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July 31, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:47 PM

THE 1980 TEMPLATE:

Hunting Mr. Democrat (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, 8/01/04, NY Times Magazine)

Square-jawed and telegenic (when his female colleagues created a gag pinup calendar, Hunks of the House, Thune got top billing as Mr. January), Thune is also a regular guy -- someone who can wax eloquent on the various flavors of Gatorade or crack up his aides by reciting lines from the Chevy Chase ''Vacation'' movies. ''John doesn't have to turn it on, and a lot of candidates do,'' said Dick Wadhams, Thune's campaign manager. ''They think, Oh, I've got to be charming in a couple of minutes.'' In a state where politeness matters, Thune is unfailingly so. If he swears, I never heard it, and I never saw him drink anything stronger at dinner than cranberry lemonade.

The Thunes were not politically active, and Thune is not one of those politicians who got his start running for student council. His entry was basketball. One Friday night during Thune's freshman year of high school, Representative Jim Abdnor, a farmer and West River Republican, dropped into Murdo and watched Thune sink five out of six free throws. The next day, Abdnor stopped young Thune in town. ''I noticed you missed one,'' he said by way of introduction.

They struck up a friendship that would go far beyond the basketball court. Now 81, Abdnor said it was Thune who, barely out of high school, persuaded him to take on South Dakota's legendary liberal Democratic senator, George McGovern. ''He thought I could win,'' Abdnor said. ''He didn't have any factual stuff, but he was convincing.''

In 1980, Abdnor rode Ronald Reagan's coattails to the Senate by portraying McGovern as out of touch. In 1985, Thune, inspired by the Reagan message of lower taxes and smaller government, went to Washington to work for Abdnor. But his stint as a Capitol Hill aide was short. Abdnor was soon caught up in a race against Daschle to keep his Senate seat -- and in a Republican Party feud that colors South Dakota politics to this day.

In 1986, when Daschle was in the House and running for the Senate, Bill Janklow, a Republican populist just finishing two terms as governor, challenged Abdnor in a primary to decide who would face down Daschle. The irascible, domineering, occasionally gun-toting Janklow is among the most colorful politicians South Dakota has ever had. He might have beat Daschle but never got the chance; Abdnor, the conservative favorite, won the primary, then lost the general election. Daschle has been senator ever since.

In 1996, Thune ran an upstart campaign for the House, defeating Janklow's lieutenant governor in the primary and a former Daschle associate in the general election; he promptly gained a leadership spot in his freshman class.


Election night may be a whole lot of fun.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 PM

WHO KNEW BABIES BOUNCED:

A Baby Bounce?: Kerry’s lead over Bush widens, though not substantially. (Brian Braiker, July 31, 2004, Newsweek)

Coming out of the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Sen. John Kerry now holds a seven-point lead over President George W. Bush (49 percent to 42 percent) in a three-way race with independent Ralph Nader (3 percent), according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll The poll was taken over two nights, both before and after Kerry's acceptance speech. Respondents who were queried after Kerry's Thursday night speech gave the Democrat a ten-point lead over Bush. Three weeks ago, Kerry’s lead was three points.

Kerry’s four-point “bounce” is the smallest in the history of the NEWSWEEK poll. [...]

For the NEWSWEEK poll, Princeton Survey Research Associates interviewed 1,010 adults aged 18 and older July 29 and July 30 by telephone. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Why even pay for a poll of "adults"? Usually you'd at least winnow down to registered voters. Better, you'd get down to likely voters. Was Newsweek trying to give them the biggest bounce they could?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 PM

MY BUT YOUR POWDER'S DRY:

Bush Planning August Attack Against Kerry (ADAM NAGOURNEY and ROBIN TONER, 8/01/04, NY Times)

President Bush's campaign plans to use the normally quiet month of August for a vigorous drive to undercut John Kerry by turning attention away from his record in Vietnam to what they described as an undistinguished and left-leaning record in the Senate.

Mr. Bush's advisers plan to cap the month at the Republican convention in New York, which they said would feature Mr. Kerry as an object of humor and calculated derision.


Two themes return here: first, the truly unique and quite daring attempt to make the Senator a laughingstock; second, the discipline they've shown by waiting until August to even begin the campaign.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:06 PM

SO MUCH FOR IMPROVING OUR IMAGE ABROAD:

Saudis Criticize Kerry for 'Bashing' Kingdom (Tom Doggett, 7/31/04, Reuters) - Saudi Arabia on Friday criticized Democratic presidential challenger Sen. John Kerry for "bashing" the kingdom when he called on the United States to cut its dependence on the Middle East nation's oil.

"Saudi bashing is not an energy policy," an official with the Saudi Embassy in Washington said.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:03 PM

COOKING UP A COVER FOR THE HUMANITARIAN MISSION:

US forces hunt down al-Qa'eda in Sudan (Damien McElroy, 01/08/2004, Daily Telegraph)

American special forces teams have been sent to Sudan to hunt down Saudi Arabian terrorists who have re-established secret al-Qa'eda training camps in remote mountain ranges in the north-eastern quarter of the country.

We're certainly not there for some sissy reason like stopping genocide--the Realists wouldn't stand for it.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 PM

JIBJAB:

We despise the use of the Internet to disperse lame jokes, but this is hilarious.


MORE (via Matt Murphy):
Sue You: This Song Is Our Song (Rachel Metz, Jul. 29, 2004, Wired)

When was the last time you saw John Kerry on his knees before world leaders, clad in S&M gear and with a ball gag in his mouth? Or eyed President Bush looking sheepish in a red dunce cap?

Chances are it was sometime this past week on national TV and maybe 10 times before that on the Internet, thanks to JibJab, a site that is posting animators Evan and Gregg Spiridellis' latest creation, This Land.

The film features Kerry and Bush dissing each other like boys on a playground to the tune of Woody Guthrie's classic song, "This Land Is Your Land." It's made it around the world, with enthusiastic viewers commenting about the film on the site's blog from as far away as the Netherlands, New Zealand and Guam, and its historical value has been noted by the Library of Congress, which on Tuesday e-mailed the Santa Monica, California-based Spiridellises asking to add the animated short to its archives.

But while about 25 million viewers have been clogging JibJab to chuckle at the film's South Park-like Flash animation and juvenile insults (Bush labels Kerry a "liberal sissy," and Kerry responds by calling Bush a "right-wing nut job"), the Spiridellises aren't exactly laughing their way back to the drawing board.

In the wake of their short's popularity, which began soon after its July 9 Web release and has been punctuated by appearances and mentions on almost every major U.S. news show, the brothers found themselves in a legal skirmish with Ludlow Music, which, Ludlow attorney Paul LiCalsi said, owns the copyright to Guthrie's famous tune.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 PM

FOLKS ASSURE US THIS CAN'T HAPPEN...:

Troops deliver aid as Sudan backs down (news.com.au, August 1, 2004)

FRENCH soldiers stationed in Chad began airlifting aid to the border with Sudan's Darfur region today, as Sudan reluctantly agreed to accept a UN Security Council resolution threatening international action unless atrocities in Darfur were halted within 30 days.

French President Jacques Chirac ordered the mobilisation of his forces yesterday to help the 1.2 million people driven from their homes by Sudanese troops and Arab militia known as Janjaweed.

Since then, troops in Chad had begun flying relief supplies to the border town of Abeche and were preparing to send 200 troops to secure Chad's eastern frontier with Darfur, said army colonel Philippe Charles.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:19 PM

YOU CAN TAKE THE BIDDIE OUT OF FRANCE... (via Robert Schwartz):

Loved Ones Asked To Donate To Democratic Cause (Local 10, July 30, 2004)

A South Florida woman who died this week had an unusual last request. Instead of flower or contributions in her name to a charity, she asked those who loved her to try to make sure President George W. Bush is not re-elected. Loved ones said that Joan Abbey was committed to her political passions, even in death.

Abbey was born in Montreal...


'nuff said.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:06 PM

WRONG TIDE:

Circus tiger escapes, causes scare in NYC (MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN, 7/31/04, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

After escaping from the circus, a white tiger alarmed picnickers and motorists Saturday on what for him apparently was a calm, half-mile stroll through an unfamiliar urban jungle.

Shouldn't the tiger have been let out of the cage in Boston, around 10:30pm, on Thursday?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:01 PM

DAMN PRIESTS:

Gene Therapy Pioneer Arrested for Molesting Girl (Dan Whitcomb, 7/31/04, Reuters)

A Southern California scientist known as the "Father of Gene Therapy" for his pioneering work in that field was arrested on Friday and accused of molesting a young girl over a four-year period.

W. French Anderson was taken into custody at his home in the exclusive Los Angeles suburb of San Marino on Friday morning as sheriffs deputies served him with a search warrant for the premises.

Deputies also searched his offices at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine and removed computers. Authorities declined to say what evidence, if any, was seized in those raids.

Anderson is accused of molesting the girl, a family friend who is now 17, over a four-year period starting in 1997 while he coached her in Karate, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Gibbons said the girl was 12 years old in 1997.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:58 PM

WAS THAT A PIG THAT JUST FLEW OVERHEAD...?:

Historic WTO Trade Pact Just a Gavel Away (Richard Waddington and Patrick Lannin, 7/31/04, Reuters)

Rich and poor nations were set for a historic deal Saturday to slash billions of dollars in farm subsidies, create more open industrial markets and put troubled global commerce negotiations back on track.

Although the accord must still be formally approved by the World Trade Organization's 147-members at a session due to start at 4 p.m. EDT, top negotiators from both North and South said that they had finished their work and the hard days of wrangling were over.


...or just a falling pork belly price?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:58 PM

WHERE MR. PINK MET THE LADY IN RED:

Felonious and Urbane, Dillinger Still Charms (STEPHEN KINZER, 7/25/04, NY Times)

On a steamy night 70 years ago, the debonair bank robber John Dillinger, who had reached a level of fame equaled only by Charles Lindbergh and Franklin Roosevelt, stepped out of the Biograph Theater in Chicago and was shot to death by F.B.I. agents who were waiting in ambush. .

To observe the anniversary of his death, a band of historians, crime buffs and others met Thursday night at a tavern near the Biograph. Shortly before 10:30, the hour at which Dillinger and two female companions emerged after seeing the gangster film "Manhattan Melodrama," the group walked to the alleyway where his killers had laid their trap.

As the plaintive strains of "Amazing Grace" wafted from a bagpipe, Robert Ritholz, an amateur historian and artifact collector, solemnly poured a can of beer onto the ground at the spot where Dillinger fell.

Later, Mike Flores, a theater director who has immersed himself in Dillinger lore, said the shooting had touched off a public frenzy.

"Within minutes after he died, these streets were filled with thousands of people," Mr. Flores said. "No one could get in or out, not even ambulances. People were dipping their handkerchiefs in his blood. He was like a rock star."

Although Indiana lays a claim to him because he was born there, and although he robbed banks in at least five states in his 13-month crime spree, Dillinger returned time and again to Chicago. Many people here are still in thrall to his memory.


Saw Reservoir Dogs at the Biograph, top that?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:53 PM

YOU'D THINK THEY'D LIKE BUSH AND REAGAN BETTER:

The Germans' Infatuation with Cowboys and Indians (Allan Hall, July 30, 2004, London Times):

IT IS hardly the Wild West -in fact the site used to be a part of the East and the only natural sand comes from a gravel pit 30 miles away. But tomorrow Silver Lake City will be inaugurated as a place where Germans can feel at home on the range.

Nowhere in the Western world, outside of America itself, is the cult of the cowboy so firmly entrenched as it is in Germany. Doctors, lawyers, car mechanics, teachers and civil servants, sober people who bind themselves to Teutonic rules during the week, throw off their inhibitions on Friday nights to play cowboys and Indians.

It is charades on a grand scale: there are hundreds of clubs dotted across the country with tens of thousands of members. Silver Lake City opens its doors this weekend at Templin, north of Berlin, to cater for the urban cowboy crowd from the reborn capital.

There is a main street with a saloon with swinging doors, a general store, a jail at the back of the sheriff's office and a horse trough. There is a bank that can be robbed to order and a hotel to sleep off one shot of rye too many.

Silver Lake City was inspired by Karl May's Winnetou and Old Shatterhand books: 1920s German pulp fiction about a cowboy and an Indian chief in a place and a time far from the drab, depressed Fatherland of the day.

Even Adolf Hitler was a fan and before conquering vast tracts of the world he read himself to sleep in the early days of the Nazi movement with a May book every night.

Psychologists say that it is precisely the formality and the order of German society that draws people to escape from it, even if only for weekends and in clothing that most people left behind in the toy-box at the age of ten.The Wild West boom is one of the few growth industries in a country with high unemployment and a collective depression about the future. Silver Lake City is a theme park for the family, but the family had better like its leisure served up in boots, Stetsons and spurs. It cost £12 million to build, as a venture of private and public capital, in a region north of Berlin with double-digit unemployment.

This toy town sprawling over 70,000 square metres is the grandest realisation of a tradition that even pre-dates the May books. Germans have been setting up Native American hobby clubs, Wild West towns, festivals and fairs celebrating Americana for more than a century.

At special events German frontiersmen and would-be Indian braves flock to ride bareback horses, shoot bows and arrows, cook around a campfire and drink in the large clubhouses that are decorated as western saloons.

A Germanic seriousness lies behind the weekend escapism. "We don't play cowboys and Indians," said Peter Timmermann, historian and curator at the Munich Cowboy Club. "Europeans have received a very distorted image of Indians. We do this properly. Of course it is a hobby, but we really try to take it seriously."


Mr. May is not to blame.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:40 PM

A VICTIM OF THE DEVIL'S GREATEST TRICK

The Devil’s Chaplain Confounded (Stephen M. Barr, August/September 2004, First Things)

A Devil’s Chaplain is a collection of essays, book reviews, forewords, eulogies, and assorted “tirades and reflections” selected by Richard Dawkins from his work of the past twenty-five years. It is a miscellany that touches on postmodernism, the jury system, New Age superstitions, the late Stephen Jay Gould, the deaths of friends, the wonders of Africa, the perils of quack medicine, and more. The author is known as a writer on evolutionary theory and is perhaps the best-known exponent of Darwinism writing today. His style is often truculent—it has been said that if T. H. Huxley was called Darwin’s bulldog, Dawkins should be called Darwin’s pit bull—and on the subject of religion, in particular, he is rabid. He has his calmer moments, of course, and when he confines himself to zoology, his field of expertise, he is capable of writing in a lucid manner. In A Devil’s Chaplain he presents himself as philosopher, social critic, and moralist, expounding on themes that are favorites of his: science and reason; the world of facts versus religion; superstition and wishful thinking.

His title is taken from a letter of Charles Darwin’s in which he exclaims to a friend, “What a book a Devil’s Chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature.” Dawkins suggests that if Darwin had “decided to extend the list of melancholy adjectives,” he would probably have added to it “selfish” and “blind.” It is this view of nature that lies at the heart of the philosophy, morality, and social criticism that Dawkins presents here. For him, the great foundational truth is that the universe and the life it has spawned are without any ultimate purpose: the revelation given to the Devil’s Chaplain is one of cosmic futility. What gospel, then, will a Devil’s Chaplain preach?

Or to put it another way, what are “Darwinism’s moral implications”? Dawkins poses this question in his title essay, which was written to introduce this collection, and cites two early and opposite responses to Darwinian evolutionary theory, those of George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells. In the preface to Back to Methuselah, Shaw wrote of Darwinian evolution:

When its whole significance dawns on you, your heart sinks into a heap of sand within you. There is a hideous fatalism about it, a ghastly and damnable reduction of beauty and intelligence, of strength and purpose, of honor and aspiration.

Wells, however, seemed to revel in the ruthlessness of nature, writing in his scientific utopian fantasy The New Republic:

And how will the New Republic treat the inferior races? How will it deal with the black? . . . the yellow man? . . . the Jew? . . . those swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people, who do not come into the new needs of efficiency? Well, the world is a world, and not a charitable institution, and I take it they will have to go. . . . And the ethical system of these men of the New Republic, the ethical system which will dominate the world state, will be shaped primarily to favor the procreation of what is fine and efficient and beautiful in humanity—beautiful and strong bodies, clear and powerful minds. . . . And the method that nature has followed hitherto in the shaping of the world, whereby weakness was prevented from propagating weakness . . . is death. . . . The men of the New Republic . . . will have an ideal that will make the killing worth the while.

What is Dawkins’ own response? Scientifically he cannot follow Shaw, who retreated, he says, into “a confused idea of Lamarckian evolution,” and morally he cannot follow Wells, whose vision he properly calls “blood-chilling.” Rather, Dawkins says, we must accept Darwinism as true science but must rebel against its moral implications: “[A]t the same time as I support Darwinism as a scientist, I am a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and how we should conduct our human affairs.”


Which, of course, begs the question: why shouldn't morality be accepted as the truth and Darwinism a mere political construct?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:13 PM

HE'LL NEVER INVADE IRAQ...:

Sudan Says It Will Try to Meet UN Demands on Darfur (Nima Elbagir, 7/31/04, Reuters)

Sudan will try to comply with a U.N. resolution threatening sanctions if it does not disarm marauding militia in Darfur, a Sudanese envoy said Saturday, backing down from an initial rejection of the vote.

France said its soldiers based in Chad would help to bring aid and security to refugees flooding across the border from the western region blighted by months of fighting.

The U.N. Security Council adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution Friday which threatened to clamp sanctions on Sudan in 30 days if it failed to stop attacks by Janjaweed militia and bring them to justice.

"Sudan is not happy with the (U.N.) Security Council resolution, but we will comply with it to the best of our ability," Osman Al Said, Sudan's ambassador to the African Union, told a news conference in Ethiopia.

"Because should we fail to do so, we know our enemies would not hesitate to take other measures against our country."


Pretty hard to argue that this isn't a function of the Allies establishing a policy of unilateral pre-emption wherever we see fit.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:06 PM

WHAT ARE THE STEEL BUGS SUPPOSED TO WHINE ABOUT?:

Brazilian Minister Says Trade Talks Set for Success (Reuters, 7/31/04)

Talks to get stalled global trade talks back on track are likely to end successfully, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said Saturday.

"I think that the momentum is such that it is difficult not to conclude (successfully)," he told reporters at the World Trade Organization's headquarters in Geneva.

Key WTO members struck deals earlier Saturday on a package of farm trade proposals including the eventual elimination of farm export subsidies, and an accord on wording for an agreement covering industrial goods trade.

"This is the beginning of the end for (farm) subsidies. Export subsidies will be eliminated first," Amorim said.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:48 AM

BABBLE ON BY BUS:

'Believe' tour off to a bumpy start: Kerry's 21-state trip gets a mixed reception during its first day out (JULIE MASON, 7/31/04, Houston Chronicle)

A sparse crowd showed up at a morning rally in Boston to begin the 21-state tour. On board were the Kerry family, the Edwards family and an entourage.

Kerry admitted he was dragging. "I am longing to have my head hit a pillow," he said.

Highways were blocked from Boston to Scranton as the campaign's 10 buses and support vehicles lumbered westward.

In Newburg, N.Y., they made an unscheduled stop to celebrate John and Elizabeth Edwards' 27th anniversary.

The couple observed their anniversary tradition of a meal at Wendy's, a nod to their early married days when it was all they could afford.

Kerry joined them inside and spied a table of Marines. But when he struck up a conversation, the Marines answered tersely and expressed irritation.

"He imposed on us and I disagree with him coming over here to shake our hands," said one, who did not give his name.


The John-John tour may look like the Bataan Death March by the end of October.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:42 AM

THE NAZIS OR THE COMMIES?:

The teenagers who held off the Nazis (NEAL ASCHERSON, 7/31/04, The Scotsman)

THE Warsaw uprising began at exactly five o’clock on a summer afternoon: 1 August, 1944, 60 years ago tomorrow.

Only the German occupiers were taken by surprise when the hour struck and the shooting by the young fighters began.

It was to be the greatest and most tragic urban insurrection in European history. Nobody could foresee that it would last for 63 terrible days and nights, that it would cost something like 200,000 lives and that the Nazis would deliberately destroy all of central Warsaw.

For most Poles, the uprising is still thought of as a glorious patriotic sacrifice, the proudest memory in Poland’s modern history. But a minority take a more critical view and think the insurrection was a mistake.

The military assessment by the Home Army leaders was hopelessly optimistic, they say. And the political calculations that lay behind the uprising were unrealistic.

In 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had invaded and partitioned Poland, wiping the state off the map. An exile government appeared in London, taking command of the Home Army resistance movement within German-occupied Poland.

But it was not only German tyranny that concerned the London government. After 1941, when Stalin joined the Allied coalition against Hitler, the Poles began to ask themselves what "liberation" under Soviet control would mean.

The only hope was that Warsaw could liberate itself. Then the Russians would be met by a free and democratic Polish government installed in its own capital.


Given the miserable fate we left them to it seems a worthwhile gamble.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 AM

FIRE MARSHALL PLAN:

Firehouse Rot: John Kerry's cheapest shot. (Christopher Hitchens, July 30, 2004, Slate)

[I]n the last few weeks I have been registering one of the sourest and nastiest and cheapest notes to have been struck for some time. In a recent article about anti-Bush volunteers going door-to-door in Pennsylvania, often made up of campaigners from the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU—one of the country's largest labor unions—the New York Times cited a leaflet they were distributing, which said that the president was spending money in Iraq that could be better used at home. The mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, recently made the same point, proclaiming repeatedly that the Bay Area was being starved of funds that were being showered on Iraqis. (He obviously doesn't remember the line of his city's most famous columnist, the late Herb Caen, who referred to San Francisco as "Baghdad by the Bay.") These are only two public instances of what's become quite a general whispering campaign. And then on Thursday night, Sen. Kerry quite needlessly proposed a contradiction between "opening firehouses in Baghdad and shutting them in the United States of America." Talk about a false alternative. To borrow the current sappy language of "making us safer": Who would feel more secure if they knew that we weren't spending any tax dollars on Iraqi firehouses?

There is something absolutely charmless and self-regarding about this pitch, and I wish I could hear a senior Democrat disowning it. It is no better, in point of its domestic tone and appeal, than the rumor of the welfare mother stopping her Cadillac to get vodka on food stamps. In point of its international implications, it also suggests the most vulgar form of isolationism, not to say insularity.


But Senator Kerry's newfound Realism is irreducibly isolationist.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:56 AM

RUNNING FROM WHAT YOU ARE:

Courting 'the People': To Cross Ideological Blocs, Kerry Says Little (George F. Will, July 30, 2004, Washington Post)

The process of picking presidential nominees has been democratized. The proliferation of primaries has removed the process from the supposedly unclean hands of elected officials and party bosses. Bosses were always important and often decisive when they had machines to boss -- until about 40 years ago. As recently as the late 1960s, the governor of Pennsylvania controlled 40,000 patronage jobs. Twenty years later there were 2,000.

Today it is possible for remarkably few voters -- representing only themselves, unlike the officeholders and bosses of the bad old days -- to be decisive. John Kerry won the nomination in a sprint that lasted 29 days -- from the Iowa caucuses to the Wisconsin primary. Effectively, he was picked by the approximately 135,000 people -- 0.06 percent of Americans of voting age -- who supported him in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The convention actually was a useful laying-on of hands -- the uniquely clean hands of the great unwashed, "the people" from around the nation. Or at least a fair sampling of the current composition of the activist base of the world's oldest party. For example, about one in 10 delegates was a teacher, including 415 members of the two big teachers unions.

Kerry's platform is a 37-page flinch. It turns a perpetual chimera, "energy independence," into a promise, but it flinches from suggesting a tax on gasoline consumption or drilling anywhere that might annoy Democrats, which means . . . anywhere. His platform advocates "rigorous new incentives and tests for new teachers." Notice: only new teachers. Of today's teacher-certification tests, the Wall Street Journal reports that "someone with about a 10th-grade education could pass them."

George W. Bush's scarlet sin against the environment supposedly was his turn away from the Kyoto agreement on global warming, by which the world agreed that Americans should pay most of the costs. But the two paragraphs that Kerry's platform devotes to "[i]nternational leadership to protect the global environment" mentions neither "global warming" nor Kyoto.

That is how a Massachusetts Democrat runs for president when he knows that four of the past five Democrats elected president were from Southern or border states (including Harry Truman from Missouri).


The need to hide core Democratic beliefs from the general public is suggestive of liberalism's demise.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 AM

A GENTLEMAN'S "C" FROM THE DEAN:

A Speech Without Risk (David S. Broder, August 1, 2004, Washington Post)

Students of political rhetoric generally agree on the elements that make for a successful convention acceptance speech. Over the years, the best of them have had some or all of these ingredients: a fresh and powerful personal narrative, strong ideas, memorable phrases and a rhythm that builds to an emotional climax.

John Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night fell short in all these respects.


The conventional wisdom rapidly congeals around mediocre with slippage towards failure.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:20 AM

WHY DOES CABANA BOY WANT HISTORIANS TO SLIT THEIR WRISTS?:

Kerry's Isolationism (Robert Kagan, August 1, 2004, Washington Post)

Someday, when the passions of this election have subsided, historians and analysts of American foreign policy may fasten on a remarkable passage in John Kerry's nomination speech. "As president," Kerry declared, "I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: The United States of America never goes to war because we want to; we only go to war because we have to. That is the standard of our nation." The statement received thunderous applause at the convention and, no doubt, the nodding approval of many Americans of all political leanings who watched on television.

Only American diplomatic historians may have contemplated suicide as they reflected on their failure to have the smallest influence on Americans' understanding of their own nation's history. And perhaps foreign audiences tuning in may have paused in their exultation over a possible Kerry victory in November to reflect with wonder on the incurable self-righteousness and nationalist innocence the Democratic candidate displayed. Who but an American politician, they might ask, could look back across the past 200 years and insist that the United States had never gone to war except when it "had to"?

The United States has sent forces into combat dozens of times over the past century and a half, and only twice, in World War II and in Afghanistan, has it arguably done so because it "had to."


Those examples are likewise absurd.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 AM

NOT COMPREHENSIVE, BARELY COMPREHENSIBLE:

The Trouble with Libertarianism (Edward Feser, 07/20/2004, Tech Central Station)

"Libertarianism" is usually defined as the view in political philosophy that the only legitimate function of a government is to protect its citizens from force, fraud, theft, and breach of contract, and that it otherwise ought not to interfere with its citizens' dealings with one another, either to make them more economically equal or to make them more morally virtuous. Most libertarian theorists emphasize that their position is not intended to be a complete system of ethics, but merely a doctrine about the proper scope of state power: their claim is not that either egalitarian views about the distribution of wealth or traditional attitudes about sexuality, drug use, and the like are necessarily incorrect, but only that such moral views ought not to guide public policy. A libertarian society is in their view compatible with any particular moral or religious outlook one might be committed to, and this is taken to be one of its great strengths: people of all persuasions in a pluralistic society can have reason to support a libertarian polity, precisely because it does not favor any particular persuasion over another. A libertarian society is, it is claimed, genuinely neutral between diverse moral and religious worldviews.

In this respect, as in others, libertarians take their creed to be superior to that political philosophy that most prides itself on its purported tolerance and neutrality, namely egalitarian liberalism. The liberal philosopher John Rawls characterized the various moral and religious worldviews represented in modern pluralistic societies as "comprehensive doctrines," and he argued that his own brand of liberalism was compatible with all reasonable comprehensive doctrines. Libertarians have objected that the details of Rawls's theory so incorporate his social and economic egalitarianism into what he counts as "reasonable" that his claim to neutrality between actually existing worldviews is disingenuous; for Rawlsians are ultimately prepared to apply that honorific only to those comprehensive doctrines compatible with an extensive regime of anti-discrimination laws, forced income redistribution, and whatever other consequences are taken to follow from Rawls's famous "difference principle" (which holds that no inequalities can be permitted in a just society unless they benefit its least well-off members). The "comprehensive doctrines" of moral traditionalists and individualist free spirits alike, doctrines having millions of adherents, end up being effectively written off as "unreasonable" from the egalitarian liberal point of view. Libertarianism is truly neutral where Rawls and other liberals only pretend to be.

Or so it seems. I want to suggest, however, that many libertarians are - no doubt unwittingly - guilty of the very same sort of disingenuousness as Rawls. For it simply isn't true that libertarianism is neutral between various moral and religious worldviews, notwithstanding that most libertarians would like to believe (indeed do believe) that it is. The reason, as it turns out, is that there is no such thing as "libertarianism" in the first place: it would be more accurate to speak in the plural of "libertarianisms," a variety of doctrines each often described as "libertarian," but having no common core, and each of which tends in either theory or practice to favor some moral worldviews to the exclusion of others. It also turns out that the illusion that there is such a thing as "libertarianism" - a basic set of beliefs and values that all so-called "libertarians" have in common - is the source of the illusion that a libertarian society would be a truly neutral one. When one gets clear on exactly which version of libertarianism one is talking about, it will be seen that what one is talking about is a doctrine with substantial moral commitments, commitments which cannot fail to promote some worldviews and to push others into the margins of social life.

To see that this is so, we need only look at some specific and paradigmatic examples of libertarian political theories, and there is no more appropriate place to start than at the beginning, with the early classical liberal (as opposed to modern, egalitarian liberal) political thinkers whom libertarians typically regard as their intellectual forebears. Take John Locke (1632-1704), who famously argued that the primary function of a government was to protect the property rights of its citizens, with the most fundamental property right being that of self-ownership. That we own ourselves entails, in Locke's view, that we own our labor and its fruits, and this in turn entails that we can (with certain qualifications) come to own whatever previously unowned natural resources we "mix" our labor with. Self-ownership thus grounds the right to private property, and with it the basic rights that determine the proper scope and functions of state power.

But what grounds the right of self-ownership itself? The answer, according to Locke, was that it derives from God. [...]

This commitment to a particular moral view of the world was typical of the early classical liberals. Adam Smith (1723-1790) favored modern liberal capitalist society precisely because of what he took to be its moral advantages: it provided an unprecedented degree of material well-being for the masses, and it promoted such bourgeois virtues as sobriety, moderation, and diligence. Moreover, because in Smith's view capitalist society failed to promote certain other virtues (namely martial and aristocratic ones), and even tended positively to undermine some of them (insofar as consumerism and the hyper-specialization entailed by the division of labor oriented men's minds away from learning), there was an urgent need for government to foster institutions outside the market - a professional military and publicly financed education, for example - that would make up for its deficiencies.


Damned inconvenient that the very value--liberty--that libertarianism purports to celebrate is derived from and dependent on religious faith, but, as Robert Kraynak has said:
We must face the disturbing dilemma that modern liberal democracy needs God, but God is not as liberal or as democratic as we would like Him to be.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 AM

LOOKIN' FOR LOVE IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES:

Alas for Kerry, the days of transatlantic amity are gone (Niall Ferguson, 31/07/2004, Daily Telegraph)

The key point was in the paragraph on Iraq. "We need a president," declared Kerry, "who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, and reduce the risk to American soldiers. That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home. Here is the reality: that won't happen until we have a president who restores America's respect and leadership – so we don't have to go it alone in the world. And we need to rebuild our alliances…"

In other words, a Kerry administration would set about mending fences with allies who are not currently on America's side - which means most of continental Europe - in order to reduce and ultimately wind up America's commitments in Iraq.

Significantly, Kerry mentioned Europe at the top of his speech, recalling the time when his diplomat father was stationed there. Was I just dreaming, or did he say he had "unforgettable memories of being a kid mesmerised by the British, French and American troops" he saw? Did he really say French? (Rewind the tape. Yes, he did. Boy, do his speechwriters know how to lose votes.)

Well, here's another reality for you, Mr Kerry. Even if you are elected in November, and even if the European leaders do fawn over you in a way not seen since the days of JFK, I don't expect much in the way of burden-sharing, least of all from the French. Sure, with you in the White House, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroder would spout all sorts of fine words about restoring transatlantic harmony. But I would be quite astonished if practical support, whether in the form of money or men, were to be forthcoming.

This is not a fashionable view, least of all in academic circles. A clear majority of those who think, write and talk about international relations for a living take the view that the transatlantic alliance system can and must be restored.


Of course, academics want us to be more like Europe in all things. Indeed, you could say this election is about whether we should remain American (Red) or join secular/statist Europe (Blue).


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 AM

THE NAMSTER AND THE HAMSTER:

Licorice Speaks (COLIN McENROE, 7/31/04, NY Times)

My name is Licorice, and I am a hamster.

I have never shared my story before because, frankly, sometimes all a hamster has is his privacy. Thursday night, however, Alexandra Kerry described the circumstances of my rescue by her father after I had fallen off a pier in Massachusetts.

I have come forward now to set the record straight.

I was the hamster of Alexandra's sister, Vanessa, and she, on balance, was a good person, although a bit of a tickler. On this occasion, as the family gathered on the pier to depart for a vacation, somebody - I'm not saying it was Alexandra; I'm not saying it was on purpose - "bumped" my cage, and the next thing I knew, I was in the water and sinking fast.

I saw my whole life pass before my eyes. My life has not been all that interesting, so it wasn't exactly like watching "The Godfather I and II." I mean, I'm a hamster. I could see a bright light, but I seemed to be on a wheel that rotated as I ran, so I never got any closer. But I was aware of a shining, all-loving divine rodent presence telling me: "It's not time yet. You have more to do on earth."

"Like what?" I asked, but I could already feel myself back in my body, could feel strong hands yanking open my cage and pulling me upward to safety.

Yes, it was John Kerry. Help was on the way. Yes, he did perform CPR. Yes, he did perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. There is no doubt that I owe him my life. On the other hand, the water went up to his chest, O.K.? I mean, this wasn't exactly PT-109.


If you close your eyes and imagine the scene it's almost impossible to shake the image of Senator Kerry's grease-paint smeared face rising slowly out of the water like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 AM

WRONG POLICY:

The Faulty Premise of Pre-emption: Libya's dismantled weapons program is not evidence that a policy of pre-emptive strikes works. (GEOFF D. PORTER, 7/31/04, NY Times)

The Bush administration took a new approach to North Korea this month: it suggested that Kim Jong Il follow the example set by Muammar el-Qaddafi. John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control, urged North Korea to follow Libya's "strategic choice" and voluntarily dismantle its nuclear weapons programs.

But if this approach is based on the assumption that Libya acted to avoid a pre-emptive attack, then its premise is flawed. The United States' pre-emptive invasion of Iraq did not play a large role in bringing about Libya's rapprochement. Contrary to the Bush administration's assertions, Libya's dismantled weapons program is not evidence that a policy of pre-emptive strikes works, and it is disingenuous to argue that it will produce the same results in North Korea.


Libya represents not the triumph of pre-emption but of regime change.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 AM

COCKTAIL PARTIES WOULD BE SO MUCH EASIER IF I WERE A DEMOCRAT AGAIN:

All Things to All People (DAVID BROOKS, 7/31/04, NY Times)

There were so many military men at the Democratic convention I almost expected John Kerry to mount the stage in full body armor and recite the war speech from "Henry V." As it is, he called for bulking up the military, doubling the size of the Special Forces and crushing the terrorists. He hit Bush from the right, and when he got around to bashing the Saudis, I thought I'd wandered into a big meeting of The Weekly Standard editorial board. [...]

Around the arena I spotted some of the people most often talked about as senior officials in a Kerry administration: Richard Holbrooke, Biden, Rand Beers and Dick Gephardt. On the international economy side: Roger Altman, Steve Rattner, John Spratt. On Thursday night I saw Mr. Sober and Serious himself, Robert Rubin, sitting next to Teresa. These are tough centrists from the Washington-Wall Street axis who would be heroes in any crisis.

And so I dared to dream. Maybe the Democratic Party is going to recapture the security policy credibility it had during the Truman and Kennedy years. Maybe this display of McCainiac muscular moderation is not just a costume drama, but the real deal. Maybe hope is really on the way!

I should never have gone back and read the speech again. I should never have gone back on Friday morning, in the unforgiving light of day, and re-examined the words Kerry had so forcefully uttered the night before.

What an incoherent disaster.


Hope for the Democrats springs eternal in the neocon breast.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM

NAMSTER DANCE:

Apocalypse Kerry (Lawrence F. Kaplan, 07.30.04, New Republic)

A few weeks back, a colleague of mine at TNR joked that the Kerry campaign should create a miniature river in the FleetCenter, in which the candidate and his "band of brothers" could wend their way toward the podium in a swift boat. Then came news that the Kerry campaign had actually hunted for a Vietnam-era swift boat to plunk down in the convention center. Alas, none was found, and Kerry had to settle for a water taxi ride with his boat mates. In the end, it didn't really matter. No one who watched his acceptance speech last night could have missed the fact that, yes, John Kerry served heroically in Vietnam. Easier to miss was that, as a guide to what sort of approach to national security Kerry will enshrine in official policy--presumably the whole point of the exercise--last night's martial imagery and rhetoric told us nothing at all. Or, rather, worse than nothing.

There were, in fact, three Vietnams haunting the convention hall last night. One was on the stage, which, with its "band of brothers" and "greatest generation" tributes, somehow attached World War II nostalgia to our national tragedy in Vietnam. The second was in the audience, where nine out of ten delegates view the war in Iraq through the prism of their views of that earlier conflict--that is, they would just as soon bolt--and where Kerry's Vietnam service seems to be regarded as some sort of anthropological (and heaven-sent) oddity. The final Vietnam was in John Kerry's words, which blended the stage and audience versions into some approximation of the candidate's own views about the war. None of it furthered the cause of rational discourse.


Isn't there a last, and scarier, Vietnam, the one that Kerry seemingly still lives in mentally?


July 30, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:32 PM

THE SENATOR HAS A PAST TO REPUDIATE:

Strong and Wrong ... The Democratic Convention of 2004 (Jonathan Schell, July 30, 2004, The Nation)

"During the Vietnam War, many young men, including the current President, the Vice President and me, could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background. He could have avoided going, too. But instead he said, 'Send me.'

"When they sent those Swift Boats up the river in Vietnam... John Kerry said, 'Send me.'

"And then when America needed to extricate itself from that misbegotten and disastrous war, Kerry donned his uniform once again, and said, 'Send me'; and he led veterans to an encampment on the Washington Mall, where, in defiance of the Nixon Justice Department, they conducted the most stirring and effective of the protests, that forced an end to the war.

"And then, on my watch, when it was time to heal the wounds of war and normalize relations with Vietnam...John Kerry said, 'Send me.'"

So spoke President Clinton at the Democratic Convention--except that he did not deliver the third paragraph about Kerry's protest; I made that up. The speech cries out for the inclusion of Kerry's glorious moment of antiwar leadership; and its absence is as palpable as one of those erasures from photographs of high Soviet officials after Stalin had sent them to the gulag. Clinton's message was plain.

Military courage in war is honored; civil courage in opposing a disastrous war is not honored. Even thirty years later, it cannot be mentioned by a former President who himself opposed the Vietnam War.


That would be because it was dishonorable.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:21 PM

ALL MASS KILLINNGS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL:

Wrong Definition For a War (Caleb Carr, July 28, 2004, Washington Post)

Terrorism, as defined by military historians, has been a constant, ugly feature of warfare, an aberrant tactic akin to slavery, piracy and genocide. One of the reasons that some of us argued throughout the 1990s for undertaking of genuine war on terrorism (involving the military in addition to intelligence and law enforcement) was the notion that we might finally declare the tactic -- like those other aberrant belligerent methods -- to be out of bounds, for the armed forces of civilized nations and non-state organizations alike.

It's true that both slavery and piracy are still practiced, but only in remote corners of the world; certainly genocide is still with us, but its employment is now cause for immediate sanction and forceful reaction (theoretically, at any rate) by the United Nations. Banning such tactics and actively stamping out their practice has been the work of some of the great political and military minds and leaders of the past two centuries. Now it is time -- past time, really -- for terrorism to take its place as a similarly proscribed and anachronistic practice.

But first we must agree on an internationally acceptable definition. Certainly terrorism must include the deliberate victimization of civilians for political purposes as a principal feature -- anything else would be a logical absurdity. And yet there are powerful voices, in this country and elsewhere, that argue against such a definition. They don't want to lose the weapon of terror -- and they don't want to admit to having used it in the past. Should the United States assent to such a specific definition of terrorism, for example, it would have to admit that its fire-bombings of German and Japanese cities during World War II represented effective terrorism. On the other hand, few Muslim nations want to go up against the power of organized terrorist groups by declaring them de jure as well as de facto outlaws.

In the intellectual arena, meanwhile, the fatuous logic that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" keeps left-leaning intellectuals away from the cause of definition. And so its promulgation continues to elude the world, even as we have embarked on a war against the phenomenon itself.


Mr. Carr has been making this argument for awhile and it hasn't gotten any better. There is a qualitative difference between Hiroshima and 9-11--any definition that can't accommodate that difference is worthless.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:03 PM

TAUNTING:

Bush Announces 20 Recess Appointments (Associated Press, July 30, 2004)

President Bush on Friday announced his intention to make 20 appointments during the congressional recess, including a new chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, a manufacturing czar and three ambassadors.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 PM

DIVISION OF LABOR:

Muslim Nations Want Fewer Coalition Troops (BARRY SCHWEID, July 30, 2004, AP)

Muslim countries being sounded out by Saudi Arabia about sending troops to Iraq want a sizable reduction in U.S. and other coalition troops as part of any agreement.

As troops drawn from Muslim countries, most or all from outside the Middle East, took up positions in Iraq, there would be a parallel exodus of coalition soldiers, a senior Saudi official said Friday.

The Muslim force would serve in the name of the United Nations and would supplement U.S. and other coalition troops by protecting U.N. officials and helping Iraqi security personnel patrol Iraq's borders to slow the infiltration of foreign fighters.

For months, the Bush administration has been unable to persuade any Muslim countries to commit troops to Iraq. The main obstacle was the perception that Arab or other Muslim governments would be contributing to a U.S. occupation of Arab Iraq.

The Saudis, who privately dismiss any allegation that the United States wants a long-term presence as an occupying force in Iraq, are trying to counter that argument. A corresponding reduction in U.S. and other coalition forces as Muslim troops arrived would help the Saudis make their case.


Proiving once again we have too much infantry.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:31 PM

THOUSANDS OF ADVISERS BUT NO FRIENDS:

The Last Refuge: The Democratic nominee has shunned substance for patriotic atmospherics. Will it work? (William Kristol, 08/09/2004, Weekly Standard)

UNWILLING TO ARTICULATE a serious policy agenda, unable to explain why his record qualifies him to be president, John Kerry fled Thursday night to the refuge of patriotism.

Kerry's convention speech was in some respects competent, in some respects pedestrian, in some respects bizarre. But it sure was patriotic. And perhaps to good political effect. After all, the American people are patriotic. Over the last quarter century, they have often suspected that elements of the Democratic party are not as patriotic as they are--or not patriotic in the same uncomplicated, straightforward way. In the peaceful 1990s, this suspicion did little damage to Democratic presidential candidates. But the 1990s ended on September 11, 2001. Now we are at war. So John Kerry wrapped the flag tightly around himself in his acceptance speech in order to convince Americans doubtful about President Bush that they could safely go ahead and vote to remove him, and put Kerry in charge.

This strategy may not work. But it is not stupid. What, after all, were Kerry's alternatives?


We've all had a good time poking fun at Mr. Kerry for his dithering and the story about how he has thousands of people advising him, but what's kind of frightening is that there's no one close enough to him to tell him that the speech he wrote stunk. Laura Bush, Karen Hughes, Karl Rove, and a few others can all speak bluntly to the President. Given how terrible Mr. Kerry's judgement has been over the course of his adult life can we afford to have him rely on it?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:25 PM

CLEARING A SPOT FOR DICK CHENEY:

Weary Ridge May Step Down (CBS News, July 30, 2004)

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is considering stepping down after the November election, telling colleagues he is worn out from the massive reorganization of government and needs to earn money in the private sector to put his teenage children through college, officials said.

Ridge will not make a final decision until he talks to President George W. Bush later this year and is focused on thwarting the terror attacks that officials fear al Qaeda will attempt before November, Assistant Homeland Secretary Susan Neely said.

