with environmental extremism and population-growth concerns influenced by the discredited claims of the 19th-century British economist Thomas Malthus.

[C]IS, FAIR, NumbersUSA, Project-USA and more than a half-dozen similar groups that Republicans have become disturbingly comfy with, were founded or funded (or both) by John Tanton, a retired doctor in Michigan. In addition to trying to stop immigration to the U.S., appropriate population-control measures for Dr. Tanton and his network include promoting China's one-child policy, sterilizing Third World women and wider use of RU-486.

FAIR, where Mr. Krikorian once worked, is run by Dan Stein and shares advisers and personnel with CIS and other members of the Tanton nexus. As our Jason Riley noted in a March op-ed, "By Dr. Tanton's own reckoning, FAIR has received more than $1.5 million from the Pioneer Fund, a white-supremacist outfit devoted to racial purity through eugenics." [...]

Representative John Hostettler of Indiana, one of the most pro-life Republicans in Washington, chairs the immigration subcommittee that featured representatives of CIS and NumbersUSA as the Republican witnesses. The third GOP witness at the hearing, if you can believe it, was Frank Morris, who at the time was running for a seat on the Sierra Club board and actively campaigning for the defeat of President Bush. Apparently, unless you're a certified Malthusian, dedicated restrictionist or someone who knows next to nothing about economics, the Republican Congress isn't interested in what you have to say about immigration reform.

You'd think that gathering the anti-human evil of the nativists, eugenicists, deep environmentalists and zero-population types in one place would actually turn the space-time continuum inside out and destroy the Universe, or at least result in a Beer Hall putsch.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:17 PM


Four questions and one answer (Ellis Shuman June 14, 2004, Israel Insider)

In the book [How Israel Lost: The Four Questions], which admittedly reads well and is full of anecdotes and a very personal style, Cramer asks four questions, but in reality, he only asks one, central question and to that provides one sole answer. The four questions which account for the four divisions of the book are:

Why do we care about Israel?

Why don't the Palestinians have a state?

What is a Jewish State?

Why is there no peace?

Cramer contends that the reason Americans care about Israel was due to the highly competent Israeli public relations machine, which "convinced us that Israelis are like us." But after 35 years of occupying Palestinian territories, Israel no longer seems like home to many Americans. "Or to put it another way: somewhere along the line, we got the feeling, 'they aren't like us.' Or maybe we don't want to be like them. And this is just one of the ways - one big one - how Israel lost," Cramer writes. [...]

The way to end the Middle East conflict, to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Israel and its Arab neighbors, is very simple in Cramer's eyes. "No Israeli government has ever tried to make peace on the formula everybody knows is a winner: Give back the land," he writes.

Obviously the answer is to give them the land and declare it Palestine, but the idea that Israel has lost ground with Americans seems awfully odd given polling to the contrary and the most unequivocally pro-Israel administration we've ever had. 9-11 gave us a taste of what the Israelis put up with and you've got to figure most Americans wonder why the Occupied Territories haven't just been irradiated.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:57 PM



In the most bizarre name change since Puff Daddy became P. Diddy, the Material Girl has adopted the ancient Hebrew name of Esther.

The pop queen, whose six-night stand at Madison Square Garden started last night, says she's spooked by the fact that her mom, who was also named Madonna, died at the age of 30, when the superstar-to-be was 5.

"My mother died when she was very young, of cancer, and I wanted to attach myself to an other name," Madonna, 45, told ABC News.

"This is in no way a negation of who my mother was. I wanted to attach myself to the energy of a different name."

While she hasn't yet asked her friends to use the new moniker, Madonna is apparently called Esther when she studies the ancient Jewish mystical practices of Kabbalah.

"In her Kabbalah world, the leaders may call her that during spiritual services," said her spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:48 PM


Proposed campaign to promote aliya angers French Jews (Ellis Shuman June 14, 2004, Israeli Insider)

Roger Cukierman, the head of CRIF, the umbrella group of France's Jewish organizations, expressed shock at media reports stating that the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency planned an intensive campaign to persuade French Jews to emigrate to Israel. A recent survey found that some 6% of French Jews expressed willingness to come to Israel because of rising anti-Semitism.

On Friday, 17-year-old yeshiva student Yisrael Yifrah was stabbed in his north Paris neighborhood by a Muslim man who punctuated the act with the cry "Allahu Akhbar." French Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin and other French leaders expressed their disgust at the attempted murder.

When the prime minister visited the Yifrah family, Yisrael's father turned to Raffarin and said: "I regret emigrating to France. When we left Morocco I never imagined that one of my children would be lying in the hospital because of a Muslim who sought to kill a Jew."

Cukierman said France's 600,000-strong Jewish community, Europe's largest, was worried by anti-Semitic attacks, especially on children, "but we have to keep calm and not panic," Reuters reported.

Cukierman's son Eduard, who made aliya 20 years ago, told Maariv that he wanted to ask his father, leader of French Jewry, "when would he stand before his community and say the time has come to move to Israel? Would this be when Jews are murdered in the streets of Paris?"

It seems safe to say that someone who didn't learn a lesson from French collaboration in the Holocaust is unteachable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:36 PM

NEVER MIND (via Kevin Whited):

Q & A with Madeline Albright: Exploring the world of Afghanistan, Iraq, Bush and Kerry (Dallas Morning News, June 17, 2004)

Question. What's your reading of the war in Iraq?

Answer. I understood the "why" of the war. I had spent eight years dealing with Saddam Hussein. But I had the question of "why now?" I felt more attention had to be paid to Afghanistan.

So, given that there have been no subsequent terror attacks on American soil and that Afghanistan continued to make steady progress throughout the Iraq war, isn't it time for folks like Ms Albright to acknowledge that they were wrong and that their sole objection to the war--its timing--proved to be mistaken?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:29 PM


Sick Economy, Sick Society (James K. Glassman, 06/17/2004, Tech Central Station)

A giant 2002 Pew Research Center survey found Americans comfortably ahead of Europeans in satisfaction with income, family life and job. More important, when asked how they see the next five years, 61 percent of Americans were optimistic and just 7 percent pessimistic (and this was just 12 months after the attacks of 9/11). By contrast, only 35 percent of Germans were optimistic, 19 percent pessimistic.

Europeans have good reason for gloom. Their economy is sick, and so is their society.

Economy first: Over the past year, the GDP of the Euro Zone countries (the large European nations, except Britain) grew just 1.3 percent, while American GDP grew 4.4 percent. Unemployment in France is 9.8 percent; Germany, 10.5 percent; Spain, 11.4 percent; the United States, 5.7 percent.

None of this is new. Germany, the largest European economy, averaged 1.3 percent annual growth over the past decade; the United States, 3.3 percent. A half-century of increasing prosperity in Europe has come to an end -- and for the obvious reasons. Europe is overtaxed and over-regulated, with a welfare system that discourages work and a guild mentality that deters entrepreneurship.

It was a European, Joseph Schumpeter, who explained that a lust for "creative destruction" makes an economy grow. But risk-taking is not on the menu in Europe; smug entitlement is the house specialty.

As Andrew Grimson wrote in The Spectator, "This civilization has the defects of its virtues. It is peaceful but passive; stable but stagnant; morally concerned but preposterously self-righteous."

One strange thing is that the guys who write these essays always feel compelled to start out by excepting European cuisine from their condemnations. Put some French dish (boiled quail with truffles or whatever they eat) on the picnic table at your next barbecue and see if anyone prefers it to American food.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:14 PM


Laura Bush's Oatmeal-Chocolate Chunk cookies (Family Circle Election 2004 Cookie Cookoff)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar 1 1/2 cups light-brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups quick oats (not old-fashioned)
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 packages (8 ounces each) chocolate chunks (3 cups)
2 cups coarsely chopped dried sour cherries

Heat oven to 350°. With electric mixer, cream butter and both sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and oats; slowly beat until blended. Stir in walnuts, chocolate and cherries. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Makes about 8 dozen.

The Kerry camp even posted an inferior cookie recipe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:28 PM


Bush and McCain Make Nice (otty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Beth Lester, Clothilde Ewing, Cody Kucharczyk and Nathaniel Franks, 6/17/04, CBS News)

It seems that President Bush and Sen. John McCain have made peace. Bush campaign officials told the Washington Post that the senator will join Bush on Air Force One Friday for a trip to Washington State and Nevada. McCain will appear with the president in a military hangar in Fort Lewis, Wash., during the president’s speech on transforming the military, and will then introduce Bush at a campaign rally that afternoon in Reno, Neva.

McCain had been wooed by John Kerry for the number-two spot on the Democratic ticket but McCain turned him down and has filed for reelection to the Senate as a Republican from Arizona.

Senator Kerry just keeps raising (lowering?) the benchmark for worst presidential campaign ever.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM


Vilsack's running mate hopes may be challenged by state's English-only law (MIKE GLOVER, 6/17/04, Associated Press)

Gov. Tom Vilsack, a potential vice presidential candidate, signed a measure two years ago declaring English the state's official language. That could hurt his chances of joining the Democratic ticket.

Iowa's English-only measure and dozens like it nationwide draw virtually unanimous and vehement opposition from Hispanics, an important Democratic constituency, who view them as thinly veiled racism. Hispanics, the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority group, are being eagerly courted by Democrat John Kerry and President Bush.

Dennis Goldford, who teaches political science at Drake University, said the situation for Kerry and his advisers is aggravated by recent polling that shows Republican Bush running behind Kerry among Hispanics, but getting the support of about four in 10, for a relatively strong showing.

When your party has no core ideas and depends on holding together interest groups, they get to veto things like this.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 AM


U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Fell 15,000 to 336,000 Last Week (Bloomberg, 6/17/04)

The number of Americans filing initial jobless claims fell to 336,000 last week as rising demand prompted companies to retain workers, a government report showed.

First-time applications for unemployment benefits fell by 15,000 in a week curtailed by the national day of mourning for former President Ronald Reagan, from a revised 351,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said in Washington. The four- week moving average of claims, a less volatile measure, fell to 343,250 from 346,000.

The average number of weekly claims this year has fallen to 346,917 from about 402,000 last year as rising sales and profits have given companies confidence to boost hiring. The U.S. economy added 1.2 million jobs in the first five months of 2004 and those gains are likely to be sustained, economists said.

``We're in the early stages of a long expansion,'' said Douglas Lee, president of Economics From Washington, a research firm in Potomac, Maryland, before the report.

Economists had expected the number of claims reported today to fall to 340,000 from the 352,000 initially reported last week, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. The 39 estimates ranged from 330,000 to 355,000.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 AM


When Foreign Adventures Go Bad: The Case of America's Intervention in Russia During World War I (Robert L. Willett, 6/14/04, History News Network)

In July 1918 World War I continued on the Western Front, with American doughboys now in the trenches.. The Russian Czar had abdicated, been arrested and executed; the Russians had abandoned the Eastern Front and withdrawn from the war; the Soviet Revolution was in full swing and civil war raged across the land.

Into this turmoil President Woodrow Wilson, bowing to the request of his Allied friends, agreed to send American troops to Russia. The 339 th Infantry Regiment, 1 st Battalion 310 th Engineers, and various support units, arrived in September 1918 in Archangel, Russia. The American Expeditionary Force North Russia (AEFNR) was to prove a dismal failure in every sense, and should be an object lesson in the pitfalls of intervening in the internal affairs of other nations.

President Woodrow Wilson had been pressured by France and Britain to join them in trying to encourage the Russians to rejoin the war and to protect North Russian ports from German invasion. There were other issues, too, as Wilson struggled with divided American advisors. The State Department was openly supportive of joining the effort, but the War Department was adamant that no troops could be spared from the fighting in France. It was with these views that the President began his Aide Memoir, a document that was the basis for the American Intervention in Russia. He wrote: “The American Government, therefore, very respectfully requested its Associates to accept its deliberate judgment that it should not dissipate its force by attempting important operations elsewhere.” However, in the same document this logic was reversed, using this rationale for sending troops to Russia:

* to protect Czech soldiers of the Czech Legion transiting Siberia and under periodic local attacks

* to guard war materials sent to Russia for use against Germany

* to render assistance to Russians as the Russians themselves required that assistance

* to provide humanitarian assistance to needy Russians

This was Wilson’s justification for sending two forces to Russia, one to North Russia the other to Siberia. These lofty goals were, in every sense, impossible to achieve, and only two short months after Americans entered Russia, Germany capitulated. At this point the reasons for our intervention began a “mission creep.” [a term coined by Lt. Cmdr C.J. Cwiklinski in a study for the Naval War College titled America’s Role in the Allied Intervention in Northern Russia and Siberia (1918-1920) Case Studies of Mission Creep and Coalition Failure.] Unfortunately, President Wilson never revised his original document to define why we should stay on in Russia after the Armistice.

Sure, Wilson was feckless in this as in all things, but after a century in which Communism murdered over 100 million people directly and resulted in tens of millions of more dead in wars and massive economic devastation and retardation, the idea that we should not have intervened in post-war Russia is monstrous. The tragedy is that we did not strangle the communist evil in its crib.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 AM

50-0 FILES:

Hot summer for job seekers: Survey finds 3Q hiring plans to keep pace with those of the second quarter; outlook is best in West. (CNN/Money, 6/15/04)

From July through September, the pace of hiring in the United States is projected to be as strong as it is in the second quarter.

That's the finding of a survey of 16,000 U.S. employers released Tuesday by Milwaukee-based temporary staffing company Manpower Inc.

"In our second quarter survey, U.S. employers reported the strongest employment outlook since early 2001. The fact that employers expect to hire at the same pace in the third quarter suggests that they continue to feel confident," said Manpower's CEO Jeffrey A. Joerres in a statement.

There's a plaintive quality to John Kerry's tv ads in which he cites fewer and fewer lost jobs each month. The main question is how many jobs will the Bush administration have created in its first term?--despite inheriting a slow down and 9-11.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 AM


Senate winner may be pioneer (Brian Basinger, 6/14/04, Morris News Service)

Could Georgia voters be on their way to electing the state's first black U.S. senator?

The question might have seemed like the stuff of fiction only a few years ago - even in what was long considered one of the more progressive states of the New South.

But among the 11 major-party candidates vying to replace outgoing Democratic Sen. Zell Miller this year are two black candidates - Republican businessman Herman Cain and Democratic U.S. Rep. Denise Majette - whose campaigns are gaining strength as the July 20 primaries approach. [...]

With polls showing support building among Republicans for Mr. Cain, Mr. Brooks said Ms. Majette may have to put more effort into winning a black electorate that is usually loyal to the Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 AM

HI-HO, HI-HO...:

Dem prospects jockey to run at Kerry's side (Jill Lawrence, 6/16/04, USA TODAY)

Edwards is the most active prospect on the party circuit and the one Democrats would choose if it were up to them. An Associated Press Poll this week found 43% of Democrats wanted him on the ticket. Second was Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt at 19%, followed by retired general Wesley Clark at 18%. Other visible Democrats include Florida Sens. Bob Graham and Bill Nelson, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh. [...]

Some Democrats are urging Kerry to name his choice in the first half of July; others say he should do it just before the Democratic National Convention on July 26 in Boston. No decision on timing has been made, aides say. In past years, nominees of both parties have waited until a week or less before or after their conventions started.

It's not helpful that only Richardson, Graham, Bayh and Vilsack would so much as make good cabinet secretaries.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 AM


Without a Barrel: Surviving Niagara? No sweat. The real challenge is figuring out what drove Kirk Jones over the edge. (Jake Halpern, June 2004, Outside)

ON A CRISP AFTERNOON last October, Kirk Jones climbed over the steel safety rail at the top of Niagara Falls and contemplated the troubled direction of his life. From his perch, Jones had a clear view of the Niagara River, where a frothing torrent of Class VI rapids roiled for several hundred feet before reaching the precipice beyond. A heavy mist swirled around him, and a dull roar filled his ears.

"I just couldn't let go of that railing," he recalls. "As much as I wanted to, a part of me said, No. No human being has ever done this and lived."

It was, oddly enough, a situation Jones had imagined many times before. "Ever since I was six, I've been fascinated by Niagara Falls," he says. "I wondered whether a human being could go over, without a barrel or a life jacket, and live. I've always thought there must be a way."

Jones had visited the falls a handful of times since childhood; now he was rapidly approaching middle age, without a job, a wife, or a home to call his own. As he puts it, "I was a 40-year-old man with no purpose." This grim realization prompted Jones to round up $300 and convince a friend, 52-year-old Bob Krueger, to make the five-hour drive from Detroit to Niagara Falls, New York. They arrived on October 19 and spent most of Kirk's money at local bars and a strip club before crashing at a cheap motel. The next day, as a skeptical Krueger stood by pointing a video camera, Jones vacillated above the water.

It was a stranger's voice that finally convinced him to go for it, that of an unidentified woman who happened to be taking in the view. "So, what are you going to do—jump?" she called out sarcastically.

"Yes, ma'am, I think I will," Jones replied. Right then, he let go of the railing, dashed down an embankment, and leaped into the current. Moments later, he flew feet first over the brink of Horseshoe Falls (the Canadian side of Niagara), plunging 170 feet into the water below.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 AM


Eurosceptics Rising (Scott Norvell, 06/15/2004, Tech Central Station)

In Poland, which only just joined the EU six weeks ago, the anti crowd found a hero in the face of former pig farmer Andrzej Lepper of the Self-Defense party. Together with the conservative League of Polish Families, eurosceptic parties in Poland took 29 percent of the ballot. In the Netherlands, Paul van Buitenen, who made a name for himself as a whistle-blower against EU corruption, won two seats for the Transparent Europe party, and in Austria, ex-journalist Hans Peter Martin, who exposed the expense-account shenanigans of MEPs, won a surprise two seats.

But the poster-child for this new movement is surely the silver-haired Robert Kilroy-Silk, a former BBC talk show host who was run out of town after referring to Muslims as "suicide bombers, limb amputators" and "women repressors" in a newspaper column.

Kilroy and his ilk in the U.K. Independence Party took nearly 17% of the vote in Britain and will become the dominant Eurosceptic party in the continent-wide assembly when it meets for the first time in July.

When asked at a post-election press conference what he was going to do when he went to the European Parliament, Kilroy replied with typical aplomb that he was going to wreck it. "Expose it for the waste, the corruption and the way it is eroding our independence and our sovereignty," he added. "Our job is to go there and turn round and say, 'This is what they do. This is how they waste your money. This is how they all go on the gravy train and spend their time in restaurants and all the rest of it'."

You can see emerging here the European disease, which makes it impossible to assimilate immigrants and unlikely they'll ever unify: there's no such thing as patriotism, only nationalism.

Can This Man Beat Blair?: Have the elections helped Michael Howard in his quest to unseat Tony Blair? (J.F.O. MCALLISTER, Jun. 13, 2004, TIME)

A distinguished lawyer with a precise manner and a long public career, including four years as John Major's hard-line Home Secretary, Howard is not a natural pick for young, multicultural Britons or those who want sweeping change. Frustration with politics as usual was a big factor in the protest vote that flowed to UKIP, which ran a brilliant insurgent campaign centered on the charismatic, perma-tanned Robert Kilroy-Silk, a former Labour M.P. who hosted a TV talk show for 17 years until he had to give it up in January after calling Islam a religion of "limb amputators." No one expects UKIP to make much of a dent in the general election, expected next spring, but the problem for Tories is UKIP's hypnotic effect on much of its own right wing. Howard is trying to position his party as responsibly Euro-skeptic, saying Britain should stay inside the E.U. but work to reform it. This is smart territory to inhabit. A majority of British voters oppose joining the euro and the European constitution — but they still want to stay in the E.U.

The problem is that 57% of Tories don't, and for many it's a crucial issue, so that a more moderate stance threatens internal schisms. During the campaign, Howard appeared rattled by the UKIP threat. He repeatedly inched toward them, saying he wanted Britain to regain control over social policy now given to Brussels, and finally stating he would unilaterally pull Britain out of the common fisheries policy if he couldn't negotiate changes — which could imply a messy breach with the E.U., since treaty revisions would require almost inconceivable unanimous consent from 25 member states. His best hope for not getting drawn deeper into the Euro-wrangling is the constitution: though it confers more power on Brussels, Blair will give it provisional consent this week, thus providing a handy enemy around which Howard's whole party can unite. [...]

Howard plans to launch a raft of kinder, gentler new policies in the next few months. "We have to convince people we can make things better," he says simply. But there's no sign yet of any Big Idea emerging to engage voters. Patrick Seyd, co-author of a book on the Tory party, says it still hasn't recovered from Thatcherism, when it became more starkly ideological. The great issues that animated Conservatives then — excess union power and communism — have disappeared, with nothing much to replace them. "The conservatives' lust for power is beginning to re-emerge, which is crucial to internal discipline," he says. "But Thatcherism doesn't provide a guide to the 21st century. And they haven't managed to find the answer on Europe or on the role of the state."

You have to be of the Stupid Party to not be able to figure out the big issue.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 AM


Rickey Henderson Plays on in Baseball's Bush Leagues (All Things Considered, May 23, 2004)

Reporter Nancy Solomon profiles Rickey Henderson, a former major league baseball star who now, at the age of 45, is struggling to stay in the game as he plays for the minor-league Newark Bears.

BRILLIANT CAREERS: Rickey Henderson: Say what you will about his attitude, he walks the walk. And in the last few days he's walked right into the record books -- twice. (Allen St. John, Oct. 9, 2001, Salon)

For years I've had this ritual. Every morning, I log onto my computer, check for desperate e-mails from desperate editors, then open the bookmark for Rickey Henderson's career stats. I scroll down to the runs-scored column and see if, based on last night's action, the number has inched closer to 2,245.

It's the kind of guilty pleasure only a baseball fan can understand. Baseball is the only sport where stats really resonate, where you can forge a connection with your favorite player based on a page full of numbers. It was about eight years ago that I first noticed that Henderson had a legitimate shot at breaking the longest-standing major hitting record on the books: Ty Cobb's mark of 2,245 runs scored. And this is the week that he finally did it.

Being a Rickey Henderson fan is a guilty pleasure in itself. Friends -- smart baseball fans, some even baseball writers -- view any mention of my Rickey Watch as an open invitation to trash him. "He is the biggest jerk," goes the chorus. No, it's not personal -- he didn't refuse to sign an autograph or blow off an interview. It's simply a style thing: '80s retro notwithstanding the snatch catches, the wraparound sunglasses, his "I am the greatest of all time" speech, they simply rub people the wrong way.

But as Ty Cobb -- or was it Freud? -- once said, "It ain't braggin' if you can back it up." Say what you will about Henderson's 'tude, he walks the walk.

-Inside Rickey's World, he marches to own beat (Tom Weir, 9/26/01, USA TODAY)
Rickey Henderson is all alone at his locker, getting organized for a game. But it sounds like someone else must be there with him. Why else would he be chattering in that low, frenetic tone, muttering indecipherable words and sounding like a bee is buzzing in his mouth?

Ask Henderson about this habit, a habit friends and teammates say has been a career-long trademark, and Henderson says you're mistaken.

"Do I talk to myself? No. I just remind myself of what I'm trying to do," he says. "You know, I never answer myself. So how can I be talking to myself?"

Welcome to Rickey's World, a baseball-shaped planet that orbits serenely on a tilted axis while passing untouched through meteor showers of conventional thought.

-Get up and cheer: Rickey deserves it (Tim Kurkjian, 8/23/01, ESPN The Magazine)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:52 AM


Let Them Eat Deer (R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., 6/17/2004, American Sectator)

Some years ago, while dining in a Paris restaurant, I asked the waiter about the venison on the menu. He told me that it was smaller than that served in the United States. The waiter, a long-faced man, who, come to think of it, looked rather like the junior senator from Massachusetts, went on to say, "But then, everything in Europe is smaller than in America." [...]

Now they are sitting back and lecturing us while our coalition attempts to lift barbarism from the Iraqis, to sober up the nihilists of the Middle East, and to defeat terrorism. The French and the Germans have revealed no plan, no will, and no intention of bringing justice or peace to Iraq. The only evidence I have seen of their involvement in the area is long inventories of arms they sold to Saddam and catalogues of payoffs they received from the United Nations oil for food scheme.

The French and the Germans have almost always let the English-speaking peoples bear the cost of liberty. Even in the Balkans in the 1990s they importuned upon the United States for as much military might as they could possibly inveigle from us. Nonetheless, throughout the Cold War and now into the war on terror we Americans have episodically had to witness their imbecilic anti-American rallies. As they burn our flags and ignorantly depict our presidents as cowboys, we are supposed to take instruction from their infantile tantrums. Old Europe obviously is conflicted about cowboys. Their chattering classes are given to using the term "cowboy" as one of disparagement. Yet American westerns remain a staple of entertainment on television stations all over the old bone heap -- Orwell's term -- that is Europe. [...]