"Secretary Ridge is focused entirely on the job the president has asked him to do," Neely said Wednesday.

Several senior Homeland Security officials told The Associated Press that Ridge has indicated in recent weeks he probably will resign after the election, even if Bush wins. They spoke only on condition of anonymity, citing the delicate nature of describing private conversations with their boss.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:13 PM

MAYBE HE IS NIXON:

Kerry's Economic Remedy Won't Be Revealed Before Election (Nathan Burchfiel, July 30, 2004, CNSNews.com)

A top economic advisor to Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said the public won't hear Kerry's financial plans until after he's elected - if he's elected.

In the Aug. 2 cover story of "Business Week," former Clinton administration treasury secretary Robert Rubin said, "I don't think you can make proposals to try to dig out of this hole until you've gotten elected ... If you start to put out proposals now, they would be vigorously attacked and they would in effect become tainted so they couldn't be used."


They'll have to back down on this within days because it's just too easy to portray as a secret tax hike plan.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 PM

NOT AN ALLY FILES:

Fistful of troubles for Chirac (JONATHAN FENBY, 7/31/04, The Japan Times)

Ever since French President Charles de Gaulle vetoed Britain's entry into the European Common Market and took his country out of the integrated military structure of the NATO alliance, France has had a reputation as a country that knows how to say "no" -- a reputation greatly bolstered by President Jacques Chirac's opposition to the war in Iraq.

That stance earned Paris plaudits from other governments that opposed the American-led invasion notably its neighbor and close partner, Germany. But now there are signs that Chirac risks painting himself into an isolated corner, both abroad and at home. That could have important consequences for Europe and the wider international community given France's global role if it results in a weakened presidency for the next three years.

Underlying Chirac's foreign policy is his desire to establish a group of nations that will counterbalance American power, with France at their head in a re-creation of de Gaulle's dream of giving his nation a major global role by positioning it between the great power blocs in the 1960s.

Chirac's problem is that, while such a grouping may come into being on specific issues -- such as Iraq or the Kyoto Protocol -- it lacks longer-term consistency or form as governments take different views on other matters. Countries like China or Russia may find France a useful partner in some areas, but are not going to accept the leadership of Paris in international affairs, or in their dealings with Washington.

Meetings at G-8 summits and during the anniversary celebrations of the 1944 D-Day landings in Normandy this summer have done nothing to ease the tension between Paris and Washington over Iraq. Chirac, who pushed the sale of French nuclear-power technology to Baghdad when he was prime minister in the mid-1970s, has opposed NATO troops playing a role, and has taken a tough position on writing off Iraqi debts incurred under ousted President Saddam Hussein.

This month, he broadened out his opposition to America by attacking Washington's policy on combating HIV-AIDS as a form of protectionism for U.S. pharmaceutical companies. In the field of popular culture, France is taking a hard line to stop increased imports of Hollywood films and American music in order to protect its domestic artists. France is also a leading champion of Boeing rival Airbus.

However, America is not Chirac's only target.


If they weren't so craven they'd belong on the Axis of Evil.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:38 PM

WHAT IF THE RIGHT'S RIGHT (via Ed Driscoll):

The Case for George W. Bush: i.e., what if he's right? (Tom Junod, Aug 01 '04, Esquire)

It happened again this morning. I saw a picture of our president—my president—and my feelings about him were instantly rekindled. The picture was taken after his speech to the graduating seniors at the Air Force Academy. He was wearing a dark suit, a light-blue tie, and a white shirt. His unsmiling visage was grim and purposeful, in pointed contrast to the face of the elaborately uniformed cadet standing next to him, which was lit up with a cocky grin. Indeed, as something more than a frozen moment—as a political statement—the picture might have served, and been intended to serve, as a tableau of the resolve necessary to lift this nation out of this steep and terrible time. The cadet represented the best of what America has to offer, all devil-may-care enthusiasm and willingness to serve. The president, his hair starting to whiten, might have represented something even more essential: the kind of brave and, in his case, literally unblinking leadership that generates enough moral capital to summon the young to war. Although one man was essentially being asked to stake his life on the wisdom of the other, both were melded in an attitude of common purpose, and so both struck a common pose. With the cadet bent slightly forward and the commander in chief leaning slightly back, each man cocked his right arm and made a muscle. They flexed! I didn't know anything about the cadet. About President George W. Bush, though, I felt the satisfaction of absolute certainty, and so uttered the words as essential to my morning as my cup of Kenyan and my dose of high-minded outrage on the editorial page of the Times : "What an a**hole."

Ah. That feels better. George W. Bush is an a**hole, isn't he? Moreover, he's the first president who seems merely that, at least in my lifetime. From Kennedy to Clinton, there is not a single president who would have been capable of striking such a pose after concluding a speech about a war in which hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis are being killed. There is not a single president for whom such a pose would seem entirely characteristic—not a single president who might be tempted to confuse a beefcakey photo opportunity with an expression of national purpose. He has always struck me as a small man, or at least as a man too small for the task at hand, and therefore a man doomed to address the discrepancy between his soul and his situation with displays of political muscle that succeed only in drawing attention to his diminution. He not only has led us into war, he seems to get off on war, and it's the greedy pleasure he so clearly gets from flexing his biceps or from squaring his shoulders and setting his jaw or from landing a plane on an aircraft carrier—the greedy pleasure the war president finds in playacting his own attitudes of belligerence—that permitted me the greedy pleasure of hating him.

Then I read the text of the speech he gave and was thrown from one kind of certainty—the comfortable kind—into another. He was speaking, as he always does, of the moral underpinnings of our mission in Iraq. He was comparing, as he always does, the challenge that we face, in the evil of global terrorism, to the challenge our fathers and grandfathers faced, in the evil of fascism. He was insisting, as he always does, that the evil of global terrorism is exactly that, an evil—one of almost transcendent dimension that quite simply must be met, lest we be remembered for not meeting it . . . lest we allow it to be our judge. I agreed with most of what he said, as I often do when he's defining matters of principle. No, more than that, I thought that he was defining principles that desperately needed defining, with a clarity that those of my own political stripe demonstrate only when they're decrying either his policies or his character. He was making a moral proposition upon which he was basing his entire presidency—or said he was basing his entire presidency—and I found myself in the strange position of buying into the proposition without buying into the presidency, of buying into the words while rejecting, utterly, the man who spoke them. There is, of course, an easy answer for this seeming moral schizophrenia: the distance between the principles and the policy, between the mission and "Mission Accomplished," between the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Still, I have to admit to feeling a little uncertain of my disdain for this president when forced to contemplate the principle that might animate his determination to stay the course in a war that very well may be the end of him politically. I have to admit that when I listen to him speak, with his unbending certainty, I sometimes hear an echo of the same nagging question I ask myself after I hear a preacher declaim the agonies of hellfire or an insurance agent enumerate the cold odds of the actuarial tables. Namely: What if he's right?

As easy as it is to say that we can't abide the president because of the gulf between what he espouses and what he actually does , what haunts me is the possibility that we can't abide him because of us—because of the gulf between his will and our willingness. What haunts me is the possibility that we have become so accustomed to ambiguity and inaction in the face of evil that we find his call for decisive action an insult to our sense of nuance and proportion.


The truly amusing this is that none of those cadets nor Mr. Bush would have any idea what Mr. Junod was talking about if he complained to them about that pose. The belief that moral seriousness requires you to be dour and joyless is unique to the secular Left.

MORE:
Remarks by the President at the United States Air Force Academy Graduation Ceremony (Falcon Stadium, United States Air Force Academy, 6/02/04)

Each of you receiving a commission today in the United States military will also carry the hopes of free people everywhere. (Applause.) As your generation assumes its own duties during a global conflict that will define your careers, you will be called upon to take brave action and serve with honor. In some ways, this struggle we're in is unique. In other ways, it resembles the great clashes of the last century -- between those who put their trust in tyrants and those who put their trust in liberty. Our goal, the goal of this generation, is the same: We will secure our nation and defend the peace through the forward march of freedom.

President George W. Bush salutes a graduating cadet at the United States Air Force Academy Graduation Ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 2, 2004. White House photo by Eric Draper. 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.

Like the murderous ideologies of the 20th century, the ideology of terrorism reaches across boarders, and seeks recruits in every country. So we're fighting these enemies wherever they hide across the earth.

Like other totalitarian movements, the terrorists seek to impose a grim vision in which dissent is crushed, and every man and woman must think and live in colorless conformity. So to the oppressed peoples everywhere, we are offering the great alternative of human liberty.

Like enemies of the past, the terrorists underestimate the strength of free peoples. The terrorists believe that free societies are essentially corrupt and decadent, and with a few hard blows will collapse in weakness and in panic. The enemy has learned that America is strong and determined, because of the steady resolve of our citizens, and because of the skill and strength of the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and the United States Air Force. (Applause.)

And like the aggressive ideologies that rose up in the early 1900s, our enemies have clearly and proudly stated their intentions: Here are the words of al Qaeda's self-described military spokesman in Europe, on a tape claiming responsibility for the Madrid bombings. He said, "We choose death, while you choose life. If you do not stop your injustices, more and more blood will flow and these attacks will seem very small compared to what can occur in what you call terrorism."

Here are the words of another al Qaeda spokesman, Suleiman Abu Gheith. Last year, in an article published on an al Qaeda website, he said, "We have the right to kill four million Americans -- two million of them children -- and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands. Furthermore, it is our right to fight them with chemical and biological weapons."

In all these threats, we hear the echoes of other enemies in other times -- that same swagger and demented logic of the fanatic. Like their kind in the past, these murderers have left scars and suffering. And like their kind in the past, they will flame and fail and suffer defeat by free men and women. (Applause.)

The enemies of freedom are opposed by a great and growing alliance. Nations that won the Cold War, nations once behind an Iron Curtain, and nations on every continent see this threat clearly. We're cooperating at every level of our military, law enforcement and intelligence to meet the danger. The war on terror is civilization's fight. And, as in the struggles of the last century, civilized nations are waging this fight together.

President George W. Bush celebrates with a graduating Air Force Cadet during the United States Air Force Academy Graduation Ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 2, 2004. White House photo by Eric Draper. The terrorists of our day are, in some ways, unlike the enemies of the past. The terrorist ideology has not yet taken control of a great power like Germany or the Soviet Union. And so the terrorists have adopted a strategy different from the gathering of vast and standing armies. They seek, instead, to demoralize free nations with dramatic acts of murder. They seek to wear down our resolve and will by killing the innocent and spreading fear and anarchy. And they seek weapons of mass destruction, so they can threaten or attack even the most powerful nations.

Fighting this kind of enemy is a complex mission that will require all your skill and resourcefulness. Our enemies have no capital or nation-state to defend. They share a vision and operate as a network of dozens of violent extremist groups around the world, striking separately and in concert. Al Qaeda is the vanguard of these loosely affiliated groups, and we estimate that over the years many thousands of recruits have passed through its training camps. Al Qaeda has been wounded by losing nearly two-thirds of its known leadership, and most of its important sanctuaries. Yet many of the terrorists it trained are still active in hidden cells or in other groups. Home-grown extremists, incited by al Qaeda's example, are at work in many nations.

And since September the 11th, we've seen terrorist violence in an arc from Morocco to Spain to Turkey to Russia to Uzbekistan to Pakistan to India to Thailand to Indonesia. Yet the center of the conflict, the platform for their global expansion, the region they seek to remake in their image, is the broader Middle East.

Just as events in Europe determined the outcome of the Cold War, events in the Middle East will set the course of our current struggle. If that region is abandoned to dictators and terrorists, it will be a constant source of violence andd alarm, exporting killers of increasing destructive power to attack America and other free nations. If that region grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorist movement will lose its sponsors, lose its recruits, and lose the festering grievances that keep terrorists in business. The stakes of this struggle are high. The security and peace of our country are at stake, and success in this struggle is our only option. (Applause.)

This is the great challenge of our time, the storm in which we fly. History is once again witnessing a great clash. This is not a clash of civilizations. The civilization of Islam, with its humane traditions of learning and tolerance, has no place for this violent sect of killers and aspiring tyrants. This is not a clash of religions. The faith of Islam teaches moral responsibility that enobles men and women, and forbids the shedding of innocent blood. Instead, this is a clash of political visions.

In the terrorists' vision of the world, the Middle East must fall under the rule of radical governments, moderate Arab states must be overthrown, nonbelievers must be expelled from Muslim lands, and the harshest practice of extremist rule must be universally enforced. In this vision, books are burned, terrorists are sheltered, women are whipped, and children are schooled in hatred and murder and suicide.

Our vision is completely different. We believe that every person has a right to think and pray and live in obedience to God and conscience, not in frightened submission to despots. (Applause.) We believe that societies find their greatness by encouraging the creative gifts of their people, not in controlling their lives and feeding their resentments. And we have confidence that people share this vision of dignity and freedom in every culture because liberty is not the invention of Western culture, liberty is the deepest need and hope of all humanity. The vast majority of men and women in Muslim societies reject the domination of extremists like Osama bin Laden. They're looking to the world's free nations to support them in their struggle against the violent minority who want to impose a future of darkness across the Middle East. We will not abandon them to the designs of evil men. We will stand with the people of that region as they seek their future in freedom. (Applause.)

We bring more than a vision to this conflict -- we bring a strategy that will lead to victory. And that strategy has four commitments:

First, we are using every available tool to dismantle, disrupt and destroy terrorists and their organizations. With all the skill of our law enforcement, all the stealth of our special forces, and all the global reach of our air power, we will strike the terrorists before they can strike our people. The best way to protect America is to stay on the offensive. (Applause.)

Secondly, we are denying terrorists places of sanctuary or support. The power of terrorists is multiplied when they have safe havens to gather and train recruits. Terrorist havens are found within states that have difficulty controlling areas of their own territory. So we're helping governments like the Philippines and Kenya to enforce anti-terrorist laws, through information sharing and joint training.

President George W. Bush delivers remarks at the United States Air Force Academy Graduation Ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 2, 2004. White House photo by Eric Draper. Terrorists also find support and safe haven within outlaw regimes. So I have set a clear doctrine that the sponsors of terror will be held equally accountable for the acts of terrorists. (Applause.) Regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan learned that providing support and sanctuary to terrorists carries with it enormous costs -- while Libya has discovered that abandoning the pursuit of weapons of mass murder has opened a better path to relations with the free world.

Terrorists find their ultimate support and sanctuary when they gain control of governments and countries. We saw the terrible harm that terrorists did by taking effective control over the government of Afghanistan -- a terrorist victory that led directly to the attacks of September the 11th. And terrorists have similar designs on Iraq, on Pakistan, on Saudi Arabia and many other regional governments they regard as illegitimate. We can only imagine the scale of terrorist crimes were they to gain control of states with weapons of mass murder or vast oil revenues. So we will not retreat. We will prevent the emergence of terrorist-controlled states.

Third, we are using all elements of our national power to deny terrorists the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek. Because this global threat requires a global response, we are working to strengthen international institutions charged with opposing proliferation. We are working with regional powers and international partners to confront the threats of North Korea and Iran. We have joined with 14 other nations in the Proliferation Security Initiative to interdict -- on sea, on land, or in the air -- shipments of weapons of mass destruction, components to build those weapons, and the means to deliver them. Our country must never allow mass murderers to gain hold of weapons of mass destruction. We will lead the world and keep unrelenting pressure on the enemy. (Applause.)

Fourth and finally, we are denying the terrorists the ideological victories they seek by working for freedom and reform in the broader Middle East. Fighting terror is not just a matter of killing or capturing terrorists. To stop the flow of recruits into terrorist movement, young people in the region must see a real and hopeful alternative -- a society that rewards their talent and turns their energies to constructive purpose. And here the vision of freedom has great advantages. Terrorists incite young men and women to strap bombs on their bodies and dedicate their deaths to the death of others. Free societies inspire young men and women to work, and achieve, and dedicate their lives to the life of their country. And in the long run, I have great faith that the appeal of freedom and life is stronger than the lure of hatred and death.

Freedom's advance in the Middle East will have another very practical effect. The terrorist movement feeds on the appearance of inevitability. It claims to rise on the currents of history, using past America withdrawals from Somalia and Beirut to sustain this myth and to gain new followers. The success of free and stable governments in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere will shatter the myth and discredit the radicals. (Applause.) And as the entire region sees the promise of freedom in its midst, the terrorist ideology will become more and more irrelevant, until that day when it is viewed with contempt or ignored altogether. (Applause.)

For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice, this approach brought little stability, and much oppression. So I have changed this policy. In the short-term, we will work with every government in the Middle East dedicated to destroying the terrorist networks. In the longer-term, we will expect a higher standard of reform and democracy from our friends in the region. (Applause.) Democracy and reform will make those nations stronger and more stable, and make the world more secure by undermining terrorism at it source. Democratic institutions in the Middle East will not grow overnight; in America, they grew over generations. Yet the nations of the Middle East will find, as we have found, the only path to true progress is the path of freedom and justice and democracy. (Applause.)

America is pursuing our forward strategy for freedom in the broader Middle East in many ways. Voices in that region are increasingly demanding reform and democratic change. So we are working with courageous leaders like President Karzai of Afghanistan, who is ushering in a new era of freedom for the Afghan people. We're taking aside reformers, and we're standing for human rights and political freedom, often at great personal risk. We're encouraging economic opportunity and the rule of law and government reform and the expansion of liberty throughout the region.

And we're working toward the goal of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace. (Applause.) Prime Minister Sharon's plan to remove all settlements from Gaza and several from the West Bank is a courageous step toward peace. (Applause.) His decision provides an historic moment of opportunity to begin building a future Palestinian state. This initiative can stimulate progress toward peace by setting the parties back on the road map, the most reliable guide to ending the occupation that began in 1967. This success will require reform-minded Palestinians to step forward and lead and meet their road map obligations. And the United States of America stands ready to help those dedicated to peace, those willing to fight violence, find a new state so we can realize peace in the greater Middle East. (Applause.)

Some who call themselves "realists" question whether the spread of democracy in the Middle East should be any concern of ours. But the realists in this case have lost contact with a fundamental reality. America has always been less secure when freedom is in retreat. America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.

All our commitments in the Middle East -- all of the four commitments of our strategy -- are now being tested in Iraq. We have removed a state-sponsor of terror with a history of using weapons of mass destruction. And the whole world is better off with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison cell. (Applause.) We now face al Qaeda associates like the terrorist Zarqawi, who seek to hijack the future of that nation. We are fighting enemies who want us to retreat, and leave Iraq to tyranny, so they can claim an ideological victory over America. They would use that victory to gather new strength, and take their violence directly to America and to our friends.

Yet our coalition is determined, and the Iraqi people have made clear: Iraq will remain in the camp of free nations.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 PM

THAT PAKISTAN?:

Capture of suspected embassy bomber may weaken al-Qaeda (Sydney Morning Herald, July 31, 2004)

The arrest in Pakistan of a key al-Qaeda suspect in the 1998 East Africa US embassy bombings may hamper the terror network's activities even if it failed to bring Osama bin Laden hunters any closer to their prey, analysts said yesterday.

Tanzanian-born Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was captured on Sunday at a house in eastern Pakistan after a fierce eight-hour shootout.

With him were his Uzbek wife, two other women, six children and four men including a pair of South Africans.

"It certainly is a significant arrest," Singapore-based al-Qaeda expert Rohan Gunaratna said, adding Ghailani had long been involved in the network's operational planning.

"He is one of the most important leaders of al-Qaeda involved in operational planning for a long time."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:40 PM

HEADS OR TAILS?:

Hopes Now Outpace Stem Cell Science (GINA KOLATA, 7/29/04, NY Times)

When Ron Reagan gave his speech on stem cell research before the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, medical researchers were taking careful note. It was just so important to them that he get the details right, that he make no mistakes on the science and that they glean any tricks they could on how to get their message about the importance of stem cell research across.

But for all the promise, and for all the fervent hopes of patients and their families that cures from stem cells will come soon, researchers say many questions in basic science remain to be answered. And experts with ethical objections to the destruction of human embryos for such research say they oppose paying for the work with public money. Scientists know the emotional, and ethical, sides in the stem cell debate. The cells are from human embryos.

Many scientists hope eventually to make customized stem cells for patients by starting the cloning process, making an embryo that is genetically identical to the patient, but interrupting the clone's development when it was a few days old and extracting its stem cells. Such research can be an ethical tinderbox, they realize. They also feel frustrated and hobbled by the current restrictions on research with human embryonic stem cells. If they want federal money, scientists must agree to use only cells derived from embryos dating from before Aug. 9, 2001. Many hope for a real policy change. [...]

Everyone wants to help patients, said Dr. John Kilner, an ethicist who directs the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. The question, however, is, At what ethical cost?

"The core ethical problem is that this research requires destroying human beings at the embryonic stage," he said. "It is a human embryo, it is not dirt or soil or some other materials and it is not just some cells. There are so many examples in history where people say, 'As long as we can convince ourselves that these beings are not fully persons then what we want to do is O.K.' "

He sees the questions as "an end-means thing." Proponents of the research are holding up lofty goals and dismissing the means to achieve them. Dr. Kilner says there are many who share his ethical qualms.

"We're talking about federal support here,'' he said. "It is inappropriate to require the entire populace to support something that a significant proportion considers to be such an ethical violation."


Why not at least give the clone a fighting chance? Have a coin flip to decide whether the original or the clone is killed to provide spare parts for the other.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:31 PM

HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTIONISM:

U.N. Calls for Sudan to Halt Attacks by Militias (WARREN HOGE, 7/30/04, NY Times)

The Security Council passed a resolution today that threatens the Sudanese government with punitive measures if it does not disarm and prosecute Arab militias who have forced black Africans off their land in the Darfur region through a campaign of killing, rape and pillage.

The vote on the United States-crafted resolution was 13 to 0 with China and Pakistan abstaining. [...]

John C. Danforth, the American ambassador to the United Nations and a former Bush administration special envoy to Sudan, told the council that it had long been his hope to see Sudan emerge as a "model of ethnic reconciliation."

"The last thing we wanted to do was lay the groundwork for sanctions," he said. "But the government of Sudan has left us no choice."

"It has done the unthinkable. It has fostered an armed attack on its own civilian population. It has created a humanitarian disaster. So the resolution we have just adopted is our necessary response if we are to save the people of Darfur."

The measure, cosponsored by Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Chile and Romania, also places an immediate arms embargo on all fighters in Darfur and calls on the government to end all restrictions on relief workers and equipment in the area.

Pakistan and China said they abstained out of concern that Sudan was not given enough time to live up to its commitments and that outside action would be complicating rather than helpful.


China and Pakistan recognize a precedent being created.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:04 PM

STILL MASSAGING THE BASE:

Dems fear Bush's gains with Jewish voters: A few votes within key group could swing the election (Tom Curry, July 30, 2004, MSNBC)

The source of that unease: the sense that Bush, due to his removal of Saddam Hussein, his resolve in fighting Islamic terrorists, and his robust support for Israel’s government led by Ariel Sharon, is gaining ground among those Jewish voters who place their highest priority on Israel’s survival.

Jonathan Sarna, professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University and an expert on Jewish voting patterns, said, “In the years since Sept. 11, paradoxically, America has become much more like Israel in the world. Israelis used to be the only ones worried about terror. Now Americans worry about terror. Whenever I go to Washington, it reminds me, when I get searched, of what it is like in Jerusalem. Even anti-Americanism sounds suspiciously like anti-Semitism in terms of the language being used. … There is a real identity between America and Israel, and, in some ways, traditional Jews, especially, like that identity.”

Kerry has argued that U.S. policy needs to be more attentive to and respectful of European leaders.

But, Sarna said, Jews are “a little concerned about this notion of ‘We’re going to make friends again with Europe.’ A lot of Jews wonder whether those are the kinds of friends we want, when you listen to what’s going on in much of Europe, and how they stigmatize Israel.”


George W. Bush is our most obviously Jewish president, though that won't matter much in November. The important thing is that the Democrats are still stuck trying to rally the voters they need to be able to take for granted and then shaft.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:26 PM

FORGETTING OUR DISGRACE:

Poles remember an uprising as the world starts to forget (Jan Cienski, July 30 2004, Financial Times)

Poland is preparing tomark one of the most important days in its history: the Warsaw uprising against the Germans 60 years ago this Sunday.

The uprising was doomed by German counterattacks that killed 190,000 civilians, by the Soviet Union's refusal to send its nearby armies to join the fight and by America's and Britain's inability or reluctance to help. Warsaw fought alone.

Today, Poland is more or less alone in commemorating a rising all too often confused elsewhere with the 1943 uprising in Warsaw's Jewish ghetto.

Historian Norman Davies, author of Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw, says: "We like to see the success stories of the war and the idea that one of our allies lost its entire capital city through the failure of the coalition to work together is not welcome news."


President Bush should have gone.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:17 PM

THE FIX REALLY WAS IN!:

Report: Zarqawi captured on Syrian-Iraq border (Al-Jazeera, 7/30/2004)

Reports in Kuwait on Friday said a man assumed to be Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi has been captured near the Syrian border.

The report claimed that the man was captured during a joint operation by U.S. occupation forces and Iraqi police, Al Siyasah newspaper, quoting Iraqi sources, said Friday.

It also said that the suspect was caught in a white shirt and jeans, and he gave no resistance when he realized his hideout was besieged, according to Iraqi police.

The U.S. and Iraqi investigators are trying to identify the captive and has sent his DNA sample for testing, the unconfirmed report indicated.


Boy, they really may have Osama on ice just waiting to be unveiled in late October.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:12 PM

MR. WHIPLASH TRAPPED IN THE BACKLASH:

The lame protests of the Democratic Convention (Dahlia Lithwick, July 29, 2004, Slate)

It's taken a day, but people are starting to admit that Edwards may not have knocked it out of the park yesterday, despite the fawning headlines from this morning. With some embarrassment, we begin to confess to one another that he just didn't do it for us. Last night, Edwards was like someone John Kerry had just rescued from Dawson's Creek. Gorgeous and eloquent and can segue from joy to pain in 60 seconds. But I simply didn't buy it last night, much as I wanted to.

Only caught a bit of it, but Joe Scarborough was on Hardball pointing out how badly Senator Kerry had delivered his speech and the flock of Democratic flacks--Howard Fineman, Chris Matthews, maybe Andrea Mitchell?--angrily shouted him down and told him the content mattered not the delivery (though it's hard to see why that's an argument in favor of the speech). By Sunday all of them will be panning the speech more fiercely than Mr. Scarborough did.


MORE:
Kerry Speech Leaves Out Protest Role (CALVIN WOODWARD, 7/30/04, Associated Press)

John Kerry skipped past his role in the Vietnam protest movement that brought him to prominence when he talked of his younger days fighting for his country and ignored that conflict when praising the American tradition of going to war only "because we have to."

Kerry once famously called the Vietnam War "the biggest nothing in history," and says he is still proud of his anti-war activism when he came back. But in the text of his televised speech at the Democratic National Convention, he emphasized his war record and offered mere clues to his protesting past.

A video introduction shown at the convention before the broadcast networks began carrying his speech included a clip of the young Kerry, in military garb, testifying to Congress against the war in 1971.

And his speech made passing reference to his generation's marches for "civil rights, for voting rights, for the environment, for women, and for peace."

Kerry short-handed a few telling policy details in other parts of his speech.

He declared, for example, that "we value health care that's affordable and accessible for all Americans" and called that care "a right for all Americans."

But his plan, while aimed at expanding coverage and reducing premiums, does not ensure coverage for all. His campaign says the plan would extend coverage to an additional 27 million people, which would leave more than 10 million without health insurance.

He rhetorically asked, "What does it mean when 25 percent of the children in Harlem have asthma because of air pollution? America can do better. And help is on the way."

A study by Harlem Hospital Center last year found 25 percent of the children in a 24-block area of Harlem had the disease. But blaming all of that on air pollution as part of a case against the Bush administration is not supported by the study.

Apart from genetic factors, the study found that the asthmatic children were about 50 percent more likely to live with a smoker. Pollen, dust, animal dander, cockroaches and cold air were thought to be among the contributing causes, along with urban air pollution.

On equipping the military, he said, "You don't value families if you force them to take up a collection to buy body armor for a son or daughter in the service." He's had a long-running dustup with Republicans who criticize him for voting against an $87 billion package for Iraq and Afghanistan that included money for thousands of extra sets of body armor.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:56 PM

OUR GEOCENTRIC UNIVERSE:

Earth-like planets may be more rare than thought: In cosmic terms, our solar system could be special after all. (Philip Ball, 7/26/04, Nature)

We could be alone in the Universe after all. The discovery during the past decade of over a hundred planets around other stars has encouraged many scientists to think that habitable planets like ours might be common. But a recent study tells them to think again.

Martin Beer of the University of Leicester, UK, and co-workers argue that our Solar System may be highly unusual, compared with the planetary systems of other stars. In a preprint published on Arxiv1, they point out that the alien planets we have seen so far could have been formed by a completely different process from the one that formed ours. If that is so, says Beer, "there won't necessarily be lots of other Earths up there".


Science will be the death of Scientism.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:52 PM

FORKWORTHY:

A Challenge to the GOP on Values, Security (Dan Balz, July 30, 2004, Washington Post)

There were notable omissions in Kerry's speech...that raise questions about the course he and his party have chosen for the campaign. Like other speakers during the four nights of the convention, Kerry only briefly touched on Iraq, the issue that has shaped and dominated this presidential campaign, divided the Democratic Party and at times bedeviled his own candidacy. At a time when many Americans are looking for an exit strategy and may wonder whether Kerry has a plan for Iraq that is different from Bush's, he offered only the assurance that he knows how to get it right.

Nor did Kerry or running mate John Edwards use their speeches this week to confront their opponents directly or persuasively argue the case for turning out the administration. His advisers believe the public already is looking to replace Bush and needs only to find a level of comfort with Kerry to change presidents. They may be correct, but that too is a gamble, for there will be no better opportunity to make that case before the fall debates.

Rarely has an acceptance speech at a political convention come with so much hype and drama -- as well as nervousness within a candidate's own party about his capacity to rise to the moment. Even Kerry's closest allies recognized that after 18 months on the campaign trail, he remains an incomplete portrait to many voters.

For all his attributes, Kerry has never been known as a charismatic politician and rarely has he demonstrated a great gift for political oratory. His acceptance speech is not likely to change that reputation. He tried to make himself more human and more appealing, with memories of his parents, stories of his childhood and references to his wife and children. Ultimately, however, he appeared willing to cede the battle over personality and likeability to Bush...


When folks are questioning your candidacy hours after your acceptance speech it flopped.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:43 PM

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION AND A DEAD CAT:

Zogby: Zero Bounce for Kerry (NewsMax, 7/30/04)

A Zogby poll taken while the four-day Democratic convention was under way shows that the Kerry-Edwards ticket has failed to add even a single percentage point to its support.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:34 PM

STILL THE REAGAN RECOVERY:

US 2001 Slump May Not Have Been Recession at All (Tim Ahmann, 7/30/04, Reuters)

Not only was the U.S. recession in 2001 the shallowest on record, it may not have been one at all -- at least in the classic sense of two straight quarterly declines, new government data show.

In annual revisions to U.S. gross domestic product numbers released on Friday that could fuel a politically charged debate, the Commerce Department rewrote the history of the recent downturn by revising away a decline in the second quarter of 2001.

The new figures, which reflect more complete source data, show economic activity peaked in the second quarter of 2001, not the fourth quarter of 2000.

Measured from the new peak, the economy shrank just 0.4 percent, keeping the recession as measured by GDP the mildest on record. The 1969-1970 recessionary period, in which the economy contracted 0.6 percent, comes in a close second.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, the unofficial but accepted arbiter of U.S. recessions, has said the downturn began in March 2001 and ended in November of that year.

However, the White House has argued that the economy peaked earlier and has contended President Bush inherited the recession from his predecessor, President Bill Clinton.

Now, some might argue there was no recession at all.

"If I were describing this, I'd say it's essentially a flat period," said Brent Moulton, who is in charge of compiling the GDP data at the department's Bureau of Economic Analysis.


It takes many years to come up with these numbers and even then how reliable do we think they are? There's been speculation that when all is said and done economic historians will not consider the slowdown of the early '90s a recession either. That will mean that the recovery that began after the Reagan tax cuts, the Volcker tightening, and the PATCO firing will have lasted twenty something years and it shows no signs of ending anytime soon. Were a few realistic steps to be taken in President Bush's second term: a new global trade deal; privatization of Social Security, tax reform, further liberalization in the Middle East, and development in Africa, we could be in for several more decades of uninterrupted growth. This might eventually become a forty or fifty year boom--an achievement without precedent in human history.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:56 PM

ADD ANOTHER POSITIVE QUARTER TO THE FAIR MODEL:

U.S. Economy Grew at a 3% Rate in Second Quarter After 4.5% (Bloomberg, 7/30/04)

The U.S. economy grew at a 3 percent annual rate from April through June, slower than the prior three months and less than forecast, as rising energy prices led to the weakest rate of consumer spending in three years.

The rise in gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, followed a 4.5 percent pace in the first quarter that was faster than the previously reported 3.9 percent rate, the Commerce Department said in Washington. The GDP price deflator used to adjust the figures rose at a 3.2 percent annual rate, the most since the 2001 first quarter.

Consumer spending slowed as gasoline prices that held above $2 a gallon on average crimped sales at retailers such as Wal- Mart Stores Inc. Companies, more confident about the expansion, rebuilt inventories and bought more equipment.

"We're in the process of throttling back to cruising speed, but we're still flying along at a pretty good pace,'' said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania, before the report. ``I think we'll have very strong business investment in the second half. That's the key factor that will power growth.'' [...]

Adjusted for inflation, GDP totaled $10.8 trillion at an annual rate. Unadjusted for the change in prices, it totaled $11.6 trillion, rising at a 6.3 percent annual rate after 7.4 percent in the first quarter.


Presidents don't get voted out of office with economic growth rates over 3%.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:43 PM

CIRCULAR FILE:

The Rush to Reorganize (David Ignatius, July 30, 2004, Washington Post)

here's something dispiriting about the knee-jerk endorsement of the commission's proposals. The ink was barely dry on the 567-page report when Kerry gave it his blanket endorsement. Hoping to bind himself even more tightly to the commission's image of national unity, Kerry then proposed extending its life by 18 months.

Kerry's support for government by commission is hardly reassuring. The country needs a president who will take control of anti-terrorism policy, sift good proposals from bad and steer a steady course away from the maelstrom in which the United States finds itself.

Sadly, Kerry's me-too approach to the Sept. 11 commission is of a piece with his bland flag-waving on foreign policy in general. America is a nation at war. Yet we have no sense, even after Kerry has been nominated, of just what policies he would pursue in Iraq and the Middle East. There's a three-alarm blaze outside and he's telling us he supports the fire department.

The Bush administration's effort to wrap itself in the bipartisan flag of the commission is even more outrageous. Do the administration's spin controllers think the country has forgotten that the president refused to allow his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to testify before the panel until forced to do so by public outcry? Do they think people won't actually read the report and see its devastating account of the administration's failure to mobilize for the al Qaeda threat?


What kind of deluded soul would imagine that anyone, including the members of the Commission, will read the report?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:36 PM

BRING CABANA BOY HOME:

The World According to Kerry: His foreign-policy goals aren't radically different from Bush's, but his plans for achieving them differ considerably (Stan Crock, 7/29/04, Business Week)

When Senator John Kerry and Richard C. Holbrooke chat about foreign policy, Iraq and Afghanistan predictably top the agenda. But Holbrooke, an investment banker, ex-diplomat, and now a Kerry adviser, says their talk often turns to another topic that's seared into their consciousness: Vietnam. In the 1960s, Kerry was a young U.S. Navy officer there, and Holbrooke was a rising star in the Foreign Service posted to Saigon. The conflict was a crucible that forged both men's worldviews -- an experience that can't help but color Kerry's foreign policy if he wins in November.

Here's my personal pledge: I'm going to wear one of those silver POW/MIA bracelets with John Kerry's name on it until Vietnam lets him go.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:13 PM

THEIR BLAIR:

Barack Obama: A Republican Soul Trapped Inside a Democrat’s Body (Lucas Morel, July 2004, Ashbrook)

With unity as the mandate for the Democratic Convention, a little known State Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, took the ball and ran so far with it that this listener thought he was witnessing Obama’s conversion to the Grand Old Party. Remove all the references to John Kerry, along with the not-so-veiled digs against Bush, and the remaining speech would have fired up a Republican audience.

Touting his home state as "the land of Lincoln," praising the Declaration of Independence as "the true genius of America," and repeatedly affirming that Americans "don’t expect government to solve all their problems," Obama sounded less like the Democratic Party and more like the current president. Even his comments on education, which emphasized parental responsibility and higher student expectations, were right out of Bush’s playbook. Add his concern that Americans couple their devotion to individualism with a belief that "I am my brother’s keeper," and Obama looked like a cheerleader for compassionate conservatism.

That Obama spent most of his speech singing the glories of America must have shocked the Democratic elite. Instead of mouthing the multicultural platitudes of Jesse Jackson’s Democratic Party, Obama pledged allegiance to "one American family." He went so far as to exclaim, "There’s not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America—there is the United States of America." Jackson stood up and applauded at all the right moments, but he was clearly sitting down and harrumphing on the inside.


With Hillary representing the New Deal/Great Society base of the Party in the '08 primaries there will be amble room for a serious Third Way candidate. A black candidate like Mr. Obama or Harold Ford, who could make a racial appeal but combine it with a true New Democrat message, could make the race interesting at least and, if he won, do what Bill Clinton failed to do, move the party in the direction of compassionate conservatism/Third Way solutions. That is if they stay Democrats after the November bloodbath.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 AM

WELCOME TO PAMPLONA, BETTER GET OUT OF THE WAY:

Wall Street's World-Class Worrywarts (Amey Stone, 7/30/04, Business Week)

Investors have been worrying all summer, and they aren't likely to stop anytime soon, even though U.S. economic fundamentals look near perfect. Growth is strong (but not too strong), inflation remains low, corporations are raking in the dough, and consumer confidence is up.

Indeed, consensus estimates for the preliminary second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) figure, due out on July 30, are for solid 3.8% growth, although economists at research firm Action Economics are looking for 4%. Second-quarter earnings for companies in the S&P 500-stock index are averaging 24% higher than last year -- the fourth consecutive quarter of 20%-plus gains.

There's more: Corporate America is now benefiting from the largest annual increase in profits since 1984 and is enjoying "extraordinarily ample amounts of liquidity," noted Moody's Investors Service in a July 27 report, in which it estimated the broad equity market was 20% to 30% undervalued.

So why all the worry? In a nutshell: Investors think growth has already peaked. From here, many expect earnings increases to slow, consumer spending to weaken, and housing markets to teeter as interest rates rise along with inflation. As for second-quarter GDP, "the number would have to be pretty dramatically out of line for the market to react," says Zachary Karabell, senior economic analyst at Fred Alger Management, adding, "I don't believe the market is trading on macroeconomics right now."


Hard-core capitalists like to think of markets as perfect information systems which always present accurate values, but when markets are trading on the micro rather than the macro they betray their largely psychological bases and thus their very human flaws.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:20 AM

THE FIGHTING 51ST:

Successful missile test heralds new strategic superiority for Israel (AFP, Jul 30, 2004)

Israel's successful test-firing of its Arrow II anti-missile missile in the United States goes well beyond technological prowess as it grants the Jewish state a new strategic and defensive asset in the volatile Mideast region, media and officials said Friday.

"Bull's eye", "Arrow strikes" trumpeted the headlines in the mass-circulation dailies Yediot Aharonot and Maariv, with both papers highlighting that during this seventh successful test a real Scud missile rather a substitute Black Sparrow had been used.

Some six minutes after the 11-meter-long (38 feet), seven-ton Scud was launched at a height of dozens of kilometers above the Pacific Ocean, it was intercepted and destroyed by the Arrow II, or Hetz in Hebrew, which traveled nine times faster than the speed of sound, the papers said.

The test was carried out jointly with the US Missile Defense Agency at the Point Magu Sea Range in California.


Kind of gilding the lilly, no?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:15 AM

WHY NOT TAKE ALL OF ME?:

Buzzwords and cheap shots (Jeff Jacoby, July 30, 2004, Boston Globe)

His political career wasn't the only thing missing from Kerry's speech.

"This is the most important election of our lifetime," he said. "The stakes are high. We are a nation at war -- a global war on terror against an enemy unlike any we have ever known before." And with that, he launched right into a discussion of -- what? The nature of that unprecedented enemy? The threat from radical Islam? His strategy for victory? No: After raising the specter of an enemy "unlike any we have ever known before," Kerry promptly started talking about -- jobs. Coming less than three years after 9/11, this is the most important election of our lifetime. But why that is, Kerry has yet to say.

He spoke of his empathy for the young grunts "carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place" and about his respect for "all who serve in our armed forces today." Couldn't he have spared a few words to salute those troops for their two great achievements of recent years -- the toppling of vicious tyrannies in Afghanistan and Iraq?


Mr. Kerry gets trapped in a weird political calculus here:

A: The only thing he's ever done in his life, so far as we can tell, is serve honorably in Vietnam.

B: However, he thinks that war was evil and he a war criminal.

C: He thinks has to project a sufficiently powerful image that we'll hire him to fight this war.

D: However, he opposes it, almost equating it to Vietnam.

When you add all that up he's implicitly (sometimes explicitly) denigrating his own service to the cause of freedom and that of our current military, while asking to lead them (and us). No wonder he looked like Richard Nixon last night--this is one tortured dude.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 AM

A SEMI-SENSIBLE EDUCATION PROF?:

GATTACA CALLING?: High achievement comes from hard work, not from our genetic make-up, says a professor of education. (Richard Bailey, 7/30/04, sp!ked)

Imagine the scene. It is the future, and scientists have learned how to 'read' human DNA with such accuracy that they are able to predict our future health, as well as the careers that will be most suited to our abilities. The genetically elite are identified early and groomed for lives of leadership and brilliance. The biologically impoverished are relegated to the performance of the most menial tasks.

This was the premise of a Hollywood movie, Gattaca, released in 1997. The film's name comes from the initials of the four DNA bases of our genetic code: guanine, adenine, cytosine and thymine.

Despite the remarkable advances made by genetics, we are still a long way from realising the power of Gattaca's science. Indeed, there are strong reasons to suspect that we will never be in such a position. Nevertheless, Gattaca's fiction has a certain potency because its core assumption, that we can know an individual's 'true nature' and potential, is implicitly held by many people and exhibited in many settings, most frequently and clearly in education.

I work in Kent where we have our very own version of Gattaca - the 11 Plus, which consists of a series of examinations capable, apparently, of not just measuring a student's academic ability, but also predicting their likely career trajectory. IQ testing is another example, as are certain forms of education geared towards the 'gifted and talented'.

So prevalent is the Gattaca myth that it seems to underpin most educational theories and practices, from Plato's desire to use his academy to separate the elite from the rest, to educational theorist Howard Gardner's portrayal of multiple intelligences, and the fashionable nonsense of personalised learning styles. The UK government's recent five-year plan for education had an emphasis on 'personalised learning', and aimed to offer specialist school provision to all students, whether they be, in the words of one minister, 'sporty', 'artistic' or 'academic'. (Presumably, through some feat of genetic or social engineering, the government will arrange for all sporty children to live near a sports college and all arty children to live next to an arts college.)

These ideas are presented in attractive and palatable ways that suggest warm feelings of inclusion and the celebration of diversity. But ultimately, they divide the world up into different 'types' of people, whose abilities are 'given', and simply mature over the lifespan. Are you a visual thinker, or auditory? Do you have musical or existential intelligence? Are you 'sporty' or 'academic'?

Although the Gattaca myth has a certain appeal, it is also nonsense.


Not only is Gattaca a terrific flick, but the same director/screenwriter alsoi wrote the superb Truman Show and wrote and directed the flawed but entertaining S1M0NE. Taken together they're a penetrating meditation on Man and our relationship to God.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:51 AM

THE HARD EXPECTATIONS OF NO BIGOTRY:

Hispanic students lead gains in reading, math (ROSALIND ROSSI, July 30, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

Almost every grade showed statewide gains this year in reading and math -- the two subjects under increased pressure due to the new federal No Child Left Behind law, new data released Thursday showed.

To a large degree, Hispanics fueled the increases, posting generally bigger gains than blacks or whites on state tests taken in April.

"We are particularly encouraged not only at how well our students are doing, but to the extent that the achievement gap . . . is narrowing,'' state Education Supt. Robert Schiller said in releasing preliminary results of the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT) and the Prairie State Achievement Exams (PSAE).

Preliminary results showed that across Illinois, more than a third of students still are not meeting state standards -- roughly the equivalent of hitting grade level -- in most subjects and most grades. Some of the worst scores were in eighth- and 11th-grade math, where only 54 percent and 53 percent of students, respectively, passed state muster.

But generally, the trend was sweeping upward from last year among all races. Some Hispanic gains were huge, such as a jump of 11.7 percentage points in fifth-grade math and of 10.7 points in fourth-grade science.

Statewide, among 18 tests taken, the only downturn was in 11th-grade math, which dipped fractionally, and in fourth- and seventh-grade social science.

"I can't remember a year when there's been so many gains,'' said Barbara Radner, director of DePaul University's Center for Urban Education and member of a state No Child Left Behind task force. "The only place where we seem to be slipping is social studies, and they are dumping [tests in] it."

"No Child Left Behind tells schools to do a better job or we'll shut you down,'' said Radner, who has been an NCLB critic. "They got the message.''


Remind us again why we should return to the failed policies of the past that Senator Kerry is peddling?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:44 AM

WE WERE GROWN-UPS ONCE:

Cruiser Sunk, 1,196 Casualties; Took Atom Bomb Cargo to Guam (NY Times, 8/14,1945)

The American heavy cruiser Indianapolis was sunk by enemy action in the Philippine Sea with 1,196 casualties, every man aboard, the Navy announced today.

The 9,950-ton ship left San Francisco on July 16 on a special high-speed run to deliver essential atomic bomb materials to Guam. The cargo was delivered. The cruiser was lost after having left Guam.

The sinking, which took one of the Navy's heaviest tolls of lives since Pearl Harbor, was disclosed a few minutes before President Truman announced Japan's surrender.

Casualties included five Navy dead, including one officer; 845 Navy missing, including sixty-three officers; 307 Navy wounded, including fifteen officers; thirty Marine missing, including two officers, and nine enlisted Marine wounded. Next of kin have been notified.

The skipper, Capt. Charles B. McVay 3d, 47, of Washington, was wounded.


Nearly as many died in this tragedy as we've lost in the entire Iraq War, many simply because of military foul-ups, but, oddly enough, that doesn't make WWII illegitimate in much of anyone's eyes.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:35 AM

KOOKY?:

THUNDERBIRDS / *1/2 (PG) (ROGER EBERT, 7/30/04, Chicago Sun-Times)

I run into Bill Paxton and Ben Kingsley occasionally, and have found them to be nice people. As actors, they are in the first rank. It's easy to talk to them, and so the next time I run into one of them, I think I'll just go ahead and ask what in the h-e-double-hockey-stick they were thinking of when they signed up for "Thunderbirds." My bet is that Paxton will grin sheepishly and Kingsley will twinkle knowingly, and they'll both say the movie looked like fun, and gently steer the conversation toward other titles. "A Simple Plan," say, or "House of Sand and Fog."

This is a movie made for an audience that does not exist, at least in the land of North American multiplexes: Fans of a British TV puppet show that ran from 1964 to 1966. "While its failure to secure a U.S. network sale caused the show to be canceled after 32 episodes," writes David Rooney in Variety, "the 'Supermarionation' series still endures in reruns and on DVD for funky sci-fi geeks and pop culture nostalgists." I quote Rooney because I had never heard of the series and, let's face it, neither have you. Still, I doubt that "funky" describes the sub-set of geeks and nostalgists who like it. The word "kooky" comes to mind, as in "kooky yo-yos."


Philistine.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM

ONLY NIXON CAN GO TO CHINA:

"We have it in our power to change the world again. But only if we're true to our ideals – and that starts by telling the truth to the American people. That is my first pledge to you tonight. As President, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House."

What makes this line of attack especially odd is that a majority of voters trust the President while the same can not be said of Mr. Kerry.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 AM

THE REACTIONARY PARTY:

"We believe in the family value expressed in one of the oldest Commandments: "Honor thy father and thy mother." As President, I will not privatize Social Security. I will not cut benefits. And together, we will make sure that senior citizens never have to cut their pills in half because they can't afford life-saving medicine.

And that is the choice in this election."

This is the scariest aspect of the Kerry candidacy, that doesn't even pay lip service to the Third Way. As his life seems stuck in the 60s, so too does his vision of welfare. At least Bill Clinton ran as a New Democrat even if he didn't generally govern as one--and his own rhetoric made it impossible for him to weasel out of Welfare Reform. Mr. Kerry is a far more retrograde, almost Johnsonesque, figure.

George W. Bush should take privatization--which is very popular with the American people--and ram it down the Senator's throat.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 AM

HE KNOWS DIFFERENT FAMILIES THAN WE DO?

"Our plan will cut the deficit in half in four years by ending tax giveaways that are nothing more than corporate welfare – and will make government live by the rule that every family has to follow: pay as you go."

Has anyone ever met an American under the age of say 60--who wasn't filthy stinkin' rich--who had no debt?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM

CARTERESQUE:

Glitch delays release of balloons after Kerry speech (AP, 7/30/04)

"Go balloons," said convention producer Don Mischer, instructing the balloon droppers. "Go balloons. Go balloons!" His voice was becoming increasingly frantic — and it was going out over CNN.

"I don't see anything happening," he said angrily. Unknown to him, CNN was running his name and title across the bottom of the screen.

Long minutes after the place was supposed to be a blizzard of balloons and confetti, Mischer was still shouting that it wasn't happening, at least it wasn't right. Viewers saw a lot of balloons, in fact, and Kerry, family members and delegates happily batted them around. But nothing like the 100,000 that had been supposed to cascade down.

At one point Mischer used a profanity to rebuke his balloon-dropping crew. CNN was still broadcasting his voice.


The quality of Mr. Kerry's frantic speech was such that you had to be worried that if a balloon popped he'd dive to the ground shrieking: "Here comes Charlie!" And if they'd only dangled a Queen of Diamonds from the ceiling the scene would have been complete.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:44 AM

WHERE WAS JOHN?:

THE BAGEL CANDIDACY (DICK MORRIS, July 30, 2004, NY Post)

Last time I checked, Sen. John Kerry was 60 years old. But to listen to his speech last night at the Democratic National Convention, you would think he was still in his 20s.

He opened up his talk with a lengthy and evocative description of his childhood and what it was like growing up in divided Berlin. He told us of the "goose bumps" he remembers getting when the band struck up "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Then, after this long rendition of his childhood, he tells us at length what it was like to serve in Vietnam for the four months that he was there. So far, so good.

But then he spent only about one minute talking about what he has done since.

Beyond a brief allusion to his efforts for crime victims and to prosecute crimes against women as an assistant district attorney, his support for Clinton's plan for extra cops and a balanced budget and a reference to his work with John McCain on the POW and MIA issue in Vietnam, that's it.

What did this man do as an adult? What happened during his service as Michael Dukakis' lieutenant-governor in Massachusetts and in his 20 years in the United States Senate?

What bills did he introduce? What initiatives did he sponsor? Which investigations did he lead? What amendments bear his name? What great debates did he participate in?

What did he do for his constituents in Massachusetts? What businesses did he persuade to come to the Bay State? Which elderly did he help get their Social Security benefits? What injustices did he correct?

Kerry's biography ends at 24.


This surely was the most embarrassing portion of the speech:
I ask you to judge me by my record: As a young prosecutor, I fought for victim's rights and made prosecuting violence against women a priority. When I came to the Senate, I broke with many in my own party to vote for a balanced budget, because I thought it was the right thing to do. I fought to put a 100,000 cops on the street.

And then I reached across the aisle to work with John McCain, to find the truth about our POW's and missing in action, and to finally make peace with Vietnam.


That's the entiretyy of his record and much of it's bogus: anyone think he cared about "women's rights" or that the McCain shtick is there for any reason other than to try and cling to the guy who's rejected his vice presidential offer in favor of George W. Bush?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM

LIKE A PTSD PSA:

Senator John Kerry's Remarks to the Democratic National Convention (7/29/04)

[...] We have it in our power to change the world again. But only if we're true to our ideals – and that starts by telling the truth to the American people. That is my first pledge to you tonight. As President, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House.

I ask you to judge me by my record: As a young prosecutor, I fought for victim's rights and made prosecuting violence against women a priority. When I came to the Senate, I broke with many in my own party to vote for a balanced budget, because I thought it was the right thing to do. I fought to put a 100,000 cops on the street.

And then I reached across the aisle to work with John McCain, to find the truth about our POW's and missing in action, and to finally make peace with Vietnam.

I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have a Vice President who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a Secretary of Defense who will listen to the best advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an Attorney General who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.

My fellow Americans, this is the most important election of our lifetime. The stakes are high. We are a nation at war – a global war on terror against an enemy unlike any we have ever known before. And here at home, wages are falling, health care costs are rising, and our great middle class is shrinking. People are working weekends; they're working two jobs, three jobs, and they're still not getting ahead.

We're told that outsourcing jobs is good for America. We're told that new jobs that pay $9,000 less than the jobs that have been lost is the best we can do. They say this is the best economy we've ever had. And they say that anyone who thinks otherwise is a pessimist. Well, here is our answer: There is nothing more pessimistic than saying America can't do better.

We can do better and we will. We're the optimists. For us, this is a country of the future. We're the can do people. And let's not forget what we did in the 1990s. We balanced the budget. We paid down the debt. We created 23 million new jobs. We lifted millions out of poverty and we lifted the standard of living for the middle class. We just need to believe in ourselves – and we can do it again.

So tonight, in the city where America's freedom began, only a few blocks from where the sons and daughters of liberty gave birth to our nation – here tonight, on behalf of a new birth of freedom – on behalf of the middle class who deserve a champion, and those struggling to join it who deserve a fair shot – for the brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day and the families who pray for their return – for all those who believe our best days are ahead of us – for all of you – with great faith in the American people, I accept your nomination for President of the United States.

I am proud that at my side will be a running mate whose life is the story of the American dream and who's worked every day to make that dream real for all Americans – Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. And his wonderful wife Elizabeth and their family. This son of a mill worker is ready to lead – and next January, Americans will be proud to have a fighter for the middle class to succeed Dick Cheney as Vice President of the United States.

And what can I say about Teresa? She has the strongest moral compass of anyone I know. She's down to earth, nurturing, courageous, wise and smart. She speaks her mind and she speaks the truth, and I love her for that, too. And that's why America will embrace her as the next First Lady of the United States.

For Teresa and me, no matter what the future holds or the past has given us, nothing will ever mean as much as our children. We love them not just for who they are and what they've become, but for being themselves, making us laugh, holding our feet to the fire, and never letting me get away with anything. Thank you, Andre, Alex, Chris, Vanessa, and John.

And in this journey, I am accompanied by an extraordinary band of brothers led by that American hero, a patriot named Max Cleland. Our band of brothers doesn't march together because of who we are as veterans, but because of what we learned as soldiers. We fought for this nation because we loved it and we came back with the deep belief that every day is extra. We may be a little older now, we may be a little grayer, but we still know how to fight for our country.

And standing with us in that fight are those who shared with me the long season of the primary campaign: Carol Moseley Braun, General Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, Bob Graham, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Lieberman and Al Sharpton.

To all of you, I say thank you for teaching me and testing me – but mostly, we say thank you for standing up for our country and giving us the unity to move America forward.

My fellow Americans, the world tonight is very different from the world of four years ago. But I believe the American people are more than equal to the challenge.

Remember the hours after September 11th, when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran up the stairs and risked their lives, so that others might live. When rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon. When the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation's Capitol. When flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.

I am proud that after September 11th all our people rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. There were only Americans. How we wish it had stayed that way.

Now I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities – and I do – because some issues just aren't all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn’t make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so.

As President, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system – so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics. And as President, I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.

I know what kids go through when they are carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place and they can't tell friend from foe. I know what they go through when they're out on patrol at night and they don't know what's coming around the next bend. I know what it's like to write letters home telling your family that everything's all right when you're not sure that's true.

As President, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: "I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent." So lesson one, this is the only justification for going to war.

And on my first day in office, I will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.

I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a President who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, and reduce the risk to American soldiers. That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.

Here is the reality: that won't happen until we have a president who restores America's respect and leadership -- so we don't have to go it alone in the world.

And we need to rebuild our alliances, so we can get the terrorists before they get us.

I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President. Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.

We will add 40,000 active duty troops – not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended, and under pressure. We will double our special forces to conduct anti-terrorist operations. We will provide our troops with the newest weapons and technology to save their lives – and win the battle. And we will end the backdoor draft of National Guard and reservists.

To all who serve in our armed forces today, I say, help is on the way.

As President, I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal: our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower.

In these dangerous days there is a right way and a wrong way to be strong. Strength is more than tough words. After decades of experience in national security, I know the reach of our power and I know the power of our ideals.

We need to make America once again a beacon in the world. We need to be looked up to and not just feared.

We need to lead a global effort against nuclear proliferation – to keep the most dangerous weapons in the world out of the most dangerous hands in the world.

We need a strong military and we need to lead strong alliances. And then, with confidence and determination, we will be able to tell the terrorists: You will lose and we will win. The future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to freedom.

And the front lines of this battle are not just far away – they're right here on our shores, at our airports, and potentially in any town or city. Today, our national security begins with homeland security. The 9-11 Commission has given us a path to follow, endorsed by Democrats, Republicans, and the 9-11 families. As President, I will not evade or equivocate; I will immediately implement the recommendations of that commission. We shouldn't be letting ninety-five percent of container ships come into our ports without ever being physically inspected. We shouldn't be leaving our nuclear and chemical plants without enough protection. And we shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America.

And tonight, we have an important message for those who question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction for our country. Before wrapping themselves in the flag and shutting their eyes and ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about. They should remember the great idea of freedom for which so many have given their lives. Our purpose now is to reclaim democracy itself. We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.

You see that flag up there. We call her Old Glory. The stars and stripes forever. I fought under that flag, as did so many of you here and all across our country. That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head. It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men I served with and friends I grew up with. For us, that flag is the most powerful symbol of who we are and what we believe in. Our strength. Our diversity. Our love of country. All that makes America both great and good.

That flag doesn't belong to any president. It doesn't belong to any ideology and it doesn't belong to any political party. It belongs to all the American people.

My fellow citizens, elections are about choices. And choices are about values. In the end, it's not just policies and programs that matter; the president who sits at that desk must be guided by principle.

For four years, we've heard a lot of talk about values. But values spoken without actions taken are just slogans. Values are not just words. They're what we live by. They're about the causes we champion and the people we fight for. And it is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families.

You don't value families by kicking kids out of after school programs and taking cops off our streets, so that Enron can get another tax break.

We believe in the family value of caring for our children and protecting the neighborhoods where they walk and play.

And that is the choice in this election.

You don't value families by denying real prescription drug coverage to seniors, so big drug companies can get another windfall.

We believe in the family value expressed in one of the oldest Commandments: "Honor thy father and thy mother." As President, I will not privatize Social Security. I will not cut benefits. And together, we will make sure that senior citizens never have to cut their pills in half because they can't afford life-saving medicine.

And that is the choice in this election.

You don't value families if you force them to take up a collection to buy body armor for a son or daughter in the service, if you deny veterans health care, or if you tell middle class families to wait for a tax cut, so that the wealthiest among us can get even more.

We believe in the value of doing what's right for everyone in the American family.

And that is the choice in this election.

We believe that what matters most is not narrow appeals masquerading as values, but the shared values that show the true face of America. Not narrow appeals that divide us, but shared values that unite us. Family and faith. Hard work and responsibility. Opportunity for all – so that every child, every parent, every worker has an equal shot at living up to their God-given potential.

What does it mean in America today when Dave McCune, a steel worker I met in Canton, Ohio, saw his job sent overseas and the equipment in his factory literally unbolted, crated up, and shipped thousands of miles away along with that job? What does it mean when workers I've met had to train their foreign replacements?

America can do better. So tonight we say: help is on the way.

What does it mean when Mary Ann Knowles, a woman with breast cancer I met in New Hampshire, had to keep working day after day right through her chemotherapy, no matter how sick she felt, because she was terrified of losing her family's health insurance.

America can do better. And help is on the way.

What does it mean when Deborah Kromins from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania works and saves all her life only to find out that her pension has disappeared into thin air – and the executive who looted it has bailed out on a golden parachute?

America can do better. And help is on the way.

What does it mean when twenty five percent of the children in Harlem have asthma because of air pollution?

America can do better. And help is on the way.

What does it mean when people are huddled in blankets in the cold, sleeping in Lafayette Park on the doorstep of the White House itself – and the number of families living in poverty has risen by three million in the last four years?

America can do better. And help is on the way.

And so we come here tonight to ask: Where is the conscience of our country?

I'll tell you where it is: it's in rural and small town America; it's in urban neighborhoods and suburban main streets; it's alive in the people I've met in every part of this land. It's bursting in the hearts of Americans who are determined to give our country back its values and its truth.

We value jobs that pay you more not less than you earned before. We value jobs where, when you put in a week's work, you can actually pay your bills, provide for your children, and lift up the quality of your life. We value an America where the middle class is not being squeezed, but doing better.

So here is our economic plan to build a stronger America:

First, new incentives to revitalize manufacturing.

Second, investment in technology and innovation that will create the good-paying jobs of the future.

Third, close the tax loopholes that reward companies for shipping our jobs overseas. Instead, we will reward companies that create and keep good paying jobs where they belong – in the good old U.S.A.

We value an America that exports products, not jobs – and we believe American workers should never have to subsidize the loss of their own job.

Next, we will trade and compete in the world. But our plan calls for a fair playing field – because if you give the American worker a fair playing field, there's nobody in the world the American worker can't compete against.

And we're going to return to fiscal responsibility because it is the foundation of our economic strength. Our plan will cut the deficit in half in four years by ending tax giveaways that are nothing more than corporate welfare – and will make government live by the rule that every family has to follow: pay as you go.

And let me tell you what we won't do: we won't raise taxes on the middle class. You've heard a lot of false charges about this in recent months. So let me say straight out what I will do as President: I will cut middle class taxes. I will reduce the tax burden on small business. And I will roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals who make over $200,000 a year, so we can invest in job creation, health care and education.

Our education plan for a stronger America sets high standards and demands accountability from parents, teachers, and schools. It provides for smaller class sizes and treats teachers like the professionals they are. And it gives a tax credit to families for each and every year of college.

When I was a prosecutor, I met young kids who were in trouble, abandoned by adults. And as President, I am determined that we stop being a nation content to spend $50,000 a year to keep a young person in prison for the rest of their life – when we could invest $10,000 to give them Head Start, Early Start, Smart Start, the best possible start in life.

And we value health care that's affordable and accessible for all Americans.

Since 2000, four million people have lost their health insurance. Millions more are struggling to afford it.

You know what's happening. Your premiums, your co-payments, your deductibles have all gone through the roof.

Our health care plan for a stronger America cracks down on the waste, greed, and abuse in our health care system and will save families up to $1,000 a year on their premiums. You'll get to pick your own doctor – and patients and doctors, not insurance company bureaucrats, will make medical decisions. Under our plan, Medicare will negotiate lower drug prices for seniors. And all Americans will be able to buy less expensive prescription drugs from countries like Canada.

The story of people struggling for health care is the story of so many Americans. But you know what, it's not the story of senators and members of Congress. Because we give ourselves great health care and you get the bill. Well, I'm here to say, your family's health care is just as important as any politician's in Washington, D.C.

And when I'm President, America will stop being the only advanced nation in the world which fails to understand that health care is not a privilege for the wealthy, the connected, and the elected – it is a right for all Americans.

We value an America that controls its own destiny because it's finally and forever independent of Mideast oil. What does it mean for our economy and our national security when we only have three percent of the world's oil reserves, yet we rely on foreign countries for fifty-three percent of what we consume?

I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation – not the Saudi royal family.

And our energy plan for a stronger America will invest in new technologies and alternative fuels and the cars of the future -- so that no young American in uniform will ever be held hostage to our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

I've told you about our plans for the economy, for education, for health care, for energy independence. I want you to know more about them. So now I'm going to say something that Franklin Roosevelt could never have said in his acceptance speech: go to johnkerry.com.

I want to address these next words directly to President George W. Bush: In the weeks ahead, let's be optimists, not just opponents. Let's build unity in the American family, not angry division. Let's honor this nation's diversity; let's respect one another; and let's never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States.

My friends, the high road may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And that's why Republicans and Democrats must make this election a contest of big ideas, not small-minded attacks. This is our time to reject the kind of politics calculated to divide race from race, group from group, region from region. Maybe some just see us divided into red states and blue states, but I see us as one America – red, white, and blue. And when I am President, the government I lead will enlist people of talent, Republicans as well as Democrats, to find the common ground – so that no one who has something to contribute will be left on the sidelines.

And let me say it plainly: in that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago, and I want to say this to you tonight: I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.

These aren't Democratic values. These aren't Republican values. They're American values. We believe in them. They're who we are. And if we honor them, if we believe in ourselves, we can build an America that's stronger at home and respected in the world.

So much promise stretches before us. Americans have always reached for the impossible, looked to the next horizon, and asked: What if?

Two young bicycle mechanics from Dayton asked what if this airplane could take off at Kitty Hawk? It did that and changed the world forever. A young president asked what if we could go to the moon in ten years? And now we're exploring the solar system and the stars themselves. A young generation of entrepreneurs asked, what if we could take all the information in a library and put it on a little chip the size of a fingernail? We did and that too changed the world forever.

And now it's our time to ask: What if?

What if we find a breakthrough to cure Parkinson's, diabetes, Alzheimer's and AIDs? What if we have a president who believes in science, so we can unleash the wonders of discovery like stem cell research to treat illness and save millions of lives?

What if we do what adults should do – and make sure all our children are safe in the afternoons after school? And what if we have a leadership that's as good as the American dream – so that bigotry and hatred never again steal the hope and future of any American?

I learned a lot about these values on that gunboat patrolling the Mekong Delta with young Americans who came from places as different as Iowa and Oregon, Arkansas, Florida and California. No one cared where we went to school. No one cared about our race or our backgrounds. We were literally all in the same boat. We looked out, one for the other – and we still do.

That is the kind of America I will lead as President – an America where we are all in the same boat.

Never has there been a more urgent moment for Americans to step up and define ourselves. I will work my heart out. But, my fellow citizens, the outcome is in your hands more than mine.

It is time to reach for the next dream. It is time to look to the next horizon. For America, the hope is there. The sun is rising. Our best days are still to come.


As a partisan, one inevitably views such things through partisan eyes, but I thought the speech was shockingly weak. To begin with, there was nothing memorable in what he said, no phrase or idea you'll be talking about tomorrow or that the talking heads will feel the need to weigh in on this Sunday. The best he could muster was the salute and the "Reporting for duty," which made him seem a grunt rather than a Commander in Chief.

Second, at this point in his career it's pointless to look for the Senator to relax and connect with people, but the rush in which he delivered the whole speech, the relentless breathlessness, and the sweat, all made him seem kind of frantic. C-SPAN did something clever, showing George W. Bush's speech in 2000 right after the Senator finished--the contrast of the confident, folksy, measured delivery of the President made for a stark contrast with Mr. Kerry's gerbil on crack routine.

Worst of all though, Senator Kerry's speech was incoherent as rhetoric. This may be the unavoidable result of the conflict between his career and his candidacy--and it is said that he wrote much of it himself, so his internal conflicts would be on display--but its various parts just don't fit together at all. In the opening section he gives us the whole song and dance about his patriotic war service and love of country, but never mentions that he made his national reputation by opposing his country and the patriotic war. [Indeed, other than a very brief reference to working with John McCain on POW issues and a few mentions of his brief career as a prosecutor, the John Kerry he presented the nation apparently went straight from Vietnam to Iowa in 2003.] Then while trying to project his strength and commitment to a powerful America he never mentions that he supported the wars that liberated Afghanistan and Iraq, instead making it sound as if he'd withdraw the troops from the latter. He doesn't mention the war he opposed, because he needs to play up having fought in it. Nor does he mention having supported the war we're in, because now he needs to play up opposing it. That may work for folks who know nothing about him, but for anyone else it seems like rats gnawed holes in the speech because he's leaving out so many salient facts.

Then there's the bit about: "as President, I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to." Tradition? What war did we ever have to fight, with the possible exception of the War of 1812?

But the point at which this "I'm a warrior/I'm a pacifist" thing gets truly weird is in the following passage:

I learned a lot about these values on that gunboat patrolling the Mekong Delta with young Americans who came from places as different as Iowa and Oregon, Arkansas, Florida and California. No one cared where we went to school. No one cared about our race or our backgrounds. We were literally all in the same boat. We looked out, one for the other – and we still do.

That is the kind of America I will lead as President – an America where we are all in the same boat.


All of a sudden, he's gone from keeping us out of war to putting us all in some kind of national gunboat on patrol. In his desire to appear the soldier in order to convey strength, but his genuine conviction that our strength should not be used, he's set up a psychic disconnect that puts sections of his message at war with each another.

Finally, as a kind of icing on the badly battered cake, since he hasn't been following any overarching themes, which might give structure to the speech, nor presenting a set of ideas and a plan that he would govern by, when he does periodically drop a specific in it's something that's driven wholly by the politics of the moment, some picayune point that only makes sense to insiders:

* I will appoint an Attorney General who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.

* The 9-11 Commission has given us a path to follow, endorsed by Democrats, Republicans, and the 9-11 families. As President, I will not evade or equivocate; I will immediately implement the recommendations of that commission.

* I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation – not the Saudi royal family.

* What if we find a breakthrough to cure Parkinson's, diabetes, Alzheimer's and AIDs? What if we have a president who believes in science, so we can unleash the wonders of discovery like stem cell research to treat illness and save millions of lives?

There's a dig at Enron in there somewhere too and for folks at the Convention these are the kinds of things they want to hear, but anyone watching at home had to be bewildered: What happened to the Constitution? What did which Commission propose? The Sau'dis; where did they come from? Would stem-cells be in there if Ron Reagan hadn't spoken at the Convention? This is a descent from mumbo-jumbo into trivia.

By all accounts, Mr. Kerry has two tasks he has to succeed in if he's to have a chance at winning this fall: he has to convince a dubious public that they want to see someone with his rather cold and aloof personality on their tv screen at supper every night for the next four years; and he has to explain to a country that rightly fears NorthEastern liberals that his program is different than those of his predecessors on the Democratic Left. A frenzied speech devoid of specifics and obsessed with life in the Mekong Delta 36 years ago can't have helped in either task.

Mr. Kerry seems to assume that this is an election like 1980 and 1992, where the American people are so fed up with the sitting president that any credible alternative will do. The folks in the Boston Garden undoubtedly feel that way, but polls show that President Bush still has about a 50% approval rating. Jimmy Carter, by contrast, hit 21% at one point in 1980. This is not an electorate that has given up on Mr. Bush by any stretch of the imagination. But they might be willing to at least listen to someone who could offer them a bit less tumult than we've had since election day 2000. All Mr. Kerry offered tonight was platitudes delivered by a character out of The Deer Hunter or Coming Home. That's not going to get it done.

MORE:
Missed Opportunity (Washington Post, July 30, 2004)

AL GORE AND George W. Bush accepted their parties' 2000 nominations for the presidency with an optimism fueled by seeming prosperity at home and apparent security in a post-Cold War world. In accepting the Democratic nomination last night, John F. Kerry spoke to a far more anxious America, one that has weathered a recession and, more important, entered what the nominee called "a global war on terror against an enemy unlike we've ever known before." Mr. Kerry therefore sought above all to make the case that he could be trusted to lead a nation at war, and rightly so; he and Mr. Bush must be judged first and foremost on those grounds. But on that basis, though Mr. Kerry spoke confidently and eloquently, his speech was a disappointment.

Mr. Kerry talked movingly of how his combat experience would temper his decision making: "I know what kids go through when they are carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place and they can't tell friend from foe." The responsibility of sending troops into danger should weigh on a commander in chief. But so must the responsibility of protecting the nation against a shadowy foe not easily deterred by traditional means. Mr. Kerry last night elided the charged question of whether, as president, he would have gone to war in Iraq. He offered not a word to celebrate the freeing of Afghans from the Taliban, or Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, and not a word about helping either nation toward democracy.

In Iraq, Mr. Kerry said, "We need a president who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden. . . . That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home." But what is "the job"? He didn't say. Mr. Kerry could have spoken the difficult truth that U.S. troops will be needed in Iraq for a long time. He could have reaffirmed his commitment to completing the task of helping build democracy. Instead, he chose words that seemed designed to give the impression that he could engineer a quick and painless exit.


Bush Is Optimistic in New Speech (Nick Anderson, July 29, 2004, LA Times)
In a new campaign speech that presages an August advertising blitz, President Bush asserts that America has "turned the corner" and depicts himself as an incumbent who delivers.

"When it comes to choosing a president, results matter," Bush declares in an excerpt from a speech his campaign disclosed today. The sentence echoes a 2000 campaign slogan that termed Bush a "reformer with results." It is also an implied dig at Democratic nominee John F. Kerry's 19-year record in the Senate, which Republicans call undistinguished.

In another excerpt meant to show Bush's optimism, the president says: "We have turned the corner, and we are not turning back."


-Bush to promote second-term agenda (RON HUTCHESON, 7/29/04, Knight Ridder Newspapers)
Ending a week of self-imposed silence, President Bush on Friday will kick off a monthlong campaign blitz highlighting his plans for a second term.

The burst of activity leading into the Republican convention Aug. 29-Sept. 2 signals Bush's determination to counter any boost that his opponent, John Kerry, gets from this week's Democratic convention. Bush, who followed tradition by keeping a low profile during the Democratic gathering in Boston, will be much more active in coming weeks.

White House and campaign aides said he also would be more explicit about his plans for a second term. One item Bush will highlight is his proposal to overhaul Social Security by giving younger workers the option of investing a portion of their payroll taxes in the stock market.


-Rushed speech, lost opportunity (Thomas Oliphant, July 30, 2004, Boston Globe)
FOR REASONS he might like to explain, John Kerry last night raced through an acceptance speech that was way too long for a time slot he knew about for weeks.

Desperate to stay within the broadcast networks' paltry 60 minutes, Kerry stepped on his best thoughts and lines and blurred important proposals and distinctions, committing the sin of interfering with his own ability to communicate with an electorate eager to learn much more about President Bush's opponent.

At a Democratic convention planned to showcase a candidate and his basic approach to two huge situations -- a bogged-down military adventure in Iraq and a fragile economy -- Kerry obscured his presentation in a blizzard of hard-to-follow verbiage dictated by the clock.

Perhaps the public will let him off the hook, but the fact remains that Kerry essentially blew an opportunity he may not get again until the debates with Bush this fall. He and his advisers can and will argue that the cold facts of economic and foreign policy life will dominate political opinion in the weeks ahead; nevertheless, a golden opportunity slipped away.


July 29, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:27 PM

DON'T DISTRACT ME WITH THE DEAD:

The real reasons Bush went to war (John Chapman, July 28, 2004, The Guardian)

There were only two credible reasons for invading Iraq: control over oil and preservation of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. Yet the government has kept silent on these factors, instead treating us to the intriguing distractions of the Hutton and Butler reports.

How many murdered Muslims does it take to make one credible reason?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:55 PM

THE YEAR THE SENATOR WON THE PENNANT:

The Right Stuff: DEMOCRATS SOUND LIKE REPUBLICANS CIRCA 2000. (Daniel W. Drezner, 07.29.04, New Republic)

After John Kerry sewed up the Democratic presidential nomination, there was much fretting about whether he would need to tack left in order to appease the Deaniacs and Naderites. The Fahrenheit 9/11 phenomenon fueled this concern. In the run-up to this week's convention, a spate of new analyses came out regarding the growing power of left-wing special interests, and whether they even wanted Kerry to win in November. But after three days of the convention, one Kerry campaign tactic comes through loud and clear: The Democrats will be attacking Bush from the right as well as the left. Indeed, some of the rhetoric deployed sounds awfully familiar to that used by a presidential candidate four years ago--George W. Bush.

A key plank of Bush's 2000 campaign was "restoring honor and dignity" to the White House. The Democrats seem bound and determined to top that. On Tuesday, Barack Obama sounded like he was channeling Bill Cosby at various points in his speech: "Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn--they know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white." In last night's speech, John Edwards praised the values of "faith, family, responsibility, and equality of opportunity." As Andrew Sullivan has pointed out this week, these are conservative tropes.

It's on foreign and defense related issues, however, where the echoes of the Bush 2000 campaign come through loud and clear. Four years ago, Bush articulated a realist foreign policy platform, based on a strong and well-funded military. Kerry has gone out of his way in interviews and profiles to articulate his realist bona fides--contrary to my expectations from this past spring.


There's certainly plenty of room to President Bush's right, but not on any of these issues. Senator Kerry, if he's only interested in votes and not the country, could adopt a few simple, traditional themes of the Right: isolationism, protectionism, and nativism. Only the last would cause him any trouble with his base and he'd probably pick up as many disaffected whites as he lost Hispanics. Ross Perot rode such a platform to 18% of the vote in '92 and while George W. Bush is too popular with conservatives to lose that much support he might well lose as much as 5%. That's enough to make John Kerry president at the expense of only his soul.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:18 PM

BOSTON MASSACRE:

Dems' New Slogan: No Teacher Left Behind (Ann Coulter, July 28, 2004)

The traditional greeting at the Democratic National Convention is, "Where do you teach?" On rare occasions, the greeting is modified to, "Where does your husband teach?" or "Where does your gay lover teach?" (Democrats could save a lot of money by holding the Democratic National Convention and the National Education Association Convention at the same time.)

The Democrats keep loudly proclaiming that Republicans represent only extremely white rich people, while the Democrats represent all Americans. (Bar bet: Among the four major candidates for president and vice president this year, who has the smallest net worth? Answer: George Bush.)

If the Democrats are a fair cross-section of America, then I guess we can stop worrying about class size. As a friend of mine points out, if the Democratic delegates represent America, then the teacher-student ratio in this country is, at worst, one teacher for every three students. And since the teachers unions don't include private or parochial school teachers, we're looking at a teacher-student ratio of about one teacher for every one student.

Democrats are representative of the nation only if the nation we're talking about is Brazil. For Democrats, there is only the maid and millionaires. There are no Americans in the middle. To the extent Democrats are forced to recognize working-class white men, they call them "fascists."

To thunderous applause here in the American Taliban, billionaire Teresa Heinz Kerry said she looks forward to a day when "women who have earned the right to be opinionated will be called smart and informed -- just as men are." It's no wonder Democrats weren't interested in liberating Afghanistan and Iraq from woman-hating Islamicist fanatics: They think real oppression of women consists of people calling Teresa "opinionated" right here in the USA.

How did Teresa "earn" the right to be opinionated again? By marrying inherited wealth? She also boasted that the Heinz family charity, John Kerry, "earned his medals the old-fashioned way." A couple of sponges on another man's wealth might want to steer clear of using the word "earn" so much.


How much coffee do you suppose she drinks a day?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:12 PM

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM MIKE TV?:

Kerry's Spielbergian Nominating Film: "A Remarkable Promise"; Here's What's In It (Joe Hagan, 7/29/04, NY Observer)

On Wednesday, the right-wing Webmeister Matt Drudge revealed excerpts from a book entitled Unfit for Command : Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, which claimed that Mr. Kerry "reenacted" battle scenes in Vietnam with a Super 8 camera he bought at the PX in Cam Ranh Bay.

But while Mr. Moll had access to the two-hours of the Senator’s personal Vietnam footage, shot by both Mr. Kerry and members of his crew and now preserved on video, Mr. Moll shot most of the film himself, doing his own sit-down interviews and following Mr. Kerry with a camera crew during the July 4th weekend.

Mr. Moll said he was unaware that "reenacted" film footage existed. None of the footage he saw, he said, included "reenacted" battle scenes, nor had he suspected that he was watching any while poring through it. "Absolutely not," he said. "I saw the footage. I don’t get it. I hadn’t heard of that until an hour ago."

Mr. Moll said he used the footage while telling the story of Mr. Kerry saving the life of fellow Vietnam veteran Jim Rassmann. "When Jim Rassman is talking about how John Kerry saved his life," he said, "I’m using some of that footage. It shows the swift boat and various shots of the swift boat, and some firing like you see in the water. Bullets in the water."

"It’s just illustrative," he added, saying the bullets in the water were not from the actual event. There is also footage of Mr. Kerry, in slow motion, walking through a village in full gear, helmet on his head, rifle in his hand, shot by, one assumes, a fellow crewmember.

"I would have used archival footage," he said, "but it was a pleasant surprise that he had taken his own footage while in Vietnam."


Surprise?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:48 PM

ONE FREE TRADE DEAL AFTER ANOTHER:

WTO Accord Outlook Improves as U.S., EU, Brazil Agree (Bloomberg, 7/29/04)

The U.S., European Union, Australia, Brazil and India agreed for the first time on cuts in farm aid by industrial nations, raising the chances they will rescue a round of global trade talks they aim to complete next year.

The World Trade Organization's 147 members, meeting in Geneva, have given themselves until midnight tomorrow to settle on a plan for a trade accord slashing tariffs and export subsidies. The U.S., EU, Brazil, Australia and India represent a cross- section of rich, developing and poor farming nations.

"If there was no meeting of minds among the five, it would be next to impossible to see how you could have a meeting of minds among the broader conference,'' said John Weekes, a senior policy adviser at law firm Sidley Austin Brown & Wood and former Canadian ambassador to the WTO. "There's some room for optimism, but time is so short.''

The World Bank says a trade accord could add $500 billion to the world economy, help pull 140 million people out of poverty and add $350 billion to developing countries' annual incomes by 2015 by allowing them to increase production and exports. Executives from companies including Microsoft Corp. and Nestle SA urged leaders to back the talks at a June meeting in Marrakech.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:37 PM

STEPPING ON YOUR OWN:

Clueless Democrats Trot Out Hollywood: The party doesn't get it: Most voters hate what those people stand for. (Thomas Frank, July 29, 2004, LA Times)

The Democrats are today a party that has trouble rallying its historical working-class constituency, losing more and more of its base every four years to some novel culture-war issue invented by the wily Republicans: blasphemous art, Ten Commandments monuments in courthouses, the dire threat of gay marriage. Behind their success stands a stereotype, a vision of liberals as an elite, a collection of snobs alternately permissive and moralistic, an upper class that believes it is more sophisticated and tasteful than average people.

It is a pernicious doctrine, and yet there is a grain of truth to it. A grain of truth that get- togethers like this one — where minor stars swap righteousness with lobbyists, politicians and local venture capitalists — magnify into life-sized lessons in liberal elitism.

Now, it is an article of faith among American intellectuals that Hollywood movies are populist products; that they are uncomplicated translations of the public's desires into attractive images; that stars are stars because we love them; and that countries like France that resist Hollywood movies do so because they are snobs, dedicated to some daft mission civilatrice in which they will bring culture — in the form of arty, disjointed black-and-white films — to the masses. Masses, that is, who yearn in their hearts for nothing but more Hollywood fare.

If this were true, the problems of the Democratic Party would be over. After all, as this party makes clear, when Hollywood stars decide to get out there and do their patriotic duty and stump for the candidate of their choice, the candidates they support are usually Democrats.

But somehow it never seems to help. Somehow this glitzy world of risque dresses, pseudo-transgressive stylings and velvet ropes (i.e., the things that make up "creativity") has precisely the opposite effect on a huge swath of the American public. They hate it, and they hate everything that Hollywood has come to stand for. After all, Hollywood stars are as close as America comes to an aristocracy, and being instructed on how to be kinder and better people by pseudo-rebellious aristocrats can't help but rub people the wrong way.


Setting aside the stupidity of Mr. Frank's assertion that the GOP created the gay marriage issue, can anyone unravel the rest of his essay? The Democrats are the party of Hollywood celebrities, whose "values" are antithetical to most Americans. Okay, so why is Hollywood attracted to the Democrats and vice versa if they don't share the same "values"?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:24 PM

CHIRP:

Francis Crick: 1916 - 2004: DNA code-breaker dies at 88. (Helen Pilcher, 7/29/04, Nature)

"We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest."

So began Francis Crick and James Watson in their ground-breaking Nature paper, published 51 years ago. The paper describes the structure of DNA. The discovery was to change the face of modern-day science and medicine.

Sadly, Francis Crick died yesterday after a long battle with colon cancer. He passed away at Thornton Hospital in La Jolla, California.


He seems to have stayed away from the kind of advocacy of eugenics that makes his partner evil, but his own extreme materialism was rather foolish.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:59 PM

NEVER AGAIN?:

'We Want to Make a Light Baby': Arab Militiamen in Sudan Said to Use Rape as Weapon of Ethnic Cleansing (Emily Wax, June 30, 2004, Washington Post)

At first light on Sunday, three young women walked into a scrubby field just outside their refugee camp in West Darfur. They had gone out to collect straw for their family's donkeys. They recalled thinking that the Arab militiamen who were attacking African tribes at night would still be asleep. But six men grabbed them, yelling Arabic slurs such as "zurga" and "abid," meaning "black" and "slave." Then the men raped them, beat them and left them on the ground, they said.

"They grabbed my donkey and my straw and said, 'Black girl, you are too dark. You are like a dog. We want to make a light baby,' " said Sawela Suliman, 22, showing slashes from where a whip had struck her thighs as her father held up a police and health report with details of the attack. "They said, 'You get out of this area and leave the child when it's made.' "

Suliman's father, a tall, proud man dressed in a flowing white robe, cried as she described the rape. It was not an isolated incident, according to human rights officials and aid workers in this region of western Sudan, where 1.2 million Africans have been driven from their lands by government-backed Arab militias, tribal fighters known as Janjaweed.

Interviews with two dozen women at camps, schools and health centers in two provincial capitals in Darfur yielded consistent reports that the Janjaweed were carrying out waves of attacks targeting African women. The victims and others said the rapes seemed to be a systematic campaign to humiliate the women, their husbands and fathers, and to weaken tribal ethnic lines. In Sudan, as in many Arab cultures, a child's ethnicity is attached to the ethnicity of the father.

"The pattern is so clear because they are doing it in such a massive way and always saying the same thing," said an international aid worker who is involved in health care. She and other international aid officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they feared reprisals or delays of permits that might hamper their operations.

She showed a list of victims from Rokero, a town outside of Jebel Marra in central Darfur where 400 women said they were raped by the Janjaweed. "It's systematic," the aid worker said. "Everyone knows how the father carries the lineage in the culture. They want more Arab babies to take the land. The scary thing is that I don't think we realize the extent of how widespread this is yet."

Another international aid worker, a high-ranking official, said: "These rapes are built on tribal tensions and orchestrated to create a dynamic where the African tribal groups are destroyed. It's hard to believe that they tell them they want to make Arab babies, but it's true. It's systematic, and these cases are what made me believe that it is part of ethnic cleansing and that they are doing it in a massive way."

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell flew to the capital, Khartoum, on Tuesday to pressure the government to take steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. U.S. officials said Powell may threaten to seek action by the United Nations if the Sudanese government blocks aid and continues supporting the Janjaweed. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is due to arrive on Khartoum this week.

The crisis in Darfur is a result of long-simmering ethnic tensions between nomadic cattle and camel herders, who view themselves as Arabs, and the more sedentary farmers, who see their ancestry as African. In February 2003, activists from three of Darfur's African tribes started a rebellion against the government, which is dominated by an Arab elite.