These thoughts struck to me the other day while driving from Washington some 250 miles into the Virginia mountains. Just weeks before I had been driving in Europe, in Ireland to be specific. The Irish countryside, like the countryside of those countries I have now banished from my travel plans, France and Germany, is lovely. But that French waiter of years ago was right. Europe is not as big as America. From my car roaring along spacious four-lane highway I see vast rolling hills, wide valleys, large modern cities popping up and then dropping off as I accelerate on. The fields are alive with cattle and crops about to be planted or freshly planted. The roads bustle with huge trucks hauling an enormous variety of product. Overhead blue sky and huge billowing clouds contend for attention. America really is big.

and still can't contain us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 AM


CAREER PROS: Pushing Productivity Over the Edge (Michael Kinsman, 6/13/04, California Job Journal)

The American workforce, which already puts in longer workweeks and takes less time off than most of the rest of the world, has built productivity this year to its highest point in two decades. [...]

In a survey of 550 companies, Circadian recently found that a disproportionate share of the workforce is putting in long hours. About 20 percent of the workers are accounting for 60 percent of all overtime these days.

Circadian cautions that when you ask people to work too much, you find some fallout. Low employee morale, more on-the-job accidents and more workers' comp claims are the signs that workers are being driven - or driving themselves - too hard.

Circadian believes that most workers can work about 12-percent overtime, or about five hours per week, before their productivity is adversely affected.

Yet Circadian says many employers believe they can increase productivity by simply working existing employees longer hours. Sure, they have to pay time-and-a-half overtime, but they don't have to pay for the recruitment and benefits that come with additional workers.

Perhaps the most disconcerting part of this situation is that many workers are all too eager to put in extra hours. "You will always find a group of individuals who are willing to put in overtime hours so they can make more money," notes Mitchell. "But we're sort of amazed at how deep this runs."

Circadian found that among workers who were already putting in 400 hours of overtime annually, a majority of them wanted to work still more.

Obviously you can overdo it, but otherwise you've got employers willing to pay people and eager employees--what's the problem?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Bush blamed for al Qaeda (Donald Lambro, 6/16/04, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Iraq is now a battleground between U.S. forces and al Qaeda terrorists, a top national-security adviser to Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign said yesterday.

Florida Sen. Bob Graham made the statement — something no one on President Bush's national-security team would argue with — during a conference call with reporters in which he and former Defense Secretary William Perry sharply attacked the administration's policy in Iraq.

If they're working for the Senator why are they making the President's argument?

June 16, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:56 PM


KEEP ON GROVELIN: Have you heard of John McCain? (Russ Smith, NY Press)

The most recent example in the schoolgirl desire for McCain to team up with John Kerry against Bush this November-sort of like writing a love letter to Davy Jones or Bobby Sherman in the 60s-was David Ignatius' naive essay in last Friday's Washington Post.

Ignatius, who for the sake of the country, endorses Kerry's selection of the pompous Arizona senator for his running mate, was, I suppose, one of the hundreds of journalists who gabbled with McCain aboard the "Straight Talk Express" four years ago, sharing a cup of coffee, donuts and quality time with the Keating Five oracle.

He writes: "Despite McCain's public demurrals, he has been privately deliberating how things might work if he ever did agree to run as Kerry's vice presidential candidate. The bitter political divide in America worries McCain, especially when the nation is at war. He knows that for many
Americans, he has become a symbol of bipartisanship that could overcome these divisions-and bring Red and Blue America closer together. That call to duty is powerful for McCain. He'll be 68 later this summer, and he knows that his time to shape American public life is now."

There's been a lot of nonsense on this subject, especially in the past fortnight, but the foul aroma of Ignatius' brown-nosing is the worst yet. He claims that Moses McCain could unite "Red and Blue America." It makes one ill just to consider the holes in Ignatius' argument. McCain, unless he's lied the past several months, always a possibility, has insisted in countless statements (including several in the last four days) that he likes Kerry but their political views aren't sufficiently compatible to make such a scenario plausible. It's true that the senator hasn't exactly bolted the door shut, but that's probably a function of his need for publicity and attention, a disorder that's dwarfed only by Bill Clinton's and Eliot Spitzer's.

McCain correctly fears that he'd function largely as a Kerry ornament, a ruse to win the election, and then be pitched in the dustbin of ignored vice presidents. And it's not as if, should such a team get elected, McCain will run for the top job eight years from now. Ignatius does acknowledge McCain's concern that he'd be "put on ice" in a Kerry administration when he opposed his boss. No kidding, John.

Remember how Jim Jeffords brought us all together and helped heal the wounds of the 2000 election?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 PM


Industrial Production Surges in May (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/16/04)

Big industry production surged by 1.1 percent in May, the strongest performance in nearly six years, and a nationwide survey of business activity is showing widespread strength, two fresh signs of economic momentum.

The sizable increase in industrial production reported Wednesday by the Federal Reserve came after a strong 0.8 percent rise in April. The 1.1 percent advance -- better than the 0.6 percent rise that some economists were expecting -- represented the biggest gain since August 1998.

Factory production -- the biggest slice of industrial activity tracked by the Fed -- rose by 0.9 percent in May, up from a 0.7 percent increase the month before.

"They say beauty is only skin deep, but this manufacturing recovery looks better and better the deeper you look at it,'' said Jerry Jasinowski, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. ``There is no doubt that the manufacturing recovery is durable, deep and diffuse,'' he said.

Well, they say the President got straight D's.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:30 PM


Al-Qaeda cell caught in US squeeze (Syed Saleem Shahzad, 6/15/04, Asia Times)

An amateurish blunder has allowed Pakistan to arrest at least 10 members of a strong al-Qaeda sleeper cell, activated for last Thursday's attack in Karachi on the convoy of the powerful Lieutenant-General Ahsan Saleem Hayat, commander V Corps (Karachi).

Pakistan authorities are expected on Monday to confirm, among others, the arrest of Abu Mosab al-Balochi, an Arab, and Daud Badini, a Pakistani Baloch who has been involved in many sectarian killings, in connection with the attack, which claimed the lives of at least 10 people. Al-Balochi had a US$1 million bounty on his head and is a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged planner of the September 11 attacks on the United States, who is now in US custody. Sheikh was also arrested in Pakistan more than a year ago.

Well-placed sources in Pakistani intelligence organizations have told Asia Times Online that the suspects were rounded up just hours after Thursday morning's attack. Also among the suspects is one Attaur Rehman of the al-Iqwan religious movement, whose head teaches radical Islam and which has strong links with sections of the military.

The sources explain that as soon as the Pakistan military moved into South Waziristan tribal area last week in its hunt for al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters believed to be sheltering there (under intense US pressure), the sleeper cell was activated in Karachi as retaliation.

One thing about poking at a hornet nest, it may increase your chance of getting stung but it certainly does stir the buggers up and get them out in the open where you can squish them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 PM


According to Bush World War II Began with the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Say What? (Georgina M. Taylor

I have been following the debates in the HNN newsletter, in the American and Canadian media, and among Canadian citizens about President Bush, the war in Iraq, and the Second World War with great interest.

On June the 3rd, 2004 the Globe and Mail reported that in a televised commencement speech to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Bush said that " 'like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless attack on the United States,' ... in an apparent reference to the Sept. 11 attacks and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941." A White House press release gave the text of Bush's speech in which he was to say "Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless, surprise attack on the United States. We will not forget that treachery, and we will accept nothing less than victory over the enemy."

As a Canadian historian I had a good belly laugh over this interpretation of history by Bush, so throughout the week I have been telling my friends and relatives on the Canadian prairies that I had read reports that Bush had claimed that the Second World War began with the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. All of them reacted either with disgust or uproarious laughter. Several said they knew he was "ignorant about history," but they wondered what is wrong with his speech writers.

The idea of the Second World War beginning with the attack on Pearl Harbor is, of course, ironic in light of Bush's current campaign to get more allies to support him in Iraq. If he cannot even give us credit for two years of doing battle during the Second World War before the Americans entered, how on earth does he think we would decide to support him in his current war?

Who cares?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:18 PM


Poor people of the world, start a business: World development bodies show newfound enthusiasm for using private enterprise to tackle world poverty. (David R. Francis, 6/17/04, CS Monitor)

Although the G-8 endorsement was overshadowed by concerns over Iraq and a Bush administration plan to push reform in the Middle East, it was cheered in other forums. At the United Nations, the World Bank, and other development bodies, the G-8 plan reflected their own newfound enthusiasm for harnessing private enterprise to tackle world poverty. World leaders breathed a sign of relief when even the Bush administration, skeptical of international action, endorsed the plan.

Mark Malloch Brown, head of the United Nations Development Program, was especially pleased that the G-8 endorsement backed a March 1 report of a UNDP commission.

That report has also got a positive reaction from developing countries, says Nissim Ezekiel, executive director of the UNDP's Commission on the Private Sector and Development. Further, it's being taken up this week at a session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a meeting which gets far more attention in poor countries than in rich nations.

The basic thesis is that in developing countries the removal of red tape and other obstacles to private initiative and entrepreneurship has enormous potential to accelerate economic growth and thereby trim poverty. Supporters say it could prove particularly useful for small and medium enterprises and the "informal sector" - such as kids sent to street corners to peddle stuff and other "underground" business activities.

Unhappily, academic studies find no correlation between a high rate of formation of small enterprises in a developing country and economic success, says Mr. Easterly, now at New York University.

Though he cheers efforts to stimulate small business, he sees economic development as far more complex. It involves improving property rights, dealing with cultural barriers, improving the soundness of contracts and other business agreements, and helping big business, including multinationals, as well as small and medium-sized business.

Will not the existence of more entrepreneurs though create a wider number of citizens with a vested interest in property rights, enforceable contracts, etc.?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 PM


Another Ignored Discovery (Steven Martinovich, 6/16/2004, American Spectator)

On June 9, Demetrius Perricos announced that before, during and after the war in Iraq, Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction and medium-range ballistic missiles to countries in Europe and the Middle East. Entire factories were dismantled and shipped as scrap metal to Jordan, the Netherlands and Turkey, among others, at the rate of about 1,000 tons of metal a month. As an example of speed by which these facilities were dismantled, Perricos displayed two photographs of a ballistic missile site near Baghdad, one taken in May 2003 with an active facility, the other in February 2004 that showed it had simply disappeared.

What passed for scrap metal and has since been discovered as otherwise is amazing. Inspectors have found Iraqi SA-2 surface-to-air missiles in Rotterdam -- complete with U.N. inspection tags -- and 20 SA-2 engines in Jordan, along with components for solid-fuel for missiles. Short-range Al Samoud surface-to-surface missiles were shipped abroad by agents of the regime. That missing ballistic missile site contained missile components, a reactor vessel and fermenters -- the latter used for the production of chemical and biological warheads.

"The problem for us is that we don't know what may have passed through these yards and other yards elsewhere," Ewen Buchanan, Perricos's spokesman, said. "We can't really assess the significance and don't know the full extent of activity that could be going on there or with others of Iraq's neighbors."

Perricos isn't an American shill defending the Bush administration, but rather the acting executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and his report was made to the Security Council. Yet his report didn't seem to be of much interest to a media which has used the lack of significant discoveries to question the rationale for the war.

You could set the yellowcake down on Dan Rather's desk and he'd go on the newscast that night and report on a new Duncan Hines recipe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:14 PM


Go Negative on the Allies (PETER D. FEAVER, 6/15/04, NY Times)

[T]here are a couple of good reasons that the senator's foreign policy pronouncements are long on critique of Mr. Bush and short on everything else.

For starters, Mr. Kerry must bridge a very fractious constituency. Polling I did as part of a research project with my Duke University colleagues confirms that unlike Mr. Bush, Mr. Kerry is "off message" with his base on Iraq. Ask Kerry supporters their Iraq views and they respond with positions sometimes diametrically opposed to those of their candidate; by contrast, Bush supporters largely echo the president. Apparently, the only thing that unites Kerry supporters, leaners, and undecideds is hostility to perceived mistakes by President Bush. So the candidate is left with a strategy that largely consists of criticism of his opponent, sometimes fair, sometimes unfair, but always biting.

Beyond the polling problem, Mr. Kerry has a style problem. The assessment of his political record has always been that he is more of a critic than a problem solver. His most important senatorial contributions in foreign policy have been investigations that have criticized conventional wisdom. While these have at times been vital examinations, he still cannot point to any Nunn-Lugar-Kerry or Goldwater-Nichols-Kerry legislation that comes up with a solution instead of just identifying a foreign policy problem.

Mr. Kerry and his team may also be wary of meddling in actual foreign policy, of acting as if he were already in the White House. He's wise to avoid such freelancing, although he skirted dangerously close in the late May speech in which he threw down the gauntlet, challenging Mr. Bush to get more international support for Iraq. By saying, in effect, that if Mr. Bush fails here, then he should not be re-elected, Mr. Kerry opened himself up to the charge that he was making a not very thinly veiled appeal to the allies to continue shirking.

Mr. Kerry could have inoculated himself against this criticism if he had even hinted at his displeasure that the European allies had not stepped up. He can still do so, with a few well-chosen paragraphs repeated over time, taking a stance that would also help his campaign. And since his campaign has already assured us that those leaders respect Mr. Kerry more than they do Mr. Bush, his admonition just might help — or at least clarify that the problem with getting aid from the allies runs deeper than "inadequate Bush diplomacy."

Okay, we all get the reasons to vote against President Bush; is anyone aware of a single reason to vote for Mr. Kerry?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:49 PM


Pledge case puts chill on parental rights: For many parents without custody, Monday's Supreme Court decision makes it harder to press concerns. (Warren Richey, 6/17/04, CS Monitor)

...stay married.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 PM


My friend Betty Lauer was on All Things Considered this afternoon (scheduled to air on Wednesday, June 16th at 4:50 pm), being interviewed by Neal Charnoff about her new memoir Hiding in Plain Sight: The Incredible True Story of a German-Jewish Teenagers Struggle to Survive in Nazi-Occupied Poland. It's an amazing story and she's a remarkable woman.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:46 PM


Hard Right Nativism: Ireland's Citizenship Vote (JIM DAVIS, June 14, 2004, Counterpunch)

Last Friday Ireland went to the Polls to elect local councilors, members of the European Parliament and to decide on an amendment to the constitution which would strip some Irish born children of their right to Irish Citizenship. The referendum is the culmination of the state's efforts to limit the rights of asylum seekers and refugees who have arrived on the Island in increasing numbers during the economic boom there over the last 10 years. The referendum was passed by a landslide with 80% of voters approving the new restrictions in a big victory for hard right nativism.

Initially the referendum was proposed by the Minister For Justice, Michael McDowell, as a way of defending Irish maternity hospitals which were, he argued, overwhelmed by foreigners arriving to give birth within the EU. Under the old rules where parents could claim residency rights in the country by virtue of their children's citizenship, Ireland was out of step with the rest of the EU, or so the argument went until the facts got in the way. While the current right wing coalition government has been plotting some sort of referendum on this matter for years, Friday's vote was only announced in March. McDowell initially argued that the Masters of the Maternity hospitals had plead for 'something' to be done about the hordes of pregnant refugees packing the hospitals. The doctors in question quickly distanced themselves from such claims, realizing perhaps they were being played in a pretty transparent electoral stunt and statistical fraud.

Pro amendment arguments referred to an exploding birth rate and 10% of births being to non nationals. The common inference was that this figure was the number of frauds flying into Dublin heavily pregnant solely to claim an Irish passport. But as the numbers were crunched it emerged that fewer than 1% of last years newborns actually fell into this category. McDowell's imperative then morphed into the more abstract notion of protecting the "integrity of Irish citizenship". "I'm not pinning my hat on the issue of statistics from maternity hospitals. Citizenship is important. It is not something which is just given out as a little token, or a useful thing to people with no connection with our State. It imposes on people who are Irish citizens duties of loyalty and fidelity to the nation-state." Considering that a South African (or anyone else) with an Irish Grandmother is entitled to an Irish passport without ever setting foot in the country, this is surely a bizarre argument with which to go amending the constitution. It has essentially introduced a biological qualifier into the notion of Irishness, something that probably does put Ireland closer in line with some of its European neighbours, at least those with blood requirements for being part of the volk.

Most of the non nationals who will now see their future children lose their right to citizenship are in fact working residents of the country filling important roles in all sectors of the economy and society. For free market ideologues like McDowell this abundant source of cheap labour is central to Irelands continued economic success. Yet, the amendment will help obstruct their full integration into Irish society.

Can there be a more illustrative irony than the Irish hating immigrants?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:40 PM


Media coverage (Greg Pierce, 6/16/04, Washington Times)

Sen. John Kerry "had the best press of any nominee we've ever tracked — 81 percent positive," the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs said in announcing a content analysis of network evening newscasts in January and February. [...]

Meanwhile, the latest report from Media Tenor, an independent media analysis institute, found that "since April, the networks have practically abandoned coverage of President Bush's economic policy — even as the economy and labor market have shown signs of significant improvement."

Which raises the question of how useful an institution that is so out of touch with the American people and reality can possibly be.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:34 PM


'Under God': Michael Newdow is right. Atheists are outsiders in America. (SAMUEL P. HUNTINGTON, June 16, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

Only about 10% of Americans...espouse atheism, and most Americans do not approve of it. Although the willingness of Americans to vote for a presidential candidate from a minority group has increased dramatically--over 90% of those polled in 1999 said they would vote for a black, Jewish or female presidential candidate, while 59% were willing to vote for a homosexual--only 49% were willing to vote for an atheist. Americans seem to agree with the Founding Fathers that their republican government requires a religious base, and hence find it difficult to accept the explicit rejection of God.

These high levels of religiosity would be less significant if they were the norm for other countries. Americans differ dramatically, however, in their religiosity from the people of other economically developed countries. This religiosity is conclusively revealed in cross-national surveys. In general, the level of religious commitment of countries varies inversely with their level of economic development: People in poor countries are highly religious; those in rich countries are not. America is the glaring exception. One analysis found that if America were like most other countries at her level of economic development, only 5% of Americans would think religion very important, but in fact 51% do.

An International Social Survey Program questionnaire in 1991 asked people in 17 countries seven questions concerning their belief in God, life after death, heaven and other religious concepts. Reporting the results, George Bishop ranked the countries according to the percentage of their population that affirmed these religious beliefs. The U.S. was far ahead in its overall level of religiosity, ranking first on four questions, second on one, and third on two, for an average ranking of 1.7. According to this poll, Americans are more deeply religious than even the people of countries like Ireland and Poland, where religion has been the core of national identity differentiating them from their traditional British, German and Russian antagonists. [...]

[I]f increases in non-Christian membership haven't diluted Christianity in America, hasn't it been supplanted over time by a culture that is pervasively irreligious, if not antireligious? These terms describe segments of American intellectual, academic and media elites, but not the bulk of the American people. American religiosity could be high by absolute measures and high relative to that of comparable societies, yet the secularization thesis would still be valid if the commitment of Americans to religion declined over time. Little or no evidence exists of such a decline. The one significant shift that does appear to have occurred is a drop in the 1960s and '70s in the religious commitment of Catholics. This shift, however, brought Catholic attitudes on religion more into congruence with those of Protestants.

Over the course of American history, fluctuations did occur in levels of American religious commitment and religious involvement. There has not, however, been an overall downward trend in American religiosity. At the start of the 21st century, Americans are no less committed, and are quite possibly more committed, to their religious beliefs and their Christian identity than at any time in their history.

Tolerance means putting up with the Newdowish, not changing our culture to make them more comfortable. But one does have to wonder to what extent we should tolerate those who deny the self-evident truths that undergird the nation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:23 PM


Bush Shouldn't Write Off the Black Vote (JUAN WILLIAMS, 6/16/04, NY Times)

With a direct appeal, President Bush could win at least 20 percent of the black vote — and the White House.

How can he attract those votes?

First, the field is open. Compared with previous Democratic campaigns, Mr. Kerry's has done a poor job of reaching out to black voters. As Donna Brazile, Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000, said recently, "Don't expect me to go out and say John Kerry is a great man and a visionary if you're not running ads on African-American or Hispanic cable networks. Fair is fair. So send my dad a postcard, send my sisters a bumper sticker." The Kerry campaign has also been notable for its lack of blacks and Hispanics among the candidate's top advisers. And Mr. Kerry has rarely been identified with issues that compel black voters — notably affirmative action.

Second, it's increasingly clear that blacks are no longer willing to vote as a bloc, automatically lining up with the Democrats. This is particularly true of younger black voters. A 2002 poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a research group based in Washington, found a shift in the political identification of black voters. For example, 34 percent of 18- to 25-year-old black voters identified themselves as independents. Overall, 24 percent of black Americans of all ages see themselves as independents — a four percentage point increase since the 2000 election. And now 10 percent of blacks call themselves Republican, a six percentage point rise since 2000.

Young black Americans seem ready for a forthright conversation about race and politics. While many older blacks responded with anger to Bill Cosby's recent call for poor black people to take more responsibility for their problems, the young people I encountered were uniformly supportive of Mr. Cosby's words.

It's worth noting that for this group, the president has an issue with considerable appeal: school vouchers. Despite strong opposition from civil rights leaders (and Democrats), 66 percent of blacks and 67 percent of Hispanics favor vouchers, according to a recent Newsweek poll. That is higher than the 54 percent of whites who say they want to see vouchers used to give students access to better schools.

Third, Mr. Bush has a network to make a pitch to black voters — the black church. Despite some bumps along the way, black churches remain generally enthusiastic about the president's faith-based initiative. The president has used his appearances before faith-based groups as a way to communicate with black Americans. It was no surprise that Mr. Bush used a speech to ministers to condemn Senator Trent Lott for expressing kind words about Strom Thurmond's segregationist past.

And then there is the president's top selling point with black voters — his track record of appointing minorities to top positions.

The real key for Mr. Bush is simply that after four years of seeing him in action black Americans should no longer fear him enough to turn out just to vote against him. Reduced black turnout would also devastate the Democrats' hopes of holding their open Senate seats in the South.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:49 PM


In Fetal Photos, New Developments (MARC SANTORA, May 17, 2004, NY Times)

"I'm going to cry."

Limor Fronimos, 25 weeks pregnant, was taking part in one of the stranger and more controversial outgrowths of the ultrasound industry - the high-resolution, artistic photography of fetuses - and was overwhelmed by what she was seeing on the video monitor.

For a few hundred dollars, expectant mothers can get sepia-toned prints to give to their families and friends, a CD-ROM with the pictures so they can be e-mailed around the world and a DVD with a 20-minute video of the fetus squirming in the amniotic sac.

In an age of medical marvels, nothing would seem out of the ordinary about this experience, except that these ultrasounds are not being performed in doctors' offices or medical clinics, but at fetal photo studios that have been opening across the country in recent years and arrived in Manhattan in March.

Mrs. Fronimos, 29, was a client at A Peek in the Pod, just off Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side, in a neighborhood of trendy maternity and children's stores. The top-of-the-line ultrasound package at the studio, including prints, CD-ROM and DVD, costs $295.

But along with keepsake pictures, the new studios have generated a good deal of concern. They are not subject to regulation, and anyone with an ultrasound machine - the best cost upwards of $150,000 - can open up shop.

The real objection is more likely to the humanization of the "clump."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:44 PM


Drawn to Trains, a Well-Traveled Fanatic Is Back in Trouble (MICHAEL LUO, 6/15/04, NY Times)

By now, Darius McCollum's exploits have become the stuff of city lore.

He is the eccentric transit fanatic from Queens who has spent more than a third of his life behind bars for transgressions related to his posing as a New York City Transit worker. Among the notable offenses on his rap sheet are commandeering an E train on a trip to the World Trade Center from Herald Square when he was just 15 and taking a number of city buses for joy rides.

He has long vexed transit officials, who posted his picture at stations and depots. But to a small band of dedicated supporters and friends, Mr. McCollum is the ultimate example of the system's failing someone who badly needs help.

On Friday, Mr. McCollum, now 39, was arrested again, just two months after being released from jail after being held on a parole violation related to his latest transit-related conviction, his 19th.

This cries out for jury nullification.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:43 PM

EL CID ROLLS IN HIS GRAVE (via Bob Tremblay):

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,122742,00.html Is Spain's Withdrawal Medal-Worthy? (David Asman, 6/15/04, Fox News)

Generals don't usually get medals for organizing a retreat.

But in Spain they do, or at least the defense minister did. Jose Bono was recently given a medal for the role he played in pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq. [...]

The Cross of Military Merit, which Defense Minister Bono was to receive for organizing the retreat of Spanish forces, entitles the recipient to wear a white sash and be addressed as, "Your most excellent lordship."