Riding on horseback and camel, the Janjaweed, many of them teenagers or young adults, burned villages, stole and destroyed grain supplies and animals and raped women, according to refugees and U.N. and human rights investigators. The government used helicopter gunships and aging Russian planes to bomb the area, the U.N. and human rights representatives said. The U.S. government has said it is investigating the killings of an estimated 30,000 people in Darfur and the displacement of the more than 1 million people from their tribal lands to determine whether the violence should be classified as genocide.

The New York-based organization Human Rights Watch said in a June 22 report that it investigated "the use of rape by both Janjaweed and Sudanese soldiers against women from the three African ethnic groups targeted in the 'ethnic cleansing' campaign in Darfur." It added, "The rapes are often accompanied by dehumanizing epithets, stressing the ethnic nature of the joint government-Janjaweed campaign. The rapists use the terms 'slaves' and 'black slaves' to refer to the women, who are mostly from the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups."


Intolerable.

MORE:
African Union ready to send peacekeepers to Darfur (Sydney Morning Herald, July 30, 2004)

The prospect of foreign troops being sent to Darfur has moved closer after the African Union announced it was planning to send peacekeepers to Sudan.

But the Khartoum regime rejected outside military presence and vowed it would fight if it was attacked.

The African Union, a regional grouping of the continent's 53 countries, has broken with the tradition of solidarity between African governments by criticising human rights abuses in Darfur, where up to 1 million people have been displaced and about 50,000 killed.

Its observer team has already documented numerous atrocities, including the burning alive of villagers by Arab gunmen from the Janjaweed militia.

But the African Union's Peace and Security Council went further on Wednesday by asking the organisation's chairman to prepare a "comprehensive plan" that would "enhance the effectiveness" of its mission in Darfur.

"This includes the possibility of turning the mission into a full-fledged peacekeeping mission, with the requisite mandate and size," an official statement added.

The statement also brings the deployment of Western troops closer. African armies are poorly equipped and would almost certainly need foreign assistance.


-Crisis in Sudan (Ed O'Keefe and Jeffrey Marcus, July 1, 2004, washingtonpost.com)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:47 PM

BE NOT AFRAID:

Big Bang!: Digital convergence is finally happening -- and that means new opportunities for upstarts and challenges for tech icons (Stephen Baker and Heather GreenWith Bruce Einhorn in Hong Kong, Moon Ihlwan in Seoul, Andy Reinhardt in Paris, Jay Greene in Seattle, and Cliff Edwards in San Mateo, Calif, 6/21/04, Business Week)

What's this, A digital role-playing game? There's Dell Inc. (DELL ) selling flat-screen TVs. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT ) execs are unveiling a system to compete with the iPod that plays movies as well as music. And Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO ) is hawking a Wi-Fi boombox you can carry out by the pool. Nearly everyone, it seems, is venturing far from their specialties. And it's not just tech companies. TV manufacturers in Japan and cell-phone makers in Korea are jerry-rigging their products with microprocessors and software, racing to turn them into a new generation of digit-gobbling, network-ready contraptions.

For nearly two decades, industry sages have heralded the coming age of converging digital technology. But it remained an empty slogan. Now, thanks to faster chips, broader bandwidth, and a common Internet standard, technologies are quickly merging. The market for personal digital assistants, so hot in the late '90s, is vanishing as customers get the same functions in a cell phone -- often with a camera to boot. The latest televisions from Royal Philips Electronics (PHG ) and Sony Corp. (SNE ) have enough computing firepower to grab streaming video off the Net. "Convergence is finally really happening," says Gottfried Dutiné, an executive vice-president at Philips. "Digitalization is creating products that can't be categorized as tech or consumer electronics. The walls are coming down."

That sets up a collision of three massive industries. In one corner stands the $1.1 trillion computer and software biz, with its American leaders. In another is the $225 billion consumer-electronics sector, with its strong Asian roots and a host of aggressive new Chinese players. The third camp is the $2.2 trillion communications industry, a behemoth that extends from wireless powerhouses in Asia and Europe to the networking stars of Silicon Valley. All three groups will have a hand in building the digital wonders that are headed our way. But none of these industries, much less a single company, can put all the pieces together. They all need help. For this they venture into adjoining territories, where they forge new partnerships and take on new rivals.

The result is a Big Bang of convergence, and it's likely to produce the biggest explosion of innovation since the dawn of the Internet.


It's only a matter of time until we get hand-wringing stories about the inevitable dectruction this creation will cause, all of them ignoring the overwhelming fact that each of us will have more knowledge available in our pockets than any nation had in all its universities and libraries just a few decades ago.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:30 PM

HIS LAST DAY AS A SENATOR:

C-SPAN Highlights

Tonight
* Democratic National Convention (8pm) - LIVE
* Sen. Kerry Accepts Nomination
* Speakers Include: Madeleine Albright, Fmr. Sec. of State, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT)
* Alexandra & Vanessa Kerry, Daughters of John Kerry

John Kerry and War (NY Times, 7/29/04)
When he accepts the Democratic presidential nomination tonight, John Kerry needs to give the nation a clearer idea of how his choices would have differed from President Bush's - particularly when it comes to the war in Iraq. The nation deserves to be told whether Mr. Kerry would have voted to authorize the invasion if he had known that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction.

A palpable sense is developing--even in organs of the far Left, like the Times--that the Kerry campaign is auguring into the ground. With polls having been unmoved by the Edwards nomination and actually slipping as they headed into a convention that America has tuned out en masse, while the economy continues to improve and Iraq fades from view, it gets harder to summon a rationale for a Kerry victory and the stories today about all the things he has to pull off with his speech tonight bespeak a major rethink about his chances.

On the plus side, the Kerry team has stolen a page from the Bush playbook and lowered expectations so far that if he doesn't make you want to Elvis your tv he'll seem Churchillian. But it's asking an awful lot of a man who's devoid of human warmth, nevermind charisma, to create a connection with the few viewers who'll be tuned in. He needs a dramatic gimmick and he needs it very badly if he's going to dominate the headlines through at least the weekend. He seems steadfastly opposed to offering any coherent policies and the old "I'll go to Iraq" won't work now that we've already turned over sovereignty. There's really only one option left: he'll announce his resignation from the Senate, casting it as self-confidence in his inevitable victory and dedicating himself full time to the campaign to save America from the forces of darkness.

It's a brilliant move, giving people their first impression of him as confident, bold, aggressive, and optimistic. It's surprising enough that the media will buzz about it for a few days and be forced to show that Convention clip, if no other, on the Sunday shows. (Oh, and it helps that the MA legislature is overriding Governor Mitt Romney's veto of their bill tomorrow which forbids him from naming a replacement.) It's a done deal.

MORE:
-The Heaviest Load Is for Kerry Alone (Ronald Brownstein, July 29, 2004, LA Times)

For three days, Democrats have built a frame for their nominee. Now, John F. Kerry has to fill in the picture.

From the Rev. David Alston, a Kerry crewmate in Vietnam, to vice presidential nominee John Edwards and a procession of retired generals Wednesday night, Democrats have systematically portrayed their candidate as principled, politically courageous, optimistic, forward-looking and, above all, tough and decisive enough to protect America in a turbulent time.

But many analysts agree that praise may quickly fade in voters' minds unless they see those qualities in Kerry when he stands before them, alone, in his acceptance speech tonight.


-
Why a Conflicted Kerry Voted Yes -- and Later No -- on Iraq
(Janet Hook, Mary Curtius and Greg Miller, July 29, 2004, LA Times)
Late one night in September 2002, Senate Democrats were bitterly debating whether to authorize war with Iraq. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) had been agonizing over the issue, but now was urging colleagues to support a compromise that would still give President Bush much of the power he sought. Liberals were steamed.

"Why would you trust the president?" asked Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Despite such objections, Kerry two weeks later voted for the congressional resolution paving the way for the war. And no issue has dogged him more than that single vote, which has come under fire from the left and the right.

Many Democrats have criticized him for supporting the war. Republicans have accused him of changing his position for political gain.

A look at how Kerry made up his mind on the war vote indicates that he was conflicted before he cast his vote. The concerns that apparently plague him — the questions he asked at public hearings, the caveats and reservations he voiced on the Senate floor before casting his vote — reflected his ambivalence as well as his ambition. And that ambivalence sowed the seeds of Kerry's future shifts on the issue, including his vote a year later against a bill providing $87 billion in aid that went mainly to Iraq.


The ambition didn't?
-Is the Wunderkind so wonderful?: John Edwards may be the toast of Boston. But he has weaknesses nonetheless (Lexington, Jul 29th 2004 The Economist)
IT WAS not hard to find Democrats in Boston this week who were willing to admit, strictly in private of course, to doubts about John Kerry. The great fear hanging over an otherwise jubilant convention was that the Party of the People had managed to nominate the least people-friendly New Englander since Michael Dukakis. (Mr Dukakis, incidentally, was strangely not invited to take the microphone at the Fleet Centre, despite living nearby, and despite having once been Mr Kerry's boss.) [...]

Mr Edwards brings strikingly different qualities to the Democratic ticket from his boss—natural talent rather than storied experience and southern charm rather than Yankee gravitas—and, as an added bonus, he makes Mr Kerry lighten up in his company. Mr Edwards is also matched against a vice-president who is widely reviled as a symbol of everything distasteful about this administration, from blinkered ideology to crony capitalism.

But is the Wunderkind really so wonderful? Though a love-struck media may now want to strew more rose petals in his path, he has two big vulnerabilities that the Republicans will be sure to exploit. The first has to do with things he has done; the second, more serious, has to do with the things he hasn't.

Mr Edwards has had two successful but controversial careers: first as trial lawyer and then as an economic populist. Republican attempts to paint him as an ambulance-chaser may be a little crude: Mr Edwards's clients included plenty of children who were horrifically harmed by corporate negligence. But they are right to say the country's tort litigation system is a monster. The litigation industry consumes some $230 billion a year—or $3,000 for every family of four—in higher prices and insurance premiums. The industry also adds to the soaring costs of health care because of “defensive” tests and procedures. (Mr Edwards made some of his fortune suing obstetricians.)

Mr Edwards's presence on the ticket gives the Republicans a chance to make tort reform a highlight of their campaign, which business will appreciate. [...]

The bigger problem for Mr Edwards is the list of things he hasn't done. First, his public service adds up to only six years in the Senate; there, his record for attending roll calls (partly spoiled by campaigning) has been poor, and he has no serious legislation to his name.

The impression of a young man in a hurry is compounded by the fact he got the presidential bug so early. [...]

This lack of experience is particularly striking in foreign affairs, where his resumé is as short as Mr Cheney's is long.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:21 PM

JUST LIKE US:

U-M Detroit Arab American Study portrays a complex population (University of Michigan News Service, 7/29/04)

Fifteen percent of Arabs and Chaldeans in the Detroit area say they personally have had a "bad experience" after the Sept. 11 attacks because of their ethnicity, according to preliminary results from a University of Michigan study.

These experiences include verbal insults, workplace discrimination, targeting by law enforcement or airport security, vandalism, and, in rare cases, vehicular and physical assault. But a greater proportion (one-third) have received expressions of support from non-Arabs.

A majority of the representative sample of Detroit-area Arabs and Chaldeans surveyed by the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) favor increased law enforcement and intelligence agency surveillance to ensure U.S. homeland security. But only 17 percent—compared with 49 percent of a representative sample of the general population in the area—support increased surveillance that targets Arab Americans.

The general population believes Arab Americans need to do more to fight terrorism, while nearly 75 percent of Arabs and Chaldeans say they are doing all they can. Just 36 percent, compared with 53 percent of the general population, believe that U.S. involvement in the Middle East is contributing to the region's stability.

In this landmark study of one of the oldest, largest and most visible Arab-American communities in the nation, researchers interviewed 1,016 Arabs and Chaldeans and 508 members of the general population in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. The Detroit Arab American Study, funded primarily by the Russell Sage Foundation, is a collaboration between the U-M's ISR, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and an advisory panel of community representatives from more than 20 secular, religious and social service organizations. [...]

One popular misconception the new findings correct involves the community's religious affiliations, according to researcher Ronald Stockton of the U-M-Dearborn Center for Arab American Studies. "The majority of this population is Christian—about 58 percent—and 42 percent are Muslim," Stockton said. [...]

• Arabs and Chaldeans express more confidence in the American legal system and in local police than the general Detroit-area population, but are much more concerned about whether people accused of terrorism will receive fair trials.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:17 PM

THE GIFT OF THE GIPPER:

ESR Reagan Contest

Enter Stage Right, in conjunction with NBC News and Special Ops Media, is giving away copies of NBC News Presents: Ronald Reagan to three lucky readers. All you have to do is answer three questions correctly about The Gipper to be entered into the draw. Only one entry per email address. The draw will take place on August 4, 2004. Good luck!


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:32 PM

IT'S NOT THE DECLINE, BUT THE NOT CARING THAT MATTERS:

Love of Leisure, and Europe's Reasons (KATRIN BENNHOLD, 7/29/04, International Herald Tribune)

This image of a casual Western European work ethic tends to be viewed with just short of scorn by the world's other wealthy economies. As Europeans like the Ditlevs happily continue to trade income for a slice of leisure time that would be unthinkable in the United States or Asia, the gloomy headlines about Europe's economic future multiply.

Europe, the standard criticism goes, has not matched the American expansion for most of the last decade and has even fallen behind Japan in recent quarters. Its citizens are on average almost 30 percent poorer than their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 30 countries committed to democracy and the market economy. Potential growth in the next decade risks being stuck at 2 percent - one percentage point below that of the United States.

Is Europe, with the shortest workweeks and longest holidays in the world, doomed to lag behind, a victim of its penchant for more leisure and a too generous welfare state?

One response: If the answer is yes, then so what?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 AM

THANKS, OSAMA:

Saudis trying to create security force for Iraq (GEORGE GEDDA, July 29, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

With American support, Saudi Arabia is taking the lead in trying to form a Muslim security force to help Iraq overcome its 15-month-old insurgency, U.S. and Saudi officials said Wednesday.

Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the issue with top Saudi officials after a stop in Egypt and had it on his agenda for today's talks with Iraq's prime minister, Ayad Allawi, in Jiddah.

''We're taking this initiative because we want to help the Iraqi people reclaim their sovereignty as quickly as possible, because there is a tremendous desire in the Arab and Muslim worlds to help Iraq and because instability in Iraq has a negative impact on Saudi Arabia,'' said Adel al-Jubeir, a top Saudi government foreign policy adviser.

Details on the force were scant, but a major Saudi concern in recent weeks has been the infiltration of militants from Iraq.

Powell's spokesman, Richard Boucher, said, ''We discussed some ideas tonight with the Saudis that they have been discussing with others about how to facilitate the deployment of troops from Muslim countries. The goal is to help Iraqis establish security. It's a goal that they support, that we support, and we'll keep talking to them about it.''


Shouldn't this have waited until John Kerry was in office?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 AM

THERE'S ROOM ON THE RIGHT:

Emil to Mike: Join GOP (SCOTT FORNEK, July 29, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

The infighting and back-biting among Illinois Democrats boiled over Wednesday as state Senate President Emil Jones angrily suggested that House Speaker Michael J. Madigan -- the state party chairman -- was at the wrong national convention.

"Is the speaker planning on going to New York for the Republican convention?" Jones asked reporters.

It was Madigan's first full day at the Democratic National Convention, and just about everybody else's third, a late arrival that had already raised eyebrows and grumbles among some in the delegation.

But Jones was hurling questions about party loyalty -- not punctuality. The Far South Side legislative leader repeatedly suggested his Southwest Side counterpart was abandoning core Democratic values by siding with Republicans against Jones and Gov. Blagojevich in the budget battle that wrapped up last week in Springfield.

"I am for a Democratic governor," Jones said. "I'm for a Democratic president. That's where I stand -- the values and principles and things that we stand for."

Jones refused to say whether he believed Madigan should step down as state party chairman, but said to hold the post while building coalitions with Republicans over Democrats "just doesn't sound right.


Democrats might want to be careful about this kind of stuff--remember the waves of party-switching that '32, '80 and '94 touched off.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 AM

WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARTS-PLUS:

Robots Help Japan Care For Its Elderly (Popular Mechanics, June 2004)

Borrowing an idea from the auto industry, Japanese nursing homes have begun experimenting with using robots to help care for the elderly. At one nursing home run by Matsushita Electric, a package of sensors is placed inside a teddy bear. From time to time, the bear asks its human companion a question. Then, judging by the response time, it decides whether a nursing assistant should be called. One of the most labor-intensive nursing home tasks is bathing frail residents. For this job, Sanyo Electric has introduced what is essentially a robot bathtub. Costing about $50,000, it closes around a patient who is seated in a wheelchair. The wash and rinse cycles operate automatically. A nurse's aide takes care of washing hair and toweling the resident off. Japan's need for elder-care robots is partially driven by a falloff in its national birthrate, which has left the country with too few young to care for the old.

They're dehumanizing their culture--which was never terribly life-affirming to begin with--as fast as they can, but they're mystified by their high suicide rates?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:18 AM

REALITY GOES OFF-MESSAGE:

Medicare discount cards living up to their hype: A study found that Medicare drug discount cards deliver on promised savings, but confusion is keeping enrollment down. (MARK SHERMAN, 7/29/04, Associated Press)

Buttressing Bush administration assertions, the new Medicare drug discount cards offer savings off retail prescription prices, an independent analysis released Wednesday said. [...]

The administration has said Medicare beneficiaries with no drug insurance would save an average of 25 percent off their drug bills because the privately marketed cards would use bulk purchasing power to negotiate discounts.

The analysis said the best prices for 10 popular medicines, including cholesterol-reducing Lipitor, Fosamax for osteoporosis and the painkiller Celebrex, were nearly 25 percent less than the retail price when purchased at a pharmacy.

Using mail-order services, the drug cards were up to a third cheaper than the retail pharmacy prices.


Hey, c'mon, don't these guys know that President Bush can never be telling the truth and never actually help people?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:47 AM

EMPOWER THE PEOPLE:

Outside the (Lock) Box (PAUL RYAN, July 19, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

This week I am introducing new legislation that empowers workers with the freedom to choose a large personal account option for Social Security, with no benefit cuts or tax increases of any sort, now or in the future. Through these large personal accounts, the bill would increase future retirement benefits and cut future taxes for all workers. This bill has already been scored by the chief actuary of Social Security as achieving full and permanent solvency for the program.

The bill would allow workers to shift to their personal accounts 10 percentage points of the current 12.4% Social Security payroll tax on the first $10,000 of wages each year, and five percentage points on all taxable wages above that. With this progressive account structure, on average, workers would be shifting 6.4 percentage points of the 12.4% tax to their accounts.

Workers choose investments by picking funds managed by major private investment firms, from a list officially approved for this purpose and regulated for safety and soundness, similar to how the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees operates.

Benefits payable from the tax-free accounts would substitute for a portion of Social Security benefits based on the degree to which workers exercised the account option over their careers. Workers exercising the personal accounts would receive traditional Social Security benefits based on the past taxes they have already paid into the program, in addition to the money from their personal accounts.

The plan maintains a strong safety net, as the accounts are backed by a federal guarantee that workers would receive at least as much as Social Security promises under current law. The plan is voluntary. Anyone who chooses to stay in traditional Social Security would receive the benefits promised under current law. Survivors and disability benefits would continue as under the current system.

The proposal achieves solvency without benefit cuts or tax increases because so much of Social Security's benefit obligations are ultimately shifted to the accounts. In fact, the official score of the chief actuary shows that ultimately, instead of increasing the payroll tax to over 20%, as would be needed to pay promised benefits under the current system, the tax would be reduced to 4.2%, enough to pay for all of the continuing disability and survivors benefits. This would be the largest tax cut in U.S. history.

Moreover, at standard, long-term, market-investment returns, the accounts would produce substantially more in benefits for working people across the board than Social Security now promises, let alone what it can pay.


It shouldn't be voluntary for younger workers.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 AM

LET THE SUN SHINE IN:

White House Debates Recommendation to Disclose Intelligence Budgets: DOUGLAS JEHL
In implementing the 9/11 panel's recommendation, the White House would have to contend with resistance from the intelligence agencies.

Of the 40 main recommendations spelled out in the Sept. 11 report, one of the few that the White House could carry out immediately would be to lift the veil of secrecy on how much the government spends on intelligence.

But as the White House debates whether to embrace that idea, it must contend with years of resistance by intelligence agencies that have long warned that making that budget public could aid American foes. Only twice before, in 1997 and 1998, has the top-line budget number been declassified.

Advocates of greater disclosure now nevertheless have begun to hope that the commission report might turn the tide.

"This will give cover to a lot of timid people, and there's nothing like cover in Washington,'' said Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican and former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who long ago broke ranks with other members of his party to call for making the overall budget public.

The current level of secrecy, the commission wrote, "practically defies public comprehension'' in that "even the most basic information about how much money is actually allocated to or within the intelligence community and most of its key components is actually shrouded from public view.''

To help "judge priorities and foster accountability'' among intelligence agencies, the commission argued that the White House should make public not only the overall budget number, but the top-line figure for each of the 15 intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Agency. The overall number is now widely understood to be about $40 billion, and even a more detailed agency-by-agency breakdown, the commission argued, could be achieved without providing details that could aid American foes.


Their budgets? They should be forced to open up almost completely and reveal everything they know--or think they know--except the identity of sources who might be endangered and can't be retrieved.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:16 AM

THREE CHEERS FOR THE SIMPLE

The Public Square (Richard John Neuhaus, First Things, June 2004)

The Origins of the Final Solution, Alternatives to Hitler, and Day of No Return have in common the great merit of helping us understand how people could do the unspeakable things they did. And the latter two have the additional merit of illuminating how people could and did say No to great evil. One is reminded of the words of John Paul II in the encyclical Veritatis Splendor that, if one is prepared to die rather than to do wrong, one is never in the position of having to do wrong. Most people do not think of themselves as heroes and heroines, and yet, when the time of decision is forced upon them, many turn out to be exactly that. That is the truth so compellingly told in the 1988 classic, The Altruistic Personality, a study by Sam and Pearl Oliner of hundreds of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. The rescuers were typically not intellectuals or philo-Semites or people given to political activism. They were to all appearances very ordinary people, usually devoutly religious people, who knew that some things must not be done and who put their lives in the way of the doing of such things. Academics have a way of explaining history in terms of large and impersonal dynamics. But living history is the moral drama of people making decisions day by day. As for those who do great wrong, it is not true that to understand all is to forgive all. But to understand, at least in part, is to be strengthened in the knowledge of our own capacity for both good and evil—and of our radical dependence on the One who, despite His understanding all, forgives the penitent. The truly penitent know that complexification is the enemy of forgiveness.

One of the hallmarks of modern barbarism is the increasing tendency to see the moral and political issues that confront us as all terribly complex. This is not just a product of a formal belief in moral relativism. Many today evince a profound psychological need to wallow in complexities and subtleties that they know full well are beyond them and seem threatened, rather then reassured, by the notion that things are simpler than they may appear and are well within their grasp.

Please excuse the self-reference, but at a dinner party the other night, the hostess was gushing about Fahrenheit 911 and how she didn’t know what to do with “all that information”. She freely admitted much of it was undoubtedly wrong or distorted. It troubled her not at all that she didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t and she showed no interest in trying to find out. What was clearly attracting her like a magnet were the infinite complexities of the story and she was mightily offended that the President didn’t see them. Otherwise, she had no opinion and didn’t see the need for one.

It is likewise in much of our personal lives. When a couple separates, few will condemn or take sides anymore. They imagine a Russian novel of dark psychological plots and sub-plots over many years and tell themselves that “you never know what is going on in another marriage”, even though the break-up was clearly caused by one of the few objectively recognizable and drearily familiar misdeeds that have always killed marriages. No self-respecting woman has an abortion without assuring one and all that it was preceded by weeks of torturous angst and was “the most difficult decision of my life”.

In politics, this phenomenon, as much as statism or progressive thinking, is why anti-Semitism is growing, why Europe cannot change course, why the UN achieves nothing, why the family is in disarray and why so many social challenges seem beyond us. Too many of us are simply frozen in moral uncertainty and retreat into a destructive pseudo-sophistication that protects us from the need to take a stand.. The notion that life’s choices are all so complicated that they merit endless study, reflection and expertise leaves us impotent, tongue-tied and unable to recognize most blatant evils staring us in the face A society that cannot recognize right and wrong and move quickly to protect one and combat the other is a society in decline.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:15 AM

LIKE COMPARING APPLES AND APPLES:

THE MORALITY OF INTERVENTION: The people of Sudan are paying a high price for the Iraq
War, which blurred the line between humanitarian intervention and moral crusade. (Ian Williams, 7/29/04, AlterNet)

The civil war in Sudan has claimed more than 50,000 lives in Darfur, while a million more have been driven from their homes, caught in the crossfire of the bloody conflict between the Sudanese government and ethnic minority rebels.

The need for immediate action is clear. But because of the Iraq War, it may never be taken.

Under pressure from human rights groups, both Britain and the United States have joined Kofi Annan in proposing a UN resolution that calls for economic sanctions and travel restrictions. It is an exercise in futility – the kind that paved the way for widespread massacres in Rwanda and Srebrenica. What is urgently needed now is a credible threat of a military intervention, which was all that was required to preempt genocide in the past.

The sad truth is that the lack of action on Sudan is in no small part a result of George Bush and Tony Blair's not-so-excellent adventures in desert. A study published on Wednesday by the Foreign Policy Center, a British think-tank, unequivocally laid the blame for the unfolding genocide on the Iraq war. The report criticizes Britain and the United States for backing "quiet diplomacy, " a response it characterizes as "utterly inappropriate." Its author Greg Austin told The Independent, "The commitment of the U.S. and the U.K. in Iraq and the use of military force in Iraq pushed them away from considering any sort of military option."

The invasion of Iraq also diminished the prospects for an international consensus for action in Sudan, and too vigorous a push by the U.S. will achieve little except to stiffen resistance. Fears of blurring the line between humanitarian intervention and moral crusade seem all the more pressing because of the Bush/Blair war machine, which has done its best to sell the one as the other.

While Britain and Australia have both expressed readiness to commit troops, it is almost impossible for Muslim nations in the Security Council such as Algeria and Pakistan to agree to U.S. led action against an Arab League member like Sudan. The Arab world's tolerance for the atrocities committed by their rulers is indeed a cause for despair.


One reads along futilely in an attempt to find some way in which Sudan differs from Iraq:
* European indifference

* Arab/Muslim complicity

* Opposition from the Realist gang

* The Anglosphere leading the lonely crusade

* A serious response bogging down at the UN

* Complications because of past Western inaction

* The ultimate realization that only America and its military can reorder the situation and save lives


The reasons for intervention are identical. If the Left would help this time, instead of hindering the humanitarian effort, it might restore some of their moral credibility and would certainly hasten vital action.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM

WHAT FOREST?:

How the History of the American Revolution Has Changed (PAULINE MAIER, History News Network)

In the past few decades, historical research has shifted by and large from political to social and then cultural history. Some of the most dramatic additions to historical knowledge have come in the history of slavery, including the slave trade, in African American history; in women's history; and in the study of Native Americans. [...]

When I began teaching in the late 1960s, my course on colonial America--really British colonial America--focused in good part on the 'new social history,' particularly the demographic studies of communities first in New England, then the Chesapeake. In 1972, Alfred Crosby's Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 appeared, awakening widespread consciousness of the demographic catastrophe among Native Americans that followed their first encounters with Europeans, and of the possible connections between New World foods and population growth in other parts of the world. Already some fine studies were available on the origins of American slavery; others studied that institution from a cross-cultural perspective. To be sure, I discussed other topics such as religion and the structure of politics and political institutions in British North America.

Even so, when I later taught the American Revolution, the traditional successor course to Colonial America, the difference was like night and day. The old Progressive interpretation of the Revolution, which stressed social conflict and elite manipulation of the masses, lay in tatters. Scholars were taking the ideas of the Revolution seriously, tracing their origins and revealing their impact on the evolution of political institutions. To be sure, any course on the Revolution has to include a discussion of pre-revolutionary American society and of the Revolution's social impact. I cannot, for example, imagine teaching the Revolution without citing Jack Greene's Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture, and particularly his emphasis on the 'extraordinarily large number of families of independent middling status' in the British North American colonies. They were, he wrote, 'proportionately substantially more numerous than in any other contemporary Western society.'

Still, by and large the study of colonial America was social; of the Revolution, political and ideological.

Three-plus decades later, colonial American history remains strikingly different from the study of the American Revolution, but for different reasons. Historians of early America are now more than ever anxious to avoid earlier emphases on the British settlers of North America, the teleology implicit in studying only those colonies that would later become the United States, and what Harvard's Joyce Chaplin referred to in the March 2003 Journal of American History as 'that persistent myth, American exceptionalism.' The most prominent participants in the American Revolution were white men of European descent who founded the American Republic believing that accomplishment marked a break from the patterns of European history and so was by nature exceptionalist. It is no surprise then that, as Chaplin notes, many particularly noteworthy examples of recent post-colonial scholarship focus on the 'early national' rather than the revolutionary period. David Waldstreicher's study of public celebrations, Joanne Freeman's book on honor in the politics of the 1790s, and Jill Lepore's A Is for American are examples.

What is colonial history today? There is no one answer. Alan Taylor's American Colonies suggests one conception of the field. The book discusses the Spanish, French, Dutch, and Swedish North American colonies, along with those of Britain and the Russian colonization of Alaska. Taylor also devotes considerable space to Native American societies that do not qualify as colonies, but were deeply affected by the arrival of Europeans and--for the Plains Indians in particular--the Spanish 'repatriation' of the horse to its North American homeland. Taylor's book does not end, like traditional colonial history, in 1763 or 1776, but extends into the nineteenth century, when an 'imperial' United States took over the Hispanic West. Clearly the book does not avoid the sin of teleology: the only reason to study Alaska is that it would eventually become part of the United States. But then the book was written as part of the Penguin History of the United States.

The American Revolution does not have a prominent place in Taylor's book. Consider the opening sentences of its final paragraph:

. . . the dominant colonial power on the Pacific rim became the United States, the hypercommercial nation founded by the Americans who won their independence from the British by revolution and war in the years 1775-83. Far from ending with the American Revolution, colonialism persisted in North America, but from a new base on the Atlantic seaboard.

I spend half a term on events to which he gives half a sentence. To be fair, earlier in the book he devotes another page and a quarter to the Revolution, a fraction of what he devotes to the Plains Indians. There he notes that the Americans' 'empire of liberty' was for whites only and demanded the 'systematic dispossession of native peoples and, until the Civil War . . . the perpetuation of black slavery. . . .' The 'new American empire' also 'provided military assistance to subdue Indians and Hispanics across the continent to the Pacific.' In short, here the Revolution marks only a moment in which a onetime colony became a colonizer. That has little to do with the Revolution as the founding. It is simply a different story, one with little relevance for the one I teach, which focuses on the revolutionary origins of American government.


If historians wrote about sports, a book about last year's Major League Baseball season would spend two hundred pages on the Tigers and mention the Marlins only in passing--the Yankees and Red Sox not all.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:54 AM

THE TIMES WANTS TO SAVE YOU FROM AVOIDING TAXES:

I.R.S. Says Americans' Income Shrank for 2 Consecutive Years (DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, 7/29/04, NY Times)

The overall income Americans reported to the government shrank for two consecutive years after the Internet stock market bubble burst in 2000, the first time that has effectively happened since the modern tax system was introduced during World War II, newly disclosed information from the Internal Revenue Service shows.

The total adjusted gross income on tax returns fell 5.1 percent, to just over $6 trillion in 2002, the most recent year for which data is available, from $6.35 trillion in 2000. Because of population growth, average incomes declined even more, by 5.7 percent.

Adjusted for inflation, the income of all Americans fell 9.2 percent from 2000 to 2002, according to the new I.R.S. data.

While the recession that hit the economy in 2001 in the wake of the market plunge was considered relatively mild, the new information shows that its effect on Americans' incomes, particularly those at the upper end of the spectrum, was much more severe. Earlier government economic statistics provided general evidence that incomes suffered in the first years of the decade, but the full impact of the blow and what groups it fell hardest on were not known until the I.R.S. made available on its Web site the detailed information from tax returns.

The unprecedented back-to-back declines in reported incomes was caused primarily by the combination of the big fall in the stock market and the erosion of jobs and wages in well-paying industries in the early years of the decade.

In the past, overall personal income rose from one year to the next with relentless monotony, the growth rate changing in response to fluctuations in economic activity but almost never falling.


While the market decline would obviously have affected capital gains and the like and the deflationary enviironment has to hold wages down, the entire program of Bush and the neoconomists is to get people to sock away money, so adjusted gross income should be declining (even before they took over, non-salary compensation doubled between 1960 and 1998) and should be expected to decline even further. It is not a sign that the economy is failing but that the neoconomy may be thriving.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:28 AM

WHO KNEW THE EUROS WERE SO EASILY SHOCKED:

Arabs shock Europeans, refuse to condemn anti-Semitism (Shlomo Shamir, 7/28/04, Ha'aretz)

Arab states at the United Nations are trying to foil a proposal to raise a vote condemning anti-Semitism in the General Assembly this September.
At a closed meeting held recently in New York, UN ambassadors from Arab and EU countries met and the Arabs made clear that they do not accept the initiative for the UN General Assembly to condemn anti-Semitism.

The blunt language used by the Arabs describing their opposition, and their plans to use diplomatic means to prevent the resolution from reaching a vote, shocked the Europeans, said a UN source.


It's almost as if they mean it....


Posted by Peter Burnet at 5:55 AM

YOUR MORNING SMILE

The Public Square (Richard John Neuhaus, First Things, June, 2004)

The New York Times reports that John Kerry became “combative” with reporters when asked about critics who say he does not follow Catholic teaching on questions such as abortion and same-sex unions. “Who are they?” he demanded. “Name them. Are they the same legislators who vote for the death penalty, which is in contravention of Catholic teaching?” He went on to explain: “I’m not a church spokesman. I’m a legislator running for president. My oath is to uphold the Constitution of the United States in my public life. My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic Church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and that is exactly where I am.” We had better tread lightly here. We’re dealing with the inner sanctum of the conscience. This is a man who apparently has taken a private oath under the tutelage of a pope of whom most of us have never heard. Rumor has it that members of the very secretive Society of Pius XXIII are taught to be so careful about not imposing their religion that, just to be safe, they do not impose it upon themselves. It has also been said that “Pius XXIII” is a pseudonym used by Father Robert Drinan, a Jesuit who has contrived a moral rationale widely employed by Catholic politicians inconvenienced by Catholic teaching. I have no idea whether such rumors are true, but I have a strong hunch that during the course of this campaign we may be learning a great deal about Catholicism that nobody knew before.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:54 AM

TEMPORARY TEAMWORK FOR DISCRETE PURPOSES:

Mr. Multilateral (Bryan Preston, 07/29/2004, Tech Central Station)

It is playing a key role in curbing and caging North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. It played a key role in disarming Libya, discovering and rolling up the Pakistani A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network, and has become a framework for international military and police exercises organized by the United States. Its membership includes most of the world's largest economic powers, most of the world's largest military powers, and most of the most influential states on earth. The United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia, the Netherlands, France, Australia and Germany are among its 15 member states, and it is one of the pillars of the Bush administration's strategy to both win the war on terrorism and halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As an organization set up to perform a mission that the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency have jointly failed, halting the spread of nuclear weapons, it has the potential of becoming an alternative to the UN itself in coming decades. Notably, all of its members to date are democracies.

But thanks to the media and Democrats who insist on portraying the Bush administration as "unilateral," you have probably never heard of it.

Called the Proliferation Security Initiative, this results-oriented alliance is now just over a year old. The work of the much maligned Under Secretary of State for Arms Proliferation and International Security John Bolton, PSI is already a great success in bringing nations that disagreed bitterly over the Iraq war together under one flag to deal with larger weapons proliferation issues, especially those relating to the Korean Peninsula.


Precisely the kind of ad hoc multilateralism that can be effective where a broader, institutionalized and bureaucratized multilateralism can not.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:50 AM

THE NORTHERNMOST AFRICAN COLONY (via Mike Daley):

France 'forming ethnic ghettoes' (Caroline Wyatt, 7/06/04, BBC)

Many French city suburbs are becoming ethnic ghettoes, a report has warned.

The study by the French domestic intelligence services found many areas were populated by poor, young French of north African immigrant backgrounds.

The report, leaked to Le Monde newspaper, found at least half of the 630 suburbs it looked at had already become separate ethnic communities.

The report warned the ghettoes, cut off from mainstream French society, could encourage radical Islam to take root.


The French are no help in the war on terror for the same reason Democrats are no help in improving education--they're captives.


July 28, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:27 PM

IT'S PAT:

Deep Throat suspect found dead in hotel (Dan Glaister, July 29, 2004, The Guardian)

One of the longest-running mysteries of American politics may soon be resolved after it was announced yesterday that the man many suspect of being Deep Throat in the Watergate scandal had died.

Fred LaRue, known as the "bagman" because he delivered payments to ensure the silence of participants in the Watergate break-in, was found dead in a hotel room in Biloxi, Mississippi. He was 75.

The two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, have maintained that they would only reveal the identity of Deep Throat once he was dead.

MORE:
Student study identifies Deep Throat (The Signpost, April 28, 2003)

Attempting to solve one of America's greatest political mysteries, student investigators at the University of Illinois have concluded that former White House lawyer Fred Fielding is Deep Throat, the secret source who broke the Watergate scandal wide open.

Some of the students and their teacher, William Gaines, named Fielding as their choice for Deep Throat at a news conference at the Watergate Hotel.

Fielding and Bob Woodward, who first reported the Watergate story with fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, did not respond to telephone inquiries. In the past, Gaines said, Fielding has denied he was Deep Throat, the nickname Woodward gave to the anonymous source who provided damaging details of the break-in by Republican operatives and the Nixon administration's efforts to cover it up.

In their project, which lasted four years, the students from the university's Urbana-Champaign campus and Gaines cited six specific instances of closely held inside information that Fielding knew and Deep Throat provided. These included the involvement of Nixon White House operative Howard Hunt in the burglary and Nixon aide John Ehrlichman's instructions to White House counsel John Dean to throw a briefcase containing incriminating information about political tricks into the Potomac River.


-Was Fred Fielding Deep Throat?: The evidence is surprisingly strong. (Timothy Noah, April 28, 2003, Slate)
Chatterbox is looking at a January 1981 clipping from the Washington Post headlined, "Nixon Ex-Aide Named Counsel to Reagan." The ex-aide in question was Fred Fielding, whom William Gaines and his journalism class at the University of Illinois have identified as Deep Throat, Bob Woodward's famous Watergate source. Deep Throat's identity is known only to Woodward; his co-author, Carl Bernstein; their editor, Ben Bradlee; and Throat. (Serious Deep Throat scholars always call Deep Throat "Throat.") Bradlee once famously claimed that you could discover Deep Throat's identity by feeding all known information about him into a computer. Taking that as a challenge, Gaines more or less did so. The computer named Fielding.

In the past, Chatterbox has expressed skepticism toward Gaines' project. The students' initial speculation that Deep Throat was Pat Buchanan was patently ridiculous. The case for Buchanan on paper is better than you might think, but had they looked up from their printouts and observed Buchanan's near-pathological commitment to personal loyalty, they would have understood how poorly cast he was for the role. (Buchanan's own Deep Throat candidate is Lowell Weicker, a bizarre choice that mainly reflects Buchanan's unwillingness to accuse any former White House comrade of behavior that he considers beneath contempt.) Chatterbox also felt the students (in concert with former Nixon White House counsel and Deep Throat sleuth John Dean) had dismissed the "G-man" Theory—the idea, most forcefully argued in the Atlantic by Jim Mann, that Deep Throat had to work at the FBI—rather too hastily and with far too little evidence.

But during the past year, Chatterbox has been rethinking his commitment to the G-man Theory in light of two pieces of evidence. The first is Dean's and the Gaines group's observation that a November 1973 Woodward and Bernstein Post story was sourced anonymously to "White House sources." That's significant because in All the President's Men, Woodward and Bernstein say that Deep Throat was a source on this story. That would make Deep Throat a White House aide, wouldn't it? The second troubling piece of evidence, flagged by Brown political scientist Darrel M. West, was a Playboy interview that J. Anthony Lukas conducted with Woodward in 1989. In that interview, Woodward flatly denied that Deep Throat was someone in the "intelligence community." On first considering these two inconvenient facts, Chatterbox argued that they didn't put the G-man Theory out of business. Over time, though, Chatterbox has been more inclined to think that they do.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:12 PM

WE NOMINATED WHO?:

Kerry must inspire or lose faithful forever (Joshua Chaffin, July 29 2004, Financial Times)

Mr Kerry has had, at best, mixed success on the road. Joe Keenan, a 43-year-old appliance salesman, scanned the crowd at a John Kerry rally in Sioux City, Iowa, and then paused for a moment to measure the depth of their support.

"I don't know if they're pro-Kerry or anti-Bush," Mr Keenan finally concluded. "They're all waiting to see what Kerry does at the convention. They've got to know him better."

Polls show that nearly a third of American voters still do not believe they have a sense of Mr Kerry as a person, even if they may have heard repeatedly about his decorated service in Vietnam, or his legislative accomplishments.

Even some Democrats who were volunteering for the Kerry campaign on its barnstorming trip across the country this week quietly confided that they were drawn to other party figures such as Howard Dean.

At times, Mr Kerry overcame his reputation for lacklustre public speaking to conjure an affecting, even passionate performance. "I was in the anyone-but-Bush-camp, but the more I see him, the more I like him," said Marion Leary, an events producer, who attended a rally in Philadelphia on Tuesday. "I didn't get the wooden thing at all."

On other occasions, Mr Kerry appeared to bore people. His most disappointing stop may have been Saturday in Sioux City. The crowd, many of them senior citizens, was forced to wait under the prairie sun for hours - first for the late-running senator, then during a meandering speech from his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. As he pointed at supporters in the crowd, flashing the same surprised-but- elated smile again and again, Mr Kerry appeared like a comic aping a disingenuous politician.

When he droned on about values, opportunity and other poll-tested political phrases, the older people in the crowd wilted.

Tellingly, despite Mr Kerry being one of the biggest figures to touch down in Sioux City since the explorers Lewis and Clark, the name on most people's lips there was that of his running mate, John Edwards.

"Where's John?" someone shouted from the crowd at one point, interrupting Mr Kerry.

Mr Keenan conceded that his wife was disappointed not to meet the vice-presidential candidate. "She was upset that Edwards wasn't here. He's the sex appeal."

Indeed, Mr Edwards' Clintonian magnetism appears to have drawn a sharp contrast with Mr Kerry throughout the country.

"I think Kerry's biggest problem is he hasn't defined himself, whereas the more you listen to Edwards, he has, and he does," said Andrew Meyer, 31, a stockbroker from Portsmouth, Virginia.


Democrats stuck themselves with the guy when he was "Anyone but Dean." Now they want to stick the country with him because he's "Anyone but Bush." How about a Democratic Party that could offer us somebody?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 PM

WELCOME BACK, DONNIE:

'Donnie' has come back in a big way (Michael Ordoña, July 25, 2004, LA Times)

Rewind to 2000. The low-budget time-travel drama "Donnie Darko" had an underwhelming initial release, garnering warm critical notices but grossing less than $600,000. "Darko" did help to launch the career of Jake Gyllenhaal, whose low-key performance as the troubled protagonist struck a chord with fans.

Years later, midnight showings and DVD sales earned the movie a cult following and now a new life, as Kelly used a power much like Donnie's to alter his film, adding 20 minutes of footage.

Will the changes spoil the film's mystery? Gyllenhaal doesn't think so. "Richard's intent was always to put enough ambiguities in it so people would be forced to answer the questions themselves."


It's a marvelous film, one to watch on a double feature with Pi.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 PM

COOKIN' AIN'T ROCKET SCIENCE, SWEETIE:

Nation has big appetite for food television (Corie Brown, 7/21/04, Los Angeles Times)

Rachael Ray is a food television phenomenon.

A perky, 35-year-old home cook with no professional credentials, she has such good chemistry with the camera that her "30 Minute Meals" is the Food Network's top-rated show. It's particularly appealing to Madison Avenue's favored demographic, impressionable younger adults, ages 18 to 49.

Ray personifies everything people love about food TV: She's charismatic, accessible and upbeat, and she never stops moving. She also represents what rankles members of the food world's intelligentsia: There's no attempt at culinary excellence.

"Food Network has made a decision to go after the lowest common denominator audience," says Darra Goldstein, editor of the scholarly quarterly Gastronomica and a professor at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. "Even with this audience, there is so much more that could be done."


Rachel Ray is almost unbearable--even when nearly drowned out by the sound of the the pumice stone scraping--but could Ms Goldstein possibly sound like more of a...well, you know....


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 PM

THE BLUE BATTLEGROUND:

Kerry Support Soft in New Jersey (FDU Public Mind, 7/28/04)

With just a small lead at this point, Kerry still has some work to do in New Jersey. According to the most recent Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, the Democratic challenger is ahead of George W. Bush in New Jersey by just 45%-43% with another 10% undecided.

"John Kerry has been relying on George W. Bush to give people a reason to vote for the Democratic ticket," said Bruce Larson, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and survey analyst for PublicMind. "While Bush's troubles have surely rallied the Democratic base and some Democratic-leaning independents, Kerry will solidify his position in New Jersey only when he gives voters a reason to vote for him rather than just against George Bush."

Among Bush supporters, 80% say they are voting for the President rather than against his opponent. But among Kerry voters, only a third (32%) say they are voting for the Senator from Massachusetts while two-thirds say they are voting against George W. Bush. "New Jersey voters still don't know Kerry very well," added Larson. "The Democratic National Convention this week will give him the opportunity to tell voters here his story."


Posted by Robert Duquette at 7:31 PM

THIS PORRIDGE IS TOO HOT:

Recession Watch (John Maudlin, 07/27/2004, Gold-Eagle.com)

Recessions are not things to be feared, if you are ready for them. It is just a different type of swell with different types of waves and breaks. You can ride that wave with the right type of board. Of course, experience helps, or at the very least good instructor is needed.

Even in a serious recession, life will carry on. Employment will be over 90%. Most of us will go about our business, adjusting to the ebb and flows. They are not typically long affairs and a rebound will always follow.

Recessions, the Austrian economists tell us, are necessary. They allow us to hit the reset button, curbing the excesses of the previous boom. Weak companies are replaced by the strong, debt is reduced, and entrepreneurs and business people everywhere are forced to become creative. [...]

In 2000, it was not consumers, but businesses that began to cut back their investment spending, and there was simply too much capacity and we had a business spending recession. Quick intervention by the Fed made home mortgages lower, which helped prop up a housing market. Remember, unemployment barely went above 6%, and along with normal population growth and increased use of sub-prime mortgages kept the demand for housing hot.
Because Bush tax cuts (not one, but three and all quite significant) put more money in the hands of consumers, and because low mortgage rates allowed home owners to refinance their homes, not only lowering their mortgage payments but allowing them to take cash out and spend it, consumer spending grew more or less steadily. I cannot find another example of a recession in which those occurred.

Coupled with government deficits, which are also (temporarily) a stimulus, the last recession was the mildest in post WW2 history. As I have noted, the "doctors" put the country on steroids, and the patient recovered. But there were a few noticeable side effects. Personal debt, which is normally reduced during a recession, has soared to levels never seen, both on a relative and absolute basis. Government deficits are again soaring. As consumer spending did not retreat the trade deficit did not come into balance. Since housing did not slow down, housing prices have risen by 20-30% over trend in the last five years.
Now, when we enter the next recession, the medicine cabinet, while not entirely empty, has been severely depleted. There will be no more tax cuts. Indeed, if Kerry wins, there is a guaranteed tax increase as the Bush tax cuts will be phased out. Rates are already low. Maybe, though I currently doubt it, the Fed will be able to get short term rates back to 3.5%. That means only about 2% or so of realistically effective rate cuts. That is not much in the Fed's tool box to fight a recession. Yes, they could "move out the yield curve" and force long term rates lower, but at some point, too many steroids will cause even more problems down the road.

Can consumers load up on even more debt? Probably not enough to make as much of a difference as in the last few years. Indeed, real wages are starting to drop.


While George Bush and Alan Greenspan currently look like economic wizards, another recession in the next 4 years, made deeper and longer by their over-prescription of the stimulus drugs, could seal their historical legacy as the last of the Keynesians.

EDITOR'S NOTE:
This is, of course, terrible nonsense from a site that hawks gold (buying which is a good way to lose your shirt), but Brother Duquette has been putting up a terrible fuss so we humored him. Stay tuned for Harry and Jeff explaining how the peppered moth changed their lives.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:18 PM

NONSENSICAL EVEN BY THE STANDARDS OF A PARTY PLATFORM:

REPORT OF THE PLATFORM COMMITTEE: Strong at Home, Respected in the World: The Democratic Platform for America

As a first step, we must create a stable and secure environment in Iraq. To do this right, we must truly internationalize both politically and militarily: we cannot depend on a US-only presence. Other nations have a vital interest in the outcome, and we must bring them in to commit troops and resources.

We're as contemptuous of other nations as anybody, but the notion that they have "vital interests" in Iraq that they'd realize if only George Bush weren't president is just silly. No one but the Allies really cares about democratizing the Middle East. In fact, Mr. Kerry has said he doesn't much care. We are exceptional.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:54 PM

THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMIN':

C-SPAN Highlights

Tonight
* Democratic National Convention (8pm) - LIVE
* Sen. Edwards Accepts Nomination
* Speakers Include: Cate Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards
* Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:20 PM

SHOULDN'T THAT BE "KERRY'S ILLOGICAL SHUFFLE"?:


Kerry's Illogical Stand on Abortion
(Crispin Sartwell, July 28, 2004, LA Times)

Here's John Kerry's position on abortion. He's personally opposed to it, and as a matter of faith he believes that life begins at conception. But he's unwilling to impose that faith on women who may not share it. It should be a matter of individual conscience, he says.

This position, I submit, is a self-serving and obvious absurdity.

Murder, let us agree, is the intentional killing of a human being in the absence of excusing conditions such as self-defense by the killer or overwhelming suffering on the part of the killed. Clearly, by his own definition, Kerry believes abortion is murder.

If there should be a law against anything, most Americans would agree, it's murder. Radical anarchists might differ — they might say that murder, and any other act, should be a matter merely of individual conscience and not of law. But I think we can assume that that is not Kerry's position.

The other part of Kerry's argument is that because his position rests on faith — rather than on reason or science or unanimous agreement — he is unwilling to impose it on others, and he believes it would be a violation of the separation of church and state to do so.

But that doesn't stand the test of logic either; no human values, whether encoded into law or not, rest on science or reason or unanimous agreement. All human values rest on faith.


Yeah, but other than those quibbles it's logical, right?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:16 PM

OH, NO, WE'VE LOST PAT BUCHANAN AND HIS FOLLOWER:

The Right Wing's Deep, Dark Secret: Some hope for a Bush loss, and here's why. (John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, July 28, 2004, LA Times)

One of the secrets of conservative America is how often it has welcomed Republican defeats. In 1976, many conservatives saw the trouncing of the moderate Gerald Ford as a way of clearing the path for the ideologically pure Ronald Reagan in 1980. In November 1992, George H.W. Bush's defeat provoked celebrations not just in Little Rock, where the Clintonites danced around to Fleetwood Mac, but also in some corners of conservative America.

"Oh yeah, man, it was fabulous," recalled Tom DeLay, the hard-line congressman from Sugar Land, Texas, who had feared another "four years of misery" fighting the urge to cross his party's too-liberal leader. At the Heritage Foundation, a group of right-wingers called the Third Generation conducted a bizarre rite involving a plastic head of the deposed president on a platter decorated with blood-red crepe paper.

There is no chance that Republicans would welcome the son's defeat in the same way they rejoiced at the father's. George W. is much more conservative than George H.W., and he has gone out of his way to throw red meat to each faction of the right: tax cuts for the anti-government conservatives, opposition to gay marriage and abortion for the social conservatives and the invasion of Iraq for the neoconservatives. Still, there are five good reasons why, in a few years, some on the right might look on a John Kerry victory as a blessing in disguise.


Paleocons (and libertarians, for that matter) would undoubtedly like to see President Bush lose--indeed, they'd mostly turned against even Ronald Reagan by 1984--but they face a problem they didn't in those two prior instances: George W. Bush is the most conservative president we've ever had and is, therefore, immensely popular in the Party. That's why they couldn't even muster a primary opponent to face him, much less a credible one, like Reagan in '76 (heck, even Pat Buchanan won NH in '92). And the absence of a Ross Perot (nativist, protectionist, etc.) in the general is likewise conspicuous.

George Bush is a revolutionary figure, dedicated to remaking conservatism and the Republican Party. The far Right should oppose him. They're just toothless.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:59 PM

NOTHING WRONG WITH BUGGERY ON THE BRINY SO LONG AS YOU CHASE SKIRTS ON LAND (via b boys)::


Homosexual Activity Among Animals Stirs Debate (James Owen, 7/23/04, National Geographic News)

Zoologists are discovering that homosexual and bisexual activity is not unknown within the animal kingdom. [...]

Already, cases of animal homosexuality have been cited in successful court cases brought against states like Texas, where gay sex was, until recently, illegal.

Yet scientists say we should be wary of referring to animals when considering what's acceptable in human society. For instance, infanticide, as practiced by lions and many other animals, isn't something people, gay or straight, generally approve of in humans.

So how far can we go in using animals to help us understand human homosexuality? Robin Dunbar is a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Liverpool, England. "The bottom line is that anything that happens in other primates, and particularly other apes, is likely to have strong evolutionary continuity with what happens in humans," he said.

Dunbar says the bonobo's use of homosexual activity for social bonding is a possible example, adding, "One of the main arguments for human homosexual behavior is that it helps bond male groups together, particularly where a group of individuals are dependent on each other, as they might be in hunting or warfare."

For instance, the Spartans, in ancient Greece, encouraged homosexuality among their elite troops. "They had the not unreasonable belief that individuals would stick by and make all efforts to rescue other individuals if they had a lover relationship," Dunbar added.


Homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom is hardly news. It would seem probable that male homosexuality occurs among humans for pretty much the same reasons it does among animals, as a way of establishing dominance and submission. That's why it's most common and most socially accepted in settings where few women are present--prison, the navy, boarding schools, many Islamic tribal cultures, monasteries, etc.. When it occurs outside such definitionally abnormal environments it would then tend to suggest that practitioners suffer from psychological disorders that lead them to either seek dominance over other men or submission to, or both.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:20 PM

REPLACE CNN:

US-Funded Alhurra Television Wins Over Viewers In Iraq (SPX, Jul 20, 2004

A new survey of Iraq conducted by Oxford Research International shows that 61 percent of Iraqi adults had watched the new US-funded Arabic language TV channel Alhurra (Arabic for "The Free One") in the previous week. Since it launched on February 14, 2004, Alhurra has quickly established itself as an important resource for Iraqis to get their news - 19 percent of those surveyed cited Alhurra as one of their top three sources of information.

Of those people who watch Alhurra, 64 percent found the news to be 'very' or 'somewhat' reliable. The results are based on face-to-face interviews with adults (over the age of 15) in Iraq between May 19 and June 14, 2004, four months after Alhurra first aired.

Alhurra is the latest and most technologically advanced television organization to enter the crowded Middle East satellite television market. The satellite channel is a 24-hour news and information network broadcast entirely in Arabic. It can be seen in 22 countries throughout the region via Arabsat and Nilesat, the same satellite systems used by all major Arabic channels.

In April 2004, a second channel was added called Alhurra Iraq specifically for Iraqi audiences. The new channel was available by satellite during the time of the survey.


That's better than our networks do among Americans.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:50 PM

SELF-MARGINALIZED MINORITIES:

White evangelicals flocking to GOP (Ralph Z. Hallow, 7/26/04, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The party of John Kerry and John Edwards is improving its standing with minorities, but losing ground to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney among white evangelicals, a new survey found.

Those findings are bad news for Democrats assembled in Boston for their national convention, because white evangelicals and born-again Christians far outnumber blacks and Hispanic combined.

"White evangelicals and born-again Christians are 26 percent of all registered voters — that's quite a big chunk — and the survey shows they are quite happy with Republicans," said Adam Clymer, political director of the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey, which polled 3,715 registered voters nationwide July 1 to 21, with a margin of error of 1 percentage point.

"Whatever percentage the turnout of your voters, if you get another 1 percent of evangelicals and born-agains, that's a lot more votes," Mr. Clymer said. "It makes a lot more difference than getting an additional 1 percent of blacks or Hispanics."


It's easy to imagine evangelicals turning out in record numbers--it's an evangelical presidency--but why would blacks and Hispanics turn out for Kerry and/or against Bush?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:41 PM

FORTUNATELY, SHE'S MORE COURAGEOUS THAN THEIR GOVERNMENT:

Burnham to testify in Philippines, friends say (ROY WENZL, 7/27/04, The Wichita Eagle)

Gracia Burnham, the missionary from Rose Hill who survived abduction by terrorists in the Philippines jungle, has returned to the Philippines to testify against people involved with her kidnapping, friends said.

Burnham survived more than a year in the jungle, but saw her husband, Martin, killed during a June 2002 rescue by the Philippines army. Gracia Burnham was wounded in the leg.

The Abu Sayyaf terrorists who abducted her have been linked to al-Qaida.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:35 PM

THERE HAD TO BE LESS LAST NIGHT:

A 'no' vote with their remotes (Richard Huff, July 28, 2004, NY Daily News)

Bill Clinton may have been eloquent, but not a lot of people heard him.

The former President's speech before the Democratic National Convention on Monday night was watched in a paltry 14.1 million homes, according to Nielsen Media Research.

That's down from the 15.38 million homes average for the Democratic convention in 2000.

More startling is the number of people who tuned out when the coverage began Monday on the major broadcast networks.

For example, in the hour before the convention, CBS averaged 11.8 million viewers with a rerun of "CSI: Miami."

But for the hour of political coverage - starting at 10 p.m. - CBS averaged a measly 4.55million viewers. And CBS was the most-watched of the Big Three broadcasters during the convention.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:29 PM

WELL, THE FROGS FEEL SAFER:

Bush Using Drugs to Control Depression, Erratic Behavior (TERESA HAMPTON, Jul 28, 2004, Capitol Hill Blue)

President George W. Bush is taking powerful anti-depressant drugs to control his erratic behavior, depression and paranoia, Capitol Hill Blue has learned.

The prescription drugs, administered by Col. Richard J. Tubb, the White House physician, can impair the President’s mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and his ability to respond to a crisis, administration aides admit privately.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says one aide. “We can’t have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.”

Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay. [...]

Although GOP loyalists dismissed the reports an anti-Bush propaganda, the reports were later confirmed by prominent George Washington University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank diagnosed the President as a “paranoid meglomaniac” and “untreated alcoholic” whose “lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad” showcase Bush’s instabilities.

“I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed,” Dr. Frank said. “He fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated.”

Dr. Frank’s conclusions have been praised by other prominent psychiatrists, including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Medical School.

The doctors also worry about the wisdom of giving powerful anti-depressant drugs to a person with a history of chemical dependency. Bush is an admitted alcoholic, although he never sought treatment in a formal program, and stories about his cocaine use as a younger man haunted his campaigns for Texas governor and his first campaign for President.

“President Bush is an untreated alcoholic with paranoid and megalomaniac tendencies,” Dr. Frank adds.


Gotta reduce the dosage at least long enough for him to take out N. Korea, Syria, Iran, Castro, and the ChiComms before he gets wheeled out on a Hannibal cart.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:20 PM

SOFT? HOW ABOUT FLACCID:

Iran increases defiance over nukes: EU trio to resume talks with Iran as report says Tehran is trying to buy nuclear "booster". (Matthew Clark, 7/28/04, csmonitor.com)

Iran is stepping up its defiant tone heading into talks with Britain, France, and Germany that diplomats say will begin in Paris Thursday.

How's that vaunted European soft power that John Kerry wants us to rely on looking?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:16 PM

IF EVERYTHING KEEPS COSTING LESS HOW DO THEY MEASURE IT COSTING MORE?:

Dollar stores gaining popularity across the U.S.: SHOPPERS COME FROM DIFFERENT INCOME LEVELS (Michele Chandler, 7/28/04, San Jose Mercury News)

Rock-bottom price tags are drawing more people than ever to dollar stores, from the caviar crowd to the working class.

Surveys show more than one-third of U.S. households shop monthly at a dollar store, where items sell for $1 or less. Some regular customers are in the top income level of $100,000 or more.

With their selection of goods priced at about $1, dollar variety stores appeal heavily to people on a budget. But increasingly, dollar stores are drawing those with a bit more spending money, too.

Freelance photographer Joe Espinoza recently loaded up on picture frames at a Dollar Tree store in San Jose while his teenage daughter Chanel checked out aisles brimming with baby powder, cat litter, sunglasses, shampoo, socks, gift wrap and even Bibles -- and each for $1.

``They're the same exact brands you find other places, just cheaper,'' said Chanel Espinoza, clutching a pack of hair clips and a greeting card. Her father, who also works as a buyer at Lockheed Martin, hits dollar stores around the Bay Area every week, snapping up everything from shampoo to salami and spending at least $40 each visit.


One of the many ways in which official measures manage to drastically overstate infaltion is by not taking such simple shopping into account.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:03 PM

FROM OPPOSABLE DIGITS TO OPPOSING THE WAR (via Robert Schwartz)

GOP Produces Video of Kerry on Iraq (WILL LESTER, 7/28/04, AP)

Republicans think they've found the ideal person to explain in detail the Democratic presidential candidate's evolving position on the war in Iraq - John Kerry himself.

Using video clips of Kerry discussing Iraq on various talk shows, the Republican National Committee has put together an 11-minute video that traces how Kerry struggled with the issue of Iraq through 2003 and early 2004 as he competed for - and finally won - the Democratic presidential nomination.

Republicans plan to publicly unveil the video Wednesday morning and send it by e-mail to about 8 million supporters. GOP officials also are pondering how to make the video, produced by Laura Crawford of the Texas firm Crawford Creative, available to the general public.

In the video clips, Kerry gradually shifts from harsh anti-Saddam Hussein rhetoric in 2001 and 2002 to more cautious comments about Iraq in late 2003 and then to anti-war comments by early 2004.


At this rate of evolution, a President Kerry will likely give Saddam one of these.

More:
It's online here.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:58 PM

DENIED HER RIGHTS:

Speedy coma recovery defies grim outlook: `I THINK WE'RE WATCHING A MIRACLE,' HUSBAND SAYS (Connie Skipitares, 7/28/04, San Jose Mercury News)

At first there was a faint smile and the gentle squeeze of a hand. Loved ones didn't dare to believe that Tara Eichinger Berendes might be coming out of the coma she had been in since a head-on car crash in Utah on June 1.

But then she began whispering little words to her husband, Josh.

On Tuesday, the 20-year-old newlywed continued to stun doctors and those around her when, with the help of physical therapists at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, she briefly stood on her own.

That capped what friends and relatives are calling a miraculous turn of events during the past several days.


Lucky she didn't have one of those husbands with an itchy trigger finger.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:55 AM

MORE CATHOLIC AND MORE CATHOLICS IS A WINNING COMBO:

Nation's Catholics have largely evolved into conservatives (Jimmy Patterson, 07/28/2004, The Midland Reporter-Telegram)

In 1960 America elected John F. Kennedy, its first Catholic president, largely behind the strength of the Roman Catholic voting block, which voted for him by 83 percent.

But in the 40-plus years since, Catholics have become increasingly conservative in their politics. Coincidence or not, in almost the same time span, since 1968, Democrats have occupied the White House for just 12 years; Republicans have wrested occupancy of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for two-thirds of the lifetime of a 36-year-old American voter who was born in one of the country's most tumultuous years.

During much of the same time period, Pope John Paul II, one of Rome's most conservative, beloved and controversial leaders ever, has been head of the world's largest Christian church.

Bishop Michael Pfeifer, of the Diocese of San Angelo attributed the change in Catholic voting trends to the changing times.

"Back in the 1960s, if we look at the cultural pattern, there was a new spirit of freedom," Pfeifer said. "There were a lot of new things happening. Yet at the same there was a lot of breakaway from established principles and values."

Pfeifer said today, people are "more Catholic and better Catholics than in the 1960s."

"Back then, there was a lot of experimentation in culture, but today there's a shift back to being more principled and people being more in tune with the basic principles of the church."


Which is one reason why it is so short-sighted of conservatives to try to keep Catholic immigrants out of the country.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 AM

OKLAHOMA...OKAY:

Coburn wins Okla. Senate primary (Ron Jenkins, July 28, 2004, Associated Press)

Former three-term congressman Tom Coburn won the Republican nomination yesterday for the seat of Senator Don Nickles.

Nickles, a Republican, is retiring after 24 years in the Senate.

Coburn trounced former Oklahoma City mayor Kirk Humphreys after a bruising and expensive three-candidate race marked by allegations of backstabbing and shady land deals.

Coburn will meet Democratic Representative Brad Carson in November in a race that could play a big role in who controls the Senate.


Coburn is widely considered to improve the GOP's likelihood of holding this seat.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM

A UNITER, NOT A DIVIDER:

Bush Has Threatened to Use the Veto 40 Times, but Never Has--What's Up? (Nicolas Heidorn, 7/26/04, History News Network)

In a matter of months, George Walker Bush, 43rd President of the United States, could go down in history as the first full-term president in 175 years not to have exercised his constitutional veto power.

That’s quite a feat considering his father, Bush Sr., vetoed 44 bills in his one term in office. His successor, Bill Clinton, vetoed 37 bills in his eight years—a little under par for recent presidents: Reagan vetoed 78, Carter 31, Ford 66, and Nixon vetoed 43 bills before being impeached.

In fact, only seven presidents in U.S. history have not used the veto. The last was James Garfield, sworn in March 4, 1881, who served less than a year in office before being assassinated by a disgruntled lawyer. In all, four of the seven veto-free presidents, Garfield, William Harrison, Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore, did not complete an entire term. And, the very last president to serve a full term without using a veto was John Quincy Adams, the sixth president.

So why is it that George Bush, one of the most politically controversial U.S. presidents, hasn’t used his veto power?


Because he's won the fight on every bill that's made it to his desk? If there a line-item veto you could strip out some of the more egregious programs and spending; but in its absence you have to swallow some chaff with the wheat.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:04 AM

NO ACCOUNT:

List Kerry as absent on school accountability (USA Today, 7/14/04)

Bridget Dean, principal of Barrister Elementary School in Baltimore's impoverished Pigtown neighborhood, has something to say to critics who claim the federal school-accountability law is too harsh and unfair to poor and minority students: You're wrong.

Tough love, Dean says, is how Barrister catapulted off the state's "watch list" of troubled schools. In two years, reading scores more than doubled, and math scores nearly doubled. Dean's formula: Use curriculums proven by research and embrace unpopular testing that prods all students to learn. Dean credits the strategies of the federal No Child Left Behind law, which President Bush championed, for the success of her students.

But the law could face an uncertain future if Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry wins the White House. One of his key supporters, the 2.7-million-member National Education Association (NEA), opposes the law. In fact, the teachers union's president, Reg Weaver, has declared war on it. [...]

[K]erry has downplayed accountability on the stump. Perhaps that's because many educators who back him dislike key principles that make the law effective:

Stressing race and income. In the past, weak performances by poor and minority students were masked by schools' average scores of more affluent students. Basing accountability on race and income forces educators to put more effort into teaching students who have been long ignored.

Switching to proven curriculums. Many teachers have complained about the adoption of highly scripted reading programs such as those used by Dean's school, saying they are too rote. Yet they produce successful readers in high-poverty schools.

Keeping accountability focused on academics. The NEA says standardized math and reading tests to measure education achievements produce "one size fits all" accountability. Still, academic testing remains the best way to assess progress.

There's pride in Pigtown over Barrister's accomplishments. Kerry can show he's with the school in more than spirit.


You can serve the students or the teachers' unions, not both.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 9:50 AM

BEING SHOCKED AND APPALLED IS NOT A FOREIGN POLICY

Arab states refuse to slam anti-Semitism (Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz, July 28th, 2004)

Arab states at the UN are trying to foil a proposal to raise a vote condemning anti-Semitism in the General Assembly this September.

At a closed meeting held recently in New York, UN ambassadors from Arab and EU countries met and the Arabs made clear that they do not accept the initiative for the UN General Assembly to condemn anti-Semitism.

The blunt language used by the Arabs describing their opposition, and their plans to use diplomatic means to prevent the resolution from reaching a vote, shocked the Europeans, said a UN source.

Shocked indeed. The obscenity is not the Arab position, but that Europe stands impotent in the face of it.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM

TRUE LIBERTY :

Book XI: Of the Laws Which Establish Political Liberty, with Regard to the Constitution (THE SPIRIT OF LAWS, Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu)

1. A general Idea. I make a distinction between the laws that establish political liberty, as it relates to the constitution, and those by which it is established, as it relates to the citizen. The former shall be the subject of this book; the latter I shall examine in the next.

2. Different Significations of the word Liberty. There is no word that admits of more various significations, and has made more varied impressions on the human mind, than that of liberty. Some have taken it as a means of deposing a person on whom they had conferred a tyrannical authority; others for the power of choosing a superior whom they are obliged to obey; others for the right of bearing arms, and of being thereby enabled to use violence; others, in fine, for the privilege of being governed by a native of their own country, or by their own laws.1 A certain nation for a long time thought liberty consisted in the privilege of wearing a long beard.2 Some have annexed this name to one form of government exclusive of others: those who had a republican taste applied it to this species of polity; those who liked a monarchical state gave it to monarchy.3 Thus they have all applied the name of liberty to the government most suitable to their own customs and inclinations: and as in republics the people have not so constant and so present a view of the causes of their misery, and as the magistrates seem to act only in conformity to the laws, hence liberty is generally said to reside in republics, and to be banished from monarchies. In fine, as in democracies the people seem to act almost as they please, this sort of government has been deemed the most free, and the power of the people has been confounded with their liberty.

3. In what Liberty consists. It is true that in democracies the people seem to act as they please; but political liberty does not consist in an unlimited freedom. In governments, that is, in societies directed by laws, liberty can consist only in the power of doing what we ought to will, and in not being constrained to do what we ought not to will.

We must have continually present to our minds the difference between independence and liberty. Liberty is a right of doing whatever the laws permit, and if a citizen could do what they forbid he would be no longer possessed of liberty, because all his fellow-citizens would have the same power.


Apropos the conversation of yesterday: liberty lies not in burning a flag but in having the law against it apply universally after being adopted legitimately.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:38 AM

ANOTHER CONTRACT ITEM:

TAKING THE ULTIMATE PENALTY OFF THE TABLE: John Kerry's stand on the death penalty -- that there shouldn't be one -- is now the Democratic Party's platform. (John Nichols, The Nation)

The Democratic party platform that will be adopted this week includes one particularly significant change from the platforms adopted by the party conventions of 1992, 1996 and 2000. During the platform-writing process, the drafting committee quietly removed the section of the document that endorsed capital punishment. Thus, for the first time since the 1980s, Democrats will not be campaigning on a pro-death penalty program.

Why the change?

Simply put, on the question of execution, John Kerry is a very different Democrat from Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Clinton and Gore, while surely aware that capital punishment is an ineffective and racially and economically biased vehicle for fighting crime, were willing to embrace it as a political tool. When he was running for the presidency in 1992, then Governor Clinton even rushed back to Arkansas during the 1992 campaign to oversee the execution of a mentally-retarded inmate.

With Clinton and Gore steering the party's policies, Democratic platforms explicitly and frequently endorsed capital punishment.

But Clinton and Gore are no longer at the helm. And, as of tonight, the party will no longer be on record as supporting the death penalty. Asked about the removal of the pro-capital punishment language, U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the chair of the committee that drafted the document, explained that, "It's a reflection of John Kerry."

Kerry, who is often accused by his Republican critics of flip-flopping, is made of firmer stuff than most politicians when it comes to the issue of capital punishment. He opposes executions in virtually all cases – making an exception only after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, when he said he would consider supporting capital punishment, in limited cases, for foreign terrorists.


If you were typing a paragrah that internally dishonest wouldn't you be afraid that lightning might strike you?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:32 AM

TOM TANCREDO WON'T WASH YOUR DISHES:

A perennial predicament: Cape firms, with few local takers for low-wage jobs in summer, stymied in bid to increase worker visas (Diane E. Lewis, July 28, 2004, Boston Globe)

Steve Hurley says that he hires the same crew of Jamaicans for his Cape Cod inn each year because they work harder, and Americans don't want his low-wage jobs anyway.

"We hired college students, and they'd come in drunk, or they wouldn't show up," said Hurley, 42, who runs the Hyannis Holiday Motel with his 77-year-old father. "Every week it was something. They would find a waitressing job and run off for a few extra cents, or cleaning wasn't their forte, or they would stay, but come Labor Day, they were gone."

Despite relatively high unemployment, Hurley and other firms on the Cape and Islands are backing legislation that would increase the number of unskilled foreign workers allowed in the country.

Bills in Congress, one sponsored by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, would exempt some workers from a cap imposed on the number allowed under a program called the H-2B visa, or raise the cap.

The bills are languishing, victims of anti-immigration fervor spurred by growing concerns over the outsourcing to other countries of information technology, software, telemarketing, and other jobs.


Stinkin' immigrants, come here and take all those jobs no self respecting white person would let their kid do....


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM

THE SECOND CONTRACT:

Kansas group monitors sermons (AP, 7/27/04)

A recent Sunday found Tina Kolm changing her morning routine. Instead of attending a Unitarian Universalist service, she was at the Lenexa Christian Center, paying close attention to a conservative minister's sermon about the importance of amending the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage.

Kolm is one of about 100 volunteers for the Mainstream Coalition, a group monitoring the political activities of local pastors and churches.

The coalition, based in suburban Kansas City, Kan., says it wants to make sure clergy adhere to federal tax guidelines restricting political activity by nonprofit groups, and it's taking such efforts to a new level.


There's another wedge issue: the Left wants to use the federal tax code to attack religion. We see an advertisement where Martin Luther King, Jr. is being led away in cuffs...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 AM

TALK ABOUT NUANCED:

Democrats hope a buzzword will leave Bush smarting: Subtle and provocative, 'wisdom' is all the rage among DNC speakers (Don Aucoin, July 28, 2004, Boston Globe)

If John Kerry seems leery of the L word, seeking to avoid being saddled with the "liberal" label that helped doom the presidential candidacies of fellow Bay Staters Ted Kennedy and Mike Dukakis, he appears to have no problem with the W word.

It has nothing to do with President Bush's middle initial. The word is "wisdom," and it is getting a workout at this week's Democratic National Convention, along with its musclebound wingman, the word "strength."

Speaker after speaker, from former President Bill Clinton to former Vice President Al Gore, has extolled Kerry's wisdom. It's enough to make you wonder whether the Democrats are nominating Socrates rather than the junior senator from Massachusetts.
It's a pretty good indication of what a hothouse a convention is when your people think "Wisdom" is the key to victory. This is especially the case since Mr. Kerry doesn't fare very well on the wisdom test:


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM

WHY EXCEPTIONAL:

Belief in hell boosts economic growth (Alister Bull, 7/27/04, Reuters)

Economists searching for reasons why some nations are richer than others have found that those with a wide belief in hell are less corrupt and more prosperous, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in the United States.

Researchers at the regional Federal Reserve bank acknowledged the importance of productivity and investment in the economic process but looked at some recent unconventional efforts to explain differences in national prosperity.

The St Louis Fed drew on work by outside economists who studied 35 countries, including the United States, European nations, Japan, India and Turkey and found that religion shed some useful light.

"In countries where where large percentages of the population believe in hell, there seems to be less corruption and a higher standard of living," the St. Louis Fed said in its July quarterly review.

For instance, 71 percent of the U.S. population believe in hell and the country boasts the world's highest per capita income, according to the 2003 United Nations Human Development Report and 1990-1993 World Values Survey.

Ireland, not far behind the United States in terms of income, likewise has a healthy fear of a nether world with 53 percent of the population acknowledging hell's existence.


Still wonder why secular Europe is declining?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:55 AM

11,000 = 50:

Consumer Confidence Soars, Housing Strong (Mark Felsenthal, July 27, , 2004, Reuters)

U.S. consumer confidence surged to a two-year high this month on hiring hopes while new home sales in June posted a smaller decline than expected, according to two reports on Tuesday that signaled the economy may be picking up after a brief hiatus.

The Conference Board, a private forecasting group, said its consumer sentiment gauge climbed in July for the fourth straight month to 106.1 from an upwardly revised 102.8 in June, outpacing Wall Street forecasts.

"These are strong numbers. I have no doubt they indicate continuity for the economic expansion, and are a prelude to a second half that is stronger than the first half," said David Littmann, chief economist at Comerica Bank.

Stock markets and the dollar rallied on the buoyant data, while investors dumped safe-haven Treasuries.

The Dow Jones Industrials (DJI) rose 123 points, or 1.2 percent, to 10,085, its biggest gain since early June. The dollar rose to five-week highs against the euro.

U.S. Treasury securities prices slid, as the reports contributed to the biggest two-day sell-off in nearly three months.


A word of advice: don't use a financial analyst who listens to John Kerry instead of the numbers.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 AM

JUST ONE DROP:

Author 'chilled' to learn Harry's half-blood status has Nazi parallels (IAN JOHNSTON, 7/28/04, The Scotsman)

JK ROWLING made the "chilling" discovery that villains in her books used the same twisted logic as the Nazis when she visited a Holocaust museum, the author has revealed.

Ms Rowling was asked by a fan to explain why some people in the stories - including the hero Harry Potter - are referred to as "half-blood" wizards.

She replied that the terms "half-blood" and "pure-blood" were used by prejudiced characters such as the evil Lucius Malfoy and the Death Eaters, servants of arch-villain Lord Voldemort.

Ms Rowling said she had invented the idea that some wizards were not considered to be "pure", and realised the similarities with the Nazis’ beliefs only afterwards when she visited a museum dedicated to the Holocaust, in which six million Jewish people died.

Her decision to talk about such a sensitive issue was welcomed by an education officer at The Jewish Museum, who said the stories could be used to help children deal with racism in the playground


Kind of hard to believe it took her that long to figure out her own theme.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:15 AM

WHAT ABOUT APPLE PIE?:

Keynote Address by Barack Obama, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Illinois (Democratic National Convention, 07/27/04)

On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant.

But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place: America, which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before. While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor he signed up for duty, joined Patton's army and marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA, and moved west in search of opportunity.

And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream, born of two continents. My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or "blessed," believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous America you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential. They are both passed away now. Yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with pride.

I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents' dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, "We hold these truths to he self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody's son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will he counted — or at least, most of the time.

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. And fellow Americans — Democrats, Republicans, Independents — I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that's moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father I met who was losing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn't have the money to go to college.

Don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. That man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and sacrifice, because they've defined his life. From his heroic service in Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we've seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he'll offer them to companies creating jobs here at home. John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves. John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren't held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields. John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us. And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option, but it should never he the first option.

A while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, six-two or six-three, clear-eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he'd joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week. As I listened to him explain why he'd enlisted, his absolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was serving us? I thought of more than 900 service men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to their hometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Now let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. John Kerry believes in America. And he knows it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga.

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief — I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper — that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America — there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!

Tonight, if you feel the same energy I do, the same urgency I do, the same passion I do, the same hopefulness I do — if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come. Thank you and God bless you.


Those Americans who are dubious about Senator Kerry's plans, or lack of such, for their future sure weren't bombarded with specifics in the keynote. Does today's Democratic Party really not have so much as a single idea to run on?


MORE:
-Barack Obama, Man of Faith (Nicholas Stix, July 26, 2004, The Illinois Leader)


July 27, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 PM

TRYING TO DRINK THEMSELVES SOBER:

OECD slates eurozone for 'lack of dynamism' (Scheherazade Daneshkhu, July 27 2004, Financial Times)

Membership of a single currency has failed to inject dynamism into the economies of the eurozone or to raise their long-term growth rate, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said on Tuesday.
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In its most critical report on the eurozone's economic performance, the Paris-based body said the first five years of European monetary union had been "more challenging than expected".

The eurozone had been "disappointing" in its lack of resilience to shocks, and its income gap against the OECD's best-performing countries remained large and widening.


The truly amusing thing is that they think making all of Europe more like France and Germany will improve things.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:32 PM

WE'RE NOT THE DISEASE, WE'RE THE CURE:

American Exceptionalism: A Disease of Conceit (RON JACOBS, 7/21/04, CounterPunch)

[T]he underlying cause for the US antiwar movement's current stasis is that most of its adherents believe in one of this country's basic tenets-a tenet that is ultimately religious in nature. For lack of a more descriptive phrase, we'll call this phenomenon American exceptionalism. On a basic political level, this phenomenon is the belief that, for some reason (America's system of democracy, or maybe its economic superiority), the United States system is not subject to the same contradictions and influences as those of the rest of the world. This belief in American superiority finds its foundation in some of our culture's basic religious and cultural constructs. It's there in the first settlers' belief that they were conducting a special errand into the wilderness to construct a city on a hill in the name of their heavenly father and every single president and wannabe always implores this same heavenly father to "bless America" at the end of every one of his speeches. This is no accident.

It is this belief that gave the Pilgrims their heavenly go-ahead to murder Pequot women and children and it was this belief that gave General Custer his approval to kill as many Sioux as he could. It made the mass murder of Korean and Vietnamese civilians acceptable to the soldiers at No Gun Ri and My Lai and exonerated the officers who tried to hide those and many other war crimes from the world. It gives George Bush the only rationale he needs to continue his crusade against the part of the world that stands in the way of the more mercenary men and women behind his throne as they pursue their project for a new American century. And, most importantly for us, it informs a goodly number of decent Americans in their tentative opposition to those men and women. Consequently, while they may oppose George Bush's approach to Washington's war on the world, they do not necessarily disagree with its goals.


Of course it is fundamentally a religious crusade but what kind of person would oppose the goal of the universal extension of liberal democratic protestant capitalism?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 PM

OKAY, MAYBE HE CAN'T CARRY D.C.:

Confidence challenges Democrats (CNN/Money, July 27, 2004)

Steady consumer confidence may pose a challenge for Democrats as Americans' views on the economic environment have risen sharply from where they stood just six weeks ago.

The ABC/Money magazine Consumer Comfort index stands at -7 on its scale of +100 to -100, slightly ahead of its long-term -9 average.

Americans' improved perceptions of the economy make it more difficult for the Democrats to challenge President Bush on his economic record. In a separate ABC News/Washington Post poll, registered voters were evenly divided on whom they trust more to handle the economy, Bush or Democratic challenger John Kerry.


The Democratic campaign of '04 will get entire chapters in political science textbooks one day--nominating a sitting Senator from MA and basing their entire message on a war that was going to go away after July 1 and an economy that was certain to improve all year. Amazing.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 PM

TAKE OUT A CONTRACT:

Go for wedge issues, Gingrich tells lawmakers (Jonathan E. Kaplan, 7/26/04, The Hill)

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has advised Republicans to focus this year’s presidential campaign on a few “wedge issues” in an effort to paint Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards as an out-of-the-mainstream ticket.

One GOP lawmaker told The Hill that Gingrich encouraged Republicans to pick issues such as school prayer, strengthening work requirements for welfare recipients and barring the United Nations from monitoring U.S. elections, which all polled at higher than an 80 percent rating.

“There’s a consensus developing among activists that new issues are emerging where [the polling] is decidedly with us,” the lawmaker said. “We can show a contrast.”

Gingrich spelled out his views at a meeting last week organized by House GOP Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), the fourth-ranking member of the GOP House leadership.

Lawmakers who attended Wednesday’s session expressed excitement about Gingrich’s policy proposals and political tactics.


Good to see Mr. Gingrich learned the lesson of '98, when he thought a position on any issue would only hurt a GOP that could skate by on Bill Clinton's impeachment. The Contract with America was all issues that polled in such a high range and it worked brilliantly. Why no one has duplicated it is beyond comprehension.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:16 PM

THE PLAGUE OF OPEN BORDERS:

Surprise refugee arrival in Korea: More than 200 North Koreans reached South Korea from Vietnam Tuesday. 220 more are on the way. (Robert Marquand, 7/28/04, CS Monitor)

Kim Jong-il should hire Tom Tancredo to teach him how to run a really tight ship.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:50 PM

THE INALIENABLE RIGHT TO BITCH ABOUT HOW HARD OUR EASY LIVES ARE:

Pressure of the American Dream (Robert J. Samuelson, July 26, 2004, Washington Post)

We'll hear a lot of complaining about the "middle-class squeeze" in this election, but the squeeze is as American as the Constitution. We live in an ambitious and striving society. Most Americans hope to get ahead. They work hard. They like to spend what they earn -- and they also compete compulsively to show how well they've done. As a result, anxiety and angst become a permanent way of life, even when the economy is doing fairly well. Enough is never enough. [...]

On average Americans are the best-housed people in history. Since 1973 the median size of new homes has jumped almost 40 percent, from 1,525 square feet to 2,114 square feet in 2002. Meanwhile, average household size has fallen almost 20 percent, from 3.14 people to 2.58 in 2002. (There are more singles, fewer children and more elderly couples.) Americans have bigger homes for smaller families. Now 36 percent of new homes have four bedrooms or more; in 1987 that was 23 percent. And everyone needs a bathroom. In 1971, 15 percent of new homes had 2.5 bathrooms or more; by 2003, 56 percent did.

No matter. Most Americans want more. The National Association of Home Builders (whose Web site provides all this data) surveys homeowner preferences. It finds that 64 percent want to "trade up" and only 14 percent would "trade down." Even among those 65 and over, 39 percent would trade up, compared with 28 percent who would trade down. On average, homeowners want houses almost 30 percent larger than at present; 44 percent want four bedrooms or more.

Housing dominates most family budgets; therefore, the quest for bigger homes underpins the middle-class "squeeze." But government won't do anything about it. Homeownership is the essence of the American dream. Indeed, various federal subsidies promote the demand for more -- and bigger -- homes.

Still, it's understandable that John Kerry likes the "squeeze" theme. The appeal is widespread, precisely because so many people feel -- or fear -- it. Kerry can also offer superficial solutions: new tax write-offs for college tuition; new subsidies for health insurance; promises to cut dependence on costly foreign oil. Similar solutions have been offered before and, had they worked, wouldn't be needed again. The other advantage of focusing on the middle class is that it distracts from dealing with the poor. Here, Kerry has made some proposals (particularly for health insurance), but his emphasis remains on the bigger political target.

The truth is that abolishing the middle-class squeeze is an impossible and undesirable task. Suppose the demand for bigger homes was suppressed. The urge to get ahead would pop up in other areas of aggressive consumption. As the upper-middle class indulges new tastes, it raises the bar for the middle- and lower-middle classes. The only way to stop this competitive cycle is to persuade Americans to be less ambitious. Why would anyone want to do that?


It's working so well in Europe...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:41 PM

YOU MEAN THEY NEED MORE THAN "NOT BUSH"?:

Voters want more specifics from Kerry: Poll shows Democratic candidate losing ground to Bush (Richard Morin and Claudia Deane, July 27, 2004, Washington Post)

A majority of voters say they know little about John F. Kerry's positions on key issues and want the Democratic presidential candidate to detail specific plans for handling the economy, Iraq and the war on terrorism when he addresses the Democratic National Convention and a nationally televised audience on Thursday, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey suggests that the stakes for Kerry and the Democrats as they began their convention in Boston could not be higher. In barely a month, Kerry has lost ground to President Bush on every top voting issue in this year's election.

A growing proportion of voters say Bush and not Kerry is the candidate who most closely shares their values, and four in 10 believe the Democrat is "too liberal." Bush has even narrowed the gap on which candidate better understands their problems, an area in which Kerry has led.