Sash? Shouldn't it be a feather boa?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:25 PM


The Secret Life of Newt Gingrich: Former speaker of the House by day, Amazon.com super reviewer by night. (Katherine Mangu-Ward, 06/16/2004, Weekly Standard)

NEWT GINGRICH has been leading a secret life. Night after night for years he's been slipping out of the headquarters of the vast right-wing conspiracy, wolfing down spy novels and then reviewing them for Amazon.com. So prolific and proficient has he been at this pursuit that he has attained the coveted title Amazon Top 500 Reviewer. Newt is number 488.

To earn this honor, Gingrich wrote 137 reviews, which were deemed "helpful" by 2,002 people. "Newt Gingrich," we learn from his extensive About Me page, "is an avid reader. He does not review all of the books he reads. You will not find any bad reviews here, just the books he thinks you might enjoy." From the same page, we learn that in addition to being called an "exceptional leader" by Time magazine (which made him its Man of the Year in 1995), Newt Gingrich is "credited with the idea of a Homeland Security agency," "widely recognized for his commitment to a better system of health," and that he was the March of Dimes 1995 Georgia Citizen of the Year.

Certainly no one could fault Gingrich for less-than-full disclosure about himself. But you can also tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps.

Gingrich shares the rank of Amazon reviewer #488 with "boudica" who describes herself as "Witch and Editor of the ZodiacBistro.com and a free lance reviewer." She's also a "Craft teacher with the CroneSpeak.com group" who has "recently published article in Bid Now! the Llewellyn Wicca Almanac."

Gingrich is slightly outranked by "Comrade Radmila", who doesn't "claim to be an expert on literature, films, or music" and notes in his About Me section that he's ticked off that "someone wrote to tell me I hurt their feelings because I did not like Mystic Pizza or something like that."

Is it just me, or is there something snide about her tone.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:18 PM

THE TOILET TEST (via Tom Morin):

Singapore unruffled by change (David Lammers, April 19, 2004, EE Times)

I went to Singapore in late March, expecting to find anxious hand-wringing about outsourcing. Instead, many Singaporeans, from taxi drivers to government officials, seemed fairly realistic about the rapid changes the world economy is now experiencing.

One of the most optimistic was Tan Choon Shian, director of electronics and precision engineering at the Economic Development Board. The EDB was influential in bringing hard-disk-drive manufacturing to the island when the personal computer industry started to take off more than 20 years ago, and the EDB remains an influential force in this government-led market economy.

I asked Tan about the drive manufacturers, several of which now manufacture in lower-wage countries, such as Thailand. In some cases, he said, companies are moving up the HDD technology ladder in Singapore. "As the drives get so small, the companies must figure out how to automate the manufacturing process here in Singapore so they won't contaminate the drive," Tan said.

And if companies move out, that is all part of the woof and warp of a modern economy.

"In the early 1960s, Singaporeans made toilet bowls, and that is long gone. We don't make it difficult for multinational companies to move out of Singapore-we can't do that if we want them to move in. Moving to lower-wage countries is just the way it goes in international business-it makes everyone more competitive," he said.

Perhaps we can derive an economic law from this: one yardstick of a nation's economic development is that it develops sufficient infrastructure to have indoor plumbing; a later one is that it is wealthy enough to farm out the mere manufacture of plumbing supplies.

N.B. The final stage is that which Japan is headed towards, where the bulk of the workforce is employed just changing the bedpans of the elderly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:15 PM


Hardline protesters vow to defend Iran nuke plants (Reuters, 6/16/04)

Hundreds of hardline Islamic protesters gathered at two Iranian nuclear plants on Wednesday, vowing to defend with their lives Iran's right to develop nuclear technology, the official IRNA news agency reported.

There seems no downside to their offer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:10 PM


Veep Watch (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Beth Lester, Clothilde Ewing, Cody Kucharczyk, Nathaniel Franks and Dan Furman, 6/16/04, CBS News)

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson told the AP that he is "not interested" in being vice president. Richardson is in Tokyo wrapping up a trade mission and said that he is "very happy being governor of New Mexico," but that he will "help Sen. Kerry in his campaign."

If he's serious, or if he's saying it because he's already been disqualified by the Kerry people, this is very bad news for the Democrats. Mr. Richardson is one of the only prospective candidates who could carry his own state, help with a core constituency, and, most importantly, be a good president.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 1:29 PM


MDs warn of syphilis outbreak (Nicholas Kohler, National Post, June 16th, 2004)

Weary of safe sex, Canadians are dropping their AIDS-scare precautions to fuel a countrywide outbreak of syphilis that has seen a five-fold rise in the sexual scourge over the past five years.

According to Health Canada, syphilis nearly doubled between 2002 and 2003, a heady climb for a sex bug that conjures up scenes of 19th-century depravity but which many thought was all but wiped out.

Last year, syphilis jumped from 1.5 cases per 100,000 people in 2002 to nearly three cases. During the mid-1990s, the rate was 0.5 cases per 100,000.

At the same time, chlamydia rates soared almost 70%, while gonorrhea climbed 40%.

The syphilis outbreak is concentrated mainly in the gay community, where those hit by the infection often also suffer from HIV/AIDS, said Paul MacPherson, an infectious diseases specialist at the Ottawa Hospital's General campus.

The increase has doctors scrambling to re-educate a Canadian population suffering from "safe-sex fatigue" following years of prudence in the wake of the AIDS epidemic. "Across the board, we're seeing major lapses in safe sex," Dr. MacPherson said.

Note that one must read carefully to get a clue as to exactly who these fatigued Canadians are that are being so careless. That human rights faux-pas is quickly corrected by the good doctor, who assures us this is an "across the board" plague. The whole weary population is messing up.

But who needs more education? Doesn't the man realize gay marriage is the answer?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 AM


Hopelessly hirsute fry fur for more feminine feel (Ryann Connell, May 25, 2004, Mainichi Daily News)

With women's magazines packed full of stories about the horribly hirsute, guys are apparently rushing out to empty their wallets having their body hair removed.

Japanese men have been doing away with down on their arms, legs and beards since way back in the '80s, but the new century has seen a new vigor, but only when it comes to the pursuit of a more feminine feel.

Why would a man want to look like a woman? Unless he was headed to jail or the British Navy...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:31 AM

I'M WITH STUPID (via ef brown):

Americans Know Little About European Union: Generally downplay its role and potential (Alec Gallup and Lydia Saad, 6/16/04, GALLUP NEWS SERVICE)

By their own admission, Americans are largely uninformed about the network of 25 countries that now comprise the European Union, or EU, as it is widely called. A landmark Gallup Poll testing U.S. public knowledge of the EU finds a remarkably high number -- 77% -- admitting they know very little or nothing about the organization. Only 3% claim to know a great deal about it. Furthermore, relatively few Americans -- just 20% -- correctly assess the population of EU nations relative to that of the United States, saying the EU is "larger." [...]

Americans who believe they are highly or fairly knowledgeable about the EU are much more likely than those with lower levels of self-stated knowledge to believe the EU is a contender for world superpower status. Nearly two-thirds of those in the high-awareness group (65%) believe it is very or somewhat likely that the EU will one day become a superpower like the United States. This drops to 50% among those who say they know very little about the EU, and to 27% among those who indicate they know nothing about the organization.

As is nearly always the case, the less you know about them the more accurately you forecast their future, which is more dismal than glorious.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 AM


The 'Last Civil War Widow' Has a Successor, It Would Seem (JAMES BARRON, 6/16/04, NY Times)

For the last several years, Alberta Martin had been celebrated as the last widow of a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. Flashing a Confederate battle flag, she traveled to commemorative ceremonies and descendants' gatherings, once shaking hands with the widow of a runaway slave who had fought with the Union Army.

On May 31, when Mrs. Martin died at 97 in Enterprise, Ala., her death was reported from coast to coast by The Associated Press.

Yesterday, however, The A.P. notified its subscribers, including The New York Times, that Mrs. Martin might not have been the last widow after all.

Officials of the United Daughters of the Confederacy say they have confirmed that Maudie Celia Hopkins, 89, of Lexa, Ark., was the teenage bride of an octogenarian Confederate veteran in the 1930's - and the group wonders if there may be other such widows.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:21 AM

KNOWING YOUR ALLIES (via Kevin Whited):

Rebel Cleric Signals End to Shiite Insurgency in Iraq (Reuters, 6/16/04)

Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr sent his fighters home on Wednesday in what may mark the end of a 10-week revolt against U.S.-led forces that once engulfed southern Iraq and Shi'ite Islam's holiest shrines.

With the formal end of U.S.-led occupation just two weeks away, Sadr issued a statement from his base in Najaf calling on his Mehdi Army militiamen to go home.

"Each of the individuals of the Mehdi Army, the loyalists who made sacrifices...should return to their governorates to do their duty,'' the statement said.

So quickens the quagmire...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:49 AM


US military on the move (Jim Lobe, 6/16/04, Asia Times)

"The most serious potential consequences of the contemplated shifts would not be military but political and diplomatic," wrote Kurt Campbell, a former senior Pentagon official now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Celeste Johnson Ward, in a Foreign Affairs article last year. The redeployments, they warned, could be construed as the beginning of a withdrawal from what Rumsfeld last year scornfully called "Old Europe".

And that, in turn, could reinforce traditional isolationist tendencies in the US that, before World War II, sought to prevent Washington from engaging in political "entanglements" with European countries or international institutions in ways that might constrain its freedom of action in the Americas or anywhere else.

Indeed, the repudiation of permanent alliances in favor of "coalitions of the willing" - a major feature of the Bush administration's post-September 11 policies as it was in the Wolfowitz-Libby paper - not only recalls isolationism; it is also entirely consistent with the strategy underlying the proposed redeployments. [...]

This is not surprising, because most of the same people - including Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy - who led the drive to war in Iraq remain in charge of implementing the new global strategy.

Writing in the same breath of an imposed Pax Americana and a return to isolationism demonstrates a disregard for coherence.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 AM


After EU election, 'forget about reforms' (Katrin Bennhold, June 16, 2004, International Herald Tribune)

Two days after most European governments were dealt a stinging blow in elections for the European Parliament, France, one of the worst-hit countries, came face-to-face with one of the sources of its malaise.

The countrywide strikes Tuesday by workers of Electricité de France, to protest the utility's planned privatization, are emblematic of widespread unease with economic reforms in the continent's largest economies.

This unease may tempt the freshly bruised leaders in France, Germany and Italy who are preparing for the next round of national ballots to water down some key economic reform initiatives and to stall others, analysts said.

"Forget about reforms for the next few years," said Lorenzo Codogno, economist at Bank of America in London. "After the elections, there is clearly a risk that the process is put on hold." [...]

Before last year's pension reform, transport workers and other public sector employees repeatedly went on strike. "There is pressure to slow down with the reforms" after Sunday's ballot, said Christian de Boissieu, president of the Council of Economic Analysis, which advises Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin of France on economic policy. "Maybe governments need to conduct the reforms more gradually - that would be a democratic response."

Would it help if Chirac, Schröder and Berlusconi indeed backed off reform plans? According to Daniel Gros, director of the Center for European Policy Studies, being hesitant about reform does not necessarily win votes.

"Just look at Sunday's results: In the countries where reforms are part of everyday life, governments were not punished," he said, pointing to Spain and Belgium.

"Governments got punished in countries where they hesitated about reforms and only passed them half-heartedly,' he said. "In a nutshell: They talked about reform all the time, but then didn't do that much." As far as electoral strategy is concerned, "that's the worst of both worlds," Gros said.

Having managed, at least for now, to dodge the bullet of greater centralization and bureaucratization, they now propose to stop or slow free market reforms and maintain each centralized, bureaucratic state? Was anyone in Europe paying attention during the 20th Century?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 AM


When Trade Leads to Tolerance: Embracing free-trade agreements with moderate Arab states is a powerful way to foster democracy. (ROBERT B. ZOELLICK, 6/12/04, NY Times)

Moderate Arab states like Morocco are reclaiming the ideas of an Islamic golden age when a vibrant culture allowed young scholars to explore the frontiers of knowledge and commerce thrived. Their reformist and tolerant vision of Islam includes free parliamentary elections, the sale of state-owned businesses, the encouragement of foreign investment that can be connected to broad-based development, and better protection of the rights of women and workers.

In Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain and elsewhere, young leaders are struggling for the soul of Islam. It is a battle of leaders who embrace tolerance against extremists who thrive on hatred. It is a conflict of economic reformers against those who fear modernization because it threatens their power to intimidate. And it is a contest of those who welcome closer ties with the West against those who see us as an enemy.

America's strategic interest in the outcome of this struggle is immense, but our ability to influence it is limited. From the Middle East to Southeast Asia, only fellow Muslims can lead their brothers and sisters to a better Islamic future. But the United States is not without influence. Through free-trade agreements, for example, we can embrace reforming states, encouraging their transformation and bolstering their chances for success even as we open new markets for American goods and services.

The free-trade agreement with Jordan enacted in 2001 was the first step. Closer trade ties and the removal of tariffs have resulted in a 197 percent increase in two-way trade and have drawn foreign investment to Jordan, including knowledge and entrepreneurial industries like pharmaceuticals and software. The Jordanians estimate that expanded trade has helped to create some 35,000 jobs. Jordan has also forged closer economic ties with Israel, our first free-trade partner.

To capitalize on this new interest in combining modernity with the Muslim world, President Bush outlined a plan last year to achieve a Middle East Free Trade Area. Now Morocco in the Maghreb is joining with Jordan by signing a free-trade agreement with the United States. Following fast, the United States and Bahrain just concluded free trade negotiations a few weeks ago, and we look forward to signing that agreement next.

These leaders have inspired the interest of others. The United States has now signed trade facilitation framework agreements with eight other Arab countries, from Algeria to Yemen, as a preliminary step toward free trade. Piece by piece, the administration is building a mosaic of modernizers with a plan that offers trade and openness as tools for Muslim leaders looking toward the rebirth of an optimistic and tolerant Islam.

Given that Senator Kerry opposes democracy in the Middle East and capitalism at home, there seems no chance he'd support such free trade agreements.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM


Reagan the Divider (Rick Perlstein, June 7, 2004, Salon)

No wonder that when, in November 1983, NATO launched a war games exercise code-named Able Archer, the Soviet Union misread its intentions as offensive and put its nuclear forces on alert, and the world came closer to ending than it ever had before.

It took this near miss -- and not, certainly, the largest mass demonstration in American history, the million people who gathered in Central Park in 1982 to demonstrate for a nuclear freeze (another moment you probably won't read about in all the Reagan eulogies) -- to get Reagan thinking seriously about negotiating an arms control agreement with the Soviet Union. To his enormous credit.

But he never did make a similar peace with the "welfare queens" he fabricated out of whole cloth to push his anti-compassionate conservatism. Nor with the African Americans he insulted by launching his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were slaughtered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1964. Nor with the Berkeley students demonstrating in a closed-off plaza whom he ordered tear-gassed by helicopter in 1969.

Nor, last but not least, with the tens of thousands of AIDS corpses whose disease he did not even deign to publicly acknowledge until 1987.

As the eulogies come down the pike, don't let conservatives, once again, win the ideological struggle to determine mainstream discourse. Remember Reagan; respect him. But don't let them make you revere him. He was a divider, not a uniter.

Except that the two aren't mutually exclusive. He united us against the Soviet Union, the Welfare State and the Sexual Revolution after a period of years in which the liberal establishment tried to close the divide between Americans and those evils.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:17 AM


Polynesia voters set stage for showdown with Paris (Nick Squires, 16/06/2004, Daily Telegraph)

One of France's farthest-flung and most exotic colonial possessions, French Polynesia, elected its first pro-independence leader yesterday in a blow to the government in Paris.

The new head of state, Oscar Temaru, replaced a long-time political ally of President Jacques Chirac as president. The new man favours independence for the South Pacific archipelago, also known by the name of its main island, Tahiti.

The high tension of the past few weeks is at odds with French Polynesia's reputation as the epitome of South Seas tranquillity and romance, an image first fostered by 18th century explorers such as Capt James Cook.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:04 AM


Dawn of the Daddy State: If terrorism has made a global trend toward greater state power inevitable, then it's important to get authoritarianism right. Here's how (Paul Starobin, June 2004, The Atlantic Monthly)

Last fall, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, a federally funded agency chartered to spread liberty around the world, President George W. Bush delivered a speech holding out some "essential principles" as "common to every successful society in every culture." The first of these, the President declared, is that "successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military so that governments respond to the will of the people and not the will of the elite." That was what America had learned in its 200-year "journey" on the road to perfecting its democracy, Bush observed, by way of encouraging less mature works in progress—namely, post-Taliban Afghanistan and post-Saddam Iraq—to follow this tried and true path.

The rhetoric may seem unexceptionable. But in the context of our age—an age in which certain dark forces, most prominently terrorism, confront the state with the elemental task of maintaining security and civic order—the principles Bush named are not just irrelevant but almost precisely the opposite of the ones we should be dedicating ourselves to. Leaving aside the question of military power, the necessary response to terrorism is not to limit the power of the state but, rather, to bolster it, so as to preserve the basic order without which the defenseless citizen has no prospect of enjoying the splendors of liberty. In the wake of Madrid, in the wake of 9/11, in the wake of suicide bombings in Moscow subway stations and Jerusalem cafés, the state is impelled to become even more intrusive and muscular than it already is. How well today's leaders meet this obligation to construct more-vigilant states is very likely to stand as one of history's most important criteria for assessing their stewardship.

An authoritarian push is often seen as coming from above, forced on an unsuspecting public by would-be autocrats. But today's global trend toward what might be called the Daddy State is propelled by the anxious demands of majority blocs of citizens. The Russians recently re-elected Vladimir Putin, a former KGB colonel, with 71 percent of the vote, handing him a mandate to continue his crackdown on Chechen terrorists. The Israelis are demanding the Fence—envisioned as a sniper-patrolled, electrified national barrier aimed at keeping out Palestinian suicide bombers. Not only do Americans broadly support Bush's Patriot Act, but women—who worry more than men do that they or someone close to them will fall victim to terrorism—tend to view the measure as not tough enough, according to a recent Gallup poll. Europeans are demanding closer policing of their rapidly growing Muslim minority, which now stands at 15 million in the EU.

In short, we are at the dawn of a popularly sanctioned movement toward greater authoritarianism in the domain of what is now fashionably called "homeland security." As Thomas Hobbes explained in his mid-seventeenth-century treatise Leviathan (a work that can be read as a primer on homeland security), there is no real contradiction in the idea of authoritarianism as a choice. In a proverbial state of nature, man willingly gives up some portion of his liberty to a sovereign as the only conceivable protector of his life and property. During times of relative quiet and prosperity it is easy to forget that this sort of bargain exists—but in times of danger, woe to the sovereign that neglects its duty to protect.

"even more intrusive and muscular?" Has anyone ever been affected by the Patriot Act or the entire Homeland Security apparatus, other than the guy x-raying your bag at the airport having a snappier uniform?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 AM


Time will temper idolization of Reagan (Matthew Dallek, 6/13/04, Philadelphia Inquirer)

When Harry Truman left office, few could have predicted that 50 years later, his reputation would soar into the stratosphere. In 1953, Truman's approval ratings hovered in the 20s, the Korean War had bogged down, and labor unrest and soaring inflation dogged his reputation. Now, however, Truman is a beloved, folksy figure who, it is said, saved America from communist aggression and expanded civil rights and health care to millions nationwide.

So, it is fair to ask: What will be the future of Ronald Reagan? It is unlikely to look as rosy as it has over the last week. Reagan's former aides and fellow conservatives have, as we've all heard, portrayed Reagan as a sort of political deity who ended the Cold War, cut government waste, and inspired an era of optimism, reinventing America as a "shining city on a hill." Reagan's winning personality and formidable communication skills have received so much attention that they have become cliches.

Such mythologizing ignores the debates about Reagan that lie ahead, in the '20s, '30s and '40s of this century. As is typically the case with the hero - or villain - of one moment, a more realistic portrait will eventually take hold. Defined by the issues that emerge in the mid-21st century, Reagan's reputation will almost certainly take two big hits - on foreign affairs and domestic entitlements, such as Social Security and Medicare.

Current generations of historians have a vested interest in defending the New Deal and Great Society and denigrating the conservative counter-revolution. A hundred years from now, when you look at their respective records, Reagan will tower over Truman, whose mess he cleaned up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:08 AM


The New Defeatism: Are we giving up, even as we're succeeding? (Victor Davis Hanson, June 4, 2004, National Review)

For those who think that we are either incompetent or disingenuous in Iraq, look at Kurdistan, where seven million people live under humane government with less than 300 American troops. How did that happen? The people of Kurdistan are Islamic, often quarrelsome folks - in the heart of the Middle East - now residing in relative safety and autonomy, and expressing good will toward the United States. They accept that we don't want Kurdish oil any more than we want to take over the sands and slums of the Sunni Triangle. So the problem in central Iraq is not us, but rather the fact that unlike Kurdistan - which had a decade of transition toward consensual society thanks to Anglo-American pilots - the country is reeling from 30 years of autocracy, in which Islamic fascism offered an alternative of sorts to an ossified Soviet-style dictatorship.

We have always had a "plan" in Iraq - it was to leave the country something like its northern third in Kurdistan. Precisely because it was costly, idealistic, and dangerous, we should expect a lot of killing and bombing in the next few months as an array of opponents tries to derail the upcoming
transition and elections. Anyone who thinks thousands of Islamic fascists and out-of-work Baathists won't want to stop the region's first consensual government is unhinged. But, again, for all our mistakes of omission there was and is a plan - and it is now slowly coming to messy fruition. Even after the spring nightmare, we do not hear many Iraqis saying, "Leave right now and take your stinking $87 billion with you," much less, "Give us back Saddam" or "Quit stealing our oil for your cheap gas." [...]

Partisanship about the war earlier on established the present sad paradox of election-year politicking: Good news from Iraq is seen as bad news for John Kerry, and vice versa. If that seems too harsh a judgment, we should ask whether Terry McAuliffe would prefer, as would the American people, Osama bin Laden captured in June, more sarin-laced artillery shells found in July, al-Zarqawi killed in August, al-Sadr tried and convicted by Iraqi courts in September, an October sense of security and calm in Baghdad, and Syria pulling a Libya in November.

These depressing times really are much like the late 1960s, when only a few dared to plead that Hue and Tet were not abject defeats, but rare examples of American courage and skill. But now as then, the louder voice of defeatism smothers all reason, all perspective, all sense of balance - and so the war is not assessed in terms of five years but rather by the last five hours of ignorant punditry. Shame on us all.

Historic forces of the ages are in play. If we can just keep our sanity a while longer, accept our undeniable mistakes, learn from them, and press on, Iraq really will emerge as the constitutional antithesis of Saddam Hussein, and that will be a good and noble thing - impossible without America and its most amazing military.

Two weeks away from this becoming conventional wisdom.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:01 AM


Inquisition wasn't quite as bad as people think, says Pope (Bruce Johnston, The Telegraph, June 16th, 2004)

The Vatican sought to play down the terrors of the Inquisition yesterday, claiming that far fewer people were tortured and executed for heresy than was popularly believed.

The reassessment by Church historians was seized on by the Pope to qualify the apology he made for the Inquisition during the Church's millennium celebrations.

The research emerged from a conference of scholars convened in 1998 to help the Pope assess the impact of the Inquisition, which often used brutal methods to suppress alleged witchcraft and doctrinal unorthodoxy.

Church officials said that statistics and other data demolished myths about the Inquisition, including that torture and executions were commonly used.

"For the first time we studied the Inquisition in its entirety, from its beginnings to the 19th century," said Agostino Borromeo, a professor of history of Catholic and other Christian confessions at Rome's Sapienza University. Prof Borromeo said that while there were some 125,000 trials of suspected heretics in Spain, research found that about one per cent of the defendants were executed, far fewer than commonly believed. Many of the burnings at the stake were carried out by civil rather than religious tribunals.

Yesterday, the Pope reiterated his mea culpa but stressed that actions which had "disfigured the face of the Church" had to be viewed in their historical context.

My, won’t this leave our secular friends a-spluttering.

But why is the Vatican behaving like second-rate researchers from an obscure university trying to get some publicity for their research? Although this is completely accurate, are we really supposed to believe this is the first time Rome has studied the Inquisition or tried to figure out how many victims there were? Or has this more to do with second-guessing the flurry of rash apologies we have been treated to of late?

June 15, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 PM


The Road to Democracy, via Damascus: The Bush administration and the European Union should be doing more to encourage Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon. (MICHAEL YOUNG, 6/12/04, NY Times)

What the United States and the European Union should do is put Lebanese sovereignty at the top of their agenda — even if they have few means of enforcement. And Syria and Lebanon should themselves recast their relationship and set a sensible deadline for a Syrian withdrawal; it need not be immediate, but neither should it be relegated to a distant future. This would help marginalize those who, wrongly, seek a rude divorce between Beirut and Damascus.

What would the advantages be to Syria and Lebanon? It would end a debilitating relationship that benefits neither — so that both can, together, endure the impact of future regional realignments. But it would also acknowledge that Syria's real challenges come not from Lebanon or even from Israel (the Syrian-Israeli border is among the quietest in the region), but from Iraq, where American forces can continue to intimidate Syria.

How can the international community help? First, by calling, after years of indifference, for the peaceful carrying out of United Nations and other resolutions demanding foreign troop withdrawals from Lebanon. This would include a renewed commitment to the 1989 Taif accord that ended the civil war and outlined a Syrian redeployment to the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon within two years. While the wording of the accord is open to interpretation, its spirit is not: the Syrians are asked to move their troops with the implicit promise of a total withdrawal.

Second, the United States and Europe should insert themselves into the Syrian-Lebanese relationship by advising the two states to redefine their rapport and set a framework for a Syrian departure. Both power blocs say they favor democratic self-determination; they can prove it in Lebanon. This might represent interference in the bilateral affairs of foreign states — but sovereignty should not be an excuse to allow the domination of one country by another.

Third, the United States and the European Union should protect and enhance Lebanese liberal institutions — timely and free elections, and respect for the constitution, judicial independence, civic groups and opposition parties. A priority is guaranteeing that Lebanon's presidential election this year and parliamentary elections next year take place and are free and fair. After all, it is Lebanese democracy itself, not Syria's presence, that makes Lebanon stable. Only true democracy will ensure a Syrian pullout goes smoothly and that a durable Syrian-Lebanese bond — one between equals — is built afterward.

When does he get to the part where Syria has to democratize?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:44 PM


The Real Reagan Revolution (Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Jun 15, 2004, AlterNet)

Civil rights, civil liberties, women's groups and liberal Democrats regard the Reagan years as the most disastrous in modern times for civil rights and social programs.

The good that Reagan did for black America (Joseph Perkins, June 11, 2004, San Diego Union-Tribune)
[T]he 1980s, with a conservative, free-market Republican in the White House, were a boom time for black America.

Indeed, Andrew Brimmer, the Harvard-trained black economist, the former Federal Reserve Board member, estimated that total black business receipts increased from $12.4 billion in 1982 to $18.1 billion in 1987, translating into an annual average growth rate of 7.9 percent (compared to 5 percent for all U.S. businesses.

The success of the black entrepreneurial class during the Reagan era was rivaled only by the gains of the black middle class.

In fact, black social scientist Bart Landry estimated that that upwardly mobile cohort grew by a third under Reagan's watch, from 3.6 million in 1980 to 4.8 million in 1988. His definition was based on employment in white-collar jobs as well as on income levels.

All told, the middle class constituted more than 40 percent of black households by the end of Reagan's presidency, which was larger than the size of black working class, or the black poor.

The impressive growth of the black middle class during the 1980s was attributable in no small part to the explosive growth of jobs under Reagan, which benefited blacks disproportionately.

Indeed, between 1982 and 1988, total black employment increased by 2 million, a staggering sum. That meant that blacks gained 15 percent of the new jobs created during that span, while accounting for only 11 percent of the working-age population.

Meanwhile, the black jobless rate was cut by almost half between 1982 and 1988. Over the same span, the black employment rate – the percentage of working-age persons holding jobs – increased to record levels, from 49 percent to 56 percent.

The black executive ranks especially prospered under Reagan. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that the number of black managers and officers in corporations with 100 or more employees increased by 30 percent between 1980 and 1985.

During the same period, the number of black professionals increased by an astounding 63 percent.

The burgeoning of the black professional, managerial and executive ranks during the 1980s coincided with a steady growth of the black student population at the nation's colleges and universities in the 1980s.

Even though the number of college-aged blacks decreased during much of the decade, black college enrollment increased by 100,000 between 1980 and 1987, according to the Census Bureau.

Meanwhile, the 1980s saw an improvement in the black high school graduation rate, as the proportion of blacks 18 to 24 years old earning high school diplomas increased from 69.7 percent in 1980 to 76 percent by 1987.

On balance, then, the majority of black Americans made considerable progress in the 1980s.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:28 PM


GOP Planning July Vote on Gay Marriage Amendment (Mark Preston, Jun. 15, 2004, Roll Call)

The Senate Republican leadership is aiming for a mid-July vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, forcing Democrats to take a stand on the controversial topic just before the party heads to Boston for its presidential nominating convention.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:57 PM


Homosexuality is not biologically determined - latest research. (David van Gend, 6/08/2004, Online Opinion)

The Titanic of Gay Rights, leaving all in its wake, is about to founder on a large and immovable fact. [...]

The iceberg of clinical fact looming up in the dark is this: that homosexuals who want to become heterosexual can and do change, as authoritative medical research has now demonstrated. Given the will, and skilled therapy, there can be an end to the nightmare of same-sex attraction. That is the best news for our heartsick friends down below deck, but it is bad news for the complacent triumphalists of the Gay Titanic.

Bad news for their tall tale that being gay is like being black, an immutable inborn identity. Bad news, in the debate on gay marriage, for their false analogies with apartheid and Aborigines, since blacks cannot stop being blacks, but gays can stop being gay.

Homosexuality emerges in its truer light, not as a minority "genetic identity" but as a complex conditioned behaviour, which can and does change.

As to the exact causes of homosexuality, the medical jury is still out. But the baseless claim, promoted by Justice Michael Kirby and others, that gays are just born that way, is given no support by the American Psychiatric Association. Their Fact Sheet on Sexual Orientation (2000) sums it up: "There are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality".

As to the ability for homosexuals to change, late last year a remarkable research paper was published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour (October 2003) by one of America's senior psychiatrists, Dr Robert Spitzer. Significantly, this was the same Spitzer whose reforming zeal helped delete homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association's manual of mental disorders back in 1973. Now he has published a detailed review of "200 Participants Reporting a Change from Homosexual to Heterosexual orientation". He writes of his research: "Although initially sceptical, in the course of the study, the author became convinced of the possibility of change in some gay men and lesbians."

In his structured analysis of homosexuals who claimed to have changed their orientation through "reparative therapy", he concluded that the therapy had been genuinely effective: that "almost all of the participants reported substantial changes in the core aspects of sexual orientation, not merely overt behaviour". Against critics who say that attempts to change sexual orientation can cause emotional harm to homosexuals, he notes: "For the participants in our study, there was no evidence of harm".

Folks who spread the myth of a genetic basis benefit greatly from two interesting factors: (1) the self-loathing argument that no one would choose to be gay; and (2) that none of us much wants to be held responsible for our behavior, so biological determinism is attractive, even if evil.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:35 PM


Democratic Revolution?: A majority of Iraqis now want representative government. (REUEL MARC GERECHT, June 15, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

The Shiite clergy led by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has been consistently ecumenical toward the Sunnis and their clerics. With rare exceptions, the ayatollah has fought the repatriation of Shiite mosques that Saddam gave to Sunnis after the Shiite-led rebellion of 1991. Sistani's commentary about governance and democracy has been free (in Sunni eyes) of insulting Shiite historical allusions. So, too, has been Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Sayyid al-Hakim, the No. 2 Shiite cleric who is the only "pure" Iraqi Arab (Sistani is of Iranian birth) among Najaf's four grand ayatollahs. Contrary to much "accepted wisdom," the increasing religious identity on both the Sunni and Shiite sides is likely to fortify, not weaken, the fraternal and nationalist bonds between the two Arab communities.

Though vastly more tolerant and appreciative of American actions, the Arab Shiites, too, have diminishing patience and curiosity about Americans and the Iraqi authorities whom Washington has placed over them. The desire for elections among the Shiites is enormously powerful--Sistani's pro-democracy broadsides, which knocked America's MacArthur-like proconsul, L. Paul Bremer, to his knees and sent the Bush administration reeling toward the U.N., have had such force precisely because his statements reflect widespread sentiment throughout the Shiite community. It is by no means clear whether the Shiites view this new interim government as a step closer to democracy, which will finally give the Shiites the social prominence and political power equal to their numbers (they are at least 60% of the population).

Ayatollah Sistani has given the new government a tepid blessing, while emphasizing that real legitimacy can only come from the ballot box. The Shiites have already noted--particularly those who are more religious and politically define themselves in terms of their faith--that this new interim government actually gives less to them than did the Iraqi Governing Council. The Shiite Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is a thoroughly secularized fellow who appears to be more comfortable with Sunnis than with Shiites. His former organization, the Iraqi National Accord, was a well-known repository for fallen though not necessarily democratically inclined Sunni Baathists. Sistani didn't veto his selection, and the Grand Ayatollah certainly could have. The cleric surely realizes that Mr. Allawi has no political base in Iraq--if Mr. Allawi has a political future he must build it among the Shiites, which means he must be sensitive to the preferences and concerns of the clergy. If he tries to use his office except as an instrument to prepare for national elections, then he runs the serious risk of making himself politically irrelevant very quickly. The Central Intelligence Agency, which has backed Mr. Allawi for years, and the White House would be well advised not to believe they've gotten the better of Ayatollah Sistani with the selection of Mr. Allawi, who was not the cleric's first choice. The ayatollah continues to control the destiny of a democratic Iraq.

It is certain that the ayatollah and the Shiite community as a whole will view the new interim government with profound suspicion until it proves that elections are its first and overwhelming priority. If it doesn't do this, if it even intimates that the January 2005 date for constituent elections may be too soon (and there is much "expert" advice in the U.S. and the U.N. which believes this), then it's conceivable that Sistani will view the American presence in Iraq as harmful to the advance of democracy. This would be a terrible conclusion.

But it would be accurate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:08 PM


Republican Urges Kerry to Quit the Senate (AP, Jun 15, 2004)

A top Massachusetts Republican on Tuesday called on Democrat John Kerry to resign from the Senate while he seeks the presidency, a vacancy that would allow the GOP to fill the seat.

Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey argued that Kerry, the state's four-term senator, has missed too many roll call votes and has done a poor job of representing his constituents. Of the 112 Senate votes this year, Kerry has voted just 14 times, according to an Associated Press tally.

"It's not fair, it's not right and the public is not being well-served," said Healey, who said she was speaking on behalf of Republican Gov. Mitt Romney. "I'm calling on John Kerry to resign so that we can fill that office with someone who is 100 percent devoted to the job of representing the people of Massachusetts."

A spokesman for the Kerry campaign did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

I had June 6th in the pool, but it's never too late.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:04 PM


As Clinton Is Honored, a Brief Break From Politics. Very Brief. (DAVID E. SANGER, 6/15/04, NY Times)

Graciousness oozed from all sides. Mr. Bush praised his predecessor - upon whom he bestowed the honorific nickname "42" to mark an eight-year interregnum between Bushes - as a man "with far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need, and the forward-looking spirit the Americans like in a president." He offered up an advance plug for Mr. Clinton's memoir.

His face reddening, his eye tearing a bit, Mr. Clinton returned the compliment, saying: "I had mixed feelings coming here today, and they were only confirmed by all those kind and generous things you've said. Made me feel like I was a pickle stepping into history."

He's in the White House for an hour and we get stories about oozing and pickles?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:58 PM


A brighter look from Kerry (Carol Beggy & Mark Shanahan, June 15, 2004, Boston Globe)

Despite a temporary loss of wrinkles, Senator John Kerry denied claims earlier this year that he underwent Botox treatments. But there's no denying the aftereffects of a piece of cosmetic work he had done yesterday. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee emerged from a morning of seclusion in Washington with two new pearly-white-capped teeth at a airport rally in Atlantic City. The noticeably improved smile is not only bright, it corrects the angled teeth and one prior miscolored cap.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:54 PM


Gasoline Prices May Continue Declining (H. JOSEF HEBERT, 6/15/04, Associated Press)

Gasoline prices, which dipped under $2 a gallon for the first time in weeks, "may be turning a corner" and should continue declining this summer, though motorists shouldn't expect dramatic decreases at the pump, the Energy Department said Tuesday.

Guy Caruso, administrator of the department's Energy Information Administration, told a Senate committee that retail gas prices fell by about three cents a gallon last week on a national average and that wholesale prices declined by 23 cents a gallon from their peak in mid-May.

These developments "should result in further reductions in retail prices in coming weeks," Caruso told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "Absent major disruptions, oil and gasoline markets may be turning a corner."

He said the EIA's analysis recently lowered its forecast for gas prices in June by three cents a gallon and forecast that gasoline prices are expected to continue to fall beyond this month.

Caruso said their appeared to be an "improved balance" between gasoline supply and demand and an expectation in the markets of lower crude oil prices.

It's mid-2004 AD and there are still folks who are surprised when supply and demand affect one another.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:49 PM

50-0 FILES:

Kerry Flies the Flag (The Prowler, 6/15/2004, American Spectator)

As the Prowler reported six weeks ago, the AFL-CIO has been telling supporters this Rep. Dick Gephardt was basically a lock as the vice presidential selection. Increasingly, union bosses have been hearing the Gephardt is no longer in the running.

"Gephardt better damn well be the pick," says an AFL-CIO lobbyist. "We've done too much for Kerry to get screwed this way. A governor from Iowa ain't going to cut it for our membership. It's been tough enough selling Kerry to some of our people."

Every state and constituency that's in play is supposedly Democratic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:25 PM


Death by Theory: Attachment therapy is based on a pseudoscientific theory that, when put into practice, can be deadly (Michael Shermer, 5/24/04, Scientific American)

In April 2000, 10-year-old Candace Newmaker began treatment for attachment disorder. Her adoptive mother of four years, Jeane Newmaker, was having trouble handling what she considered to be Candace's disciplinary problems. She sought help from a therapist affiliated with the Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children and was told that Candace needed attachment therapy (AT), based on the theory that if a normal attachment is not formed during the first two years, attachment can be done later.

According to the theory, the child must be subjected to physical "confrontation" and "restraint" to release repressed abandonment anger. The process is repeated until the child is exhausted and emotionally reduced to an "infantile" state. Then the parents cradle, rock and bottle-feed him, implementing an "attachment."

Candace was treated by Connell Watkins, a nationally prominent attachment therapist and past clinical director for the Attachment Center at Evergreen (ACE) in Colorado, and her associate Julie Ponder. The treatment was carried out in Watkins's home and videotaped. According to trial transcripts, Watkins and Ponder conducted more than four days of "holding therapies." On one day they grabbed or covered Candace's face 138 times, shook or bounced her head 392 times and shouted into her face 133 times. When these actions failed to break her, they put the 68-pound Candace inside a flannel sheet and covered her with sofa pillows, while several adults (with a combined weight of nearly 700 pounds) lay on top of her so that she could be "reborn." Ponder is reported to have told the girl to imagine that she was "a teeny little baby" in the womb, commanding her to "come out head first." In response, Candace screamed, "I can't breathe, I can't do it! ... Somebody's on top of me.... I want to die now! Please! Air!"

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:15 PM


Professor Sir Stuart Hampshire (Daily Telegraph, 15/06/2004)

Sir Stuart Hampshire, the philosopher who died on Sunday aged 89, was one of the anti-rationalist Oxford thinkers, others being Isaiah Berlin and Bernard Williams, who gave a new direction to moral and political thought in the post-war era. [...]

Hampshire had a horror of the moral certainties of Left and Right from his time in British intelligence during the Second World War. He valued freedom over equality and rejected the classical philosophical tradition that set up reason as an absolute arbiter of disputes. Nor did he believe that liberal or socialist values had any special moral or historical significance, regarding all claims to moral universality as bogus. [...]

Stuart Newton Hampshire was born on October 1 1914 and was educated at Repton and at Balliol College, Oxford, from which he graduated with a First in Greats in 1936. Elected to a fellowship at All Soul's the same year, he became a lecturer in Philosophy at Oxford before serving in Army Intelligence during the Second World War.

In late 1942, working in the Radio Security Service which monitored the radio links of Nazi spies, Hampshire was said to be one of the authors of a study suggesting a growing rift between the German General Staff and the Nazi regime. Its central premise was that the war in Europe could be ended if the British government gave the German General Staff an incentive to launch a coup.

The report, endorsed by all the junior officials who read it, including Hugh Trevor-Roper (the historian Lord Dacre), was submitted for security clearance to Section-5 Deputy Chief Kim Philby who forbade its circulation, insisting that it was "mere speculation". Trevor-Roper later recalled that he and his colleagues were baffled by Philby's intransigence, though in retrospect he surmised that it was not in the Russian interest for the Western Allies to support the German opposition to Hitler while the Red Army was still too far away to gain a foothold.

FDR and his cronies were less influenced by direct communist intervention and more blinded by a hatred of the Germans, but the failure to recognize that the military was prepared to take out Hitler and the unprecedented and counterproductive insistence on unconditional surrender were disastrous. We might have won WWII and avoided the Cold War had wiser heads prevailed.

-ARCHIVES: Srtuart Hampshire (NY Review of Books)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:00 PM


Spacecraft Prepares to Orbit Saturn and Its Moons: Mission Could Yield New Clues To Solar System (Guy Gugliotta, June 6, 2004, Washington Post)

After a 6 1/2-year journey spanning nearly 2.2 billion miles, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft is speeding toward its final rendezvous with Saturn, opening the discovery phase of one of the most ambitious scientific space missions ever attempted. [...]

Scientists have planned a four-year mission, during which the spacecraft will circle Saturn 76 times. It will study the planet, its rings, its 31 known moons, its magnetic field and especially how its largest moon -- Titan -- harbors the building blocks of life. With judicious use of remaining propellant, planners suspect they could extend the mission for several additional years, perhaps decades.

What they will examine is a solar system in microcosm, with Saturn as the sun and the rings as the "dust disk" that surrounds young stars and can lead to planet formation. By understanding the dynamics of Saturn and its moons, scientists say they can learn more about the early evolution of the solar system.

But "the [current] focus of planetary exploration is also the solar system's ability to sustain life," said astronomer Michael J.S. Belton, who led the imaging team for the 14-year Galileo mission to Jupiter that concluded last year. "We're expecting great things."

In a rehearsal for "Saturn Orbit Insertion," engineers late last month ignited Cassini's main engine for the first time in four years. The dry run also set up a close encounter for Friday with Saturn's moon Phoebe, during the spacecraft's final approach to the rings.

Phoebe -- only 137 miles across -- is a dark object with a "retrograde" orbit, moving in the opposite direction from Saturn's rotation. Astronomers have long suspected that Phoebe, unlike Saturn's other moons, is an asteroid or a captured migrant from the remote Kuiper Belt on the solar system's outskirts.

But the Phoebe flyby is only a teaser for the expedition's virtuoso exploit. On Christmas Eve, Cassini is to detach and launch the bowl-shaped Huygens space probe, its 705-pound passenger, for a three-week journey that is expected to end with a controlled descent and landing on the surface of Titan.

"All indications to date are that the observatory is behaving well and exactly as designed," said Orlando Figueroa, director of NASA's Solar System Exploration Division, who joined Mitchell and others at a NASA headquarters news conference last Thursday. "I applaud [the] meticulous approach."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:51 PM


U.S. Economy: May Core Consumer Prices Rise 0.2% (Bloomberg, 6/15/04)

Consumer prices excluding food and energy rose 0.2 percent in May, less than in April, suggesting the Federal Reserve won't have to rush increases in its benchmark interest rate to thwart inflation. Consumers gained confidence. [...]

"Inflationary pressures are not likely to be a serious concern in the period ahead,'' Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said to the Senate Banking Committee hearing to confirm him for a fifth term.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:45 PM


20 Quotes: Is it Reagan or W.? (Katherine Jean Lopez, National Review: The Corner)

Let's see someone take this quiz and then argue that Ronald Reagan was different than George W. Bush or that Mr. Bush bears any responsibility for our relations with Old Europe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:40 PM


The lunatic mainstream had better start worrying fast (Mark Steyn, 15/06/2004, Daily Telegraph)

[A]lready Britain's lunatic mainstream is lapsing back into its customary condescension on this issue. If your views on Europe don't fall between the broad parameters from, oh, Neil Kinnock to Chris Patten, you must be barking mad and we need pay you no further heed. The political class has refined Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death my right not to have to listen to you say it. Are you still here?

This is unworthy of a democracy, and more to the point deeply unhealthy. One reason why the Eutopian dream has fizzled across the Continent is because the entire political class took it for granted no right-thinking person could possibly disagree with them, so they never felt they had to bother arguing the case and, now they have to, they can't remember what the arguments were. Those who subscribe to inevitablist theories of historical progress often make that mistake: the lazy Aussie republicans did in 1999, for example.

Almost every Europhile argument is weaker now than it was a quarter-century ago, when the EU - or whatever it was called back then - had a stronger economy, healthier demographics, and the devastating implications of the Continent's social costs were not yet plain. Yet pro-Europeans remain wedded to their ancient arguments: for a good decade and a half Edward Heath in his tetchier moments has airily waved the interviewer's question aside and said all these things were decided in the 1970s and we need to get on with it. Otherwise, Britain will be "isolated in the world" and unable to survive unless it allows its relatively buoyant economy to be yoked in perpetuity to the FrancoGerman statist gerontocracy.

That's why Labour's decline to its pre-Great War vote share is as telling as the hit the Tories took. Neither of Britain's two main parties reflects the real division on the critical issue of the day. In a less diseased political culture, we'd have one party that argues honestly for a highly centralised European superstate - that's the only one on offer - and one party that wants to keep a flat in Spain, sell Scotch eggs and saveloys to supermarkets in Slovenia, saunter along the beach at St Tropez flaunting its wedding tackle to adoring frauleins, and doesn't see why any of these economic and cultural ties require a European public prosecutor or foreign minister.

Sadly, Margaret Thatcher seems to have been the last populist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:16 PM


Intelligence czar not needed; spies are (JOSEPH L. GALLOWAY, 6/12/04, Knight Ridder Newspapers)

There is no question that our intelligence system, which costs us more than $40 billion a year, is broken. It has been broken for years, decades really. Broken at least since the 1970s, when then-director Stansfield Turner turned human intelligence capabilities in the CIA into a stepchild and lavished most of the attention and money on what are called "national technical means," which means spy satellites.

Today's Keyhole 12 satellites can read the license plates of cars, and Mercury satellites can eavesdrop on cell phone calls, but they can't seem to find Osama bin Laden.

We need much more to fight a global war on terrorism. We need spies - people who can be recruited by Al Qaeda and Hamas and the other crazies. We need to get inside.

High tech worked on the terrorists for a while, until they figured out we were listening to their satellite phone calls. Now they've gone back to sending couriers with written messages and using an ever-changing buffet of Web sites and e-mail addresses.

Would our nation be safer, our leaders better informed and democracy shored up by the creation of a national intelligence czar, under the White House or the Pentagon, with authority to direct, budget, man and task the separate spy agencies in our government? Probably not.

The parts of the system that do work - CIA field agents working to recruit, train and run human intelligence sources, station chiefs who aren't afraid to report the truth and quiet little analytical agencies like the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research that sometimes get it right when the big boys get it wrong - would likely be hampered or choked in any such reorganization.

The stuff we don't need right now - such as a proposed $50 billion plus new super-secret satellite spy system - would likely get built because more is better in the budget wars.

The notion that we'll break al Qaeda by infiltrating it is the stuff of spy novels. You can learn more by reading al Qaeda's own websites than we'll ever learn from any John Le Carre shtick.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:49 AM


Iraq's neighbors welcome new interim government (SAM F. GHATTAS, 6/15/04, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Iraq's interim government received a boost Tuesday when its neighbors welcomed the transfer of sovereignty in that country at the end of June and wished the new administration success.

Meeting on the sidelines of the Organization of the Islamic Conference session, Iraq's neighbors plus Egypt also stressed support for Iraqis "in their progress on the path toward building fully legitimate and representative national institutions."

The meeting on Iraq came as delegates to the OIC, the world's largest Islamic organization, debated a resolution that would give the interim government the key support of the Islamic world and call for help in rebuilding the war-shattered nation.

The meeting on Iraq comprised foreign ministers and representatives from Iraq and its neighbors-- Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria-- plus regional power Egypt. U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi also attended the meeting.

Pakistan nabs militant leader, ends operation (MATTHEW PENNINGTON, 6/15/04, Chicago Sun-Times)
Pakistan claimed successes Monday on two fronts in its war on terrorism, ending an assault against al-Qaida hideouts near the Afghan border and announcing the arrest of the alleged mastermind of attacks on Shiites.