The poll suggests that negative ads by the Bush-Cheney campaign that have been airing since early March, as well as attacks by Republican officials, have been increasingly successful in planting the image of Kerry as an unreliable leader who flip-flops on the issues -- perceptions that Democrats will work hard to reverse at their convention.


Boston isn't exactly a specific rich environment this week.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:10 PM

MIKE TV FOR PRESIDENT:



Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:03 PM

GROAN AND BEAR IT:

Accepting the limits of reason: Walking the Tightrope of Reason: The Precarious Life of a Rational Animal By Robert Fogelin (Kenneth Baker, September 21, 2003, SF Chronicle)

People who shake their heads in despair over the course of recent events understandably deplore their fellow citizens' apparent reluctance to think. But thinking can create problems of its own.

Philosophers have known this for millennia and psychologists somewhat less long, but few have described better than Dartmouth professor of philosophy Robert Fogelin the peculiar poise that reasoning requires.

In Walking the Tightrope of Reason, Fogelin sustains the difficult balancing act of addressing colleagues and nonspecialist readers with equal clarity.

He defends philosophy against the popular misconception of its irrelevance and against the postmodernists' tendency to run it into a ditch of skepticism.

The overconfidence in reason known as rationalism has placed upon logic and mathematics, law and morality, demands for consistency and completeness that can never be satisfied. Such efforts run aground on the human condition, Fogelin believes.

The basic problem: panic at the discovery that reason not only has its limits but tends to generate phantom problems all by itself.

He deftly traces the genesis and diagnosis of these problems and inklings of relief from them to Descartes, Kant, Hume and Wittgenstein.

"Philosophizing about knowledge arises naturally out of the enterprise of forming beliefs in the most responsible way possible," Fogelin writes. "It seems unacceptable that philosophy's demand for rigor could be the source of intellectual disaster. So even though skeptical scenarios have unsolvability written on their faces, the idea persists that there must be some philosophical way to eliminate the skeptical problems they generate. I find success in this direction wholly unlikely."


The difficulty lies in accepting the koan-like truth that: Belief in reason isn't rational. Get past that and the rest is easy.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:51 PM

THINGS WE NEVER THOUGHT WE'D SAY...:

C-SPAN Highlights

Tonight
* Democratic National Convention (8pm) - LIVE
* Speakers Include: Sen. Tom Daschle (SD), Howard Dean
* Rep. Dick Gephardt (MO), IL Senate Candidate Barack Obama
* Teresa Heinz Kerry, Sen. Ted Kennedy (MA)


"Sure, sweetie, I'd love to watch Food Network while I pumice your feet."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:18 PM

HISTORY ISN'T SUPPOSED TO END THIS EASILY:

Early Steps, Maybe, Toward a Democracy in Iraq: Roughly 1,000 delegates will hold a national conference in Baghdad in the next week to vote on a 100-seat transitional council. (IAN FISHER, 7/27/04, NY Times)

Whether democracy is really coming to Iraq, or whether it is even possible here, seemed of no immediate concern to Dr. Ahmad Abu-Raghif, a physician in Baghdad. He was game anyway.

He showed up at a university hall here on Sunday with a good haircut, a blue suit and a big smile: the outfit of the office-seeker worldwide. He buttonholed 50 people, he said, at the grass-roots caucus, making the pitch for their votes.

"I explained myself to a lot of people," Dr. Abu-Raghif, 37, said before the voting began. "I have a Ph.D. I am a city council member. And I think I am a good candidate to win." Plus he had personal connections, which never hurt.

"Some of them are my patients," he confided.

His Western-style vote-corralling is part of what may become the birth of democracy in Iraq, something that never really existed here. As with much in Iraq since the American invasion, the experiment is at once inspiring and troubled, full of potential but not at all assured of success.

Caucuses like the one Dr. Abu-Raghif attended have been convening around Iraq to select roughly 1,000 delegates, who will hold a national conference in Baghdad in the next week.

The concrete goal of the conference is to vote - openly and freely - on a 100-seat transitional council that will oversee the government of Iyad Allawi, the interim prime minister, until national elections are held in January. But the conference is also meant to function as an opportunity for a national dialogue, in which for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraqis from all religions, regions and political and ethnic groups begin to discuss the way forward.


Why won't these dang Muslims read the memo about how they aren't interested in democracy?


MORE:
Indonesia: Democracy, Islam do mix (John Hughes, 7/28/04, CS Monitor)

Cynics in the West argue that Islam and democracy don't mix.

Democracy can't work in a Muslim country like Afghanistan, they say, because of the dictatorial grip of the warlords. It won't work in Iraq because the country is in chaos. It won't work in Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, or the rest of the Arab world because of autocratic rulers and Muslim extremists.

Such critics in the US conveniently dismiss the presence of some 4 million to 7 million Muslims in their land who remain true to their religion but thrive under democracy and revere it. But even in predominantly Muslim nations there are examples of burgeoning democracy.

One such nation - the largest Muslim country in the world - is Indonesia. Its 216 million people have survived colonialism under the Dutch, a slide toward communism under Sukarno, an abortive coup attempt that led to a nationwide bloodletting, years of corrupt dictatorship under Suharto, violent separatist upheavals and religious tensions, and a flurry of Al Qaeda-style terrorism.

By all measures, Indonesia should be an international basket case, difficult terrain for democracy. Yet with all its past turmoil, it is moving purposely through a complicated election process in which the once tender shoots of democracy are blooming healthily.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:11 PM

TO PARAPHRASE LBJ... (via Governor Breck):

When Punchline Trumps Honesty: There's more McCarthy than Murrow in the work of Michael Moore (SCOTT SIMON, July 27, 2004, Opinion Journal)

Michael Moore has won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and may win an Oscar for the kind of work that got Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, and Jack Kelly fired.

Trying to track the unproven innuendoes and conspiracies in a Michael Moore film or book is as futile as trying to count the flatulence jokes in one by Adam Sandler. Some journalists and critics have acted as if his wrenching of facts is no more serious than a movie continuity problem, like showing a 1963 Chevy in 1956 Santa Monica.

A documentary film doesn't have to be fair and balanced, to coin a phrase. But it ought to make an attempt to be accurate.


...when Michael Moore loses NPR he's lost the war.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:04 PM

SORRY, HONEY, I DIDN'T HEAR YOU...:

Male Songbird Responds to Mate Only When He's the Third Wheel (Scientific American, 7/22/04)

Like a stereotypical husband who pretends not to hear his wife berating him, some male songbirds show no signs of recognizing the call of their long-term mate in laboratory settings. But recent work with these animals finds that they can, in fact, differentiate their mate's voice but will react to it only in certain social situations.

Zebra finches are monogamous songbirds from Australia that fly in large flocks. As a result, couples routinely lose visual contact of each other and use calls to keep in touch. Whereas the female zebra finch clearly responds to the sound of her partner, the reciprocal behavior had not been observed in the male.


Must they reveal all our secrets?


Posted by Peter Burnet at 2:45 PM

SOFT POWER

Iran starts atom tests in defiance of EU deal (Anton La Guardia, The Daily Telegraph, July 27th, 2004)

Iran has broken the seals on nuclear equipment monitored by United Nations inspectors and is once again building and testing machines that could make fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Teheran's move, revealed to The Daily Telegraph yesterday by western sources, breaks a deal with European countries under which Iran suspended "all uranium enrichment activity".

It will also exacerbate fears that the regional power is determined to make an atomic bomb within a few years. [...]

America has in recent weeks renewed its call for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

However, diplomats said senior officials from the "EU-3" - Britain, France and Germany - would try to coax Teheran back to the path of co-operation at a secret meeting in Paris on Thursday.[...]

British officials say they have no illusions about Iran's intentions, but have hitherto advocated patient diplomacy.

They want to allow inspectors to keep working to "box in" the Iranians to the point where they either give up nuclear weapons ambitions or commit such a blatant violation that the West can win international support for sanctions.

"Iran has resumed research and testing, and every day that passes means it gets closer to mastering the technology," said one western source.

"If the Europeans think they can outfox the Iranians in the carpet bazaar, they are deeply mistaken."

Once again, the West dreams of how it can "shame" renegade regimes into responsible behaviour. The longer this goes on, the harder it may be for the Iranian opposition to overcome the surge of nationalist resentment at the constant feckless carping at Teheran. National pride may provide a shot in the arm for the regime, just as it did in Serbia.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:58 PM

TRY GRADUAL AND LOGICAL:

ONE HELLHOLE UNDER GOD: Why the Republican Party suddenly cares about Sudan—or at least pretends to. (Christopher Lord, 7/27/04, NY Press)

Of all the unlikely places for America to be getting involved in another war, western Sudan has particularly little going for it. Unless you count a few million potential candidates for the Christian missionary business, there's little to interest outside entrepreneurs. What the country has in extraordinary abundance of is problems. And thanks to a surprising chain of events, it looks as though some of these problems now belong to the United States, too. [...]

[T]he antislavery idea was not quite enough to reach mainstream white churchgoers, key members of the Bush II voter base. Hence, oversimplification number two: The war in Sudan was essentially about the persecution of Christians by Muslims.

This "de-blacked" message made white evangelicals and Republican politicians comfortable, so on March 22, 2001, Republican Dick Armey, at that time House Majority Leader and ally of the evangelicals, said of Sudan: "It is the only place in the world in which religious genocide is taking place. People are being tortured, mutilated and killed solely because of their Christian faith."

The religion-driven interest in Africa led directly to the bizarre spectacle in Kampala last year, when mystified Ugandans listened to George W. tell them that God sent him there. In fact, he wasn't talking to them at all, but to Christian voters back home. Church groups, in this case white church groups, had also begun organizing around the issue of an abstinence-based AIDS policy in Africa. Without this link to his fundamentalist base, Bush would be unlikely to ever mention the continent.

But like slavery, the persecution of Christians is a side issue in Sudan, where some estimates put Christians as outnumbered two- or three-to-one by those with traditional beliefs in spirits and magic, and people now counted as Christians are recent converts, the targets of European and American missionary campaigns (and in many cases still believers in traditional spirituality). Even by evangelical standards, there are some weird versions of Christianity on offer. The notoriously brutal Lord's Resistance Army, for instance, a Ugandan group also operating in southern Sudan, claims to want a society based on the Ten Commandments—and abducts children to be soldiers.

The Muslim/anti-Muslim explanation falls apart further when you consider that there are Christians in the south, and Muslims in the north. Many American activists are attracted to the fact that the Sudan People's Liberation Movement are Christians. While this group is the main opponent of the government in the south of the country, in Darfur the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) is avowedly Muslim, and the other main opposition group, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) has a message of equality of religions under the law.

Fact is, the issue of self-determination for the south has been a contentious issue since the years before its independence in 1956, and it seems to cut straight across religious lines. Khartoum has been trying to run a centralized state, while the rebel leaders in the south of the country have wanted either to secede or achieve local power-sharing.

Against this shifting background, the Bush administration last month decided to get more actively involved. Colin Powell was the natural person to lead the charge. After Somalia, there was no question of military involvement, but the State Department threw its weight behind the idea of peaceful negotiations.

This surprised the Sudanese. America, after all, had stood by while a number of other African countries melted down. Why pick on them? As far as they're concerned, they're trying to stop their state from falling apart.

Once they realized what was happening—that they were on the receiving end of televised visits from leading American evangelists—the Khartoum government denounced the American religious right for interfering in Sudanese affairs.

"Fears are rising that if American evangelicals continue to focus exclusively on the religious dimensions of the Sudanese war, there could be a backlash from Islamic fundamentalists, thus intensifying the conflict," wrote Matthias Muindi of Arab American News in May 2001. "Analysts, mainstream Church officials, and aid workers are worried that the stance taken by the Christian Right might jeopardize relief operations and precipitate a humanitarian crisis in Sudan."

This is a pretty good description of what's happened over the last three years. In the words of a December 2002 State Department report on religious freedom: "The U.S. Government has made it clear to the [Sudanese] Government that the problem of religious freedom is one of the key impediments to an improvement in the relationship between the two countries. High-level U.S. officials and U.S. Missions to international forums have raised consistently the issue of religious freedom with both the Government and the public."

The "Peace Envoy" sent by the Bush administration in 2002 to oversee their Sudan engagement was none other than retired Senator John "Saint Jack" Danforth, who last month replaced John Negroponte as Ambassador to the U.N. Danforth is an ordained Episcopalian minister who has described himself as "a warrior doing battle for the Lord."

On paper, the U.S.-led diplomatic effort has seen modest success, with a ceasefire declared in April and a power-sharing agreement between the government and the rebels accepted in principle by both sides.


So why is this either sudden or unlikely? Doesn't the whole essay demonstrate the opposite?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:46 PM

HEY LOOK, MA, NO NEW TAXES:

State budget deal reached: SIDES END BITTER STALEMATE WITHOUT RAISING TAXES (Ann E. Marimow and Kate Folmar, 7/26/04, San Jose Mercury News)

Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders struck a budget deal late Monday on a $100 billion-plus spending plan, ending the partisan stalemate that had stymied the rookie governor for nearly a month. [...]

Schwarzenegger stuck to his anti-tax promise and, to appease Republicans, scrapped plans to raise fees on the timber industry. Still, college students and their parents will be asked to pay 14 percent more in student fees.


He won on the only thing that mattered to his reputation and future: taxes.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:03 PM

SLIGHTLY OFF MESSAGE:

SEIU Chief Says the Democrats Lack Fresh Ideas: Stern Asserts That a Kerry Win Could Set Back Efforts to Reform the Party (David S. Broder, July 27, 2004, Washington Post)

Breaking sharply with the enforced harmony of the Democratic National Convention, the president of the largest AFL-CIO union said Monday that both organized labor and the Democratic Party might be better off in the long run if Sen. John F. Kerry loses the election.

Andrew L. Stern, the head of the 1.6 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said in an interview with The Washington Post that both the party and its longtime ally, the labor movement, are "in deep crisis," devoid of new ideas and working with archaic structures.

Stern argued that Kerry's election might stifle needed reform within the party and the labor movement. [...]

Stern made it clear that his complaints long preceded Kerry's nomination. He said that when Clinton was president, he demonstrated how little he cared for the Democratic Party. Calling the former president "the greatest fundraiser of his time," Stern asked: "If you think the Democratic Party is valuable, why would you leave it bankrupt?" Other elected officials are equally indifferent to the party, he said, adding that if Kerry is elected "he would smother" any effort to give it more intellectual heft and organizational muscle.


If the Party were a human being Democrats would want to unplug it--it's braindead.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:42 AM

PARALYSIS? IF ONLY THEY COULD STAY PUT:

Is Europe Suffering From Productivity Paralysis?: If it doesn't boost spending on tech, Europe will fall further behind (David Fairlamb in Frankfurt and Andy Reinhardt in Paris, with Laura Cohn in London, 8/02/04, Business Week)

Why can't Europe be more productive? That's a question investors, executives, and politicians are asking with increasing urgency. Boosting labor productivity is the key to creating higher profits, improving living standards, and keeping prices stable. For decades after World War II, Europe kept pace or even surpassed the U.S. in productivity growth. But since 1995, Europe has trailed America in this vital metric.

The gap is even widening. This year the U.S. should record productivity gains of 3.3%, according to Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union. That's almost twice the rate of France and Germany and well above the British rate (yes, even dynamic Britain is struggling in this area). Europe now has an hourly output per worker some 20% below American levels.

The productivity numbers have become so alarming that European Central Bank boss Jean-Claude Trichet warned about the problem in a July 1 speech. The Dutch, who have seen their once-robust economy stumble, are getting worried. "Future economic growth will require a substantial increase in our productivity," says Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst. Patricia Hewitt, the British Secretary of State for Trade & Industry, has made improving productivity a top priority: It's the only way Britain can close a still-considerable gap in living standards between British workers and their U.S. counterparts.

But what exactly is wrong? The short answer is that Europe is not seeing the same productivity bang from information technology that the U.S. has enjoyed over the past decade. The long answer is that uniquely European factors -- from stiff job-protection codes to hidden barriers against competition -- amplify the problem. There is no simple fix.


More important, they've made a cultural value, almost an inalienable right, out of being unproductive.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:33 AM

THE BLASE BASE (via Kevin Whited):

Black voters may stay home if campaigns don't step up (DeWayne Hickman, 7/26/04, USA Today)

While black voters favor Kerry over Bush by an 8-to-1 margin, only 27% say they're "enthusiastic" about the Massachusetts senator's candidacy, and 58% say they're merely "satisfied." These lukewarm attitudes open up the possibility that some may ultimately decide to sit out this election.

Their lack of enthusiasm for Kerry is mind-boggling. Nearly two-thirds of the poll's respondents say they believe Kerry shares their priorities and 85% say they disapprove of the job Bush is doing.

In essence, black voters are turned off by Bush, but are not turned on by Kerry — and I suspect there is little either man personally can do to reverse these numbers. They need help from others who have a long-established standing among black voters.

Kerry is leaning heavily on members of the Congressional Black Caucus to get blacks to the polls, but the BET/CBS poll suggests he should be knocking on the Rev. Jesse Jackson's door.

Jackson, who once described himself as "a tree shaker, not a jelly maker" because of his penchant for getting in and out of racial hot spots, has a pied piper's appeal with black voters. He won millions of black votes in his 1984 and 1988 campaigns for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Not surprisingly, the poll's respondents ranked him as "the most important national leader in the black community today."

If Kerry wants to get black voters excited about his campaign, his campaign needs to get excited about Jackson.


Mr. Hickman is using the example of 1984 and 1988? Surely Karl Rove wrote this?


Posted by Peter Burnet at 11:25 AM

WE DEMAND HEALTH WARNINGS ON RUNNING SHOES

Longer lives mean hip surgery is booming (Gabrielle Giroday, Globe and Mail, July 27th, 2004)

There has been a 19-per-cent increase in the total number of hip replacements done since 1994-95, as well as a higher incidence of repeats. Of all hip replacement surgeries, 11.3 per cent are repeats, meaning there are more sufferers than ever who've made multiple voyages to the operating room in their quest for a pain-free existence. Mrs. Doucette, an active swimmer, runner and stretcher, struggled with what she called "terminal low-grade pain" for most of her adult life.

At 50, sick of limited mobility and her inability to golf or use a Nautilus machine, she opted for a gruelling process where both hip joints were replaced, eight months apart.

The upshot? Mrs. Doucette could finally go about her classroom duties as a Scarborough, Ont., high-school math teacher without fear of continually increasing pain.

"Hip replacement is going up because people are living longer and know what can be done," Dr. Hugh Cameron, a hip and knee specialist at Toronto's Sunnybrook and Women's College Orthopaedic and Arthritic Institute, said.

Dr. Cameron has done hip surgery on more than 3,000 clients, and could remember volumes of patients from their early 20s to mid-60s who will be facing at least two major hip replacements in their lifetimes.

"If you get a hip replacement earlier in your life, you're going to face another one sooner or later. The more active you are, the faster the lining of the new hip wears," Dr. Cameron said.

Dr. John Antoniou, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Montreal's McGill medical school, concurs. "We're seeing an increase in the second and third time 'round surgery due to implants wearing down. With people staying alive and active longer, we can hope with the newer generation of implants that longevity will increase," he said.

If smokers and the obese are to be condemned for the health costs of their lifestyles, why not joggers and fervent athletes? What interest does the state have in condemning one and promoting the other?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:21 AM

THE STUPIDITY OF ARTISTS IS UNIVERSAL:

Collette urges Latham to reject deal (The Age, July 27, 2004)

Actor Toni Collette has called on Labor leader Mark Latham to prove he has "balls" by rejecting the government's proposed Free Trade Agreement with the US.

"I think if Mark Latham said no to the FTA and got in, people would stand up and applaud him for just having the balls to be a visionary and not feel as though he is having to answer to somebody," Collette said in Sydney while promoting her latest film - Connie and Carla.

"If he is going to be a leader, he has to show that he can lead - that would be my fantasy."


In a related story, his autopsy revealed that Senatort Reed Smoot had a rare medical condition known as gonadal elephantiasis.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:11 AM

OBLIGATORY PHASCIST REFERENCE:

US: Patriotic pride and fear (Ritt Goldstein, 7/08/04, Asia Times)

While some critics of US President George W Bush have charged that his administration is pursuing policies of madness, such a charge is clinically incorrect, but it may convey an extraordinarily disturbing reality. Both an eminent psychologist and a noted political scientist perceive a particularly virulent social pathogen as the basis for much of the present global strife, with Washington at the center of the epidemic.

"It certainly seems that the world is going mad," Canadian psychologist Dr Daniel Burston told Asia Times Online, quickly noting that an increasing retreat into "social phantasy systems" would be more accurate. Burston - whose work has been acclaimed in the mainstream media - noted that famed social psychologist Erich Fromm had written on "socially patterned defects" that enabled large groups of people to adjust themselves comfortably to a system that, humanly speaking, is "fundamentally at odds with our basic existential and human needs". Burston observed that this resulted in "deficiencies, or traits, or attitudes which don't generate internal conflict when, in fact, they should".

He saw the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal as raising a number of questions, noting that "there seems very little doubt that it was sanctioned from above". Burston labeled the guards' behavior as "sadistic".

Fromm, in his 1941 classic Escape from Freedom , wrote: "A person can be entirely dominated by his sadistic strivings and consciously believe that he is motivated only by his sense of duty." And on June 23, the Associated Press (AP) reported that an August 2002 US Justice Department memo "argues that torture - and even the deliberate killing - of prisoners in the terror war could be justified", with torture being redefined as "only actions that cause severe pain akin to organ failure".

AP also reported that the Justice Department had now "backed away" from the memo.

Burston named Nazi exterminator Adolf Eichmann as representing the "prototypical example" of what the phenomenon of "socially patterned defects" can engender.


Gotta admit, we do think of Canada as Lebensraum.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:01 AM

THE LOONEY TUNES LESSON FOR THE MIDDLE KINGDOM:

The Chinese audit that went nowhere (Wang Chu, 7/28/04, Asia Times)

Since it took office in March 2003, the reformist administration of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao has encountered the age-old challenge that has always confronted leaders of conviction and vision: inefficient enforcement of the law - and disdain for the rule of law.

Some China observers attribute the problem to two major causes: first, officialdom itself has only a feeble notion of the rule of law, what it means and that no one should be above it; second, fierce resistance emanates from powerful in-groups, common in both central and local governments and dedicated to protecting their vested interests in power and financial gain.

It has been more than a month since June 23, when China's National Audit Office released its comprehensive 2003 audit report, unearthing malfeasance and inefficiencies across the board in the governmental establishment. As yet, few problem departments have made any positive responses to the report. None has issued an open statement of apology or acknowledgement of responsibility nor has any promised to rectify its work in the future.


Wile Coyote's legs keep churning for a few frames before he realizes he's run off a cliff.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:46 AM

50-0 FILES (via AWW)

Consumer confidence surges: Survey shows better employment outlook lifts attitude to highest point in two years. (CNN/Money, July 27, 2004)

The Conference Board's latest reading on consumer confidence posted a much stronger gain than expected in July, lifted by gains in the employment outlook.

The survey released Tuesday put its index at 106.1, up from a June reading that was revised up to 102.8. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com forecast a the index would reach 102.0 in July, which would have been up slightly from June's original 101.9 reading.

July marked the fourth straight month of gains for the index and put it at the highest level since June 2002.


The bears saw his shadow and went back to hibernating.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM

THE 51ST:

Nuclear Israel: Belling the cat (Ehsan Ahrari, Asia Times)

In an era of intense global support for nuclear non-proliferation, Israel's unspoken possession of a nuclear arsenal - euphemistically known as an outcome of its policy of "strategic ambiguity" - is coming under increased criticism and limelight. Mohammad ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - the United Nations' nuclear watchdog - visited Israel on Tuesday to talk to the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. Even though a spokesman of that agency denied that ElBaradei's mission was to ask the Jewish state to unravel its nuclear-weapons program, one is hard pressed to know how else that region would ever become a nuclear-free zone. According to the unclassified estimates of the US intelligence community of the late 1990s, Israel possesses between 75 and 130 nuclear weapons.

If one were looking for a gaping example of US nuclear non-proliferation policy double standards, that it lets Israel continue to modernize its nuclear arsenal without even a word of criticism would fit the bill.


Statehood would obviate Israel's need for a nuclear deterrent of its own and aid non-proliferation efforts.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 AM

HE CAN'T EVEN GIVE A STRAIGHT ANSWER TO A SPORTS QUESTION (via Glenn Dryfoos):

10 Burning Questions for John Kerry (Jeff Merron, ESPN.com)

1. What's been your favorite sports moment as a fan?

Oh, God, there've been so many it's hard to pick just one. Bobby Orr in [the] 1972 Stanley Cup playoffs. Adam Vinatieri, last-minute kick, Super Bowl. The famous snow game with the Raiders. The most recent [Super Bowl] victory, which I watched in Fargo, North Dakota, on a cold night.

Lance Armstrong. The extraordinary last-minute victory of Greg LeMond when he won it the third time. [LeMond's "last-minute" victory, when he came from behind to beat Frenchman Laurent Fignon by eight seconds, came in LeMond's second Tour victory, in 1989.]

Great Olympic moments, I can pick so many. Franz Klammer winning the Olympic gold medal in skiing when he was recovering from a near-disastrous fall, going all-out, breakneck speed. Tiger Woods. I don't know, I like a lot of different sports. Different sports, different great events. McEnroe and Jimmy Connors facing off. There's just so many.

Obviously one of the greatest sporting moments ever witnessed, I thought, was the Miracle on Ice. I mean, the Miracle Team in '80. I remember watching the 1960 one, too, which was huge. I remember that very distinctly. The Cleary brothers -- it was a great year.

Anytime you watch Wayne Gretzky or Jaromir Jagr and some of the great U.S.-Russian hockey games of the past ... big, open, wide skating, stick-handling, passing -- beautiful game.


Never mind how Blue State his answers are (bicycling, tennis, the Olympics and hockey?), as Dryfoos points out, it's almost like he's going through a check list to make sure he doesn't miss any of the ones his aides told him to mention.


July 26, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 PM

RESTORING THE CONSTITUTION:

Flag Amendment Restores a 200 Year Old Tradition (John Fonte, American Outlook)

[T]he flag amendment does not reverse 200 years of constitutional tradition, amend the Bill of Rights, or restrict free speech. On the contrary, the amendment restores traditional legal practice. As Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote in his Johnson dissent: "Both Congress and the states [for years] have enacted numerous laws regulating the misuse of the American flag." At the time of the Supreme Court's Johnson decision, all the states except Alaska and Wyoming had laws on the books prohibiting flag burning. Moreover, Congress had passed the Uniform Flag Act of 1917 that stated, "No person shall publicly mutilate, deface, defile…" an American flag. Furthermore, the regulation of the misuse of the flag was made uniform and incorporated into the federal U.S. Code (18 U.S.C. 700a).

In short, there is no sense in which the proposed flag amendment reverses a "200-year old constitutional tradition" and "amends the Bill of Rights." Indeed, any "amending" of the 1789 Bill of Rights occurred in 1989, when the U.S Supreme Court, by a 5 to 4 vote decided that the legal protection of the American flag that "had existed for 200 years was now mysteriously unconstitutional," in the words of Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.

The other main charge against the flag amendment-that it restricts freedom of speech-is also unfounded. In fact, it is particularly significant that the proposed constitutional amendment does not prohibit or restrict free speech or the articulation of any ideas.

As Chief Justice Rehnquist noted in his dissent, the flag burner Gregory Johnson was free to "make any verbal denunciation of the flag that he wished." Rehnquist pointed out that Johnson did lead a march chanting "Red, white, and blue, we spit on you," for which he was not (and could not) be prosecuted. The Chief Justice also noted that under traditional (pre-1989) law, Johnson was "left with" both "a full panoply" of non-verbal "symbols" and with "every conceivable form of verbal expression."

The proposed flag amendment is not concerned with speech, but with conduct. It simply states, "The Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." This has been the traditional and commonsense practice of America's constitutional democracy for 200 years (supported by such civil libertarians as Earl Warren, Hugo Black and Abe Fortas.) Even a 1974 Supreme Court case (Smith v. Goguen) that permitted a protestor to wear a flag patch on the seat of his pants stated unequivocally as part of the majority decision that, "nothing prevents a legislature from defining with substantial specificity what constitutes forbidden treatment of United States flags."

Our democratic republic is based on two core principles: self-government ("government by consent of the governed") and limited government (in which governmental power is limited because all citizens possesses "inalienable natural rights"). Those inalienable natural rights have traditionally included freedom of the press, speech, religion, and assembly, but until 1989 few dreamed that they included the "right" to physically desecrate the American flag, the symbolic representation of American liberty. There is not, never was, and never should be, such a "right" under our Constitution and Bill of Rights.


Actions aren't speech.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 PM

IT TOOK FOUR OF THEM TO FIGURE IT OUT?:

Where Do They Stand? (SARAH BINDER, THOMAS MANN, ALAN MURPHY and PAUL SAHRE, 7/26/04, NY Times)

Most campaigns feature efforts by the candidates to characterize their opponent as being out of the mainstream - as an extreme liberal or as part of the far right. The current presidential campaign is no exception.

Thus far, most of the ideological fire has been directed at the Kerry-Edwards ticket. The Bush campaign has gotten particularly good mileage out of a National Journal analysis of roll call voting in 2003 that ranked John Kerry of Massachusetts as the No. 1 liberal in the Senate and John Edwards of North Carolina as the fourth-most-liberal senator.

Yet the senators' ratings are misleading because of the large number of votes each man missed. Mr. Kerry, for example, attended so few votes on social and foreign policy that his composite score in 2003 was based only on economic policy. Even then he was not the single most liberal senator on economic issues; it was a distinction he shared with six other senators, including Bob Graham of Florida.

So where do the Democratic nominees really fit along the left-right spectrum? Well, you get a different answer if your calculations are based on nearly all votes cast by the candidates in their Senate careers. Using this measure, we have arrayed Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards from left to right in the above figure based on their voting history in the Senate. For comparison's sake, we also have included Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, John McCain of Arizona, and the parties' median senators. We even have scores for President Bush (from his announced positions on roll call votes while president) and Vice President Dick Cheney (based on the votes he cast when he represented Wyoming in the House of Representatives from 1979 through 1988).

Assertions that the Democrats' presumptive nominees are extreme liberals fall flat. True, Mr. Kerry's voting history places him to the left of today's median Senate Democrat (Tom Daschle of South Dakota). But he is closer to the center of the Democratic Party than he is to the most liberal senators, including Mr. Kennedy. John Edwards falls just to the right of the median Democrat. In fact, he is nearly indistinguishable from Mr. Lieberman, the Democrats' vice presidential candidate in 2000.

On the other side of the partisan divide, Mr. Bush - like Mr. Kerry - is more extreme than his party's median senator (Richard Shelby of Alabama). He is also noticeably more conservative than his primary challenger in 2000, John McCain.


Did this much ink really need to be spilled to tell us that Mr. Kerry is very liberal and Mr. Bush very conservative?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM

THEY WIN WITH WALLACE, LOSE WITH McGOVERN:

Loony Over Labels (Michael Kinsley, July 25, 2004, Washington Post)

It is an odd notion that the Democratic Party is about to flicker out and, like Tinker Bell, can be saved only if all the delegates chant, "We do believe in moderation. We do. We do." An especially irritating variant, usually from conservative commentators, holds piously that the Democratic Party must save itself because two parties are essential to democracy or because competition is good for the Republicans.

These themes have reverberated around Democratic conventions since the first post-McGovernite election year of 1976. By now the word "McGovernite," never exactly filled with schismatic drama and romance, must be about as meaningful to the average voter as "Shachtmanite" or "Albigensian." George McGovern, children, was a senator from South Dakota (a region of the upper west side of Manhattan in the geographical mythology of Democratic Party critics) and the Democratic presidential candidate in 1972. He was, and is, a left-liberal. The Republican offering that year was Richard Nixon (with Spiro Agnew for dessert), but it is the Democrats who have been apologizing for their choice ever since.

You would not know from the Democrats' three decades of defensiveness about themselves and the label liberal that the Democratic candidate got more votes than the Republican one in each of the past three presidential elections. Another way of putting this is that the candidate the world labeled a liberal, whether he admitted it or not, got more votes than the candidate who proudly labeled himself a conservative.


Liberal? The candidate in those three elections was quite specifically a DLC Southerner.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:53 PM

FIRST ORDER, THEN FREEDOM:

U.S. 'Correctional Population' Hits New High (FOX BUTTERFIELD, 7/26/04, NY Times)

The number of Americans under the control of the criminal justice system grew by 130,700 last year to reach a new high of nearly 6.9 million, according to a Justice Department report released today.

The total includes people in jail and prison as well as those on probation and parole. This is about 3.2 percent of the adult population in the United States, the report said.


Folk--especially libertarians and the Left--always underestimate the degree to which our liberty depends on our being a rather repressive society.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:48 PM

ISN'T THE MAN WHO BURIED SOCIALISM AUTOMATICALLY GREAT?:

Not too great. Just too greatly liked: a review of Blair By Anthony Seldon (The Economist)

[S]ome of the verdicts which Mr Seldon reaches about his subject should be seen as more provisional than the author suggests. It is still not clear whether Mr Blair's efforts to modernise Britain's creaking public services will be seen as a partial success or as proof that the whole enterprise was doomed from the outset without more radical reforms and a different approach to funding. Similarly, despite the currently fashionable consensus that Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster, it is conceivable that by the time Mr Blair quits the scene the decisions that he took in the run-up to war will appear in a better light than now.

Mr Seldon's conclusions about Mr Blair's place in history occupy only a small part of this weighty book, but they are important because they set what precedes them in an almost elegiac light. His judgment that Mr Blair, while not a bad prime minister, cannot claim a place in a first rank that includes Asquith, Attlee, Churchill and Thatcher, is both hard to disagree with and unlikely to alter. But whereas Mr Seldon appears to see this as an almost tragic denouement, an example of limitless promise, if not betrayed, at least unfulfilled, this is both too harsh and too grand.

At least three of the four “greats” of the last century had mandates to remake Britain as a different place. For all the size of Mr Blair's majorities in 1997 and 2001, he was elected as an ameliorator rather than what the management consultants call a “change agent”.


It may not outlast his own leadership, but isn't there nearly as much greatness in Mr. Blair making Labour a Thatcherite party as there was in her making Britain a Thatcherite nation? Britain's socialist party is now led by an anti-union, crypto-Catholic, conservative, moralist who, along with George W. Bush, is imposing liberal democratic capitalism on Islam. That seems rather significant.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:44 PM

HIGHLIGHTS?:

C-SPAN Highlights

Tonight
* Democratic National Convention (8pm) - LIVE
* Speakers Include: Fmr. Presidents Jimmy Carter & Bill Clinton
* Former V.P. Al Gore, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe
* Rep. Tubbs Jones (D-OH) & Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

I thought that show was called Just Shoot Me


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:09 PM

KISSINGER'S GET:

How to Lose the War on Terror: A CIA bin Laden expert’s lament: One of the striking things about the Iraq War is the extent to which American foreign-affairs professionals—intelligence analysts, diplomats, and high-ranking military officers—recognize it is a tragically misguided venture. (The American Conservative, 8/02/04)

Those in the crowd who are old enough: imagine it's 1980 and someone tells you that you'll live long enough to see the day when Pat Buchanan boasts of being on the side of the "foreign-affairs professionals," or, as he called them then: "The striped-pants cookie-pushers."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:01 PM

THEY KNOW THEY LOST, WHY CAN'T WE FIGURE OUT WE WON:

Educate All Children: Adequate and equitable funding is required for schools to provide qualified teachers, small classes and up-to-date facilities (Barbara Miner, July 22, 2004, In These Times)

The right to a free, public education is enshrined in the constitutions of all 50 states. That right is under attack by the Bush administration and its allies.

Using the club of its shamelessly misnamed No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the Bush agenda punishes and sets up public schools for failure while promoting privatization schemes that funnel dollars to for-profit and religiously based programs.


Free? Then why are we taxed to pay for it? All NCLB does--eventually, though not yet, unfortunately--is let you choose a private education instead. If public schools don't offer educations that are competitive with those offered by private schools why should children pay the price of the Left's statist dreams?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:55 PM

MORE THAN WE NEED, LESS THAN WE WANT:

THREE LITTLE WORDS (Mark Steyn, July 12th 2004, National Review)

At dinner in Paris a couple of years ago, I was asked about “this American sickness with guns”.

“Americans have guns,” I said, “because a lot of Americans like having guns.”

My host scoffed. “A lot of people here would like to have guns, too. But they don’t.”

“Exactly,” I said.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:51 PM

IF ALL YOU HAVE TO OFFER IS HATE YOU'D BETTER AT LEAST SERVE IT UP:

Kerry's angry base (Robert Novak, July 26, 2004, Townhall)

What makes this Democratic National Convention look like the most unified such assemblage in the party's fractious history is a universal loathing for George W. Bush. That is the very emotion that John Kerry's high command recognizes it must avoid playing to as the presidential nominee is presented to the nation this week.

One of Sen. Kerry's closest and most influential advisers put it to me this way over the weekend: "We can turn this convention into a nonstop Bush-bashing rally, and everybody will be happy. But we already have those votes. If we do that, we end up with 42 percent of the vote and lose the election."

This situation points to needle-threading that will be necessary in Boston this week.


Given that the economy, incumbency, and other factors make the election unwinnable they run a terrible risk if they fail to massage the base--they could end up struggling just to hold that 42%. In that case they'll face a congressional meltdown. It's worth recalling that George H. W. Bush's high point in the polls in '92 came after Pat Buchanan's speech.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 2:33 PM

THE GAME ITSELF IS A SNORE, BUT MAN, THOSE PENALTY SHOOTOUTS...

Soccer referee wanted for shooting coach, players (Fox SportsWorld, July 26th, 2004)

Police were searching Monday for a referee accused of fatally shooting a coach on the field in a dispute during a weekend soccer game.

Two players from the visiting Marcelle team were injured during the attack Saturday in the Eastern Cape coastal town of Kenton-on-Sea, police spokeswoman Mali Govender said. She declined to identify the suspect or the victims.

"The referee awarded a penalty against the visiting team during a friendly match and then players stormed the field," Govender said. "It looks as if the referee had the firearm on his person and fired at the players first before hitting the coach in the chest."

The coach from Ekuphumuleni died at the scene, she said. The referee fled.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:44 AM

THE TRUTH HURTS:

Downer under fire (CRAIG CLARKE, 27jul04, The Advertiser)

DIPLOMATIC rift has opened, after Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer blamed terror threats against Australia on the withdrawal of Spanish and Filipino forces from Iraq.

The Philippines yesterday slammed Mr Downer as "narrow-minded", while the Spanish Government has branded his remarks as "totally unacceptable".

Mr Downer stood by his comments and said Australia would not withdraw its troops, even to spare the life of a kidnapped Australian.

The international spat was sparked by threats from Islamic terrorists to use car bombs to attack Australia unless it withdraws troops from Iraq.

ASIO was still trying to verify the threats, posted on the Internet by the Tawhid Islamic Group, which claims links with al-Qaida.

Mr Downer said the withdrawal of Spain and the Philippines from the US-led coalition had encouraged more kidnappings in Iraq.


Don Rumsfeld put this nicely in his press conference last week: "Weakness is provocative."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:18 AM

N.A.I.I.A.B.S.P.P.B.R.W.I.P.M.A.M.A.S.S.I.O.G.W.B.F.F.R.O.D.E.P.J.B.A.R.A.M.M.S.S. Kerry in '04!:

A Letter to The Black Caucus from A Black Woman Living in South Central (Donna J. Warren, July 22, 2004, CommonDreams.org)

'We respect your right to run Mr. Nader, now withdraw.'
- Elijah Cummings, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus of the United States House of Representatives.

To Representative Cummings and members of the Black Caucus,

You demanded Independent Candidates Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo withdraw from the presidential race in favor of NAFTA approving, Iraq invading, Afghanistan bombing, Sudanese pharmaceutical plant bombing, right-wing Israeli prime minister and murderer Ariel Sharon supporting; impeachment of George W. Bush for the forced removal of democratically elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide refusing, and mandatory minimum sentencing supporting - John Kerry.


Try and fit that on a yard sign, nevermind a bumper sticker.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 AM

REASONABILITY:

Stocks Keep Falling, But Key P-E Models Say They're Cheap (Ken Hoover, 7/23/04, Investor's Business Daily)

Corporate profits are hitting record highs while the stock market is down for the year. That can mean only one thing: stocks are getting cheaper.

The 12-month trailing P-E ratio for the S&P 500 hit 17.7 on Friday, the lowest since 1996. That's based on S&P's estimate of $16.21 a share for the quarter ending June 30, which is up from a $15.87 preliminary reading for the quarter ending March 31.

The valuation on the S&P 500 isn't a historical low, but it's well below the highs of the bubble years, when it soared above 25. It hit 45 in 2002 as earnings were sinking.

In fact, the S&P's P-E ratio, based on operating earnings, is below the average of 20 going back to 1988, but still above the average of 15.6 going back to 1935.

"It's hard to characterize the market as cheap," said Nick Bohnsack, an analyst for International Strategy and Investment. "We think stocks are fairly priced."


Which is why most of us, who won't be retiring for decades, are wise to just keep buying. Meanwhile, those high profit margins mean businesses can (as they must) absorb temporary inflation blips without raising prices.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM

SHE MORE THAN MADE UP FOR IT (via Glenn Dryfoos):

An untold chapter in the life of Celia Cruz (CAROL ROSENBERG, 7/25/04, Miami Herald)

The year was 1955, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, and Celia Cruz, 29, was a star on the stage and airwaves with Cuba's celebrated Sonora Matancera band. And, at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, she was banned from visiting the United States as a suspected communist.

In fact, the singer known affectionately as Celia to generations of Cuban exiles was at least twice refused an artist's visa to visit America in the 1950s, according to a recently declassified U.S. document that described her as a ``well-known communist singer and stage star.''

It was an era before Fidel Castro was in power, a time when McCarthyism and the Red scare bred a Hollywood blacklist. The U.S. Congress was consumed by communism, and federal agents were hunting communists, real and imagined, in government and show business.

The Herald discovered the previously unknown chapter of Cruz's life, the nearly decadelong struggle to clear her name, after receiving her once-classified FBI file through the Freedom of Information Act.

Her biographies do not mention the episode, and the people tending to her estate, including her husband of 41 years, said she never spoke of it.

''She never told me about that. She never talked about politics,'' said her widower Pedro Knight. The alleged activities predate their relationship, to a time in her teens and 20s.

''It would've been a hard thing because, especially afterward, she was identified so much as a symbol of anti-Castroism,'' said Alejandro de la Fuente, a history professor at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in race relations in Cuba.

Back then, ''it was not unusual at all for artists and intellectuals to have some sort of contact with the Communist Party,'' he said. ``It was a progressive, liberal force at the time. There was nothing to be ashamed of at the time. That changed in the late 1940s, after the end of World War II.'' [...]

[T]hroughout her life, Cruz kept that chapter secret. Even as late as 1961, six months after the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion, Cruz was aware of her record. In Mexico with Sonora Matancera, she sought a U.S. visa to play the Hollywood Palladium.

''SUBJECT EXPRESSED DESIRE CLEAR NAME,'' said a confidential Oct. 11, 1961, telegram from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. ``PLEASE FORWARD ANY DEROGATORY INFORMATION DEPARTMENT MAY HAVE SO EMBASSY CAN INITIATE DEFECTOR STATUS ACTION.''

A security source, cited by the embassy, ``BELIEVES SUBJECT COMPLETELY ANTI-COMMUNIST AND ENDORSES REQUEST.''

In exile, Cruz settled in the New York City area -- never moving to politically volatile Miami. She married her Sonora trumpeter, Knight, and reinvented herself from La Guarachera de Cuba to The Queen of Salsa, symbolizing her wider Latino appeal.

She recorded and toured relentlessly. She appeared in American films and Mexican soap operas, once as a santera, and for 20 years made an annual pilgrimage to Miami to sing on a Spanish-language TV telethon for the League Against Cancer, the disease that killed her last year.