The arrested man, Daud Badini, leads an al-Qaida-linked militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and police say he is a brother-in-law of Ramzi Yousef, who is serving a life term in the United States for the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

Badini was among 11 terrorist suspects -- also including a nephew of former al-Qaida No. 3, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -- captured over the weekend in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM


TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD VEEP CHOICE (Jim Geraghty, 06/15/04, National Review)

Bob Novak wrote last week that "the current buzz in the national capital's high-level Democratic circles has projected that Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, previously considered a dark horse as John Kerry's running mate, is now the leading prospect."

Only Vilsack, Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina are known to be on the Kerry short list, subject to background checks that look deeper than a colonoscopy. One of Vilsack's aides confided to the Los Angeles Times that he thought that the selection had narrowed to his boss and Edwards. [...]

But it's tough to get around the fact that of all the Democrats Kerry could pick as his running mate, Vilsack does the least to help him. In fact, his anonymity hurts Kerry. Here are seven reasons Vilsack is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad choice. (And thus, Bush backers should be hoping he's the man.) [...]

Iowa. Seven electoral votes. Gore won them, 638,517 to 634,373, so let's give Vilsack credit for being a selection that would probably prevent a light blue state from turning light red. Of course, that's not a guarantee. According to a Survey USA poll in the state, Kerry leads Bush in Iowa right now 48 to 45. But when asked whether they prefer the Republican ticket of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to a Democratic ticket of John Kerry and Tom Vilsack, the numbers reverse and Bush wins, 48 to 45.

It's not as if Edwards would help him carry NC though.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 AM


Kerry Sidesteps Job Growth as He Hits Bush on Economy: The senator spotlights middle-class struggles, overall employment losses since 2001. (Matea Gold and Michael Finnegan, June 15, 2004, LA Times)

After a weeklong hiatus, John F. Kerry resumed campaigning Monday by sharply attacking President Bush's stewardship of the economy, shrugging off the recent spike in job growth.

"The fact is that the middle class is going backward, and those trying to get into it are sliding backward, working harder, two or three jobs, can't get ahead while the people at the top are doing better and better," Kerry said, speaking at a fundraiser hosted by rock singer Jon Bon Jovi. [...]

Although Kerry's description of the economic climate ran counter to a substantial pickup in new jobs, campaign officials said that the candidate's diagnosis reflected widespread public sentiment.

"We believe that the economy will be a defining issue in this campaign," Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said during a briefing with reporters Monday in Washington. Americans, she said, "are uneasy about the direction of the country and increasingly eager to change course."

The campaign painted a dismal picture of Bush's economic record, despite the recent surge in job creation. About 1.3 million jobs have been lost overall since Bush took office.

"If you get D-minuses for 3 1/2years in college, one semester with a B-minus doesn't put you on the honor roll," Kerry economic advisor Gene Sperling said.

Bush campaign officials stressed the recent job growth trends, saying that 1.4 million jobs have been created since August, the fastest rate in 20 years.

"John Kerry will travel around the country this week delivering a message of doom and gloom and pessimism completely disconnected from reality," said Bush spokesman Steve Schmidt.

"The economy is firing on all cylinders."

Of course the economy will be the defining issue of the campaign, which is why it will be a landslide.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM


Book seeks to end Jewish support for Israel: Epitaph by self-described 'ham on rye' American Jew full of factual errors --- but is still winning critical acclaim (Bret Stephens, 6/15/04, Jewish World Review)

Richard Ben Cramer is an American journalist who has written well-received books on baseball and politics. He also covered the Middle East extensively as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1979. In 2002, he returned to Israel to find out what had happened to the country in the intervening years. The result is a book called "How Israel Lost," just out from Simon and Schuster.

This ought to be a provoking, instructive, uncomfortable book. It is so only by inadvertence. Cramer describes himself as a "ham on rye" American Jew, grown up on reflexive support for Israel and disillusioned by closer acquaintance. What he has written now is an epitaph. Israelis have lost sight of their ideals, their common identity, their sense of purpose, the very "ache of humanity" that properly makes a Jew. Everything that once made Israelis attractive has been squandered so they can hold on to the territories and be "the brutal kings of all they survey." So why support Israel? Cramer's message is, don't.

This is not a new indictment. Europeans have been making it for years, as have Americans on the farther reaches of the Left and Right (the book was glowingly reviewed in The American Conservative, Patrick Buchanan's magazine). [...]

The middle part of Cramer's book consists of a screed against Orthodox Jews and what he deems their excessive and destructive role in setting the rules of Israeli life. Well, yes, it is a bit excessive for my taste, which is why I take my Saturday brunches in Ein Kerem or Abu Ghosh, along with thousands of my nonreligious correligionists. But it takes a moral imbecile—and Cramer is up to the task—to take the next step and compare Israel to an Islamic Republic.

There is more, for Cramer spreads his contempt wide. The settlers, of course—he dwells at length on the seriously unhappy experience of one secular family in Tekoa. The army—it murders Palestinians with abandon and without conscience. The Russians—not even Jewish, cynically brought in by Israel for the sole purpose of "rescuing the Jewish state's occupation." The political class—all generals, for whom "force and more force is the only calling card." Ariel Sharon—not just a bad guy himself, but the archetype for what Israel as a whole has become: thuggish, corrupt, stupid, grotesque, irredeemable.

Are there any good Israelis left? Yes, the Machsom Watch, Gush Shalom, Shalom Arshav, Meretz: the people who take notes as the country "sheds its last decencies." But they are like the five just men of Sodom. And for Cramer, who renders judgment like a stalking God, that's not enough of a remnant to save the wicked city.

Mr. Cramer's book, What it Takes, is one of the great American works of literature and his famous profile of Ted Williams is as good as magazine writing gets, What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now? (Richard Ben Cramer, June 1986, Esquire), so it would be terribly disappointing if this book really is just an exercise in self-hatred.

However, having not read the book, in the interviews I've heard--like Author Cramer on Israel and 'Four Questions' (Scott Simon, June 12, 2004, Weekend Edition)--he's made a completely unexceptional point that the occupation of Palestine and the control it requires Jews to exercise over another people has a corrosive effect on the Israelis themselves. The idea that colonialism is wrong because of what it does to the colonialist is at least as old as Orwell's Shooting an Elephant, but you don't often hear it asserted that he hated England or his own ineradicable Englishness, do you? Meanwhile, the solution to the problem is obvious to everyone and has been, so obvious that even a hard-liner like Ariel Sharon has become its driving force: Israel needs to get out of Palestine and recognize it as an independent state. Not least among the reasons for this is that if it does become necessary for the Israelis to annihilate the Palestinians all together it is less troublesome morally to do so in a war between sovereign nations than to exterminate a captive population.

Mr. Cramer may state his case differently and may engage in unfortunate characterizations of events and people in Israel--that there are factual errors is a function of the fact that no one edits books anymore--but a belief in disengagement is not automatically anti-Israeli much less anti-Jewish, quite the opposite.

-EXCERPT: Why do we care about Israel? from How Israel Lost by Richard Ben Cramer

In the Arab world, where conspiracy theory is even more popular than Islam (as religions, they offer identical comfort: nothing happens without a reason), it's fashionable to see the West's care for Israel - especially America's fixation on Israel - as evidence of a grand scheme for global domination. Israel is assumed to be some sort of U.S. foot-in-the-door, behind which glistens the world's wealth of petroleum. There are a couple of problems with this type of theory. For one thing, adults in the region have by now borne witness to interventions, proclamations and general buttinski from two generations of "American experts on the Middle East" - Special Presidential Negotiators, Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State, Regional Ambassadors, Plenipotentiary Envoys.... Hell could freeze over before these guys dominate anything - some, you wouldn't let 'em change your tire. The second problem is conclusive: no one can explain how America's support for Israel brings the U.S. any leverage over Middle East oil. Sometimes it makes it hard even to buy Middle East oil.

It's also fashionable for Arabs (and for some Jews) to descry within the tapestry of American politics a controlling weft of rigid steel thread - which they call (depending on who's talking) The Zionist Lobby, AIPAC, the Jewish Money Men, the Hollywood Mafia, or most simply and mysteriously: Jewish Interests. Whatever they call it, they use it to explain why the U.S. government and U.S. public cannot seem to hear, or to remember, or take into account for two days straight, the plight of the Palestinian Arabs who lost their country when the Jews took over. In this type of "analysis," congressmen and presidents (no matter their names, their parties, or provenance) are thought to snap to attention, saluting the Israeli flag, whenever Jews show up with threats or the blandishment of their hefty checkbooks. This is also nonsense.

By what lever do these U.S. Jews lift the world? With the power of their massive vote? Maybe they're two percent of the voting public. (They used to be three but they can't even get it together to make Jewish babies.) And they are, by now, the least bloc-ish bloc. The children of reliable Democrats got richer and more Republican (just like white guys), and their children - today's young Jews - are like totally, kind of like ... way uninterested. The savants who whispered that Bush the Younger went warring in Iraq to do Israel's bidding (led by the nose - as half of them added - by that known Jew, Deputy-Pentagon-Panjandrum Paul Wolfowitz) failed to notice, or failed to point out, that the organizers of the big antiwar demonstrations were also Jews - who whipped up a fine anti-imperialist fervor with a speech by the last burning star of the radical kibbutz movement, Noam Chomsky. (They're everywhere!) ... And the notion that Bush has to dance for Jewish money ignores so many realities that they cannot all be listed. First and foremost, the present Bush - because he is present in the White House, and pro-business - can have for his reelection effort as many millions as he needs, or wants, or could dream of. The flashiest, most-talked-about "Jewish money" comes from Hollywood, where the only true religion is hating Bush. And even the quieter monied Jews of Wall Street look like homeless next to Bush's pals in the oil bidness - pals who would just as soon see Israel go away so they could more comfortably shrimp the toes of the Arabs.

If George W. Bush derives any benefit from caring about Israel, or trying to help Israel, it is not from Jews. (No matter what a president says or does about Israel, there is some group of Jews who'll denounce him as a Nazi.) The only plausible political gain comes from his fellow born-again Christians. The U.S. Christian right believes that the Jews are supposed to have the Holy Land - number one, because the Bible tells them so. The Bible says, too, that the second coming of Christ will require that the Jews be "ingathered" again in Zion, which will bring on Armageddon, which will cause Jesus to return. There's also a political meeting of the minds, going back to the days when the Christian right saw Israel as a brave anti-Soviet (more recently anti-Islamic) outpost of "Judeo-Christian values."

Curiously, it's this last fuzzy reason that comes closest to answering "Why do we care?" For in the end, there is no rational benefit in realpolitik - either internationally, or for campaigns inside America. There is no lobby or group in the U.S. that could pressure the government to make Israel the number-one recipient of American foreign aid - three billion dollars each year (plus a couple of billion in loan guarantees) - and that's before you start adding in special military credits, trade preference and other backdoor deals. The only other country that comes close is Egypt - we pay them two billion to act like they don't hate Israel. Altogether, almost half of the U.S. aid dollars for the world shower the land for a few hundred miles around Tel Aviv. (Talk about making the desert bloom!) ... And not just by dollars should our interest be measured. There is also the matter of attention we pay. We may spend more than five-billion-a-year in the currency of newspaper words and CNN chat; there are endless and more-or-less deep analyses in monthly magazines, in The New Yorker, the New York Review of Books and the quarterly Foreign Policy; it's no accident (and not without effect) that The New York Times covers Jerusalem better than Staten Island, or that Redbook, the ladies' mag, responds to its readers' new fear of terrorism by commissioning a personal essay from a mom in Israel (who also just happens to be the head of the Jerusalem office of AIPAC). The fact is, Israel sells. And we have sold ourselves on Israel. Why? Because in some measure we are all like those Christians who see and support shared values there. For decades, we've read and talked about Israel, we've backed and begirded Israel, we've paid for Israelis' first-world standard of living ... because we came to assume, somehow, they are like us.

-REVIEW: of How Israel Lost by Richard Ben Cramer (Scott McConnell, American Conservative)
-ESSAY: A SHORT STOP TO COOPERSTOWN: A spring training injury only enhances the mythic stature of invincible Cal Ripken Jr. Now, exclusively for USA WEEKEND Magazine, the author of the definitive DiMaggio bio explores why this hero's life is more than simply the sum of his numbers. (Richard Ben Cramer, USA Weekend)
-REVIEW: of How Israel Lost by Richard Ben Cramer (Barbara Slavin, USA Today)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 AM


Resolute in Rhetoric, Reagan and Bush Part Ways in Deed (Ronald Brownstein, June 14, 2004, LA Times)

Bush critics point to an aspect of Reagan's legacy that received far less attention last week than his rhetorical constancy: his operational flexibility on several major issues.

Although Reagan never abandoned his criticism of "big government," he did agree to significantly raise taxes one year after his 1981 tax cuts helped open the largest federal deficits ever.

And for all his denunciations of the Soviet Union, Reagan ultimately engaged in historic, high-stakes negotiations with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

In all these ways, Bush's critics argue that Reagan demonstrated a more sophisticated outlook and a greater willingness to transcend his ideology than conventional wisdom assumes. They see Bush failing to meet Reagan's standard by implementing more tax cuts amid massive deficits and invading Iraq despite broad international opposition.

Yeah, remember how when the Democrats, Congress, and the rest of the world opposed Mr. Reagan's efforts to topple the Sandinistas how he gave up the idea? Oh, wait...never mind....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM


Stop Winking at Torture and Codify It: U.S. must decide which interrogation tactics are allowable and which aren't. (Alan M. Dershowitz, June 13, 2004, LA Times)

Before 1999, Israel tried to come to terms with the torture issue. Rather than denying it publicly and winking at it privately like many other countries (and many police forces even in the United States), Israeli officials sought to codify what was and was not permissible in order to wage the most effective battle against terrorism within the rule of law.
They set out rules allowing "moderate physical pressure" in specific cases — including such nonlethal tactics as sleep deprivation, tying up prisoners in painful positions with hoods over their heads, violent shaking and loud music. The argument was that such measures were justified in "ticking bomb" cases in which getting instant information out of a terrorist suspect about an imminent attack was essential.

Esther Wachsman, for example, whose son was kidnapped by militants, has said she knew Israeli agents tortured a captured Palestinian to force him to reveal the 19-year-old's whereabouts and that she had no regrets about it. "Was this man going to reveal this kind of information if they served him tea and played some Mozart?" she asked.

For some years the rules were in place, even though opponents argued that torture of any kind was a black-and-white issue — always wrong, never allowable.

In the end, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a decision in 1999 prohibiting all forms of rough interrogation. In rendering this decision, the court described in detail what was prohibited: shaking, stress positions, hooding, playing "powerfully loud music" and other physical pressures. The court did leave open a tiny window in ticking-bomb cases. It suggested that if an interrogator honestly and reasonably believed that the only way to prevent an attack was to apply moderate physical pressure, he could try to persuade a court after the fact that his actions fell under the defense of "necessity." Thus far, no such defense has been offered. [...]

We need an open and candid debate, as Israel had, about what forms of rough interrogation, if any, should be permissible against what kinds of detainees under what circumstances. Specificity is required. Broad generalizations like "this administration opposes torture" have not worked and will not work in the future. A proposed interrogation code would be a good starting point.

Especially when we're allowed to indulge our worst instincts we need to keep them within certain set bounds.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:54 AM


Objections to These Unions: What Friedrich Hayek can teach us about gay marriage. (Jonathan Rauch, June 2004, Reason)

There are only two objections to same-sex marriage that are intellectually honest and internally consistent. One is the simple anti-gay position: "It is the law’s job to stigmatize and disadvantage homosexuals, and the marriage ban is a means to that end." The other is the argument from tradition -- which turns out, on inspection, not to be so simple. [...]

[Friedrich August von Hayek, one of the 20th century’s great economists and philosophers] is famous for the insight that, in a market system, the prices generated by impersonal forces may not make sense from any one person’s point of view, but they encode far more economic information than even the cleverest person or the most powerful computer could ever hope to organize. In a similar fashion, Hayek the social philosopher wrote that human societies’ complicated web of culture, traditions, and institutions embodies far more cultural knowledge than any one person could master. Like prices, the customs generated by societies over time may seem irrational or arbitrary. But the very fact that these customs have evolved and survived to come down to us implies that a practical logic may be embedded in them that might not be apparent from even a sophisticated analysis. And the web of custom cannot be torn apart and reordered at will, because once its internal logic is violated it may fall apart.

It was on this point that Hayek was particularly outspoken: Intellectuals and visionaries who seek to deconstruct and rationally rebuild social traditions will produce not a better order but chaos. In his 1952 book The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies in the Abuse of Reason, Hayek made a statement that demands to be quoted in full and read at least twice:

"It may indeed prove to be far the most difficult and not the least important task for human reason rationally to comprehend its own limitations. It is essential for the growth of reason that as individuals we should bow to forces and obey principles which we cannot hope fully to understand, yet on which the advance and even the preservation of civilization depends. Historically this has been achieved by the influence of the various religious creeds and by traditions and superstitions which made man submit to those forces by an appeal to his emotions rather than to his reason. The most dangerous stage in the growth of civilization may well be that in which man has come to regard all these beliefs as superstitions and refuses to accept or to submit to anything which he does not rationally understand. The rationalist whose reason is not sufficient to teach him those limitations of the powers of conscious reason, and who despises all the institutions and customs which have not been consciously designed, would thus become the destroyer of the civilization built upon them. This may well prove a hurdle which man will repeatedly reach, only to be thrown back into barbarism."

For secular intellectuals who are unhappy with the evolved framework of marriage and who are excluded from it -- in other words, for people like me -- the Hayekian argument is very challenging. The age-old stigmas attached to illegitimacy and out-of-wedlock pregnancy were crude and unfair to women and children. On the male side, shotgun marriages were coercive and intrusive and often made poor matches. The shame associated with divorce seemed to make no sense at all. But when modern societies abolished the stigmas on illegitimacy, divorce, and all the rest, whole portions of the social structure just caved in.

Not long ago I had dinner with a friend who is a devout Christian. He has a heart of gold, knows and likes gay people, and has warmed to the idea of civil unions. But when I asked him about gay marriage, he replied with a firm no. I asked if he imagined there was anything I could say that might budge him. He thought for a moment and then said no again. Why? Because, he said, male-female marriage is a sacrament from God. It predates the Constitution and every other law of man. We could not, in that sense, change it even if we wanted to. I asked if it might alter his conclusion to reflect that legal marriage is a secular institution, that the separation of church and state requires us to distinguish God’s law from civil law, and that we must refrain from using law to impose one group’s religious precepts on the rest of society. He shook his head. No, he said. This is bigger than that.

I felt he had not answered my argument. His God is not mine, and in a secular country, law can and should be influenced by religious teachings but must not enforce them. Yet in a deeper way, it was I who had not answered his argument. No doubt the government has the right to set the law of marriage without kowtowing to, say, the Vatican. But that does not make it wise for the government to disregard the centuries of tradition -- of accumulated social knowledge -- that the teachings of the world’s great religions embody. None of those religions sanctions same-sex marriage.

My friend understood the church-state distinction perfectly well. He was saying there are traditions and traditions. Male-female marriage is one of the most hallowed. Whether you call it a sacrament from God or part of Western civilization’s cultural DNA, you are saying essentially the same thing: that for many people a same-sex union, whatever else it may be, can never be a marriage, and that no judge or legislature can change this fact.

Here the advocates of same-sex marriage face peril coming from two directions. On the one side, the Hayekian argument warns of unintended and perhaps grave social consequences if, thinking we’re smarter than our customs, we decide to rearrange the core elements of marriage. The current rules for marriage may not be the best ones, and they may even be unfair. But they are all we have, and you cannot re-engineer the formula without causing unforeseen results, possibly including the implosion of the institution itself. On the other side, political realism warns that we could do serious damage to the legitimacy of marital law if we rewrote it with disregard for what a large share of Americans recognize as marriage.

All Mr. Rauch's subsequent analysis requires is that we focus only on marriage rather than on homosexuality and generally accept a proposition which more than two thirds of us deny, that:
The old view that homosexuals were heterosexuals who needed punishment or prayer or treatment has been exposed as an error. What homosexuals need is the love of another homosexual. The ban on same-sex marriage, hallowed though it is, no longer accords with liberal justice or the meaning of marriage as it is practiced today.

Simply acknowledge, as most of us do, that homosexuality is immoral and the rest of his argument crumbles.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 AM


Debate Over Faith's Role In Healing Grows Strong (Gary White, 6/13/04, The Ledger)

Bob Weaver of Lakeland, a retired pastor with two sons who are ministers, generated a prayer chain of considerable length during a series of medical crises that included an aneurysm, pneumonia, prostate and kidney infections and severe internal bleeding.

"We had so many churches praying for us," said Jean Weaver, his wife. "That's why he's alive; there was so much prayer."

That assertion puts the Lakeland woman in one camp of an ongoing debate on the intersection of faith and medicine, a debate fed by thousands of studies addressing the relation between religion and health.

In the past decade or so, attempts to measure scientifically the effect of prayer on medical outcomes have become increasingly common, with attendant controversy. Meanwhile, dozens of medical schools now offer future physicians training in how to address patients' religious needs.

That's a welcome development for Harold Koenig, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center and one of the nation's leading advocates for incorporating religion into medical treatment. Koenig oversaw a 1997 study that concluded those who regularly attend religious services may have better immune system function than those who do not.

"I believe when God decides to heal people and people request healing and people are praying, that does make a difference," Koenig said.

Richard P. Sloan, a professor of behavioral science at Columbia University, serves as Koenig's best-known foil in the debate over abolishing the wall of separation between religion and medicine. [...]

Even an ardent rationalist like Sloan acknowledges the comfort that prayer and other religious activity can bring for people facing a health crisis. He says hospitals should offer spiritual care to their patients but insists it should come from chaplains and clergy rather than doctors or nurses.

Many patients and family members, however, have different expectations. Jean Weaver drew strength from the professed Christian beliefs of some of her husband's doctors during his treatment. One Lakeland surgeon, she says, stopped on the way into the operating room to lead a prayer, and another told her he prays every day. She believes those religious connections aided her husband's treatment.

Burton Whitehead, whose wife Rebecca survived a brain aneurysm, near-drowning and heart attack last August, says medical professionals in his native Ohio always seemed uncomfortable with any mention of faith. To his delight, that wasn't the case at the hospitals in Orlando and Winter Haven where Rebecca was treated.

When he told the doctors and nurses who treated his wife that he was praying for them, "They all said, `Thank you, we need that,' " Burton Whitehead said.

Dr. Lodovico Balducci, head of the Senior Adult Oncology Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, says he doesn't hesitate to pray with his patients and sometimes suggests it -- though he adds that he avoids proselytizing.

"That's one of the areas I think is very heartening for the patient to know you share their values or at least you have a sense of values," Balducci said.

If nothing else wouldn't it at least help to know that the medical staff cares enough to pray for you? Not to mention that they won't unplug you when your insurance runs out...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:42 AM


U.S.-Europe Division Runs Deeper Than Iraq (John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, June 14, 2004, LA Times)

There is a moment in all strained relationships when people simply have to acknowledge they are, for better or worse, fundamentally different. Something similar may slowly be happening with the transatlantic alliance.

[A]merica is simply a more right-wing place than Europe. That does not mean that all Americans are conservatives (you only have to go to Berkeley, Boulder or Brentwood to discover that), but the center of gravity is further to the right.

Look at any poll of attitudes toward the basic questions of politics — the size of government, the role of capitalism, spending on defense, crime and punishment, attitudes to multinational institutions like the U.N. — and America takes a more right-wing approach than any other developed country.

Even set alongside Britain, its nearest equivalent, America tolerates a far higher degree of inequality, with 1 in 6 households earning less than a third of median income (in Britain, the figure is closer to 1 in 20); its incarceration rate is five times that of Britain, Europe's toughest sentencer; America spends much less on government in general, but twice as much on defense per head; it brings religion into politics far more often.

The gap is more extreme if you compare America with France or Germany.

Does the fact that America is the only Western country to retain the death penalty explain why France and Germany didn't support the Iraq war? Of course not. But it does help explain why American policy seems so foreign to so many Europeans. The conservative parts of the country — the South, much of the West, the suburbs — are exactly the bits most Europeans never visit.

The decision to invade Iraq exaggerated the disagreements between Europe and America. But these had already begun to roil the transatlantic relationship more than it was at the end of the Cold War.

All true so far as it goes, but they ignore the obverse of the division, which is that conservative America treasures freedom far more than the other Western nations. Indeed, the European insistence on equality and economic security is antithetical to the American passion for liberty. It is also, of course, counterproductive, contributing to Europe's economic decline and thereby exacerbating the divisions.