No one should be judged by the political beliefs they hold whenm they';re young and stupid, but it's not okay to have become or remained a Communist after the show trials and unacceptable after the Hitler/Stalin pact.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:19 AM

OOMPHLESS IN BOSTON:

Is 'oomph' an oops for Obama? (SCOTT FORNEK, 7/26/04, Chicago Sun-Times)

Keynote speaker Barack Obama of Illinois began his week at the Democratic National Convention on Sunday with a simple goal for the week:

"Don't screw up," Obama said.

And the U.S. Senate nominee is confident he didn't do that -- despite a mini-flap that developed over a remark Obama made to a writer for the Atlantic Monthly.

In the issue of the magazine due out today, the state senator from Hyde Park will be quoted saying, "Sometimes [Massachusetts Sen. John] Kerry just doesn't have that oomph."


"Sometimes"?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM

IT'LL BE OUR LITTLE SECRET:

Al-Jazeera TV network is asked to remove sign (JOHN HENRY, 7/26/04, Houston Chronicle)

When John Kerry glances around the convention hall in Boston this week, his eye will be drawn to brightly lit television network signs — ABC News, NBC, CNN, CBS, and banners for Hearst-Argyle and Belo.

Missing from the lineup is Al-Jazeera, the controversial Arab-language TV network that often is first to carry news involving al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

The Qatar-based network, which has 16 staff members assigned to the convention, was directed by convention officials to remove its sign. If it had remained, Al-Jazeera's sign would have been seen by millions of television fans looming over the shoulder of convention speakers.


As if there's much difference between Al-Jazeera and CBS, CNN, et al.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 AM

IT'S NOT THE MEDDLING THEY MIND< BUT WHICH SIDE WE MEDDLED FOR:

One step forward, two steps back: Dr. Ivan Eland is a senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute and an outspoken critic of the Bush administration's war on terrorism. In this exclusive interview with Enter Stage Right Dr. Eland responds to the report of the 9/11 Commission. (Steven Martinovich, July 26, 2004, Enter Stage Right)

ESR: Many experts have argued that America's foreign policy is merely the hook that Islamists hang their coat on, that the real cause of friction is the Islamist dream of a world under the control of a caliphate. How would you respond?

IE: I haven't heard many experts argue this. A few neoconservative experts have. Even if this were the goal of the Islamists, they don't have the resources to be the worldwide threat that the Soviet Union was. They are very poor (compared to the U.S.) and from poor countries. Destroying skyscrapers in a hit-and-run attack is one thing, taking over the globe, or even the Islamic world, would be impossible for them. Bin Laden came home from Afghanistan after fighting one set of "infidels" in a Moslem land and saw another "infidel" (the United States) with a military presence in the land of the Moslem holy sites (Saudi Arabia). Islamic radicals get particularly perturbed when they perceive that an infidel is trying to take over a Moslem land. So the American propping up of the corrupt Saudi monarchy is what originally set bin Laden off. If neoconservative doubt what bin Laden says makes him mad, then they should read the opinion polls in the Islamic world. U.S. meddling is the root of the general hostility, which spawns anti-U.S. terrorism.


It's always been my understanding, perhaps wrong, that Osama had no problem with the Sa'uds until they asked for our help when Saddam invaded Kuwait and allowed infidels to be stationed in Arabia. At any rate, Mr. Eland is certainly correct that al Qaeda and other Islamicists pose no threat outside the Islamic world and not much of one within it. Likewise, he's right that the West's past interventions to prop up anti-democratic regimes were a mistake. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be applying pressure now, military and moral, for Reform. Iranians are right to resent the coup by which we restored the shahs to power, but today they welcome our help.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 AM

KNOWING YOUR ALLIES:

The war after the war (Steven Martinovich, July 26, 2004, Enter Stage Right)

Karl ZinsmeisterKarl Zinsmeister, editor in chief of The American Enterprise since 1994, makes no bones about his unequivocal support for the war against Saddam Hussein and the U.S. military in general. In his 2003 effort entitled Boots on the Ground: A Month with the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq, he informs the reader that he has taught his children "to think of military jet noise as 'the sound of freedom.'") It's not surprising then that in his follow up -- Dawn Over Baghdad: How the U.S. Military is Using Bullets and Ballots to Remake Iraq -- Zinsmeister is pretty optimistic about the future of Iraq despite the ongoing strife the news is saturated with every evening and filled with praise for the difficult job the Coalition has been tasked with. In an exclusive interview with ESR Zinsmeister discusses his new book and what's going on in Iraq. [...]

KZ: I am very frustrated with the reporting from Iraq; that's why I felt I had to write Dawn, to give a fuller picture. It's not that the bombings and so forth that we see aren't happening -- the reporting is "accurate." It just isn't complete. There is another whole set of stories out there -- deeper, slower, but ultimately more important stories about the evolution of Iraqi society, ordinary Iraqi opinion, changes in the position of the terrorists, etc. That's all left out of the "what's in flames today?" style of reporting that is dominating today's coverage in the establishment media.

I write about the big, glacial changes taking place under the radar, the stuff, I believe, that historians will really care about -- much more than today's blowups -- when they look back 10 or 50 years from now. Dawn Over Baghdad is a detailed human-interest story, describing exactly what I saw inside Iraqi homes and businesses and on the streets, and the picture it draws is much less gloomy than most of what we're getting on our TV screens and in our newspapers at present.

ESR: Why do you feel the media is only concentrating on the troublesome aspects of post-war Iraq and ignoring all the positive developments?

KZ: Lots of reasons. The easiest, laziest, and most sensation-generating kind of reporting is simply to stick a camera at something that's blown up. The fact that 99 other things haven't blown up may be much more significant in the long run, but it takes a lot more creativity and time to tell that story, and most reporters in Iraq today live sequestered in the Green Zone hotels, and only blast out in their SUV bubbles for 2-3 hours to cover the aftermath of an attack. They get no perspective. They see none of the successes. They notice little of the progress over time.

I'm not a hotel-style reporter; I'm a backpack reporter. My two new books on Iraq, Boots On the Ground, and Dawn Over Baghdad, grew out of weeks spent walking the streets on combat patrols, observing in city council meetings, meeting with radical imams, watching interrogations of prisoners and secret military intelligence briefings at the company level.

The unbalanced politics of the establishment press corps are also a problem. A whole host of studies stretching from two decades ago to literally last month show that the elite press corps is Democrat over Republican/liberal over conservative/dovish over hawkish by about ten to one. In a war that has taken on intense partisan colorations like this one, that causes problems of portrayal. We ought to have much more ideological balance in the ranks of our press corps.

Yet another problem is the yawning cultural gulf that separates most reporters from soldiers. They just don't "get" military men and military work, and often have a hard time portraying them in an easy, straightforward, sympathetic, and accurate way.

ESR: What are some of those positive developments that the media has given such little time to?

KZ: Just one little example I like to cite: We hear, ad nauseum, in the media about the electrical blackouts in Baghdad. But you're never given the perspective you need to understand what's really going on.

The reality is, more electricity is being generated in Iraq today than even before the war. So why the blackouts? Two reasons:

1) Saddam shamelessly hogged most of the country's power to his capital, shunting 57 per cent of all Iraqi electricity to Baghdad, while the provinces were starved for juice. Today, power is distributed fairly to all population centers, and Baghdad gets 28 per cent of the national total. That means occasional shortages in some previously privileged neighborhoods, but Iraqis as a whole are better off.

2) Iraq is in the midst of a consumption bloom. The economy is growing at about 60 per cent, and there are suddenly a million new phones in the country, a third of the population has bought a satellite TV, a million cars have been imported, washing machines, air conditioners, and other devices never before available are proliferating. Most of those things have to be plugged in, and as a result the demand for electricity is rising even faster than supply is going up. Does that cause problems? Yes, but it's a "nice" problem, not evidence that "nothing ever gets fixed by those boob Americans."

But here's the really big story the major media have missed: The critical almost-never-reported reality is that the massive middle of Iraqi society -- the silent majority of Shiites who are going to run this country -- have stuck with us over the last year, through many travails. Contrary to what you'd guess from the headlines, there is no mass revolt in Iraq. The latest military intelligence is that there are a grand total of about 20,000 terrorist fighters operating in the country. That works out to one for every 1,270 Iraqis. Just to put that in perspective, one out of every 305 Americans is a Hindu -- so insurgents in Iraq are four times less common than Hindus are in our population.

Can 20,000 sadistic men cause a lot of mayhem? Absolutely, I've spent three months dodging bullets and IEDs on the streets of Iraq myself, and have no illusions about this. And it's a fact that many Iraqis are so afraid of the insurgents they are reluctant to cooperate with reconstruction. But fearing the guerillas and supporting them are two very different things, and the essential point is that we are not now in the midst of a general uprising, some bottomless guerilla pit where most Iraqis are fighting us.


If the Shi'a had turned against us we'd have had to abandon the mission.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 AM

MARKETS REQUIRE RULES:

Censored: Ever since Janet Jackson bared her breast on network TV, US popular culture has been under siege from the sweeping forces of the Christian Right. With the Presidential election looming, a bitter war is being waged in the Land of the Free to decide what people should be allowed to watch and hear (Lawrence Donegan, 7/25/04, The Observer)

Ironically, the push for more controls on what is shown is coming largely from right-wing, religious politicians and organisations who have long argued that market forces should prevail in every aspect of society: education, healthcare, social services - everything except broadcasting, it seems.

But irony and self-doubt have never been part of the Christian Conservative lexicon, especially now that they are in a position of influence. The groups who want tougher restrictions on broadcasters are more organised now - thanks in large part to the internet - and have the support of the White House, argues Mark Crispin Miller, professor of culture and communication at New York University. 'We have always had angry people in this country who loathe mass culture and who are vigilant against any works of art they deem to be anti-Christian,' he says. 'Unfortunately, we now have an openly theocratic government which is encouraging these people and providing a political climate that is allowing them to thrive.'

Miller cites a number of government decisions as examples of this new orthodoxy, from the withdrawal of funding for organisations that promote birth control in the Third World, to the withdrawal of public money used to finance captioning of the 1960s TV comedy Bewitched, for the hard of hearing ('...because it's about witchcraft,' he says).

In a week when the singer Linda Ronstadt was thrown out of a Las Vegas hotel for expressing support for the filmmaker Michael Moore, it's hard to argue against the notion that America is becoming more intolerant. Yet organisations like the Parent Television Council argue - as did the hotel manager who banished Ronstadt - that they are simply speaking for the 'silent majority'.


Here's a reality show for you--gather an audience in any Red State in America and let Ms Ronstadt express herself until they chase her from the stage.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 AM

MAKE FUN OF IDEAS, WIN VALUABLE PRIZES:

-REVIEW: of Two Stars for Peace: The Case for Using U.S. Statehood to Achieve Lasting Peace in the Middle East by Martine Rothblatt

United States Constitution


Article IV


Section. 3.


Clause 1: New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union...


Section. 4.

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.


Martine Rothblatt's Two Stars for Peace is a powerful and cogent argument for Israelis and Palestinians to secure their mutual futures by petitioning the United States Congress to become the 51st and 52nd American states. The author treats every angle of the Middle Eastern muddle and answers every objection, including those that Americans might have to taking in these troubled neighbors.

The advantages to the two parties seem obvious: the U.S., the world's singular hyperpower, would become the guarantor of peace between the parties, the arbiter of border disputes, the defender of both from outside enemies, etc. For America the advantages may appear less obvious, but they're compelling: the quieting of one of the globe's worst trouble spots; the incorporation of Israel's extraordinary military into the American armed services, while simultaneously allowing Israel to give up its own nukes; addition of both highly educated and well-trained Israelis and a significant number of disproportionately young Palestinian workers to pay into Social Security; etc. There are many elements here of a win-win-win solution.

What though of the disadvantages to the three? Are they great enough to spike the idea? For the United States it would certainly mean taking on a troublesome situation, but we're already involved whether we want to be or not. It's not as if we can walk away from Israel, even if we wanted to, and the terrorists will leave us alone. And when peace does come we're going to have to transfer money to the parties just as we did when Israel and Egypt reached a peace deal. This conflict is already our baby. Anything that helps solve it would seem to outweigh the accompanying problems.

For Israel the surrender of sovereignty does seem to run counter to Zionism. A Jewish state within the United States is different than a sovereign and independent state. However, if the premise of Zionism is that a state is necessary to protect the Jewish people and only a Jewish state can, then this appears to be wrong. America has been uniquely accommodating to and accepting of Jews--indeed, there are more Jews in America already than in Israel--and America is uniquely capable of defending Jews and the Holy Land from potential enemies. Moreover, for religiously conservative Jews, the surrender of independence would bring Israel back into conformity with Biblical prophecy, which ties true statehood to the Messiah's coming.

This leaves only the Palestinians and they seem likely to be the sticking point. It's easy to imagine that the end of their fifty year struggle for statehood they'd view United Stateshood as too small a prize compared to independence. This would be a function of emotion rather than reason, but no less formidable an obstacle on that account. The thing that might tilt the balance here is the prospect of rapid economic development. Given that the poorest state of America have higher GDP per capita than most of the nations of Europe, one could hope that Palestinians might see the advantage of being one of 52 rather than one on its own.

Suffice it to say this is a novel solution to what has been a devilish problem. It probably makes too much sense to ever happen, but as Martine Rothblatt lays out the case it's hard to argue against it from a purely common sense perspective. And, Lord knows, if there's any area of the world that could use some new thinking it's surely the Middle East.

Brother Cohen has agreed to referee and we'll give a copy of the book (or another from our stockpile) to whoever makes the best argument about why the idea wouldn't work better than the alternatives.

N.B.: "I don't want a bunch of Jews and/or Arabs as fellow citizens" isn't actually an argument.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:29 AM

THE PETRO-CURSE:

Norway work ethic slips on oil-coated slope (Lizette Alvarez, July 26, 2004, NY Times)

Before the oil boom, when Norway was mostly poor and isolated, it survived on hard work and self-reliance, two sturdy Scandinavian virtues.

Now, with the country still bulging from three decades of oil money, Norway is discovering that sudden wealth comes with complications: The country's bedrock work ethic is caving in. Norwegians now stay home from work at the highest rate in Europe, outdoing even the former titleholder, Sweden.

"We have become a nation of whiners," said Finn Bergesen Jr., director general of the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry, Norway's largest trade organization. "Everything is wrong, yet we are living in the best country in the world. People complain and complain - because we have everything."

On an average day, about 25 percent of Norway's workers are absent from work, because they have called in sick, are undergoing rehabilitation or are on long-term disability. The rate is especially high among government employees, who account for half the work force.


And they were a developed nation before they found oil wealth.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:29 AM

IT IS WITH GREAT PRIDE THAT GERMANY CASTS ITS FIRST VETO FOR...

Blame the UN cheerleaders (Mark Steyn, The Australian, July 26th, 2004)

I see the next decade's "Never again" story is here. Just as we all agreed the 1994 Rwandan genocide should never be allowed to happen again, so - in a year or two - we'll all be agreed that another 2004 Sudanese genocide should never be allowed to happen again.

But right now it is happening, and you can't help wondering where all the great humanitarians are. Alas, Sudan doesn't seem to have much appeal to them, lacking as it does the crucial Bush angle and affording little opportunity for use of words such as "neocons" and "Halliburton".

In the Fairfax press, Robert Manne is still too busy fighting the last war - "Iraq is the greatest disaster in the recent history of US foreign policy. Nothing is more important than to try to understand how this catastrophe occurred." And if that means rehashing the same old column backwards and sideways for another two years - WMD, Andrew Wilkie, neocons, Cheney - he's prepared to do it.

There's an old, cynical formula for the prominence accorded different disasters by American editors. It runs something like: one dead American equals 10 dead Israelis equals 100 dead Russians equals 1000 dead Africans. But, to the average progressive columnist in the Western world, what matters is who killed you. 30,000 dead Sudanese don't equal one Iraqi prisoner being led around Abu Ghraib on a dog collar. But the minute the Yanks go in and accidentally blow up a schoolhouse, injuring an eight-year-old girl, the Mannes of the world will discover a sudden interest in Africa.

Manne's big gripe about Iraq seems to be that it was an "unnecessary, unlawful and unjust war". Each to his own. The Steyn Doctrine, such as it is, is that there's never a bad reason to take out a thug regime. Unfortunately for the beleaguered villagers of Darfur, the Americans so far are playing by Manne's rules. The USAF could target and bomb the Janjaweed as effectively as they did the Taliban.

But then the Not In Our Name crowd would get their knickers in a twist and everyone would complain that it's unlawful unless it's authorised by the UN. The problem is, by the time you've gone through the UN, everyone's dead.

No sane person watching the Sudan horrors unfold over the past few months could believe there is any widespread interest in saving these wretched people.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:13 AM

FREUDIAN SLIP?

Germany plays Iraq card in bid for UN veto role (The Straits Times, July 26th, 2004)

Germany hopes to cash in on its outspoken opposition to the Iraq war to win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, but regional rivalries and resistance in Washington could stymie the bid.

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer wrapped up a 10-day tour last Friday that was aimed at wooing Asia's powerhouses to back a veto-wielding seat for Germany as part of a major United Nations reform drive.

Mr Fischer, who is also Germany's Vice-Chancellor, did win a firm commitment from India - in exchange for supporting New Delhi's own bid for a permanent berth in New York.

But China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - unofficial spokesman for the world's poorest nations - were all non-committal during Mr Fischer's whistle-stop tour, citing complex power politics in their own backyards.

Mr Fischer argued that last year's diplomatic nightmare, in which the world was painfully split over Washington's decision to topple Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, was a key reason to pursue 'efficient multilateralism' at the UN.

At the same time, Berlin believes its leadership of the anti-war front alongside France and Russia - both among the five permanent members of the Security Council - dramatically boosted its profile on the world stage.

Why would a country with a discredited past, an anaemic military and a population steadfastly opposed to foreign adventures covet a leading role in global collective security? Perhaps the answer lies in the title of this article. The progressive world and the dangerous regimes it supports have come to see the UN as a protector of the status quo and a brake on the spread of democracy and constitutional liberalism. That makes Germany the perfect candidate.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:44 AM

THE VIEW IS BLURRY FROM THE MARGINS:

The triumph of the East: Islam really does want to conquer the world. That’s because Muslims, unlike many Christians, actually believe they are right, and that their religion is the path to salvation for all (Anthony Browne, The Spectator)

Of course, Christianity has been just as much a conquering religion. Spanish armies ruthlessly destroyed ancient civilisations in Central and South America to spread the message of love. Christians colonised the Americas and Australia, committing genocide as they went, while missionaries such as Livingstone converted most of Africa.

But the difference is that Christendom has — by and large — stopped conquering and converting, and indeed in Europe simply stopped believing. Even President Bush’s most trenchant critics don’t believe he conquered Afghanistan and Iraq to spread the word of Jesus. It is ironic that by deposing Saddam, who ran the most secular of Arab regimes, the US actually transferred power to the imams.


This is Eurocentric nonsense. Secular Europe is obviously passing into oblivion, to be replaced by the Islam of its immigrants, but Christianity is spreading rapidly in Africa and Asia and only a determined blindness about the difference between Tony Blair/George W. Bush/America and the rest of the West can prevent someone from recognizing that the war on terror has all the earmarks of a religious crusade, forcing Islamic nations and the religion itself to Reform and adopt ideals that more closely resemble Judeo-Christianity. There is a religious war going on: we're winning, Islam is changing, and secularism is toast.


July 25, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:56 PM

NO, I'M NOT A DEMOCRAT:

Senate Hopefuls Are Convention No-Shows: Some Fear Being Tied to Democratic Ticket (Charles Babington, July 26, 2004, Washington Post)

In the eight Senate races seen as virtual tossups, the Democratic nominees or front-runners from North Carolina, Oklahoma and Alaska are skipping Boston altogether. Inez Tenenbaum, the Senate nominee in South Carolina, mingled with her state's delegation Sunday night but goes home Monday, when the four-day convention begins.

Rep. Chris John, the Democrat's top contender for a Senate seat in Louisiana -- and a "super delegate" by virtue of being a House member -- will be here Monday and Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle of South Dakota and Senate candidate Betty Castor of Florida will attend Monday through Wednesday, but not Thursday.

The only Democrat in a tossup Senate race who plans to be at the convention Thursday is Ken Salazar of Colorado, who will arrive Wednesday.

The story is similar among House candidates. Of the "Texas Five" -- five House Democrats seriously threatened by their state's redistricting -- only Rep. Charles W. Stenholm will appear in Boston. He is jetting in for a dinner Tuesday that will honor him and other prominent players in agriculture -- Stenholm is the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee -- and then he is going right back to his west Texas district.


That their Senate Leader can't afford to be seen there is especially telling. They could lose both him and their #2 in the Senate, Harry Reid (NV), in November.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:28 PM

ISOLATED, NUANCED, DULL, AND ANTI-AMERICAN:

Who is John Kerry?: A mystery man to most Americans, Mr Kerry offers them the chance of a respite, a pause to take a closer look at themselves (The Economist, Jul 22nd 2004)

[A]ccording to a poll for The Economist by YouGov, almost half of American voters say that they still have no idea of who he is or what he stands for.

Next week, Democrats flock to his home town, Boston, for their party's convention with one overriding aim: to rescue their stealth candidate from his obscurity, define him more clearly and sell him to voters. It will not be easy.

Mr Kerry's politics are still undefined. Republicans say he is the Senate's most left-wing member, an archetypal “Massachusetts liberal”. Yet he has been close to the Democratic Leadership Council, the party's moderate, pro-business wing, for years. He has spent almost two decades in the Senate yet has no major items of legislation to his name: his time was spent investigating government abuses rather than making law.

His personality is ill-defined, too. Despite millions of dollars of biographic advertising, he does not connect with voters. He is an aloof Boston Brahmin. Other American aristocrats became successful politicians by reinventing themselves, some as an average Joe (George W. Bush), others as stars (John Kennedy), others as unapologetic sons of privilege (Teddy Roosevelt). Mr Kerry is none of these.

Even his friends and allies provide few clues to his personality. During his 19 years in the Senate, he has established few political friendships: he is close personally to John McCain, a fellow Vietnam vet, but their legislative records are far apart. His campaign team is neither a close-knit group of friends and advisers from his home state (like President Bush's), nor hired Washington hands (like Al Gore's when he ran for the presidency in 2000), nor a coterie of former advisers to ex-President Bill Clinton. Instead it consists of all three. They circle him like out-of-work actors round a casting director, wary of each other and greedy for his attention. By his friends, ye shall not know him. [...]

His stump speeches are eye-crossingly dull. [...]

For Mr Bush, America is always a force for good. The world, in his view, will benefit from the exercise of American power. At home, the country will thrive if entrepreneurial spirits are given free rein. The job of the president is to act on those principles. For Mr Kerry, the task is more downbeat and complex: to use the power of government to temper America's failings as well as to buttress its strengths.

It is not, in some ways, a compelling vision...


You can't win an election in America running against your country.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 PM

THE NEXT MIRACLE (via Tom Morin):

Africa Can Seize Share of IT Outsourcing Market (ECT News Syndication Desk, 07/18/04)

With the rising cost of local production and labor in developed countries like the United States, many companies, especially in the IT arena are looking to the developed world for answers -- and finding them. Countries like India have successfully positioned themselves as niche providers of outsourced labor in IT and are reaping the benefits. And, as analysts continue to predict a growth in this type of outsourcing, the opportunity is ripe for other developing countries to tap into this lucrative market. The question is: Can Africa capture a share of the offshore IT market? [...]

India has managed to create a niche for itself in this area, but it has not happened overnight. Amar Vakil, CEO of Lintas, a US-based management-consulting firm, and founder of the Foreign Investment Promotion Council, explains that there are specific factors that have enabled India to position itself in such a manner. These factors are predominantly a skilled workforce and appropriate infrastructure.

"Twenty to 25 years ago, India was an underdeveloped country. There was a brain drain of skilled labor to developed countries, where, for example there was a need for engineers," says Vakil. "Ten to 15 years ago, people like me, with similar backgrounds, decided to move back to India and there was a huge impetus from government to build world class communications networks. Government started dabbling with public-private partnerships, which now, after 10 or so years are proving very effective."

While this may not be easy to replicate, Vakil believes there are lessons to be learned from India and other countries like the Philippines which have attracted a strong outsource base. "The playing field is level. It is not India's game at all," he says. Although India was one of the first to position itself in this way, "there is an opportunity for other countries to tap into this potential".

Where India focused on information technology and software development, African countries wanting to tap into this opportunity will need to look at IP-enabled services.

Everdream founder and vice-president, Lyndon Rive, agrees that Africa can move into this arena. "Third world countries are getting educated enough to offer IT support, making them an untapped resource," he says. Everdream provides hosted IT software applications and services that protect, manage and support personal computers at medium and large organizations.

In fact, Rive says, many companies are moving away from India as the place to outsource, because of the labor churn that is taking place in India. And African countries have a whole lot going for them.


They'll take China's manufacturing jobs too.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:59 PM

WINNING THE DRUG WAR (via Tom Morin):

Children to get jabs against drug addiction: Ministers consider vaccination scheme. Heroin, cocaine and nicotine targeted (Sophie Goodchild and Steve Bloomfield, 25 July 2004, Independent)

A radical scheme to vaccinate children against future drug addiction is being considered by ministers, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

Under the plans, doctors would immunise children at risk of becoming smokers or drug users with an injection. The scheme could operate in a similar way to the current nationwide measles, mumps and rubella vaccination programme.

Childhood immunisation would provide adults with protection from the euphoria that is experienced by users, making drugs such as heroin and cocaine pointless to take. Such vaccinations are being developed by pharmaceutical companies and are due to hit the market within two years.


After all, drugs do more damage than chicken pox.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:56 PM

THE CAMPAIGN HASN'T EVEN STARTED (via Kevin Whited):

Adviser predicts unpleasant race (Jack Douglas Jr., Maria Recio and John Moritz, 7/25/04,
Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Karen Hughes, the presidential adviser and confidante, was in Fort Worth last week, helping raise campaign cash for U.S. Rep. Kay Granger. She predicted a "very unpleasant campaign" between President Bush and presumptive Democratic challenger John Kerry.

"There are people out there who really hate the president," Hughes told Republican supporters at the fund-raiser at the Maddox-Muse Building downtown.

To help out, Hughes said she plans to join the president full time on the campaign trail beginning Aug. 15.


One of the most remarkable attributes of George W. Bush as both candidate and president is his discipline and the way he and Karl Rove have relentlessly stuck to the scripts they lay out and to their belief in how events flow. Each August of his presidency, while Mr. Bush has taken a month off, there have been big flaps about how he was getting killed in the polls and needed to react quickly. But he and Mr. Rove determined two things long ago: first, that the president's presence in our homes is too valuable a commodity to be wasted on frivolities; and, second, that no one pays any attention to anything in the Summer. Thus Mr. Bush's biggest month has tended to be September, when the nation goes back to work and school and he gets down to business, the most memorable example being this one, which entirely predictably silenced critics around the world.

Right now there's muttering about how the President hasn't outlined his agenda for the second term...yadda, yadda, yadda. But Mr. Bush knows that folks will be paying attention to his convention speech in a way they aren't paying attention to his typical stump speeches and it makes no sense to steal his own thunder. Folk may gripe that he's condensing his campaign down to just two months, but he knows that for most of us that's far too long, not too short.

And if you're looking for proof that he's not yet begun to fight, the fact that he's not even making Ms Hughes come back to work until August 15 suggests just how unhurried is his approach.


Posted by David Cohen at 10:05 PM

THIS LAND IS MY LAND (From Samizdata)

A funny animation. Enjoy.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:18 PM

SLOW LEARNERS:

US raising stakes over Darfur crisis: Some observers see the declaration of genocide as the first step toward putting US or UN 'boots on the ground.' (Abraham McLaughlin, 7/26/04, CS Monitor)

The US is poised to ratchet up efforts to halt the ethnic cleansing in Sudan's western Darfur region.

This week Washington is expected to introduce a UN Security Council resolution that threatens sanctions against Sudan if it doesn't disarm Arab militias who have been attacking, raping, and killing black villagers in Darfur. This comes after Congress took the extraordinary step Thursday of declaring Darfur's crisis a "genocide" - and pushing the White House to follow suit. Some observers see the declaration of genocide as the first step toward putting US or UN "boots on the ground." An American legal team is here now doing tent-to-tent surveys of Sudanese refugees to determine if genocide occurred.

The crisis is far from over. Officials with the UN refugee agency and other groups are preparing for an influx of 200,000 more refugees here, including people like Um Fahara Muhammad, a recent arrival in Chad. After months of hiding in Sudan's dry riverbeds from Arab militias, she says she and her four children were eating only bits of camel food. So they made an eight-day dash for the border, arriving in Chad around July 11. About 200 new refugees a week come to this border town - one sign Darfur's mayhem hasn't abated.

"At the current level of pressure, Sudan's government will only go so far," says John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group in Washington. The new US steps may be what is needed to get Khartoum to rein in the militias, he says. But short of added pressure, they won't, "because they don't believe Washington or the UN Security Council have the political backbone to take it any further."


There are folks from Austin to Afghanistan who bet against George Bush's "backbone" and lost. His faith really leaves him no choice in this matter--we have to intervene.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:25 PM

THE STORY ISN'T ABOUT IRAQ:

Iraqi bishop: Western media 'backward-looking' (WorldNetDaily.com, July 24, 2004)

A bishop in Iraq's Chaldean church says the Western media has missed completely the story of the country's successes since the end of the Saddam regime, focusing instead on the "dark side."

"The Western press has been unjust towards Iraq. It has focused only on the dark side, on terrorism, killings, car bombs, the cruel images of decapitation, said Monsignor Rabban Al Qas, Chaldaean bishop of Amadiyah in northern Iraq, according to AsiaNews.

The "backward-looking press," for example, has not shown that "despite the political upheaval, the uncertainties and lack of security, schools reopened. Whether primary, high and secondary schools, or universities, the normal academic year ended as one would expect."

Under Saddam, Qas said, "there was only poverty." But now "the economy is slowly reviving thanks to what the government and the Americans are doing."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:51 PM

MORE GOERING THAN RIEFENSTAHL:

Poles call 9/11 film 'propaganda' (BBC, 7/24/04)

Polish MPs opposed to the war have urged people to see Moore's film Michael Moore's contentious film Fahrenheit 9/11 has opened in Poland, with some film critics likening it to totalitarian propaganda.

Gazeta Wyborcza reviewer Jacek Szczerba called the film a "foul pamphlet".

He said it was too biased to be called a documentary and was similar to work by Nazi propaganda director Leni Riefenstahl.


That's hardly fair--Ms Riefenstahl may have used her gifts for evil, but she was a genius at visual story-telling. No one has ever mistaken Michael Moore for a genius.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:23 PM

GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD:

A failure of imagination (Marc Erikson, 7/24/04, Asia Times)

The 9-11 Commission's report, made public this Thursday after being in the works for 20 months, had 46 more pages than the Senate's, but proves no more illuminating. The bipartisan panel (five Republicans, five Democrats) has revived the tired old proposal of creating the position of a cabinet-level official to oversee the nation's 15 or so intelligence agencies. To what effect or avail is anyone's guess. The report's one memorable phrase is that, "across the government, there were failures of imagination ..." Now, imagine that!

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry has also gotten into the act. Apparently taking his cue from the 9-11 panel, he advocates the creation of a director to oversee all facets of US intelligence, wants to double spending for foreign clandestine operations, and calls for accelerating Federal Bureau of Investigation changes in handling of domestic intelligence.

While the Senate report for the most part is more boring than informative, it does contain some snippets worth noting, mainly Conclusion 6 (last sentence): "Most, if not all, of these problems [with prewar intelligence on Iraq] stem from a broken corporate culture and poor management, and will not be solved by additional funding and personnel" (my emphasis).

Senator Kerry may want to take note - as should the innumerable "former Central Intelligence Agency operative" talking heads on US television programs bewailing the (alleged) gross inadequacy in numbers of US human-intelligence resources (case officers, agents). The Senate report - rightly - points out that, "if an [intelligence] officer willing and able to take such an assignment [undercover activity in prewar Iraq] really is 'rare' at the CIA [as the Senate committee was told], the problem is less a question of resources than a need for dramatic changes in a risk averse corporate culture".

Well, indeed. And risk aversion is hardly the only point at issue. Risk aversion, whether in economic behavior (investing) or the intelligence trade, is a sign of intellectual calcification and of lack of creativity, self-confidence and moral conviction, and can't be fixed by throwing money or warm bodies at it. Much as in business, it's unconventional initiative informed by superior knowledge and insight, a contrarian attitude, and the ability to spring surprises and act decisively that succeed in intelligence.


Mr. Erikson is more than wrong here: what's most needed is a specific mission--toppling those remaining regimes in the world which are not liberal democratic--and intelligence reform requires someone who's radically contrarian (Admiral Poindexter, for instance). Most of all though, he's right that John Kerry's stated willingness to simply enact the proposals of these commissions is lunatic.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:01 PM

GIVING WILLY LOMAN A RUN FOR HIS MONEY:

DAMAGE CONTROL: Voters need to believe that John Kerry can put the country back on track. (PHILIP GOUREVITCH, 2004-07-19, The New Yorker)

During the loneliest days of his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, last December, when he was trailing Al Sharpton in some polls and reporters covering the race were placing bets that he’d drop out before the first voters were heard from in the Iowa caucuses, Senator John Kerry came to New York to address the Council on Foreign Relations. It was hard, then, to find anyone outside his immediate family who would speak with unaverted eyes of the likelihood of a Kerry comeback. Even among the Democrats in his audience, which was packed with soberly tailored politicians, diplomats, military officers, and captains of finance, industry, philanthropy, and think tanks, there was a sense of near-certitude—for some delightful, for others grim—that Howard Dean was unstoppable. As a governor, Dean had been spared having to take sides when the resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to invade Iraq was passed in both houses of Congress, in October of 2002, and he’d made himself a scourge to his rivals in the primary race who voted for it. He called them “Bush Lite.” Kerry’s deeply recessed eyes, small as an elephant’s, appeared more than usually narrowed in those days, and his smile, too, had tightened into the sort of skeptical wince that a cartoon dad displays to signal his endurance of adolescent noise. But he didn’t waste a word on Dean when he addressed the council.

Kerry had stayed up late for several nights, crafting his speech, and it was as succinct and cogent a summation of his case against the President as he has offered to date. “Simply put,” Kerry declared, “the Bush Administration has pursued the most arrogant, inept, reckless, and ideological foreign policy in modern history”:

In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the world rallied to the common cause of fighting terrorism. But President Bush has squandered that historic moment. . . . He rushed into battle—and he went almost alone. . . . I believed a year ago and I believe now that we had to hold Saddam Hussein accountable and that we needed to lead in that effort. But this Administration did it in the worst possible way: without the United Nations, without our allies, without a plan to win the peace. So we are left asking: How is it possible to liberate a country, depose a ruthless dictator who at least in the past had weapons of mass destruction, and convert a preordained success into a diplomatic fiasco? How is it possible to do what the Bush Administration has done in Iraq: win a great military victory yet make America weaker?

Kerry called on the Administration to “swallow its pride” and do what it should have done in the first place: bring in the U.N. and the “international community” to help America succeed instead of inviting failure alone.


Americans are understandably made nervous by the daily violence in Iraq and by the likelihood that George W. Bush has further plans for forcibly liberalizing the Middle East, but what Mr. Gourevitch refers to here as "on track"--entwining our policy with the UN's--is a path that Americans have at all times in our history found abhorrent. Opponents of Mr. Bush could sell the nation on isolation, they can never sell greater internationalization of our security policy.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:23 PM

THE HIGHWAY LEADS RIGHT:

Blair: my way or it’s the highway (James Cusick and Douglas Fraser, 7/25/04, Sunday Herald)

Five more years of even newer New Labour. That was the dream, and for some the nightmare, described yesterday by Tony Blair as he sounded the final death knell for old Labour.

The Prime Minister, emboldened by his latest escape from the conclusion of the Butler Report, used the national policy forum in Coventry to effectively demand from his party the ultimate in loyalty. His message was stark and stern. They had to “give up the luxury of criticism” and do it his way, the New Labour way. The alternative? He said there was none.

Blair, already offering his party an apology for what is to come during the next five years, said there was no choice. “I know that just occasionally we all wish it didn’t have to be like this. That we could have won as we were, that we could have governed without so many tough choices, that we could win again in a more confined and safe way. Unfortunately it is not true.”

Blair’s do-it-my-way message will have shocked many on the left who still believe a Labour government could deliver a socialist agenda.


The Revolution isn't going down any easier there.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:58 PM

HOW CAN YOU NOT HATE THE MAN WHO'S STRANGLING YOU (via Tom Morin):

Hatred or Hope?: America should not let loathing chart their political destiny. (Michael Novak, 7/23/04, National Review)

When one looks at Bush, and then at the hatred nurtured for him, it is very hard to grasp the connection. Why? Why do they hate him so?

There is something so innocent, direct, fresh-faced, open, Tom Sawyerish in George Bush's manner — something so western, Christian, decent, even kind. And there is such candor in his eyes and behavior that the ferocity of the hatred aimed at him seems completely out of proportion. The hatred is a suit that ill fits him.

Nevertheless, George W. Bush has been re-conceived and re-wrought into everything that the sophisticated Leftist absolutely hates about Americana: Its innocence. Its boyishness. Its Christianity. Its unpretentiousness. Its heedlessness of all the shibboleths the Left most highly values.

And, in addition, the president exercises unsuspected political skills. The man has actually won most of the political fights he's taken on. And he has turned the country in a far more Reaganite direction than anyone ever imagined under that anodyne term, "compassionate conservatism."

Personalizing Social Security? Cutting the teachers' unions out of total control of the schools? Supplanting the governmental plantation with private charitable initiatives, which actually show better success rates than the welfare state? The handwriting is on the wall, piercing through the dreams of the big-government Left, foretelling the end of the social-democratic illusion.

How did this hick have the nerve to be so radical in government — he who so barely won the election of 2000? (Stole it, the most bitter partisans still say, despite all the studies disproving it.) How did he have the nerve?


The important recognition here is that George Bush should be hated by the Left (and the far and libertarian Rights) for exactly the same reason that FDR--another third rate intellect of elite background--was by the old Right: he's a revolutionary.

For some sense of just how revolutionary, check out this one, No Angels: Justifying the welfare state by demand is a sure way to keep it around forever. (Jonah Goldberg, 7/23/04, National Review)

Wade Horn, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, responded to an item I posted in the Corner a few weeks ago. I wrote:

YUCK, YUCK, YUCK George W. Bush once again says absurd things about the role of government (nod to Andrew Sullivan):

"[T]he role of government is to stand there and say, 'We're going to help you.' The job of the federal government is to fund the providers who are actually making a difference."

He was talking about giving federal aid to couples with marriage counseling and the like. I know I've said this before, but if Bill Clinton had proposed spending piles of money on marriage counseling — other than for himself — conservatives would have screamed bloody murder about liberal social engineering and whatnot. Now, this might be a good policy compared to others, but it isn't a policy someone who believes in limited government would advocate. And beyond the specifics of the policy itself, it is not the role of the government to say "we're going to help you" — unless, say, the Chinese Red Army is encircling your town.

Horn's full response is here but the important part is this:

All good conservatives want smaller government. To achieve that end, we need a plan. Merely wishing it were so is not a plan. The fact is that children (and adults) living in healthy and stable marriages are less in need of government services. By offering marriage-education services — on a purely voluntary basis — to interested couples whereby they can develop the knowledge and skills necessary to form and sustain healthy marriages, we will help reduce the need for more intrusive government interventions later on.

Granted, this is new work. Nobody knows for sure whether it will succeed. But one thing is certain: Unless we can reverse the decline of marriage, demand for an ever-expanding welfare state will continue. The president's Healthy Marriage Initiative is no panacea, but it's a step in the right direction. [...]

[T]his is pretty much the first time I've heard this argument from the administration, never mind from a rank-and-file conservative. What I have heard are statements like the one above from President Bush in which he talks about how the government must leap when people are hurting and so forth.

And in a sense, Horn is making the exact same case as Bush. In his letter he says that without remedying the declining state of marriage, the "need" and the "demand" for an "ever-expanding welfare state" will increase or continue. According to this formulation — combined with the president's — the role of the government is to provide whatever services are "demanded" of it. And these services need not be demanded by a majority of voters but merely by that fraction of the whole that feels the "need" for them. After all, it was President Bush who said last Labor Day, "We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move."

I understand that Horn is on the side of the angels, but I hope he can see how radical a reformulation of conservative dogma this really is. The doctrine of limited government holds that government is, well, limited — that governmental neglect at the federal level is in fact benign. Conservative dogma holds that the people cannot develop the habits of the heart necessary to take care of themselves if they are being taken care of by the government. Moreover, a government that provides services simply because they are demanded is a government that reserves the right to take as much of my property and wealth as it deems necessary to meet the demands of somebody else.

I generally dislike arguments that warn of socialism these days. But if government is obliged to meet the demands of every needy person, what countervailing principle is there to protect the "un-needy" from a government in search of evermore resources to "help" the needy? Surely this limitation is more than pragmatic. Surely there's a principle that says there are some things the government can't do even if those things would be good and would help people. Or is the only limitation on government the boundaries of what it can get away with at a given moment?

In a sense, Horn has turned the "if men were angels" formulation on its head. We used to believe that since men are not angels, limited government is necessary. Now it seems to be that until men are made into angels — and by our own hand — unlimited government is required. After all, flawed men will make demands on the government when they are hurting and until those flaws and those pains are remedied, their demands must stir the government "to move."


Now, if that truly is the first Mr. Goldberg has heard of the argument then he hasn't been paying any attention to George W. Bush, Tony Blair or Bill Clinton (as campaigner, not as president). Mr. Goldberg is apparently a libertarian utopian--in his belief that the roll back of government he envisions is even remotely possible as well as in the belief that people will develop good habits if only no one helps them. The peoples of every democracy on Earth have rejected the first possibility--the great mass of people, unsurprisingly, are rather enamored of the notion of transferring money from the wealthier to themselves--and the second is rejected by both human nature and history. The absence of government assistance did not render the peoples of the past ideal citizens.

Compassionate conservatism, like The Third Way or New Democratism, proceeds from a certain assumption that seems nearly undeniable in rational terms, though far Right and far Left must deny it for emotional reasons: the fact that the people demand a social safety net is not going away, however, the statist experiments of the 20th century rather conclusively demonstrate that unless market forces are brought to bear to the greatest extent possible that net can not survive not does it ultimately benefit people. The radical goal of the Left/Right synthesis then is essentially to trick people into providing for their own social security. This will demand something unacceptable to the Right: that government mandate to everyone that they participate in a wide variety of personal savings programs and that basic services be provided in order to prepare them for suufficiently productive lives that they can fund their own futures. It demands something equally unacceptable of the Left: that government welfare programs change from redistrubutionist to predominantly self-funded.

This does leave conservatism as Mr. Goldberg conceives it in tatters, but it is conservative in the most profound way: if successful it will giove every citizen, or the great bulk, a fiercely vested interest in the stability and productivity of his own society. Traditional conservatism has a reverence for property, but its greast flaw is that there are too few property holders for a democratic society to be much interested in protecting them. Make everyone a property holder and you make everyone conservative.


MORE:

It is far easier, as Burke and every other conservative has known, to instill a sense of the value of order in each citizen, and to encourage his sense of the true values of liberty when he has an overriding sense of holding a 'stake in society'.

-Robert Nisbet, Conservatism: Dream and Reality


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 AM

HOW COULD THE GRAY LADY NOT BE IN THE BAG FOR THE FEMALE PARTY (via Matt Murphy):

Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper? (DANIEL OKRENT, 7/25/04, NY Times)

OF course it is.