-Right Nation: Meet Dustin and Maura, exemplars of America’s unique conservatism.: first in a series of excerpts from The Right Nation, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. (John Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge, 6/14/04, National Review)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:38 AM


The Dollar Factor (John Tamny, 06/14/2004, Tech Central Station)

The recent spike in oil prices has predictably led to lots of finger pointing as to the cause. China, just six months ago thought to be the source of falling prices around the world, is now miraculously being blamed for higher prices, too.

USA Today's editorial page cites "spectacular growth in emerging markets, particularly China," in explaining expensive gas prices, as does the International Energy Agency ("the 'China factor" has more bearing on oil prices than any 'risk factor'"), and Naomi Fink of BNP Paribas who says "we are seeing demand-driven price increases."

The above reasoning might surprise consumers in Europe and Japan. Indeed, according to Trend Macrolytics chief economist Donald Luskin, the Euro price of oil greatly resembles the one from 15 months ago. Boston-based H.C. Wainwright Economics has done a similar study, and it turns out the Yen price of oil from 15 months ago is actually higher than today's.

Since there's no evidence that Japan and Europe are sold oil at massive discounts to the U.S. dollar price, the explanation for rising prices in the U.S. logically cannot be China. The answer is pretty simple though, and would be especially obvious to those who have watched the dollar's fall against the Euro and Yen over the last couple of years. This isn't to say that demand plays no factor in the oil price, just that it is small compared to local currency effects.

If true that's one thing the Fed's rate hikes will take care of, though if they overdo it they'll also lower our growth rate to Euro levels with catastrophic global effects.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:24 AM

OF FORESTS AND TREES (via Jeff Guinn):

sp>What Ronald Reagan Understood: He faced down the totalitarians and the appeasers. (David Gelernter, 06/21/2004, Weekly Standard)

Reagan...was an optimist who dealt in reality and looked at the world head on. He was a modern Conservative in the great tradition of Benjamin Disraeli, the "Tory Democrat." Conservatives and liberals (in this worldview) are equally progressive, equally interested in the future. They are different insofar as liberals are detached from the past and look to the international community for advice and approval. Conservatives are detached from the international community and look to the past for advice and approval: to their ancestors, their national history, their religious traditions, their cultural patrimony. "What inspired all the men of the armies that met here?" Reagan asked at Pointe du Hoc. "It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love."

Reagan was a realist, but a "mystic nationalist" also. He did in fact call himself a "mystic," according to Peter Schweizer; and he was certainly a patriot and a nationalist. But mystic nationalism is more than the sum of parts. It is a religion--but one that translucently overlays (without obscuring or superceding) Judaism or Christianity.

Mystic nationalism is a tradition nobly represented in the 20th century by such statesmen as Winston Churchill and David Ben-Gurion. Reagan would have recognized himself in a passage by the poet Rupert Brooke, killed at age 28 in the First World War. "He was immensely surprised," Brooke wrote in 1914 about an unnamed friend, "to perceive that the actual earth of England held for him...a quality which, if he'd ever been sentimental enough to use the word, he'd have called 'holiness.' His astonishment grew as the full flood of 'England' swept him on from thought to thought. He felt the triumphant helplessness of a lover."

"There are a few favorite windows I have up there that I like to stand and look out of early in the morning," Reagan said in his farewell speech, referring to the White House. "The view is over the grounds here to the Washington Monument, and then the Mall and the Jefferson Memorial. But on mornings when the humidity is low, you can see past the Jefferson to the river, the Potomac, and the Virginia shore. Someone said that's the view Lincoln had when he saw the smoke rising from the Battle of Bull Run. I see more prosaic things: the grass on the banks, the morning traffic as people make their way to work, now and then a sailboat on the river."

Abraham Lincoln spoke for mystic nationalism. "The mystic chords of memory," Lincoln wrote, "stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearth-stone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." That was Reagan's faith also.

One of the most persistent anti-Reagan accusations is that he failed in detail; he operated at the "executive summary" level. But in Reagan this was a strength. No personality can encompass everything. Most detail specialists approach life bottom-up and never do grasp the big picture. A rabbinic anecdote explains why Moses was a great leader: Moses proclaimed (Exodus 15:1) "I will sing to the Lord for He is greatly exalted," and the people responded, referring to the Egyptian army's convenient disappearance: "Horse and rider He has hurled into the sea." The people saw only details: Egypt's army had lost a battle. Moses saw the big picture--the greatness of God. Reagan was no Moses, but he too was a big picture man; and he did usher a significant portion of mankind from bondage into freedom.

Providence, or simple serendipity, touched Ronald Reagan one last time as PBS showed its American Experience film on Jimmy Carter over the last two Monday nights. Not only did it demonstrate in reasonably forthright fashion just how grotesquely incompetent Mr. Carter was at the task of leadership, but it made some considerable note of his attention to detail and his need to be fully informed on every issue before making a decision (or before putting off a decision, as the case may have been). The two--an orientation towards detail and an inability to lead--seem inextricably bound. It's impossible to imagine a Ronald Reagan or a George W. Bush retreating to Camp David for a week of what even his former aides contemptuously referred to as "public psychoanalysis" in order to figure out what they believe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 AM


Reuteman: Tancredo's name mud with execs at First Data (Rob Rueteman, June 5, 2004, Rocky Mountain News)

Tom Tancredo has made a powerful new enemy.

First Data - Colorado's second-largest corporation in terms of revenue and market cap - is hopping mad over the Littleton Republican's proposal to slap a 5 percent tax on money transfers to people in other countries.

And, as late as Friday afternoon, they were no less upset that the controversial congressman has quietly dropped the idea.

"It appears to me he's trying to get over a big 'oops,' " said Fred Niehaus, senior vice president for public affairs with First Data. "That doesn't cut it. This guy is off in left field, and we're tired of his antics, tired of his games."

First Data is the parent company of Western Union, which handles such money transfers worldwide. Fees from the transactions made up about $3 billion of First Data's $8 billion in revenue last year. And First Data, with 29,000 employees worldwide, is headquartered smack dab in the middle in Tancredo's congressional district - a fact he apparently was unaware of when he floated the remittance tax idea last month.

"We weren't aware," said Tancredo spokesman Carlos Espinosa on Friday afternoon. "But that wouldn't have changed his mind."

The remittance tax proposal "is all but erased," Espinosa said. "It's moot at this point. We were shooting it out as an idea, to see how many people were behind it. We've evolved into something else."

He's kind of the GOP's Jim McDermott.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:34 AM


A plan for conservation on a continental scale (Eugene Linden, Thomas Lovejoy and J. Daniel Phillips, International Herald Tribune, June 14, 2004)

Consider a huge forest like the Congo Basin or the Amazon, spanning several countries and shrinking steadily in the face of timber operations, agricultural conversion, urbanization, illegal cutting, land invasion and out-of-control burning seasons. What is urgently needed is a plan comprehensive enough to provide coverage of an entire rainforest system; simple enough to be rolled out quickly, bypassing the usual rounds of endless study and negotiation; and bold enough to draw in new kinds of donors to areas currently starved of funds.

We propose a continental-scale, market-like conservation plan that would minimize the possibility for negotiation while attracting major new donors and funneling resources into every part of a forest system. Our plan would be to divide the forest into 100 blocks, and then solicit commitments from international environmental groups, development institutions, corporations and other credible donors. The blocks might be allocated by simple lottery or a more complicated bidding process, but the key would be to find an entity that would take responsibility for maintaining forest cover and forest health in each block of the entire forest system. A secretariat would oversee the bidding and monitor progress, but it would be up to each group to decide where to focus efforts. Those who won a block would have no supervisory authority but would have to win over local authorities and groups already working in the area. A nongovernment organization might want to pour resources into existing projects, while an American utility or corporation might want to buy carbon credits and thus provide an economic incentive for preserving the rainforest.

Imagine scholars from the third world proposing that North America be divided into blocks, with each block assigned to an international NGO responsible for maintaining its pristine qualities and working with “local authorities”. Yet progressives see this as a perfectly noble and reasonable plan for Africa. What is notable about this scheme (proposed by luminaries from the Heinz Foundation) is the compete absence of any sense that there are a few hundred million people and numerous sovereign states in the region. Thus does the international aid community reveal its fundamentally racist paternalism and institutional self-interests by relegating Africans to perpetual dependance on aid and foreign direction, and absolving them of any responsibility for their futures.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:22 AM


Happy ending to ugly ballpark story (KEVIN LONNQUIST, 6/14/04, The Dallas Morning News)

Four-year-old Nick O'Brien proved why baseball will always be a kid's game.

The Plano resident, who was watching his first major league game with his parents, Edie and Jeff, became the sympathetic figure of fans when he was pushed aside in the scramble for a foul ball at Ameriquest Field in Arlington on Sunday.

But the ugliness had a happy ending. Nick went home with two big league bats and four baseballs. Two of the items came personally from St. Louis outfielder Reggie Sanders.

"I felt in my heart I should do something," Sanders said. "You gotta remember, it's all about the kids. As a player, we're able to reach out more."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


2 Minorities Spur Rapid U.S. Growth (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/15/04)

Explosive growth among Hispanic- and Asian-Americans propelled a surge in the United States population from 2000 to 2003 to nearly 300 million people, the Census Bureau reported on Monday.

The number of people of Hispanic descent, the nation's largest minority group, rose to 39.9 million, a 13 percent increase from April 2000 to July 2003, the agency said. That far outpaced the 3 percent increase in the American population during the same time, to 290.8 million. [...]

The population of Hispanic- and Asian-Americans rose in nearly every state over the 1990's, in large part as a result of immigration. People who identified themselves only as "white" remained the single largest group, at 197 million, up just 1 percent from 2000 to 2003.

Evben the continuing growth of "whites" separates us from the rest of the West and the overall growth goes a long way to explaining why we continue to ascend while they decline.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Cheney claims ties between Saddam, al Qaeda (AP, June 14, 2004)

Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that Saddam Hussein had "long-established ties" with al Qaeda, an assertion that has been repeatedly challenged by some policy experts and lawmakers.

The vice president offered no details backing up his claim of a link between Saddam and al Qaida.

"He was a patron of terrorism," Cheney said of Hussein during a speech before The James Madison Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Florida. "He had long established ties with al Qaeda."

Like a kid with a magnifying glass, an ant hill, and a sunny day.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Purported letter from militant leader to bin Laden says Iraqi fighters squeezed by coalition (Nadia Abou El-Magd, 6/14/2004, AP)

A leader of militants in Iraq has purportedly written to Osama bin Laden saying his fighters are being squeezed by U.S.-led coalition troops, according to a statement posted Monday on Islamic Web sites.

It was not possible to authenticate the statement allegedly from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian whose insurgent group claimed responsibility for the videotaped beheading of American Nicholas Berg.

Titled ''The text of al-Zarqawi's message to Osama bin Laden about holy war in Iraq,'' the statement appeared on Web sites that have recently carried claims of responsibility for attacks in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

''The space of movement is starting to get smaller,'' it said. ''The grip is starting to be tightened on the holy warriors' necks and, with the spread of soldiers and police, the future is becoming frightening.''

The statement says the militant movement in Iraq is racing against time to form battalions that can take control of the country ''four months before the formation of the promised Iraqi government, hoping to spoil their plan.'' It appears to refer to the government that would take office after the elections scheduled for January 2005.

It also says insurgents are planning to intensify attacks on Iraqi soldiers and police, seen as collaborators with the U.S.-led coalition. Calling Iraqi forces ''the occupier's eye, ear and hand,'' the statement says: ''We are planning on targeting them heavily in the coming stage before they are fully in control.''

Zarqawi was right that their best plan of attack was to foment civil war between the Sunni and the Shi'ites. Lucky he was overruled.

‘Terrorists struggling for survival’ (Daily Times, 6/15/04)

Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat has said that the security forces have cornered terrorists who are now struggling for survival and the recent incidents of terrorism were a backlash against recent anti-terrorism measures by the government.

Talking to BBC Radio, the interior minister said that a new trend in terrorism was being witnessed in the last few weeks in which security personnel were being targeted.

“We will continue to fight against them,” he said, adding that the government will take the war on terrorism to its ultimate end. The elements spreading disturbance in the tribal areas are behind the incidents of terrorism in Karachi, said Mr Hayat. He said the army operation in South Waziristan was launched to flush out Al Qaeda activists and their accomplices were trying to strike back. He also said that their leaders had been identified. He said the government would try to resolve the situation in Wana in accordance with local customs. He said that 90 percent of people there were helping the government in the Wana operation and several tribal lashkars were carrying out operations to look for foreign militants.

June 14, 2004

Posted by David Cohen at 9:57 PM


We are posting something a little bit different tonight: the entirety of Justice Thomas' concurrence in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, No. 02—1624 (June 14, 2004), the Pledge of Allegiance case. Thomas' concurrence is well-written and clear. He ignores the standing issue while focussing on issues of original intent, the mess the Court has made of its First Amendment jurisprudence (Mr. Newdow, a notorious nut, understands First Amendment law perfectly) and the problem of which federal rights are incorporated in the Fourteenth Amendment so as to limit the power of the state.

Incorporation, which was unknown until the 20th century, has become the fundamental constitutional doctrine, having grown till it has swamped the limited federal system designed by the Framers of the Constitution. The Framers saw the federal government as a government of limited power. It could do only those things it was given the express authority to do. The Bill of Rights, added because the public was nervous about even so carefully constrained a national government, is mostly a limitation on the power of the federal government. In particular, the Establishment Clause ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion") made clear that the federal government could not interfere with the state's choice as to which religion, if any, was to be its official religion.

After the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed to ensure: the equal protection of law to all American citizens; that every citizen would receive the "privileges and immunities" of citizenship; and that, when dealing with state governments, all citizens would receive the legal process due them. In a series of decision from 1921 on, the Supreme Court has held that under the Due Process clause, many of the protections of the Bill of Rights apply to the states as well as the federal government. In particular, the Court has held on a number of occasions that the Establishment Clause, originally intended to protect the state's right to have a tax-supported church, was incorporated in the Fourteenth Amendment to forbid the state from acting in any way to favor any one religion over others, or to favor religion over the lack thereof. In this way, and on a number of fronts, the Court has remade the constitutional system to establish a national government in which the Court, itself, is the only actor from which there is no appeal.

In Newdow, Justice Thomas suggests that the Establishment Clause should not be enforced against the states, as to do so would turn it on its head. He further suggests that the state has the right to favor the notion of our being "one nation under God", and that the choice to sit silent, though admittedly difficult, is a real choice that may be imposed constitutionally. Were the Court to share Justice Thomas' view, we would see the biggest change in our constitutional scheme since the Court first imposed the incorporation doctrine upon us.

No. 02-1624



Justice Thomas, concurring in the judgment.

We granted certiorari in this case to decide whether the Elk Grove Unified School District’s Pledge policy violates the Constitution. The answer to that question is: “no.” But in a testament to the condition of our Establishment Clause jurisprudence, the Court of Appeals reached the opposite conclusion based on a persuasive reading of our precedent, especially Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992). In my view, Lee adopted an expansive definition of “coercion” that cannot be defended however one decides the “difficult question” of “[w]hether and how th[e Establishment] Clause should constrain state action under the Fourteenth Amendment.” Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639, 678 (2002) (Thomas, J., concurring). The difficulties with our Establishment Clause cases, however, run far deeper than Lee.1

Because I agree with The Chief Justice that respondent Newdow has standing, I would take this opportunity to begin the process of rethinking the Establishment Clause. I would acknowledge that the Establishment Clause is a federalism provision, which, for this reason, resists incorporation. Moreover, as I will explain, the Pledge policy is not implicated by any sensible incorporation of the Establishment Clause, which would probably cover little more than the Free Exercise Clause.

In Lee, the Court held that invocations and benedictions could not, consistent with the Establishment Clause, be given at public secondary school graduations. The Court emphasized “heightened concerns with protecting freedom of conscience from subtle coercive pressure in the elementary and secondary public schools.” 505 U.S., at 592. It brushed aside both the fact that the students were not required to attend the graduation, see id., at 586 (asserting that student “attendance and participation in” the graduation ceremony “are in a fair and real sense obligatory”), and the fact that they were not compelled, in any meaningful sense, to participate in the religious component of the graduation ceremony, see id., at 593 (“What matters is that, given our social conventions, a reasonable dissenter in this milieu could believe that the group exercise signified her own participation or approval of it”). The Court surmised that the prayer violated the Establishment Clause because a high school student could–in light of the “peer pressure” to attend graduation and “to stand as a group or, at least, maintain respectful silence during the invocation and benediction,” ibid.–have “a reasonable perception that she is being forced by the State to pray in a manner her conscience will not allow,” ibid.

Adherence to Lee would require us to strike down the Pledge policy, which, in most respects, poses more serious difficulties than the prayer at issue in Lee. A prayer at graduation is a one-time event, the graduating students are almost (if not already) adults, and their parents are usually present. By contrast, very young students, removed from the protection of their parents, are exposed to the Pledge each and every day.

Moreover, this case is more troubling than Lee with respect to both kinds of “coercion.” First, although students may feel “peer pressure” to attend their graduations, the pressure here is far less subtle: Students are actually compelled (that is, by law, and not merely “in a fair and real sense,” id., at 586) to attend school. See also School Dist. of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 223 (1963).

Analysis of the second form of “coercion” identified in Lee is somewhat more complicated. It is true that since this Court decided West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), States cannot compel (in the traditional sense) students to pledge their allegiance. Formally, then, dissenters can refuse to pledge, and this refusal would be clear to onlookers.2 That is,students have a theoretical means of opting out of the exercise. But as Lee indicated: “Research in psychology supports the common assumption that adolescents are often susceptible to pressure from their peers towards conformity … .” 505 U.S., at 593—594 (citations omitted). On Lee’s reasoning, Barnette’s protection is illusory, for government officials can allow children to recite the Pledge and let peer pressure take its natural and predictable course. Further, even if we assume that sitting in respectful silence could be mistaken for assent to or participation in a graduation prayer, dissenting students graduating from high school are not “coerced” to pray. At most, they are “coerced” into possibly appearing to assent to the prayer. The “coercion” here, however, results in unwilling children actually pledging their allegiance.3

The Chief Justice would distinguish Lee by asserting “that the phrase ‘under God’ in the Pledge [does not] conver[t] its recital into a ‘religious exercise’ of the sort described in Lee.” Ante, at 14 (opinion concurring in judgment). In Barnette, the Court addressed a state law that compelled students to salute and pledge allegiance to the flag. The Court described this as “compulsion of students to declare a belief.” 319 U.S., at 631. The Pledge “require[d] affirmation of a belief and an attitude of mind.” Id., at 633. In its current form, reciting the Pledge entails pledging allegiance to “the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God.” 4 U.S.C. § 4. Under Barnette, pledging allegiance is “to declare a belief ” that now includes that this is “one Nation under God.” It is difficult to see how this does not entail an affirmation that God exists. Whether or not we classify affirming the existence of God as a “formal religious exercise” akin to prayer, it must present the same or similar constitutional problems

To be sure, such an affirmation is not a prayer, and I admit that this might be a significant distinction. But the Court has squarely held that the government cannot require a person to “declare his belief in God.” Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 489 (1961); id., at 495 (“We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person ‘to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion’ ”); see also Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872, 877 (1990) (“The government may not compel affirmation of religious belief”); Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263, 269—270, n. 6 (1981) (rejecting attempt to distinguish worship from other forms of religious speech). And the Court has said, in my view questionably, that the Establishment Clause “prohibits government from appearing to take a position on questions of religious belief.” County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U.S. 573, 594 (1989). See also Good News Club v. Milford Central School, 533 U.S. 98, 126—127 (2001) (Scalia, J., concurring).

I conclude that, as a matter of our precedent, the Pledge policy is unconstitutional. I believe, however, that Lee was wrongly decided. Lee depended on a notion of “coercion” that, as I discuss below, has no basis in law or reason. The kind of coercion implicated by the Religion Clauses is that accomplished “by force of law and threat of penalty.” 505 U.S., at 640 (Scalia, J., dissenting); see id., at 640—645. Peer pressure, unpleasant as it may be, is not coercion. But rejection of Lee-style “coercion” does not suffice to settle this case. Although children are not coerced to pledge their allegiance, they are legally coerced to attend school. Cf., e.g., Schempp, supra; Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962). Because what is at issue is a state action, the question becomes whether the Pledge policy implicates a religious liberty right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment


I accept that the Free Exercise Clause, which clearly protects an individual right, applies against the States through the Fourteenth Amendment. See Zelman, 536 U.S., at 679, and n. 4 (Thomas, J., concurring). But the Establishment Clause is another matter. The text and history of the Establishment Clause strongly suggest that it is a federalism provision intended to prevent Congress from interfering with state establishments. Thus, unlike the Free Exercise Clause, which does protect an individual right, it makes little sense to incorporate the Establishment Clause. In any case, I do not believe that the Pledge policy infringes any religious liberty right that would arise from incorporation of the Clause. Because the Pledge policy also does not infringe any free-exercise rights, I conclude that it is constitutional


The Establishment Clause provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Amdt. 1. As a textual matter, this Clause probably prohibits Congress from establishing a national religion. But see P. Hamburger, Separation of Church and State 106, n. 40 (2002) (citing sources). Perhaps more importantly, the Clause made clear that Congress could not interfere with state establishments, notwithstanding any argument that could be made based on Congress’ power under the Necessary and Proper Clause. See A. Amar, The Bill of Rights 36—39 (1998).

Nothing in the text of the Clause suggests that it reaches any further. The Establishment Clause does not purport to protect individual rights. By contrast, the Free Exercise Clause plainly protects individuals against congressional interference with the right to exercise their religion, and the remaining Clauses within the First Amendment expressly disable Congress from “abridging [particular] freedom[s].” (Emphasis added.) This textual analysis is consistent with the prevailing view that the Constitution left religion to the States. See, e.g., 2 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States §1873 (5th ed. 1891); see also Amar, The Bill of Rights, at 32—42; id., at 246—257. History also supports this understanding: At the founding, at least six States had established religions, see McConnell, The Origins and Historical Understanding of Free Exercise of Religion, 103 Harv. L. Rev. 1409, 1437 (1990). Nor has this federalism point escaped the notice of Members of this Court. See, e.g., Zelman, supra, at 677—680 (Thomas, J., concurring); Lee, supra, at 641 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

Quite simply, the Establishment Clause is best understood as a federalism provision–it protects state establishments from federal interference but does not protect any individual right. These two features independently make incorporation of the Clause difficult to understand. The best argument in favor of incorporation would be that, by disabling Congress from establishing a national religion, the Clause protected an individual right, enforceable against the Federal Government, to be free from coercive federal establishments. Incorporation of this individual right, the argument goes, makes sense. I have alluded to this possibility before. See Zelman, supra, at 679 (Thomas, J., concurring) (“States may pass laws that include or touch on religious matters so long as these laws do not impede free exercise rights or any other individual liberty interest” (emphasis added)).

But even assuming that the Establishment Clause precludes the Federal Government from establishing a national religion, it does not follow that the Clause created or protects any individual right. For the reasons discussed above, it is more likely that States and only States were the direct beneficiaries. See also Lee, supra, at 641 (Scalia, J., dissenting). Moreover, incorporation of this putative individual right leads to a peculiar outcome: It would prohibit precisely what the Establishment Clause was intended to protect–state establishments of religion. See Schempp, 374 U.S., at 310 (Stewart, J., dissenting) (noting that “the Fourteenth Amendment has somehow absorbed the Establishment Clause, although it is not without irony that a constitutional provision evidently designed to leave the States free to go their own way should now have become a restriction upon their autonomy”). Nevertheless, the potential right against federal establishments is the only candidate for incorporation.

I would welcome the opportunity to consider more fully the difficult questions whether and how the Establishment Clause applies against the States. One observation suffices for now: As strange as it sounds, an incorporated Establishment Clause prohibits exactly what the Establishment Clause protected–state practices that pertain to “an establishment of religion.” At the very least, the burden of persuasion rests with anyone who claims that the term took on a different meaning upon incorporation. We must therefore determine whether the Pledge policy pertains to an “establishment of religion.”


The traditional “establishments of religion” to which the Establishment Clause is addressed necessarily involve actual legal coercion:

“The coercion that was a hallmark of historical establishments of religion was coercion of religious orthodoxy and of financial support by force of law and threat of penalty. Typically, attendance at the state church was required; only clergy of the official church could lawfully perform sacraments; and dissenters, if tolerated, faced an array of civil disabilities. L. Levy, The Establishment Clause 4 (1986). Thus, for example, in the Colony of Virginia, where the Church of England had been established, ministers were required by law to conform to the doctrine and rites of the Church of England; and all persons were required to attend church and observe the Sabbath, were tithed for the public support of Anglican ministers, and were taxed for the costs of building and repairing churches. Id., at 3—4.” Lee, 505 U.S., at 640—641 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

Even if “establishment” had a broader definition, one that included support for religion generally through taxation, the element of legal coercion (by the State) would still be present. See id., at 641.

It is also conceivable that a government could “establish” a religion by imbuing it with governmental authority, see, e.g., Larkin v. Grendel’s Den, Inc., 459 U.S. 116 (1982), or by “delegat[ing] its civic authority to a group chosen according to a religious criterion,” Board of Ed. of Kiryas Joel Village School Dist. v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687, 698 (1994); County of Allegheny, 492 U.S., at 590—591. A religious organization that carries some measure of the authority of the State begins to look like a traditional “religious establishment,” at least when that authority can be used coercively. See also Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 319 (1952) (Black, J., dissenting) (explaining that the Establishment Clause “insure[s] that no one powerful sect or combination of sects could use political or governmental power to punish dissenters whom they could not convert to their faith” (emphasis added)).

It is difficult to see how government practices that have nothing to do with creating or maintaining the sort of coercive state establishment described above implicate the possible liberty interest of being free from coercive state establishments. In addressing the constitutionality of voluntary school prayer, Justice Stewart made essentially this point, emphasizing that “we deal here not with the establishment of a state church, … but with whether school children who want to begin their day by joining in prayer must be prohibited from doing so.” Engel, 370 U.S., at 445 (dissenting opinion).4

To be sure, I find much to commend the view that the Establishment Clause “bar[s] governmental preferences for particular religious faiths.” Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819, 856 (1995) (Thomas, J., concurring). But the position I suggest today is consistent with this. Legal compulsion is an inherent component of “preferences” in this context. James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (reprinted in Everson v. Board of Ed. of Ewing, 330 U.S. 1, 63—72 (1947) (appendix to dissent of Rutledge, J.)), which extolled the no-preference argument, concerned coercive taxation to support an established religion, much as its title implies.5 And, although “more extreme notions of the separation of church and state [might] be attribut[able] to Madison, many of them clearly stem from ‘arguments reflecting the concepts of natural law, natural rights, and the social contract between government and a civil society,’ [R. Cord, Separation of Church and State: Historical Fact and Current Fiction 22 (1982)], rather than the principle of nonestablishment in the Constitution.” Rosenberger, supra, at 856 (Thomas, J., concurring). See also Hamburger, Separation of Church and State, at 105 (noting that Madison’s proposed language for what became the Establishment Clause did not reflect his more extreme views).


Through the Pledge policy, the State has not created or maintained any religious establishment, and neither has it granted government authority to an existing religion. The Pledge policy does not expose anyone to the legal coercion associated with an established religion. Further, no other free-exercise rights are at issue. It follows that religious liberty rights are not in question and that the Pledge policy fully comports with the Constitution.

1.  This is by no means a novel observation. See, e.g., Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819, 861 (1995) (Thomas, J., concurring) (noting that “our Establishment Clause jurisprudence is in hopeless disarray”); Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School Dist., 508 U.S. 384, 398—401 (1993) (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment). We have selectively invoked particular tests, such as the “Lemon test,” Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), with predictable outcomes. See, e.g., Lamb’s Chapel, supra, at 398—401 (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment). Our jurisprudential confusion has led to results that can only be described as silly. In County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U.S. 573 (1989), for example, the Court distinguished between a crèche on the one hand and an 18-foot Chanukah menorah placed near a 45-foot Christmas tree on the other. The Court held that the first display violated the Establishment Clause but that the second did not.

2.  Of course, as Lee and subsequent cases make clear, “ ‘[l]aw reaches past formalism.’ ” Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 311 (2000) (quoting Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577, 595(1992)).

3.  Surely the “coercion” to pledge (where failure to do so is immediately obvious to one’s peers) is far greater than the “coercion” resulting from a student-initiated and student-led prayer at a high school football game. See Santa Fe Independent School Dist., supra.

4.  It may well be the case that anything that would violate the incorporated Establishment Clause would actually violate the Free Exercise Clause, further calling into doubt the utility of incorporating the Establishment Clause. See, e.g., A. Amar, The Bill of Rights 253—254 (1998). Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992), could be thought of this way to the extent that anyone might have been “coerced” into a religious exercise. Cf. Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 311 (1952) (rejecting as “obtuse reasoning” a free-exercise claim where “[n]o one is forced to go to the religious classroom and no religious exercise or instruction is brought to the classrooms of the public schools”); ibid. (rejecting coercion-based Establishment Clause claim absent evidence that “teachers were using their office to persuade or force students to take religious instruction” (emphasis added)).

5.  Again, coercive government preferences might also implicate the Free Exercise Clause and are perhaps better analyzed in that framework.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:45 PM


Rising name on America's most-wanted list: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may be rapidly becoming Public Enemy No. 2 in the war on terror. (Faye Bowers and Peter Grier, 6/15/04, CS Monitor)

It is not clear how Zarqawi, with a $10 million US bounty on his head, became US Enemy No. 2, and a possible replacement to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and a former bin Laden right-hand man who was captured in Pakistan in March 2003.

In fact, Zarqawi and Mr. bin Laden have at times been at cross-purposes. For example, in the midst of the Iraqi insurgency, Zarqawi wrote a letter to bin Laden that was intercepted and later released by the US. In it, Zarqawi implores bin Laden to help provoke a civil war between the Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq. But that, experts say, does not fit with bin Laden's plans. Bin Laden, they say, wants Shiites and Sunnis to unite in his bigger aims against the United States, then settle any differences they have between them afterward.

But Zarqawi seems to have changed directions in that regard as well, possibly in deference to bin Laden's wishes. Since the August 2003 bombing of the mosque in Karbala in which some 83 people were killed, including the leading Shiite Muslim leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, Zarqawi hasn't targeted Shiites.

Zarqawi would seem to understand the situation much better than bin Laden.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:22 PM


Discredited Iraqi ally regroups: Ahmed Chalabi is trying to build a Shiite power base in the wake of a US raid. (Dan Murphy, 6/15/04, CS Monitor)

[T]he man whose British-installed Hashemite family, which was exiled in 1958 by a nationalist coup, may be using his falling out with the United States to gain credibility in Iraq as an independent.

"What the Americans have done earned me a medal from the Iraqi people," he said in an interview with Al Arabiya television in Dubai. "It invalidated everything that had been said about me being with the Americans."

People close to Chalabi say he's trying to build a new power base, primarily among Shiite religious figures and politicians, as his key to survival in the emerging Iraqi political order.

Couldn't they slow this process down just a bit so it's not quite so transparent that we created artificial distance in order to rehabilitate him in the eyes of his countrymen?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 PM


GOP thwarts ceremony for Wen Ho Lee (The buzz, June 14, 2004, Sacramento Bee)

Controversy erupted last week over plans by the six-member caucus to honor the former Los Alamos scientist with a resolution on the Assembly floor.

Lee once was the target of an intense investigation into alleged spying on behalf of the Chinese government. The case largely disintegrated, however, and he never was charged with espionage. Lee pleaded guilty in September 2000 to a lesser charge of mishandling nuclear secrets and received a rare apology from a federal judge.

"The man lost his job, he was maligned for two years, people assumed he was a spy, he was shackled in leg chains, and he was put in solitary confinement for nine months," said Assemblywoman Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, caucus chairwoman.

But Assembly Republicans forced cancellation of the Capitol ceremony. "I just didn't think it was right for us to honor someone convicted of a felony," said Assemblyman Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark.

Honored? He should be hanged.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:36 PM


Report: Social Security stronger than thought (LEIGH STROPE, 6/14/04, Associated Press)

Social Security's long-term prospects are better than previously thought, a congressional report said Monday, estimating the program won't become insolvent until 2052, a decade later than projected earlier this year.

The report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office still paints a bleak financial picture for the future of the retirement system, which faces significant strain as the aging baby boom generation retires.

The case for reform is moral, not fiscal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:33 PM


Brahimi quits post as UN envoy in Iraq (Shlomo Shamir, 6/13/04, Ha'aretz)

Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special envoy to Iraq, announced his resignation from the post at a meeting yesterday of the Security Council and in the presence of Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The resignation, brewing for a number of days, shocked the diplomatic community at the world body.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:38 PM


Institutionalizing our demise: America vs. multiculturalism (Roger Kimball, June 2004, New Criterion)

On a recent trip to Maryland, I stopped at Baltimore Harbor with my wife and five-year-old son to see Fort McHenry, the site, in September 1814, of the Battle of Baltimore, a decisive episode in the War of 1812. It was a glorious spring day: the sky an infinite azure unfolded by the immaculate incandescence of the sun; gentle sea breezes wafted the scents of burgeoning flora to us grateful visitors as a scattering of sloops scudded in silent decorum across the bay.

Our first stop was a modern outbuilding adjacent to the eighteenth-century fort. We crowded into a small theater with about thirty fourth-graders and their teachers to watch a short film. Among other things, we learned about the origins of the war, about how the British took and burned Washington, about how at last a thousand U.S. troops under George Armistead at Fort McHenry successfully defended their bastion against the British naval onslaught, saving Baltimore and turning the tide of the war.

It was a near-run thing. The British ships, anchored out of range of Armistead’s cannons, pounded the fort with mortar and Congreve rocket fire over the course of twenty-five hours. Sitting on a truce ship behind the British fleet was a young American lawyer and amateur poet named Francis Scott Key. He watched as the battle raged, dappling the night sky with noisy phosphorescence.

Sometime before sunrise, the bombardment suddenly stopped. Key was uncertain of the battle’s outcome until dawn broke and he saw the American flag fluttering boldly above Fort McHenry. (When he had taken command, Armistead asked for an extra large flag so that “the British would have no trouble seeing it from a distance.”) There would be no surrender. The Brits abandoned their plans to invade Baltimore. The war would soon be over. As soon as he caught sight of Old Glory, Francis Scott Key began scribbling what would become “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the back of a letter. He finished it in a hotel in Baltimore a day or two later. The poem was an instant hit and was soon set to an eighteenth-century English drinking tune. It became the official national anthem in 1931.

The film ended and strains of the song began floating out from the loudspeakers —softly at first, then louder and louder. Everyone in the room scrambled to his feet.

O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The schoolchildren stood reverently, each with his right hand over his heart. A floor-length curtain wheeled back, flooding the room with light. There was Fort McHenry. And there, rising above it, was the American flag, waving gently in the breeze. With the possible exception of our son, who was busy attacking The Enemy with his toy F14, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Of course, that calculated piece of theater was in part an exercise in sentimentality. Is that a bad thing? I believe that there is a place for such affirmative sentimentality. Among other things, it provides emotional glue for our shared identity as Americans. These days, perhaps more than ever before, that identity needs glue. As we contemplate the prospects for America and its institutions in the twenty-first century, it is not only particular cultural and social institutions that deserve scrutiny. What we might call the institution of American identity—of who we are as a people—also requires our attention. [...]

The various movements to deconstruct American identity and replace it with a multicultural “rainbow” or supra-national bureaucracy have made astonishing inroads in the last few decades and especially in the last several years. And, as Huntington reminds us, the attack on American identity has counterparts elsewhere in the West wherever the doctrine of multiculturalism has trumped the cause of national identity. The European Union—whose leaders are as dedicated to multicultural shibboleths as they are to rule by top-down, anti-democratic bureaucracy—is a case in point. But the United States, the most powerful national state, is also the most attractive target for deconstruction.

It is a curious development that Huntington traces. In many respects, it corroborates James Burnham’s observation, in Suicide of the West (1964), that “liberalism permits Western civilization to be reconciled to dissolution.” For what we have witnessed with the triumph of multiculturalism is a kind of hypertrophy or perversion of liberalism, as its core doctrines are pursued to the point of caricature. “Freedom,” “diversity,” “equality,” “tolerance,” even “democracy”—how many definitive liberal virtues have been redacted into their opposites by the imperatives of political correctness? If “diversity” mandates bilingual education, then we must institute bilingual education, even if it results in the cultural disenfranchisement of those it was meant to benefit. The passion for equality demands “affirmative action,” even though the process of affirmative action depends upon treating people unequally.

If there is a bright spot in the portrait that Huntington paints, it revolves around the fact that centrifugal forces of multiculturalism are espoused chiefly by the intellectual and bureaucratic elite. For many ordinary people, the developments that Huntington outlines represent a catastrophe, not progress. What prospects do ordinary people have against the combined forces of the courts, the educational establishment, the “mainstream” media, and much popular culture? It is hard to say—at least, it is hard to say anything cheerful. But Huntington does provide several rays of hope. There are many movements to “take back America,” to resuscitate the core values that, traditionally, have defined us as Americans. Indeed, Huntington’s book may be regarded as a manifesto on behalf of that battle.

We stand at a crossroads. The future of America hangs in the balance. Huntington outlines several possible courses that the country might take, from the loss of our core culture to an attempt to revive the “discarded and discredited racial and ethnic concepts” that, in part, defined pre-mid-twentieth century America.

Huntington argues for a third alternative. If we are to preserve our identity as a nation we need to preserve the core values that defined that identity. What are those values? They embrace several things, including religion. You wouldn’t know it from watching CNN or reading The New York Times, but there is a huge religious revival taking place now, affecting just about every part of the globe except Western Europe, which slouches towards godlessness almost as fast as it slouches towards bankruptcy and demographic catastrophe (neither Spain nor Italy are producing enough children to replace their existing populations, while the Muslim birthrate in France continues to soar).

Things look different in America. For if America is a vigorously secular country—which it certainly is—it is also a deeply religious one. It always has been. Tocqueville was simply minuting the reality he saw around him when he noted that “On my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention.” As G. K. Chesterton put it a century after Tocqueville, America is “a nation with the soul of a church.” Even today, America is a country where an astonishing 92 percent of the population says it believes in God and 80 to 85 percent of the population identifies itself as Christian. Hence Huntington’s call for a return to America’s core values is also a call to embrace the religious principles upon which the country was founded, “a recommitment to America as a deeply religious and primarily Christian country, encompassing several religious minorities adhering to Anglo-Protestant values, speaking English, maintaining its cultural heritage, and committed to the principles” of political liberty as articulated by the Founders.

Calls for the more thorough assimilation of immigrants are futile unless we maintain that which we wish them to assimilate to.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:22 PM


Saudi clerics blast violence, American still held: Al-Qaida seen starting new tactic in drive against Saudi regime (MSNBC, 6/14/04)

As the search for an American kidnapped here by extremists continued, six Saudi clerics once affiliated with Islamic militants, including two praised by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, condemned a wave of attacks against Westerners in the kingdom, describing the perpetrators as “a deviant group.”

The clerics, all of whom have served prison time for opposing the Saudi government, called the attacks “a heinous crime” in their statement. The official Saudi Press Agency reported on the statement — an unprecedented airing of known dissidents’ remarks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:02 PM


Jimmy Carter (The American Experience, 9pm, PBS)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:53 PM


Democratic Debacle: The Republican party ensured a landslide defeat when it nominated Barry Goldwater in 1964, but the Democrats did far more lasting damage to themselves at their convention that year. In fact, they still haven’t recovered. (Joshua Zeitz, June/July 2004, American Heritage)

For 70 years Republicans were effectively shut out of the “solid South,” a result of their having been the party of Lincoln, abolition, and Reconstruction. But over time, as the Democratic party emerged as a champion of black civil rights and then embraced the rights revolutions of other groups—women, gays, lesbians—white Southern voters shifted their support to the GOP.

Jimmy Carter gained the Presidency in 1976, but no other Democratic presidential candidate has won more than four Southern states; in 1972, 1984, 1988, and 2000 the Democrats lost the entire South. At the heart of this defection was not just a white backlash against civil rights but a sense that the party had embraced the social excesses of the late 1960s.

Many writers trace this rift to the disaster of 1968, when at its convention in Chicago the Democratic party simply imploded. That famously explosive week saw party regulars and antiwar insurgents trade vicious barbs while Mayor Richard Daley’s riot police—12,000 strong, augmented by 11,000 federal and National Guard troops—fought in the streets with upward of 10,000 protesters. The Democratic party entered the 1968 fall campaign badly divided and dispirited, and when Hubert Humphrey lost the November election to Richard Nixon, it was the start of a long decline. Since 1968 Democrats have lost six out of nine presidential elections.

Yet the woes of the Democratic party didn’t originate in Chicago, or even in 1968. They can be traced back to another convention, in another city, in another year. Forty years ago this summer, the Democratic party met in Atlantic City to nominate the incumbent President, Lyndon Johnson, for another term. Nobody knew it then, but that 1964 Democratic National Convention would be a turning point for the party. It was Atlantic City that sowed the seeds of the internecine wars that tore apart the Democratic coalition four years later in Chicago and that have left it wounded ever since. [...]

Even if the MFDP delegates has been seated at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, the student coalition might still have fractured and moved sharply to the left. The civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam were bound to create enormous strains. But the liberal leaders of the Democratic party hardly helped matters. They left the Mississippi activists with nowhere else to go. Many of the young men and women who attended the 1964 Democratic National Convention determined to work for the party and within the political process came back four years later to burn down the house that Franklin Roosevelt had built. They didn’t succeed, but they came awfully close.

The party is still struggling, all these years later, to wrestle down the demons it unleashed at its convention in 1964.

White Southerners, on the other hand, bolted the Democratic party after the 1964 convention, and they’ve hardly looked back since. And though the Democratic party ultimately wooed back the dissidents of 1968, it did so at a steep price. By embracing such controversial ideas as environmentalism, reproductive rights, gay rights, opposition to the Vietnam War, and gun control, the Democrats opened themselves to criticism that their party was aggressively secular and culturally extreme—a charge that still bedevils them.

Some political commentators believe that as the South continues to attract service-sector and information-technology jobs, and as its metropolitan areas swell with university graduates and white-collar professionals, Democrats will have a new opening in Dixie. Others argue that it’s not the South that needs to change, but the Democrats, that until the party talks less about rights and more about values, it is doomed to keep losing these states. At the same time that Democrats are eager to take back the Presidency, this debate still divides them.

One of the biggest problems for the Democrats has been that they've been able to sit back and self-righteously blame all their difficulties since on racism and not examine how the civil rights struggle is merely an aspect of that "rights vs. values" divide.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:17 PM


Remarks by the President at Ceremony for the Unveiling of the Clinton Portraits (The East Room, 6/14/04)

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Thank you, Henry. Laura and I appreciate you all coming. President Clinton and Senator Clinton, welcome home. (Applause.) All who live here are temporary residents; the portraits that are presented today will be held permanently in the White House collection for all the ages. And so beginning today, the likenesses of President William Jefferson Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will take their place in a line that began with George and Martha Washington. (Applause.)

Laura and I are pleased to welcome members of the Clinton and Rodham family, thank you all for coming. It's great to see Chelsea. The fact that you survived your teenage years in the White House -- (laughter) -- speaks to the fact that you had a great mom and dad (Applause.)

We are pleased that Mrs. Dorothy Rodham is here. Welcome, we're glad you're here. (Applause.) And those two boys you're still trying to raise. (Laughter.) Hugh and Tony, thank you for coming, we're glad you're here. (Applause.) It's good to see so many who served our nation so ably in the Clinton administration. Thank you all for coming back. Thanks for your service to the country, and welcome back to the White House. We're really glad you're here and I know the President is, as well.

As you might know, my father and I have decided to call each other by numbers. (Laughter.) He's 41, I'm 43. It's a great honor to -- it's a great pleasure to honor number 42. We're glad you're here, 42. (Applause.) The years have done a lot to clarify the strengths of this man. As a candidate for any office, whether it be the state attorney general or the President, Bill Clinton showed incredible energy and great personal appeal. As chief executive, he showed a deep and far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need, and the forward-looking spirit the Americans like in a President. Bill Clinton could always see a better day ahead -- and Americans knew he was working hard to bring that day closer.

Over eight years, it was clear that Bill Clinton loved the job of the presidency. He filled this house with energy and joy. He's a man of enthusiasm and warmth, who could make a compelling case and effectively advance the causes that drew him to public service.

People saw those gifts very early in Bill Clinton. He is remembered in Hope, Arkansas, and other places along the way, as an eager, good-hearted boy who seemed destined for big things. I was particularly struck by the story of a nun at St. John's School in Hot Springs who decided that Billy Clinton should get a C in deportment. That was a rare grade for the future Rhodes Scholar and President. (Laughter.) So Bill's mother gave the nun a call to see what was wrong. The sister replied, "Oh, nothing much. But let me tell you, this boy knows the answer to every question and he just leaps to his feet before anyone else can." (Laughter.) She went on, you know, "I know he'll not tolerate this C, but it'll be good for him. And I promise you, if he wants to be, he will be President someday."

People in Bill Clinton's life have always expected him to succeed -- and, more than that, they wanted him to succeed. And meeting those expectations took more than charm and intellect -- it took hard work and drive and determination and optimism. And after all, you've got to be optimistic to give six months of your life running the McGovern campaign in Texas. (Laughter and applause.)

He won his first statewide office at age 30, sworn in as governor at 32. He was a five-time governor of Arkansas, the first man from that state to become the President. He's also the first man in his party since Franklin Roosevelt to win a second term in the White House. And I could tell you more of the story, but it's coming out in fine bookstores all over America. (Laughter and applause.)

At every stage in the extraordinary rise of Bill Clinton, from the little ranch house on Scully Street to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he and Roger had a wonderful, loving mother. And I am certain that Virginia Kelley would be filled with incredible pride this morning. (Applause.)

And so would Hugh Rodham, Senior. Mr. Rodham did have the joy of seeing his only daughter become America's First Lady. And I know he would not be surprised to see her as she is today, an elected United States Senator, and a woman greatly admired in our country. From the earliest days of her youth in Park Ridge, Illinois, Hillary Rodham impressed her family and friends as a person of great ability and serious purpose. At Maine Township High School South, at Wellesley College, and at Yale Law School, classmates saw her not just an achiever, but as a role model and as a leader. She inspires respect and loyalty from those who know her, and it was a good day in both their lives when they met at the library at Yale Law School Library.

Hillary's commitment to public service continued when she left this house. Listen, New York politics is a serious business -- (laughter) -- it's rough business. It takes an extraordinary person to campaign and win the United States Senate. She has proven herself more equal to the challenge. And she takes an interesting spot on American history today, for she is the only sitting senator whose portrait hangs in the White House. (Applause.)

The paintings of the Clintons are the work of a fine American artist, Simmie Knox. Mr. Knox has rendered portraits of a Supreme Court Justice, a Cabinet minister, a mayor and members of Congress. And today we thank him for putting his skilled hand to the portraits that are about to be unveiled.

More than 40 years have passed since a boy of 16 came here to the White House with a group from the American Legion Boys Nation. On that day in the summer of 1963, Bill Clinton of Arkansas looked into the face of John F. Kennedy, and left the Rose Garden feeling very proud that he had shaken the hand of a President. Today he can be even prouder of decades of service, and effort, and perseverance that brought him back to this place as the 42nd President of the United States.

My congratulations to you both. And now will you to join me on stage for the presentation. (Applause.)


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Breeden, for your kind remarks and for your essential work on behalf of the White House and the history of this country.

We're delighted to be here with President and Mrs. Bush today, and Vice President and Mrs. Quayle, all the members and former members of Congress, the members of the Bush administration, and friends of George and Barbara Bush, and especially the family members. We welcome you all here to the White House.

It's impossible to live in this wonderful old place without becoming incredibly attached to it -- to the history of our country and to what each and every one of these rooms represent. In a way, I think every family who has ever lived here has become more and more a part of our country's history, just for the privilege of sleeping under this roof at night. And so, perhaps the most important thing I can say to President and Mrs. Bush today is, welcome home. We're glad to have you back.

I want to say, too, that we thought that we ought to have this ceremony in the East Room. This has always been the people's room. In the 19th century it used to get so crowded at receptions that one of the windows over here was turned into a door so people could get out if they couldn't bear the crowds anymore. There are so many here today, perhaps we should have done it again. But we thought the air-conditioning made it advisable for us to all stay put.

Many of you know that it was in this room that Abigail Adams used to dry the family laundry when the room was nothing more than a brick shell. You may not know that the great explorer, Meriwether Lewis, set up camp here, surrounded by canvas tarps, books and hunting rifles in the day when he was Thomas Jefferson's secretary. John Quincy Adams frequently would come here to watch the sun rise after he finished his early morning swim in the Potomac. That also is something we're considering taking up if the heat wave doesn't break. (Laughter.)

The portraits that we add here today celebrate another chapter to our rich history, and particularly to the rich history of the East Room where they will remain for a few days before they are properly hung. I managed to get a glimpse of these portraits and I must admit that I think the artist did a wonderful job, and we're all in his debt. But I also want to say, President Bush, if I look half as good as you do when I leave office, I'll be a happy man. (Laughter.)

I want to again compliment Herbert Abrams, the artist. He also painted the portrait of President Carter. So, once again, President Bush has set another outstanding example of bipartisanship.

These portraits, as has already been said, will be seen by millions of Americans who visit here, reminding them of what these two great Americans stood for, and for what they have done to strengthen our country. The portraits in the White House are more than likenesses. They tell the story of the promise of one American life, and in so doing, the promise of all American life. They offer a lesson, an example, a challenge for every American to live up to the responsibilities of citizenship.

As Americans look for ways to come together to deal with the challenges we face today, they can do well in looking at the lives of President and Mrs. Bush. They have been guided by the basic American values and virtues of honesty, compassion, civility, responsibility and optimism. They have passed these values on to their family and on to our American family as well. And for that we should all be profoundly grateful.

Mrs. Bush's portrait will hang adjacent to the Vermeil Room on the ground-floor corridor, taking her place in history in the line of America's first ladies. One role of the First Lady is to open the doors to the White House. Mrs. Bush will be in the hearts of Americans forever for the gracious way in which she opened so many doors not just to this house, but to a world of endless possibility through reading. Her campaign for literacy exemplified our country's great spirit of volunteerism, and our primary concern for the potential of every individual American.

Her life of helping others has brought recognition to all those Americans, especially to American women, who have seen unmet needs in their communities and reached out to meet them. We cannot thank her enough.

President Bush's portrait will hang out here in the Grand Foyer, across from the portrait of President Franklin Roosevelt, the Commander in Chief, he served in World War II. It will stand as a reminder of George Bush's basic integrity and decency, and of his entire adult lifetime devoted to public service. Most of all, it will stand as a testimony to a leader who helped Americans move forward toward common ground on many fronts. We see this clearly in the causes George Bush led us in as President -- causes that aimed at improving the lives not just of Republicans, but of all Americans.

He made education a national priority when he hosted the Education Summit in 1989, something I will never forget and always be especially personally grateful for, because he understood that a solid education is essential to every American's ability to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

He led us to a new dedication to service, and extolled the real heroes in America -- the ordinary Americans who every day go about solving the problems of this country in courageous, brave, and quiet manners. The Points of Light Initiative held up the best in America, reminded us of what we can do when we truly work together. And I can say that it was the one thing that he did that he personally asked me to continue when I took this office, and I was honored to do because it was so important and it remains important to the United States today.

He signed the Americans With Disabilities Act, something that has now acquired broad support among people of all parties and all walks of life, and which has made a real difference to the quality of life of Americans who are now making larger contributions to the rest of us. And he supported and signed the Clean Air Act, which is terribly important today in preserving the quality of American life.

He also led our nation and the world in the Gulf War Alliance, in an example of contributions and cooperations in the aftermath of the Cold War that I believe will long be followed.

Finally, since he has left this office, he has continued to be an active and aggressive citizen for what he believed in. He worked here to help us to pass NAFTA, something for which I am profoundly grateful. And just the other day, he earned the gratitude of all Americans who believe in law and order and believe in civil citizenship when he defended the honor and reputation of law-abiding law enforcement officers and government employees. For all these things, all Americans should be grateful to George Bush.

For President and Mrs. Bush, love of country and service to it have always meant the same thing. We honor them both today for their leadership, their character and their concern for their fellow citizens.

On November 2, 1800, the day after his very first night in the White House, John Adams wrote to his wife, "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof." In the case of George Bush, John Adams' prayers were surely met.

It is my great honor and pleasure now to unveil the official portraits of President and Mrs. Bush. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you very, very much. Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you. And thank you, President Clinton, for those overly generous words as kind assessment of what I and so many here in this room tried to do.

Frankly, I needed those kind words. (Laughter.) I told some friends last night that I'd been going through a bit of an identity crisis, highlighted when Barbara was having her hair done in January. Eddie, her accomplished hairdresser, said, I can hardly believe it, I can hardly believe it. And Barbara said, what is it, Eddie? He said, I can hardly believe I'm doing the hair of the mother of the Governor of Texas. (Laughter.) Barbara said, what about the wife of the former President of the United States? Eddie goes, well, there's that, too. (Laughter.)

So I can't tell you, Mr. President, how much I appreciate your wonderfully kind words. (Applause.) And to Mrs. Clinton, thank you for this superb hospitality. I know I speak confidently for everybody in this room when I thank you for the generosity of your time and of the way this matter here has been set up. To Ann Stock in the Social Office; to the White House Historical Association; and to everyone else, the Bush family -- and again, I confidently speak for all -- are very grateful to you for letting us come and for arranging this warm ceremony.

I look around, and I should not speak for the dean of the Diplomatic Corps, my dear friend, Prince Bandar, but he is here, and I am honored that he took the time to join us here today.

It's hot out, and I've got to be careful about this nostalgic beat, but I see the Photo Dogs -- I miss them. (Laughter.) And I've got to be careful, but as I look around and see Helen and Terry, Mick, and Trudy and Ann, I even miss you -- and I never thought I'd say that again. (Laughter and applause.) I honestly do.

And so I really -- my role here is simply to say thank you, and to say how much, of course, we enjoyed living here and what a joy it is to see the White House staff. I'm asked, what do you miss about Washington, and I say not a lot, frankly. But I miss the White House staff and the people that the Clintons know do so much to make this not just the people's house, but the home for the people that are privileged to live here. And so I thank them. And I thank all of you for turning out today for what, for Barbara and me, is a most nostalgic, wonderful occasion.

And, Herb, I feel very differently than Lyndon Johnson. (Laughter.) Lyndon looked at his first portrait, and he said, that's the ugliest thing I ever saw. (Laughter.) So I'm inclined to think it's pretty darn good. And to you, thank you, and I know Barbara feels the same way. You're wonderful, and we appreciate your work so much, sir. Thank you. (Applause.)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:10 PM

60-40 FILES:

Five Months to E-Day: Senate roundup (John J. Miller, 6/14/04, National Review)

For two weeks, much of the news has dwelt on the past: Celebrating the Greatest Generation and D-Day, and then the passing of one of America's great presidents. It's easy to forget that the next generation of senators continues to plan for E-Day, now less than five months in the future.

Much has happened since April and my previous report on this year's Senate races: Pete Coors declared his candidacy in Colorado, Arlen Specter nipped Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania's GOP primary, and South Carolina Republicans picked a pair of runoff candidates. Without further ado, here's a roundup as we head toward summer.

If my math is right, he's got GOP +2.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:47 PM


On One Man's Nightstand (v1. n6) (Rodney Clapp [posted : Nov. 30, 2001, Theology Books)

This month I call to your attention three books in political science and/or American history. The first is a profoundly suggestive volume by Robert Kraynak, a political scientist at Colgate University. Kraynak's Christian Faith and Modern Democracy (University of Notre Dame Press) is a remarkably lucid examination of the limitations of modern, liberal democracy. Kraynak, a committed Catholic, reminds us in detail that most of the orthodox Christian tradition has approached political and governmental systems prudentially--careful never to baptize any one system as the City of God arrived on earth, but ready to say that one or more might nearest approximate, in its time and place, the sort of peaceful order Christians can support. Following this line, Kraynak runs against the grain of most modern theologians and Christian political scientists, and will not say liberal democracy is the absolute best form of polity known to humanity. I have never read a more pointed and powerful Christian critique of modern democratic human rights, and the book is profoundly suggestive on many more topics. There's something here for everyone to disagree with (I, for instance, cannot go with Kraynak's reassertion of gender hierarchy, and wish he were more insightful on the pitfalls of Niebuhrian realism), but the book has all the earmarks of seminality. Kraynak is one of an emerging breed of Christian political scientists who insist on basing politics on explicit, orthodox Christian grounds. Who could have imagined it even ten years ago?

You may not agree with much of it, certainly not all, but it will engage your mind.

-ESSAY: Categorical Imperatives Impair Christianity in Culture (Douglas A. Ollivant, July/August 2003, Religion & Liberty)

In his must-read Christian Faith and Modern Democracy, Robert Kraynak introduces us to the concept of “Kantian Christianity.” Kraynak claims that the “Kantian influence on modern Christianity is … deep and pervasive.” What he means is that Christian thinkers no longer speak about culture and politics in terms of the more enduring principles of moral virtue, law, and the common good but now focus on social justice, understood as solely the immediate, material rights and dignity of the human person. Moreover, they have drastically reduced the role of prudence in politics accepted under the historical Christian anthropological understanding, which has recognized a variety of political regimes depending on the circumstances. This historical understanding also acknowledged the harsh realities of the political realm in a fallen (albeit redeemed) world, and the difficulties and agonies involved in fashioning a just or moral response to contingent events. Instead of prudential judgments, Kraynak maintains that we now hear only moralistic pronouncements about peace and justice that severely limit the range of (legitimately recognized) political options.

Kraynak maintains that Kantian Christianity has seeped into the language of contemporary Christians even though contemporary Christians do not seem to have a full understanding of the underlying anthropology that comes with it. The rights and dignity of each person replaces moral and theological virtues—rational and spiritual perfection. Further, an emphasis on personal autonomy or personal identity diminishes long-established Christian teachings about the dependence of the Creature on the Creator, original sin, grace, and a natural law through which human beings may share or “participate” in eternal law.

Following Kraynak, it is clear to see that in our public life and culture, this language of rights and dignity tends to lead to absolutes in morality, or “categorical imperatives.” Now, Christianity has no problem with moral absolutes (and in fact dictates several), provided they are properly stated. But a proper statement of a moral absolute is made difficult by the anthropology lingering in Kant’s legacy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:49 AM


Shock swing towards euroscepticism in European Parliament elections (Richard Carter, 14.06.2004, EU Observer)

Liberal leader Graham Watson said he regretted the fact that "parliament will have a greater number of anti-Europeans" adding that they will be rather "unproductive members".

What could be more productive than stopping the monster in its tracks?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:45 AM


Me and Reagan: Andrew Ferguson, Reagan intimate. (Andrew Ferguson, 06/21/2004, Weekly Standard)

MY FAVORITE BOOK TITLE of all time is Sukarno: An Autobiography As Told To Cindy Adams, which was published by Bobbs-Merrill in the 1960s and later, so I've heard, reissued as Me and Sukarno by Cindy Adams. Not even Sukarno and Me. Ms. Adams, of course, is as highly respected a gossip columnist as you are likely to find, and the effect of her book's title--which commingles the importance of a man who governed a country of 100 million souls with the self-importance of a tabloid reporter who interviewed him long enough to get a book out of it--strikes a plummy note. It neatly sums up the uneasy relationship between those who achieve greatness and those who try really, really hard to get somebody to thrust greatness upon them.

You could see the same thing on display on TV all last week. Cable news channels lapsed into what is fast becoming their natural condition--a kind of frenetic pseudo-activity, furious and empty busy-ness, in which the amount of airtime the producers have to fill is unimaginably greater than the amount of information they have to fill it with. After the sixtieth or seventieth replay of Ronald Reagan at the Berlin Wall, I found myself thinking, heretically, "Aw, tear it down yourself, already." Much worse than the shopworn clips were the former Reaganites who emerged from the Washington lagoon unbidden. Swamp water dripping from their J. Press pinstripes, seaweed draped around their Ann Taylor ensembles, they huddled outside the studios of MSNBC and CNN and Fox News, hoping for a little airtime. Of course they were not disappointed. Everybody was escorted into the studios and put on the air for a few moments at least, and often those precious moments grew into hours.

I have lived in Washington a long time and, as they say in the interrogation room, many of these persons are known to me personally. But I was astonished at the intimacy each had enjoyed with Reagan himself. From junior politicians and special assistants and advance men on the distant end, to campaign consultants and cabinet secretaries on the near--all were pleased to testify, modestly, about the real Reagan they knew and about their own closeness to the great man, notwithstanding that anyone familiar with Reagan's way of life will know that even at the height of his mental acuity he couldn't have picked a single one of these people out of a police lineup. It's a funny thing about greatness: We always hear how rare it is, but when it finally appears, there always seems to be enough to rub off on everybody.

As it happens, I am in possession of my own Reagan memories, which I uncork at the slightest provocation and which, I've noticed, grow richer in detail as the years pass.

As so odten with America's best political essayist, the point is driven home in his final line.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 AM


Supreme Court Dismisses Pledge Case on Technicality: Justices Do Not Decide Constitutionality of Reference to God in Pledge of Allegiance (The Associated Press, June 14, 2004)

The Supreme Court preserved the phrase "one nation, under God," in the Pledge of Allegiance, ruling Monday that a California atheist could not challenge the patriotic oath but sidestepping the broader question of separation of church and state.

At least for now, the decision -- which came on Flag Day -- leaves untouched the practice in which millions of schoolchildren around the country begin the day by reciting the pledge.


Supreme Shocker—'Under God' Stays Because of a Technicality: Supreme Court says Michael Newdow doesn't have authority to speak for his daughter. Plus: Reactions from conservative Christian advocacy organizations. (Ted Olsen, 06/14/2004, Christianity Today)

[I]t's the "concurring" opinion that readers will find most interesting. That word concurring is a bit of a misnomer, since the three judges who signed on only agree with the majority that the case should be dismissed. They disagree strongly with just about everything else in the majority opinion.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who during oral arguments said that the merits of the case "certainly have nothing to do with domestic relations," accused the majority of chickening out. "The Court today erects a novel prudential standing principle in order to avoid reaching the merits of the constitutional claim," he wrote. "Although the Court may have succeeded in confining this novel principle almost narrowly enough to be, like the proverbial excursion ticket—good for this day only—our doctrine of prudential standing should be governed by general principles, rather than ad hoc improvisations."

Rehnquist, Sandra Day O'Connor, and Clarence Thomas say Newdow should have lost not because he didn't have the right to bring the case, but because the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional. But even within the concurring opinion there's enough dissent that O'Connor and Thomas each wrote their own opinion in addition to signing on to that of Rehnquist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:33 AM


The Gipper's Final Flight: After an impossible-to-imagine journey, a clan returns to California (HUGH SIDEY, 6/13/04, TIME)

The sinking California sun turned soft red and a breeze ruffled the hillside when Ronald Reagan was laid to rest on the magnificent stage created for his last bow. As the final taps floated out over the shimmering Pacific Ocean, Nancy Reagan held the flag from his casket close to her. She was worn but still resolute from the long week of farewell.

His body had ridden the dark caisson up to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, and the riderless horse, with Reagan's boots turned backward in the stirrups, had walked behind it. Tens of thousands of people queued up there to give their salutes and mumbled little tributes to this man they thought of as a neighbor. The Washington National Cathedral was filled with the world's power fraternity, including President George W. Bush and all the living former Presidents—Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Jerry Ford—and some who had tried but failed—Al Gore, Bob Dole, Walter Mondale. After the service, Reagan's casket was clamped to the floor in the back of a plane that is used as Air Force One, and he began his journey home with family, old friends and staff. [...]

The very game Thatcher had arrived on board with the formidable hat she wore in Washington stowed in a sturdy box where it would remain for the rest of this journey of tribute, which she insisted on making despite a series of small strokes that had restricted her public life. An examination of the guest book from Blair House, where Nancy stayed last week, showed that Thatcher's touch for brevity and devotion was still intact, though she did not have the strength to talk in the cathedral and had them play her recorded speech. "To Ronnie," she wrote. "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:28 AM


Doubts Linger as Kerry Advances: Supporters Want A Sharper Image (Jim VandeHei, 6/14/04, Washington Post)

One standard barometer of voter enthusiasm is how strongly partisans support their presidential candidate. By this measure, Kerry is doing far worse than Bush, but markedly better than Al Gore at this point in 2000. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 68 percent of Democrats strongly supported Kerry and 89 percent of Republicans expressed strong support for Bush. In July of 2000, 55 percent of Democrats expressed similarly strong feelings toward Gore. [...]

Despite spending 20 years in the Senate, Kerry has not left a distinct policy mark, having chosen to focus more on investigations. And, at times, he has straddled both sides of issues. The Bush campaign frequently chides Kerry for voting for Bush's plan for education and the Patriot Act, only to criticize both on the campaign trail. In the middle of June, "it's unclear what John Kerry's vision and message [are] for the country," said Steve Schmidt, spokesman for the Bush campaign. [...]

At this point in 2000, it was clear Bush stood for lower taxes, sweeping education changes and a strong military. In 1992, it was clear Clinton was a "new kind of Democrat," who would cut taxes for the middle class and revamp health care.

Kerry adopted a cautious approach to this campaign, anticipating that factors outside his control, such as Iraq and terrorism, could alter the race at any moment, a top aide said. A senior Kerry adviser, who requested anonymity, said this has left many on the staff wanting, both in terms of strong leadership and inspiration. [...]

Many Democrats are bracing for a Bush resurgence -- if not in the weeks ahead, then after the GOP's national convention in August. After Bush's poll numbers dropped to what history says are perilous levels, he has hit a run of potentially good fortune.

Bush's plan to return power to the Iraqis at month's end is gaining support after the United Nations unanimously voted in favor of the U.S.-sponsored resolution. Back home, the economy is humming again. Nearly 250,000 jobs were added in May, oil prices are dropping and there are signs of a sustained turnaround even in the hardest-hit manufacturing belt.

Is it good fortune when you craft events yourself, as Mr. Bush has democracy in Iraq and the boom in the economy?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:20 AM


Booth Tarkington and Penrod (Robert S. Sargent, Jr., June 14, 2004, Enter Stage Right)

One of the inspirations for this column comes from the Washington Post book critic, Jonathan Yardley's "Occasional Series" called "Second Reading," which "…reconsiders notable and/or neglected books from the past." The other came from an article in The Atlantic, May '04 issue, titled, Hoosiers, (The Lost World of Booth Tarkington) written by the novelist, Thomas Mallon. I was raised on Penrod, by Booth Tarkington, and now is a good time to reconsider this largely forgotten author.

Most people probably know the film, "The Magnificent Ambersons," as an excellent 1942 movie directed by Orson Wells. How many know it was written by Tarkington, and was one of two Tarkington books to win the Pulitzer Prize? The other was Alice Adams.

Thomas Mallon rightly points out that the great body of Tarkington's work is mediocre. He gives credit to only the two books that won the Pulitzer. I agree that these books deserve some reconsideration, especially Alice Adams. It is a painful story full of realistic bitterness, anger, and humiliation. It does, however, have a happy ending, not in the sense that Alice Adams finally gets what she longed for throughout the book, but the fact that she realizes she can't get what she always wanted. The maturation of Alice Adams before our eyes sets up a truly beautiful ending (Mr. Tarkington, as we shall see, was good at endings).

I do not agree, however, that these two are the only good books Tarkington wrote. I would nominate two more: Penrod, and the practically unknown Rumbin Galleries.

Ambersons is on-line at Bartleby, if you'd like to check out one of the few good surprises on the Modern Library Top 100.

    -ETEXT: Magnificent Ambersons

    -ETEXT: Penrod

    -Booth Tarkington (1869-1946) (American Literature on the Web)

    -Booth Tarkington (Wikipedia)

    -Tarkington, Booth (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001)

    -Booth Tarkington

    Hoosiers, (The Lost World of Booth Tarkington) (Thomas Mallon, May 2004, Atlantic Monthly)

    -ESSAY: Booth Tarkington and Penrod (Robert S. Sargent, Jr., June 14, 2004, Enter Stage Right)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 AM


THEIR DAYS START BEFORE DAWN: Soldiers' chore: tending those 6 black horses (SUSAN KINZIE, 6/14/04, Washington Post Service)

At 4 a.m., in the darkness, Army Spc. Stephen Cava and other members of the Old Guard's elite Caisson Platoon begin their work in the nearly century-old stable at Fort Myer in Arlington, Va. They wash the horses, rub oil into the black leather saddles, muck out the stalls, rinse the worn brick floors.

All those chores translate into the details that make a military tradition evocative and powerful: six horses, all alike, drawing a caisson laden with the body of a soldier in a coffin -- a ritual repeated hundreds of times a year.

And once in a great while, the ritual is lifted into something extraordinary, and the members of the Old Guard become a part of history. [...]

According to tradition, three soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Regiment, the Army's oldest active unit, ride in blue wool dress uniforms. Three horses walk riderless next to them, all six pulling the caisson.

Caissons are rich in American history as well. Originally designed to carry artillery, they began being used in the 1800s to bring dead soldiers off the battlefield. Another soldier rides on a horse alongside them, leading the way.

For Reagan's funeral procession, a single horse without a rider, known as a caparisoned horse, marched to the same cadence. A pair of boots, set backward in the stirrups, represented the warrior who will not return.

''This is something that's very symbolic,'' said Stephen Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University. ``It's a part of the nation's history that [died] with Reagan's body. It puts an era to closure.''

It's important to have the full ritual, he said, because the tradition provides a structure that pulls people together. ''It's a tribute to him and a moment in the history of our nation,'' Wayne said.

Last week was a pluperfect example of why ritual and tradition should be maintained, binding not only we the living but us to our past.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 AM


Free trade, progress vs. isolation, poverty (Carlos Alberto Montaner, 6/01/04, Firmas Press)

The Bush administration put aside the shameful photographs taken in the Iraqi prison and found time to sign a free-trade agreement with Central America. It was done without excessive fuss. [...]

For Salvadoran President Francisco Flores, who ends his term today, the Central American Free Trade Agreement is a personal triumph, the culmination of a brilliant stage in his life. The same can be said of Presidents Abel Pacheco of Costa Rica, Ricardo Maduro of Honduras and Enrique Bolaños of Nicaragua. They managed to forge the agreement. Guatemalan President Oscar Berger just came into office, so the merit of the negotiations is not his, but it is fair to acknowledge his enthusiasm. He knows that CAFTA benefits his country.

Mexico and Chile are already on board. The next nations to reach a pact with the United States and Canada will be the Dominican Republic and Panama. Later, probably Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, provided that in these three countries the trend toward economic freedom and the will to cooperate with the First World, are not derailed.

From this point on, however, the outlook is more doubtful, and we could say that there is an epidemic of bad historical eyesight: That's the tired vision of politicians who are ideologically old.

The official ruling classes in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Venezuela, encouraged from Havana by Fidel Castro, defend another model of development, anchored in the populist superstitions of the mid-20th century. If the next elections in Uruguay are won by the Broad Front, Uruguay will tilt in that direction, too -- traveling fatally into the past.

Manuel Rocha, the former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia and a diplomat with more than 20 years of experience in the region, sums up these events succinctly: In the Hispanic world, two Latin Americas are taking shape.

There is a modern Latin America, whose most successful exponent is Chile, that believes in the market economy and in emulating the more-prosperous nations, that cooperates in all aspects with the West's leading nations. And there's another Latin America, which insists on rejecting capitalism, reaffirms its unyielding faith in the State as the engine of the economy and continues to search for an invariably elusive third path that will redeem it from its misery.

The Latin America that will progress is the former. The latter -- the one that will remain backward and see a senseless increase in the percentage of its poor citizens -- will be described by the left as ''progressive and revolutionary.'' These are perversions of the language.

One black mark on the Reagan record--the Castro regime survives.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 AM

50-0 FILES:

Productivity gains roll at their fastest clip in 31 years (Del Jones and Barbara Hansen, 6/14/04, USA TODAY)

Still sweating the economy? Many are. Despite numbers showing the economy in a major growth pattern and, at last, an increase in jobs, there still is a lot of angst.

Rest easy. Productivity, the closest thing to Superman for the economy, has burst from the phone booth to initiate a rescue.

Government productivity statistics, revised this month, show productivity increasing 5.5% over the last 12 months, matching the fastest productivity gains in 31 years. And USA TODAY's fourth annual exclusive look at the productivity gains made by the nation's largest 100 companies shows that the country is on a multiyear roll not seen since just after World War II.

Seventy of the Fortune 100 companies saw their productivity rise in 2003, easily surpassing the average 53 of the three previous years, which were themselves banner years for productivity. A dozen companies in USA TODAY's study had productivity gains of more than 25%.

History says the gains will come to an end, but so far, there is little sign of that happening as companies employ programs such as Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing to find ways to do more with less.

Such productivity gains are inherently deflationary, which makes the coming Fed rate increases almost criminal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:37 AM


Gimme that organised religion (Colin Sedgwick, June 12, 2004, The Guardian)

We are often told that people are wide open to the idea of the spiritual - the religious, the numinous, call it what you like - but have no time for organised religion. And so the churches are emptying while they pursue their quest elsewhere.

Well yes,