The fattest file on my hard drive is jammed with letters from the disappointed, the dismayed and the irate who find in this newspaper a liberal bias that infects not just political coverage but a range of issues from abortion to zoology to the appointment of an admitted Democrat to be its watchdog. (That would be me.) By contrast, readers who attack The Times from the left - and there are plenty - generally confine their complaints to the paper's coverage of electoral politics and foreign policy.

I'll get to the politics-and-policy issues this fall (I want to watch the campaign coverage before I conclude anything), but for now my concern is the flammable stuff that ignites the right. These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you've been reading the paper with your eyes closed.

But if you're examining the paper's coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all; if you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn't wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you're traveling in a strange and forbidding world.

[...]

Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. doesn't think this walk through The Times is a tour of liberalism. He prefers to call the paper's viewpoint "urban." He says that the tumultuous, polyglot metropolitan environment The Times occupies means "We're less easily shocked," and that the paper reflects "a value system that recognizes the power of flexibility."

He's right; living in New York makes a lot of people think that way, and a lot of people who think that way find their way to New York (me, for one). The Times has chosen to be an unashamed product of the city whose name it bears, a condition magnified by the been-there-done-that irony afflicting too many journalists. Articles containing the word "postmodern" have appeared in The Times an average of four times a week this year - true fact! - and if that doesn't reflect a Manhattan sensibility, I'm Noam Chomsky.

But it's one thing to make the paper's pages a congenial home for editorial polemicists, conceptual artists, the fashion-forward or other like-minded souls (European papers, aligned with specific political parties, have been doing it for centuries), and quite another to tell only the side of the story your co-religionists wish to hear. I don't think it's intentional when The Times does this. But negligence doesn't have to be intentional.


"co-religionists" is an especially nice touch.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 AM

THE EXCEPTIONAL NATION:

US Offers Citizenship To 7000 Ahiska Muslims: Several Ahiska Muslims packing to leave for the US (Damir Ahmed, July24, 2004, IslamOnline.net)

The United States has agreed to grant citizenship to 7, 000Ahiska Muslims who will be settled in Pennsylvania, reported a Russian newspaper on Friday, July23 .

The first 11 -strong batch of the Ahiska Muslims, living in the Russian province of Krasnodar, left for Geneva on Thursday, July22 , before flying to Philadelphia, reported Novie Izvestia. [...]

Earlier, Chingiz Neiman-zade, chairman of Vatan, a Meskheti Turks association based in Georgia, said the United States had offered to accept the Ahiska Muslims living in Krasnodar as immigrants.

"On February16 , the International Migration Organization began an information program in Krasnodar to explain the terms for the resettlement of the Ahiska Muslims in the U.S.," he told Chicago Tribune on Thursday, July22 .

"The immigrants will be provided with housing and furniture, they will be helped to learn the English language and to complete formalities needed for residence in the US, which is especially important, and have been promised life-long welfare allowances for pensioners and the disabled."

Ahiska Muslims were happy with the American offer.

"This decision marks a great change in our life", said Tepeshon Swanidze, leader of the Ahiska Muslim community in Russia.

"We thank the US administration for its humanitarian decision", he added.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:25 AM

THE UNEXPUNGABLE STAIN:

'Rising '44': Betraying Warsaw: RISING '44: The Battle for Warsaw By Norman Davies (CARLO D'ESTE, NY Times Book Review)

AUGUST 2004 will mark the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw uprising, when 40,000 members of the Polish underground Home Army spilled into the streets to liberate the city from its Nazi occupiers. The revolt was inspired in part by the belief that the Red Army would come to the aid of the rebels. Russian units had advanced to the eastern bank of the Vistula River and were within supporting distance of the Warsaw fighters, but once Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky, commander of the First Belarussian Front, declined to intervene, the Germans were freed not only to suppress the uprising but also to carry out appalling reprisals. Stalin would later dismiss the rebellion as the act of ''a gang of criminals.''

Norman Davies, a fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, is the foremost historian of modern Poland. Of his previous books, ''God's Playground: A History of Poland'' is widely regarded as a landmark account. This new work, ''Rising '44,'' draws on a wealth of original material. Yet Davies says he is frustrated at how disappointingly little is available from either Russian or British archives. While Russian unwillingness to release documents (except selectively) is well known, there is no accounting for why 95 percent of the records of the British intelligence services during World War II have remained closed, with little prospect of their being opened in the future. The British penchant for secrecy 60 years after these events hardly seems justified, particularly since a vast majority of the participants are no longer alive.

In any case, ''Rising '44'' is much more than the story of the Warsaw uprising. It is one of the most savage indictments of Allied malfeasance yet leveled by a historian. Unsparing in his depictions of the slaughter of the Polish fighters and the destruction of their capital, Davies challenges the popular assumption that World War II was entirely the triumph of good over evil.


The secrecy is, obviously, a function of the fact that the Allies behaved evilly as regards Poland.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 10:02 AM

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK

Parents taught to play with the kids (Denis Campbell, The Guardian, July 25, 2004

Parents will be issued with instruction manuals showing them how to teach traditional playground games such as hopscotch, skipping and hide-and-seek to their children in a new move to tackle soaring levels of obesity among young people.

All mothers and fathers of newborn babies would be given a detailed guide to nurturing their child's physical development under plans being considered by the government's main agency for promoting sport and healthy activity in England.

The manuals would contain scores of ideas about how parents can help their offspring avoid becoming overweight by regularly playing simple games with them at home, in the garden and even when travelling by car. [...]

'It's not rocket science, and a lot of it is things previous generations would have done without thinking. But while I don't want to sound demeaning to present-day parents, a lot of parents today haven't been taught particular games or nursery rhymes and so don't know how to pass those on to their children or do them with them,' said David Maiden, the PE and youth sport manager with Fife Council.

The Play At Home manuals remind parents how to do everything from ring-a-ring-o'-roses to peek-a-boo to the hokey cokey. Parents receive further books, containing new exercises more suited to older children's development, when their son or daughter turns three and five.

Of course they didn’t learn to skip or play hopscotch. They were too busy working on their sex education assignments.


July 24, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 PM

TO HELL WITH THE REALISTS:

Never Again, No Longer? (JAMES TRAUB, July 18, 2004, NY Times Magazine)

In the case of Kosovo, intervention to roll back ethnic terror ultimately worked: NATO's 78-day bombing campaign forced Milosevic's paramilitaries to withdraw. And yet neither the United Nations Security Council nor any other body has contemplated such an act in Sudan. Last month, the council failed to pass a resolution criticizing Sudan. The Bush administration wanted one, but neither China, nor Pakistan and Algeria, the two Muslim countries now serving on the Security Council, did. Now Aza's ability to return home depends on a series of promises that the Sudanese government made two weeks ago in a ''joint communique'' signed with the United Nations.

This is surely not what Secretary General Kofi Annan and other worthies meant when they said in the aftermath of the Rwanda debacle that massacres could never again go unchallenged. What happened? Some part of the answer is specific to this one situation. Nobody wanted to provoke the Sudanese government while it was negotiating with Christian rebels to end 21 years of civil war. And as we know from the case of Rwanda or Sierra Leone or Liberia, Africa is not Europe: Western public opinion will not be as moved by the plight of the Sudanese as by that of the Kosovars, and Sudan's own neighbors have neither the capacity nor the political will to intervene themselves.

But that's not all; humanitarian intervention is also yesterday's problem. Though the Bush administration has been seriously engaged with the situation in Darfur, it is, after all, supremely preoccupied by Iraq and, more broadly, by the war on terror. And the truth is, so are we all. We simply do not think as much as we used to about the vulnerability of distant people now that we are so consumed by our own vulnerability. And the war in Iraq has hopelessly muddied the waters on the legitimacy of intervention. Darfur is the first case of large-scale human rights abuse since 9/11; what it tells us about our emerging system of collective security is not pleasant.

It's hard to remember now, but the question of when states were obliged to prevent or limit catastrophic harm was a burning question in the 1990's. Among the defining events of that time were the disasters in Somalia, Rwanda and the Balkans. The great, if very tardy, successes of the international order were the interventions in Kosovo and East Timor. The old cold-war conflict between hawk and dove was shuffled and re-formed, with liberal (and neoconservative) interventionists on one side and ''realists'' on the other.


The President remains seized of this issue and far more involved than any other world leader because it fits the theocon prescription for interventionism.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 PM

TOOTHLESS DRAGON:

Gender imbalance exacting social costs (Frank Ching, July 25, 2004, The Japan Times)

While the male/female ratio of newborns globally is about 105 boys to 100 girls, in China it is 117 boys for every 100 baby girls. In Guangdong province, neighboring Hong Kong, the ratio is 130 boys to 100 girls.

This means that millions of men will be unable to find wives. By 2020, it is estimated, 30 to 40 million men of marriageable age will have to live as bachelors if current trends remain unchanged. The gender imbalance is also leading to greater numbers of girls being kidnapped, bigamy, prostitution and rape. Bride bartering or kidnapping is already commonplace in rural areas. China's crime rate has tripled in 20 years and most of the offenses appear to have been committed by rootless young men.

The gender imbalance has even reached the attention of President Hu Jintao. In March, Hu urged the country to deal with the problem as a key task.

Another serious problem is the aging of the population. While the phenomenon is one that marks all modern societies, in China society has aged fast because of the millions of unborn babies. This means that increasingly larger numbers of nonproductive elderly people will have to be supported by a shrinking pool of those economically active. [...]

According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, China today has 134 million people older than 60 -- more than 10 percent of the population. There are 94 million people older than 65, or more than 7 percent of the population. This means that China already meets the international criteria for an aging society. By 2025, 18.4 percent of the population will be older than 60 and, by 2050, more than 25 percent.

If China wants people to end the centuries-old preference for boys, it will have to create a safety net for its elderly so that people are not dependent on their children. Unless the problem is resolved, the target of making China a "fairly well-off" society by the middle of this century may prove elusive.


Nothing more quickly reveals a savants ignorance than fretting over the rise of China, a nation that's not only already in decline but is unlikely to do so as gracefully as the more mature nations of the West that are dying.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 PM

ISN'T BUSH SUPPOSED TO BE THE HALF-COCKED COWBOY?:

Chirac's Outbursts Worry World Leaders (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 7/24/04)

Iraq is the obvious issue, but underlying it is something much more basic to the French -- a sense that their global leadership role, and even their identity, is being submerged in the united 25-nation European superstate they themselves worked to build.

Many believe Chirac, 72 and eligible to run for another term in 2007, is focusing on world affairs to counter growing support for his ambitious young economy minister, Nicolas Sarkozy.

``A very deep gulf is widening across the Atlantic,'' Jean-Dominique Guiliani of the Robert Schuman Foundation told The Associated Press in Paris.

It's ironic, considering that Chirac is probably the most America-friendly French leader in modern times. Unlike his predecessors, he doesn't mind speaking English in public, and he loves to reminisce about his time in New York as a young man, working as a soda jerk.


No, that was "sorta"


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:48 PM

NO CONSPIRACY IS COMPLETE UNTIL THERE'S A JEWISH ANGLE:

Source: Berger took classified Mideast 'peace' docs: Former Clinton adviser shaped policy some believe led to Intifada (Aaron Klein, July 24, 2004, WorldNetDaily.com)

Former National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, who this week admitted to taking classified terrorism documents from the National Archives, also was found in possession of a small number of classified papers containing his handwritten notes from Middle East peace talks during the Clinton administration, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Although the Mideast notes are not the main focus of the current criminal probe, the source says their removal may shed further light on Berger's intentions. The Mideast notes were allegedly taken from the National Archives along with classified documents that officials say may paint the Clinton administration's handling of the al-Qaida threat in a negative way.

"Berger was heavily involved in several Israeli-Palestinian initiatives in the 1990s, and in Clinton's seeing Arafat and the Palestinians as negotiating partners, all leading to Camp David, which many now regard as a huge policy mistake that culminated in the violence still raging," said the source.

Many American and Israeli political experts have in recent years blasted Clinton's approach to Mideast peacemaking, and some have openly blamed his administration's policies -- seeking major Israeli territorial concessions in exchange for promises of peace by the Palestinian Authority -- as factors in Arafat's decision to launch the Intifada.

Clinton also famously helped turn Arafat's image from guerilla leader to statesman, inviting the PLO president to the White House more times than he did any other world leader.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:40 PM

ILLUMINATING (via The Wife):

Hilarious note in Entertainment Weekly: Liev Schreiber is filming a book called Everything is Illuminated and went out of his way to hire an aspiring Iraqi filmmaker who he'd seen on MTV's True Life:

"We felt really guilty about what our country had done to his country," says producer Peter Saraf. "And then, of course, he gets here, and it never occurred to me that he would say something like 'But I love George Bush--he changed my life!'"


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:49 PM

DEFEAT: AMERICAN IDOL?:

Hating America (Bruce Bawer, Hudson Review, Spring 2004)
This long and fascinating piece is a must-read if you want to understand European anti-Americanism, but this passage struck me as worth a comment:

Herman Willis’ Ich Bin Ein Amerikaner caught my eye at an Oslo bookstore ...

The closest Willis comes to a thesis is a not altogether tidy theory that he concocts after hearing an American refer to soldiers dying for “others’ freedom.” Like many Europeans, Willis doesn’t get this “very American” thing about fighting and dying for freedom, and he figures that behind all the talk of freedom there must be some other, more comprehensible motive or value. Pondering the insights of a friend who defends the French Empire as an admirable “attempt to spread French civilization and culture” but who condemns American wars as being “only about money,” Willis decides that this business about “freedom” must, indeed, have something to do with money—specifically, with the American drive to succeed. But at this point Willis introduces a twist: deep down, he says—and he plainly thinks this is a major insight—Americans aren’t preoccupied with success but with failure. Why, after all, do Europeans erect monuments to military victories, while Americans build memorials to their war dead and require children to memorize the Gettysburg Address? Because, Willis says, Americans “worship defeat.”


Mr. Willis approaches insight but doesn't quite reach understanding. He was right to conjure the word "worship," but he should have recognized that Americans worship not defeat in general, but a particular defeat -- the defeat suffered by Christ on the cross, which is a defeat in the world's eyes but a victory in God's, a dying that brings life to the world. And we honor our war dead because they died as Christ did, giving their selves lovingly for their friends and neighbors that we might live, and live more abundantly.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM

FALLING SHORT...EVERY DAY:

Kayne's vision: Musician mixes rap, religion (Lola Ogunnaike, 6/25/04, NEW YORK TIMES)

Mel Gibson, it turns out, is not the only entertainer with a passion for Christ. At a small gathering of music-industry insiders and record executives Monday night at the TriBeCa Screening Room, rapper Kanye West held a premiere for the three music videos (yes, three) that he planned to release with "Jesus Walks," the third single from his multiplatinum debut album, "College Dropout."

The first video was to play on MTV, the second one on MTV 2 and the third on MTV.com online.

Damon Dash, the co-founder of Roc-a-Fella Records, West's label, said MTV was reluctant to play the second video, the most controversial, in light of the outcry over Janet Jackson's breast-baring Super Bowl stunt.

"The Janet Jackson incident had nothing to do with where we put these videos," said Graham Fuller, an MTV spokesman. "The label gave us three different versions of the video, and we asked them where they wanted them to be played."

In keeping with the song's religious overtones, the first video takes place in a church. Scenes of a jovial choir and of West dressed as a preacher are juxtaposed with images of urban blight: cracked sidewalks, dilapidated buildings, downtrodden city dwellers. "God show me the way because the devil's tryin' to break me down," West raps while standing at a pulpit.

Later in the song, he rhymes: "I ain't here to argue about his facial features/Or here to convert atheists into believers/I'm just tryin' say, the way school needs teachers,/The way Kathie Lee needed Regis,/That's the way y'all need Jesus." By video's end, sinners (a prostitute, a drug dealer and a drunk), all seeking repentance, find their way back to the Lord's house.

West refused to describe himself as religious. "Religion just means that you do something over and over," he said. "I will say that I'm spiritual. I have accepted Jesus as my Savior. And I will say that I fall short every day."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 AM

WHOEVER 52%--OBAMA 48%

Suburbs boring? (John Patterson, 7/23/2004, Daily Herald)

As a Harvard Law School student in 1990 eyeing his future, Barack Obama expressed little interest in transforming his Ivy League degree into a swanky job in the suburbs.

"I'm not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me. And I'm not interested in isolating myself," Obama told the Associated Press in an April 1990 story. "I feel good when I'm engaged in what I think are the core issues of the society, and those core issues to me are what's happening to poor folks in this society."

Obama, of Chicago, is now the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate and widely considered a shoo-in to win in November given the Republican Party's inability to find a candidate.


The GOP could put Richard Speck on the ticket and it'd still be a close race on Election Day.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 AM

HE'S GONE:

45% say Kerry should quit seat, poll indicates (Brian Mooney, July 24, 2004, Boston Globe)

The Republican National Committee yesterday released a poll it commissioned that says nearly half of Massachusetts voters believe John F. Kerry should resign from the Senate as he runs for president.

In a survey of 500 Bay State voters conducted last Sunday and Monday, 59 percent said they ''are concerned" that Kerry ''missed 70 percent of the votes in the Senate over the last two years" and 45 percent say he should resign his Senate seat, according to an RNC spokeswoman, Christine Iverson.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 AM

THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM

A 3RD INTIFADA (Amir Taheri, 7/21/04, New York Post)

'LET the Palestinian street speak!" This was the threat launched by Yas ser Arafat at the end of the year 2000 when the final round of U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Israel hit the wall raised by the Palestinian leader.

Waving a finger at Madeleine Albright, President Bill Clinton's secretary of state, Arafat forecast "an explosion of anger on the streets of Palestine."

Almost four years later, this is what is happening in the Palestinian territories controlled by Arafat. But the anger of the "Palestinian street" is aimed at neither the United States nor Israel. The target is Arafat and the corrupt and cynical nomenklatura that make up his entourage.

What is happening in Gaza and, to a growing extent, in the West Bank also is a genuine intifada aimed at bringing down yet another Arab tyranny.

Unlike the two previous intifadas, however, this one has a genuinely popular base. It is not cooked up by some political machine backed by this or that outside power. Nor is it a wanton exercise in violence against civilians, whether Israeli or Palestinian.


The danger here is that the Left and far Right have so much vested in hating George W. Bush, the neocons and the idea of Reforming the Islamic world that they'll deny what's happening and make it more difficult for us to exploit the opportunity.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 AM

HADN'T WE ALL AGREED NOT TO CALL IT A CRUSADE?:

War of Ideology: According to the 9/11 commission, we're not in the middle of a war on terror. Instead, we are in the midst of an i0deological conflict. (DAVID BROOKS, 7/24/04, NY Times)

We are facing, the report notes, a loose confederation of people who believe in a perverted stream of Islam that stretches from Ibn Taimaya to Sayyid Qutb. Terrorism is just the means they use to win converts to their cause.

It seems like a small distinction - emphasizing ideology instead of terror - but it makes all the difference, because if you don't define your problem correctly, you can't contemplate a strategy for victory.

When you see that our enemies are primarily an intellectual movement, not a terrorist army, you see why they are in no hurry. With their extensive indoctrination infrastructure of madrassas and mosques, they're still building strength, laying the groundwork for decades of struggle. Their time horizon can be totally different from our own.

As an ideological movement rather than a national or military one, they can play by different rules. There is no territory they must protect. They never have to win a battle but can instead profit in the realm of public opinion from the glorious martyrdom entailed in their defeats. We think the struggle is fought on the ground, but they know the struggle is really fought on satellite TV, and they are far more sophisticated than we are in using it.

The 9/11 commission report argues that we have to fight this war on two fronts. We have to use intelligence, military, financial and diplomatic capacities to fight Al Qaeda. That's where most of the media attention is focused. But the bigger fight is with a hostile belief system that can't be reasoned with but can only be "destroyed or utterly isolated."


They're just figuring this out now?:
Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking: Who attacked our country? The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are the same murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for bombing the USS Cole.

Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money; its goal is remaking the world -- and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.

The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics -- a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinction among military and civilians, including women and children.

This group and its leader -- a person named Osama bin Laden -- are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries. They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction.

The leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan, we see al Qaeda's vision for the world.

Afghanistan's people have been brutalized -- many are starving and many have fled. Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough.

The United States respects the people of Afghanistan -- after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid -- but we condemn the Taliban regime. (Applause.) It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people everywhere by sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists. By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder.

And tonight, the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban: Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land. (Applause.) Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist, and every person in their support structure, to appropriate authorities. (Applause.) Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating.

These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. (Applause.) The Taliban must act, and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.

I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. (Applause.) The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. (Applause.)

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 AM

WE GOT THE FICTION VERSION:

Changing His 'Life' to Suit British Law: Bill Clinton's discussion of Kenneth W. Starr has been tempered in the British edition of "My Life," apparently to make the book less vulnerable under Britain's tough libel laws. (EDWARD WYATT, 7/24/04, NY Times)


Doing so also cuts the book from 956 pages to 147.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 AM

BIG "D" DEMOCRATS:

LABOR'S FRIENDS (Robert Novak, July 24, 2004, Townhall)

After disappointing organized labor by picking Sen. John Edwards as his running mate, Sen. Kerry has pleased union leaders in coming out in opposition to secret ballots by workers in deciding whether to accept union representation.

Organized labor wants to do away with secret balloting and instead use the "card check," in which a union gains accreditation as a company's bargaining agent by soliciting union cards from members. Critics say that method results in coercion of workers by union organizers.

Both Kerry and Edwards have joined Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in urging the National Labor Relations Board to adopt card check instead of secret ballots. Earlier, much of organized labor had pressed Kerry to select Rep. Richard Gephardt for vice president.


Is there any reason for it other than intimidation?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:42 AM

WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST BORROW HIS CELL PHONE?:

Archives Installed Cameras After Berger Took Papers: Samuel R. Berger's removal of papers from the National Archives prompted new security measures, government officials said. (ERIC LICHTBLAU, 7/24/04, NY Times)

The new policy, issued March 31 to security officers at the archives, lays out toughened steps for safeguarding research rooms used by nongovernmental employees who are given special access to classified material. And it demands "continuous monitoring" of anyone reviewing such material.

The restrictions were put in place as a direct result of the Berger episode, said a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding the continuing investigation.


That those measures were not in place beforehand represents a failure of imagination.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:37 AM

RENTAL SUGGESTION:

Free health care (Walter E. Williams, July 21, 2004, Townhall)

The Fraser Institute, a Vancouver, B.C.-based think tank, has done yeoman's work keeping track of Canada's socialized health-care system. It has just come out with its 13th annual waiting-list survey. It shows that the average time a patient waited between referral from a general practitioner to treatment rose from 16.5 weeks in 2001-02 to 17.7 weeks in 2003. Saskatchewan had the longest average waiting time of nearly 30 weeks, while Ontario had the shortest, 14 weeks.

Waiting lists also exist for diagnostic procedures such as computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound. Depending on what province and the particular diagnostic procedure, the waiting times can range from two to 24 weeks.

As reported in a December 2003 story by Kerri Houston for the Frontiers of Freedom Institute titled "Access Denied: Canada's Healthcare System Turns Patients Into Victims," in some instances, patients die on the waiting list because they become too sick to tolerate a procedure. Houston says that hip-replacement patients often end up non-ambulatory while waiting an average of 20 weeks for the procedure, and that's after having waited 13 weeks just to see the specialist. The wait to get diagnostic scans followed by the wait for the radiologist to read them just might explain why Cleveland, Ohio, has become Canada's hip-replacement center.

Adding to Canada's medical problems is the exodus of doctors. According to a March 2003 story in Canada News (www.canoe.ca), about 10,000 doctors left Canada during the 1990s. Compounding the exodus of doctors is the drop in medical school graduates. According to Houston, Ontario has chosen to turn to nurses to replace its bolting doctors. It's "creating" 369 new positions for nurse practitioners to take up the slack for the doctor shortage.

Some patients avoided long waits for medical services by paying for private treatment. In 2003, the government of British Columbia enacted Bill 82, an "Amendment to Strengthen Legislation and Protect Patients." On its face, Bill 82 is to "protect patients from inadvertent billing errors." That's on its face. But according to a January 2004 article written by Nadeem Esmail for the Fraser Institute's Forum and titled "Oh to Be a Prisoner," Bill 82 would disallow anyone from paying the clinical fees for private surgery, where previously only the patients themselves were forbidden from doing so. The bill also gives the government the power to levy fines of up to $20,000 on physicians who accept these fees or allow such a practice to occur. That means it is now against Canadian law to opt out of the Canadian health-care system and pay for your own surgery.

Health care can have a zero price to the user, but that doesn't mean it's free or has a zero cost.


To see all this illustrated in quite devastating fashion, try renting the terrific film The Barbarian Invasions this weekend.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 AM

SYNONYM--BLOGGER:

Dictionary.com Word of the Day (July 24, 2004)

sciolism \SY-uh-liz-uhm\, noun:

Superficial knowledge; a superficial show of learning. [...]

Sciolism comes from Late Latin sciolus, "a smatterer," from diminutive of Latin scius, "knowing," from scire, "to know."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 AM

I THINK, THEREFORE I AM THAT I AM:

Physics and Philosophy: The Development of Philosophical Ideas Since Descartes in Comparison with the New Situation in Quantum Theory (Werner Heisenberg, 1958, Gifford Lectures)

IN THE two thousand years that followed the culmination of Greek science and culture in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. the human mind was to a large extent occupied with problems of a different kind from those of the early period. In the first centuries of Greek culture the strongest impulse had come from the immediate reality of the world in which we live and which we perceive by our senses. This reality was full of life and there was no good reason to stress the distinction between matter and mind or between body and soul. But in the philosophy of Plato one already sees that another reality begins to become stronger.

In the famous simile of the cave Plato compares men to prisoners in a cave who are bound and can look in only one direction. They have a fire behind them and see on a wall the shadows of themselves and of objects behind them. Since they see nothing but the shadows, they regard those shadows as real and are not aware of the objects. Finally one of the prisoners escapes and comes from the cave into the light of the sun. For the first time he sees real things and realises that he had been deceived hitherto by the shadows. For the first time he knows the truth and thinks only with sorrow of his long life in the darkness. The real philosopher is the prisoner who has escaped from the cave into the light of truth, he is the one who possesses real knowledge. This immediate connection with truth or, we may in the Christian sense say, with God is the new reality that has begun to become stronger than the reality of the world as perceived by our senses. The immediate connection with God happens within the human soul, not in the world, and this was the problem that occupied human thought more than anything else in the two thousand years following Plato. In this period the eyes of the philosophers were directed toward the human soul and its relation to God, to the problems of ethics, and to the interpretation of the revelation but not to the outer world. It was only in the time of the Italian Renaissance that again a gradual change of the human mind could be seen, which resulted finally in a revival of the interest in nature.

The great development of natural science since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was preceded and accompanied by a development of philosophical ideas which were closely connected with the fundamental concepts of science. It may therefore be instructive to comment on these ideas from the position that has finally been reached by modern science in our time.

The first great philosopher of this new period of science was Rene Descartes who lived in the first half of the seventeenth century. Those of his ideas that are most important for the development of scientific thinking are contained in his Discourse on Method. On the basis of doubt and logical reasoning he tries to find a completely new and as he thinks solid ground for a philosophical system. He does not accept revelation as such a basis nor does he want to accept uncritically what is perceived by the senses. So he starts with his method of doubt. He casts his doubt upon that which our senses tell us about the results of our reasoning and finally he arrives at his famous sentence: ''cogito ergo sum'. I cannot doubt my existence since it follows from the fact that I am thinking. After establishing the existence of the I in this way he proceeds to prove the existence of God essentially on the lines of scholastic philosophy. Finally the existence of the world follows from the fact that God had given me a strong inclination to believe in the existence of the world, and it is simply impossible that God should have deceived me.

This basis of the philosophy of Descartes is radically different from that of the ancient Greek philosophers. Here the starting point is not a fundamental principle or substance, but the attempt of a fundamental knowledge. And Descartes realises that what we know about our mind is more certain than what we know about the outer world. But already his starting point with the 'triangle' God - Word - I simplifies in a dangerous way the basis for further reasoning. The division between matter and mind or between soul and body, which had started in Plato's philosophy, is now complete. God is separated both from the I and from the world. God in fast is raised so high above the world and men that He finally appears in the philosophy of Descartes only as a common point of reference that establishes the relation between the I and the world.

While ancient Greek philosophy had tried to find order in the infinite variety of things and events by looking for some fundamental unifying principle, Descartes tries to establish the order through some fundamental division. But the three parts which result from the division lose some of their essence when any one part is considered as separated from the other two parts. If one uses the fundamental concepts of Descartes at all, it is essential that God is in the world and in the I and it is also essential that the I cannot be really separated from the world. Of course Descartes knew the undisputable necessity of the connection, but philosophy and natural science in the following period developed on the basis of the polarity between the 'res cogitans' and the 'res extensa', and natural science concentrated its interest on the 'res extensa'. The influence of the Cartesian division on human thought in the following centuries can hardly be overestimated, but it is just this division which we have to criticise later from the development of physics in our time.

Of course it would be wrong to say that Descartes, through his new method in philosophy, has given a new direction to human thought. What he actually did was to formulate for the first time a trend in human thinking that could already be seen during the Renaissance in Italy and in the Reformation. There was the revival of interest in mathematics which expressed an increasing influence of Platonic elements in philosophy, and the insistence on personal religion. The growing interest in mathematics favoured a philosophical system that started from logical reasoning and tried by this method to arrive at some truth that was as certain as a mathematical conclusion. The insistence on personal religion separated the I and its relation to God from the world. The interest in the combination of empirical knowledge with mathematics as seen in the work of Galileo was perhaps partly due to the possibility of arriving in this way at some knowledge that could be kept apart completely from the theological disputes raised by the Reformation. This empirical knowledge could be formulated without speaking about God or about ourselves and favoured the separation of the three fundamental concepts God-World-l or the separation between 'res cogitans' and 'res extensa'. In this period there was in some cases an explicit agreement among the pioneers of empirical science that in their discussions the name of God or a fundamental cause should not be mentioned.

On the other hand, the difficulties of the separation could be clearly seen from the beginning. In the distinction, for instance, between the 'res cogitans' and the 'res extensa' Descartes was forced to put the animals entirely on the side of the 'res extensa'. Therefore, the animals and the plants were not essentially different from machines, their behaviour was completely determined by material causes. But it has always seemed difficult to deny completely the existence of some kind of soul in the animals, and it seems to us that the older concept of soul for instance in the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas was more natural and less forced than the Cartesian concept of the 'es cognitans', even if we are convinced that the laws of physics and chemistry are strictly valid in living organisms. One of the later consequences of this view of Descartes was that, if animals were simply considered as machines, it was difficult not to think the same about men. Since, on the other hand, the 'res cogitans' and the 'res extensa' were taken as completely different in their essence. it did not seem possible that they could act upon each other. Therefore. in order to preserve complete parallelism between the experiences of the mind and of the body, the mind also was in its activities completely determined by laws which corresponded to the laws of physics and chemistry. Here the question of the possibility of 'free will' arose. Obviously this whole description is somewhat artificial and shows the grave defects of the Cartesian partition.

On the other hand in natural science the partition was for .several centuries extremely successful. The mechanics of Newton and all the other parts of classical physics constructed after its model started from the assumption that one can describe the world without speaking about God or ourselves. This possibility soon seemed almost a necessary condition for natural science in general.

But at this point the situation changed to some extent through quantum theory and therefore we may now come to a comparison of Descartes's philosophical system with our present situation in modern physics. It has been pointed out before that in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory we can indeed proceed without mentioning ourselves as individuals, but we cannot disregard the fact that natural science is formed by men. Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is a part of the interplay between nature and ourselves; it describes nature as exposed to our method of questioning. This was a possibility of which Descartes could not have thought, but it makes the sharp separation between the world and the I impossible.

If one follows the great difficulty which even eminent scientists like Einstein had in understanding and accepting the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory, one can trace the roots of this difficulty to the Cartesian partition. This partition has penetrated deeply into the human mind during the three centuries following Descartes and it will take a long time for it to be replaced by a really different attitude toward the problem of reality.

The position to which the Cartesian partition has led with respect to the 'res extensa' was what one may call metaphysical realism. The world, i.e., the extended things, 'exist'. This is to be distinguished from practical realism, and the different forms of realism may be described as follows: We 'objectivate' a statement if we claim that its content does not depend on the conditions under which it can be verified. Practical realism assumes that there are statements that can be objectivated and that in fact the largest part of our experience in daily life consists of such statements. Dogmatic realism claims that there are no statements concerning the material world that cannot be objectivated. Practical realism has always been and will always be an essential part of natural science. Dogmatic realism, however, is, as we see it now, not a necessary condition for natural science.

But it has in the past played a very important role in the development of science; actually the position of classical physics is that of dogmatic realism. It is only through quantum theory that we have learned that exact science is possible without the basis of dogmatic realism. When Einstein has criticised quantum theory he has done so from the basis of dogmatic realism. This is a very natural attitude. Every scientist who does research work feels that he is looking for something that is objectively true. His statements are not meant to depend upon the conditions under which they can be verified. Especially in physics the fast that we can explain nature by simple mathematical laws tells us that here we have met some genuine feature of reality, not something that we have - in any meaning of the word - invented ourselves. l his is the situation which Einstein had in mind when he took dogmatic realism as the basis for natural science. But quantum theory is in itself an example for the possibility of explaining nature by means of simple mathematical laws without this basis. These laws may perhaps not seem quite simple when one compares them with Newtonian mechanics. But, judging from the enormous complexity of the phenomena which are to be explained (for instance} the line spectra of complicated atoms), the mathematical scheme of quantum theory is comparatively simple. Natural science is actually possible without the basis of dogmatic realism.

Metaphysical realism goes one step further than dogmatic realism by saying that 'the things really exist'. This is in fact what Descartes tried to prove by the argument that 'God cannot have deceived us.' The statement that the things really exist is different from the statement of dogmatic realism in so far as here the word 'exist' occurs, which is also meant in the other statement 'cogito ergo sum' . . . 'I think, therefore I am.' But it is difficult to see what is meant at this point that is not yet contained in the thesis of dogmatic realism; and this leads us to a general criticism of the statement 'cogito ergo sum', which Descartes considered as the solid ground on which he could build his system. It is in fact true that this statement has the certainty of a mathematical conclusion, if the words 'cogito' and 'sum' are defined in the usual way or, to put it more cautiously and at the same time more critically, if the words are so defined that the statement follows. But this does not tell us anything about how far we can use the concepts of 'thinking' and 'being' in finding our way. It is finally in a very general sense always an empirical question how far our concepts can be applied.

The difficulty of metaphysical realism was felt soon after Descartes and became the starting point for the empiristic philosophy, for sensualism and positivism.

The three philosophers who can be taken as representatives for early empiristic philosophy are Locke, Berkeley and Hume. Locke holds, contrary to Descartes, that all knowledge is ultimately founded in experience. This experience may be sensation or perception of the operation of our own mind. Knowledge, so Locke states, is the perception of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas. The next step was taken by Berkeley. If actually all our knowledge is derived from perception, there is no meaning in the statement that the things really exist; because if the perception is given it cannot possibly make any difference whether the things exist or do not exist. Therefore, to be perceived is identical with existence. This line of argument then was extended to an extreme scepticism by Hume, who denied induction and causation and thereby arrived at a conclusion which if taken seriously would destroy the basis of all empirical science.

The criticism of metaphysical realism which has been expressed in empiristic philosophy is certainly justified in so far as it is a warning against the naive use of the term 'existence'. The positive statements of this philosophy can be criticised on similar lines. Our perceptions are not primarily bundles of colours or sounds; what we perceive is already perceived as something, the accent here being on the word 'thing', and therefore it is doubtful whether we gain anything by taking the perceptions instead of the things as the ultimate elements of reality.

The underlying difficulty has been clearly recognised by modern positivism. This line of thought expresses criticism against the naive use of certain terms like 'thing', 'perception', 'existence' by the general postulate that the question whether a given sentence has any meaning at all should always be thoroughly and critically examined. This postulate and its underlying attitude are derived from mathematical logic. The procedure of natural science is pictured as an attachment of symbols to the phenomena. The symbols can, as in mathematics, be combined according to certain rules, and in this way statements about the phenomena can be represented by combinations of symbols. However! a combination of symbols that does not comply with the rules is not wrong but conveys no meaning.

The obvious difficulty in this argument is the lack of any general criterion as to when a sentence should be considered as meaningless. A definite decision is possible only when the sentence belongs to a closed system of concepts and axioms, which in the development of natural science will be rather the exception than the rule. In some cases the conjecture that a certain sentence is meaningless has historically led to important progress, for it opened the way to the establishment of new connections which would have been impossible if the sentence had a meaning. An example in quantum theory that has already been discussed is the sentence: 'In which orbit does the electron move around the nucleus?' But generally the positivistic scheme taken from mathematical logic is too narrow in a description of nature which necessarily uses words and concepts that are only vaguely defined.

The philosophic thesis that all knowledge is ultimately founded in experience has in the end led to a postulate concerning the logical clarification of any statement about nature. Such a postulate may have seemed justified in the period of classical physics, but since quantum theory we have learned that it cannot be fulfilled. The words 'position' and 'velocity' of an electron, € for instance, seemed perfectly well defined as to both their meaning and their possible connections. and in fact they were clearly defined concepts within the mathematical framework of Newtonian mechanics. But actually they were not well defined, as is seen from the relations of uncertainty. One may say that regarding their position in Newtonian mechanics they were well defined, hut in their relation to nature they were not. This shows that we can never know beforehand which limitations will be put on the applicability of certain concepts by the extension of our knowledge into the remote parts of nature, into which we can only penetrate with the most elaborate tools. Therefore, in the process of penetration we are bound sometimes to use our concepts in a way which is not justified and which carries no meaning. Insistence on the postulate of complete logical clarification would make science impossible. We are reminded here by modern physics of the old wisdom that the one who insists on never uttering an error must remain silent.

A combination of those two lines of thought that started from Descartes, on the one side, and from Locke and Berkeley. on the other, was attempted in the philosophy of Kant, who was the founder of German idealism. That part of his work which is important in comparison with the results of modern physics is contained in The Critique of Pure Reason. He takes up the question whether knowledge is only founded in experience or can come from other sources, and he arrives at the conclusion that our knowledge is in part 'a priori' and not inferred inductively from experience. Therefore, he distinguishes between 'empirical' knowledge and knowledge that is 'a priori'. At the same time he distinguishes between 'analytic' and 'synthetic' propositions. Analytic propositions follow simply from logic, and their denial would lead to self-contradiction. Propositions that are not 'analytic' are called 'synthetic'.

What is, according to Kant, the criterion for knowledge being 'a priori'? Kant agrees that all knowledge starts with experience but he adds that it is not always derived from experience. It is true that experience teaches us that a certain thing has such or such properties, but it does not teach us that it could not be different. Therefore, if a proposition is thought together with its necessity it must be 'a priori'. Experience never gives to its judgments complete generality. For instance, the sentence 'The sun rises every morning' means that we know no exception to this rule in the past and that we expect it to hold in future. But we can imagine exceptions to the rule. If a judgment is stated with complete generality, therefore, if it is impossible to imagine any exception, it must be 'a priori'. An analytic judgment is always 'a priori'; even if a child learns arithmetic from playing with marbles, he need not later go back to experience to know that 'two and two are four'. Empirical knowledge, on the other hand, is synthetic.

But are synthetic judgments a priori possible? Kant tries to prove this by giving examples in which the above criteria seem to be fulfilled. Space and time are, he says, a priori forms of pure intuition. In the case of space he gives the following metaphysical arguments:

1. Space is not an empirical concept, abstracted from other experiences, for space is presupposed in referring sensations to something external, and external experience is only possible through the presentation of space.
2. Space is a necessary presentation a priori, which underlies all external perceptions; for we cannot imagine that there should be no space, although we can imagine that there should be nothing in space.
3. Space is not a discursive or general concept of the relations of things in general, for there is only one space, of which what we call 'spaces' are parts, not instances.
4. Space is presented as an infinite given magnitude, which holds within itself all the parts of space; this relation is different from that of a concept to its instances, and therefore space is not a concept but a form of intuition.

These arguments shall not be discussed here. They are mentioned merely as examples for the general type of proof that Kant has in mind for the synthetic judgments a priori.

With regard to physics Kant took as a priori, besides space and time, the law of causality and the concept of substance. In a later stage of his work he tried to include the law of conservation of matter, the equality of 'actio and reactio' and even the law of gravitation. No physicist would be willing to follow Kant here, if the term 'a priori' is used in the absolute sense that was given to it by Kant. In mathematics Kant took Euclidean geometry as 'a priori'.

Before we compare these doctrines of Kant with the results of modern physics we must mention another part of his work, to which we will have to refer later. The disagreeable question whether 'the things really exist', which had given rise to empiristic philosophy, occurred also in Kant's system. But Kant has not followed the line of Berkeley and Hume, though that would have been logically consistent. He kept the notion of the 'thing-in-itself' as different from the percept, and in this way kept some connection with realism.

Coming now to the comparison of Kant's doctrines with modern physics, it looks in the first moment as though his central concept of the 'synthetic judgments a priori' had been completely annihilated by the discoveries of our century. The theory of relativity has changed our views on space and time, it has in fact revealed entirely new features of space and time, of which nothing is seen in Kant's a priori forms of pure intuition. The law of causality is no longer applied in quantum theory and the law of conservation of matter is no longer true for the elementary particles. Obviously Kant could not have foreseen the new discoveries, but since he was convinced that his concepts would be 'the basis of any future metaphysics that can be called science' it is interesting to see where his arguments have been wrong.

As example we take the law of causality. Kant says that whenever we observe an event we assume that there is a foregoing event from which the other event must follow according to some rule. This is, as Kant states, the basis of all scientific work. In this discussion it is not important whether or not we can always find the foregoing event from which the other one followed. Actually we can find it in many cases. But even if we cannot, nothing can prevent us from asking what this foregoing event might have been and to look for it. Therefore, the law of causality is reduced to the method of scientific research; it is the condition which makes science possible. Since we actually apply this method, the law of causality is 'a priori' and is not derived from experience.

Is this true in atomic physics? Let us consider a radium atom, which can emit an a-particle. The time for the emission of the a-particle cannot be predicted. We can only say that in the average the emission will take place in about two-thousand years. Therefore, when we observe the emission we do not actually look for a foregoing event from which the emission must according to a rule follow. Logically it would be quite possible to look for such a foregoing event, and we need not be discouraged by the fact that hitherto none has been found. But why has the scientific method actually changed in this very fundamental question since Kant?

Two possible answers can be given to that question. The one is: We have been convinced by experience that the laws of quantum theory are correct and, if they are, we know that a foregoing event as cause for the emission at a given time cannot be found. The other answer is: We know the foregoing event, but not quite accurately. We know the forces in the atomic nucleus that are responsible for the emission of the a-particle. But this knowledge contains the uncertainty which is brought about by the interaction between the nucleus and the rest of the world. If we wanted to know why the ~~-particle was emitted at that particular time we would have to know the microscopic structure of the whole world including ourselves, and that is impossible. Therefore, Kant's arguments for the a priori character of the law of causality no longer apply.

A similar discussion could be given on the a priori character of space and time as forms of intuition. The result would be the same. The a priori concepts which Kant considered an undisputable truth are no longer contained in the scientific system of modern physics.

Still they form an essential part Of this system in a somewhat different sense. In the discussion of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory it has been emphasised that we use the classical concepts in describing our experimental equipment and more generally in describing that part of the world which does not belong to the object of the experiment. The use of these concepts, including space, time and causality, is in fact the condition for observing atomic events and is, in this sense of the word, 'a priori'. What Kant had not foreseen was that these a priori concepts can be the conditions for science and at the same time can have only a limited range of applicability. When we make an experiment we have to assume a causal chain of events that leads from the atomic event through the apparatus finally to the eye of the observer; if this causal chain was not assumed, nothing could be known about the atomic event. Still we must keep in mind that classical physics and causality have only a limited range of applicability. It was the fundamental paradox of quantum theory that could not be foreseen by Kant. Modern physics has changed Kant's statement about the possibility of synthetic judgments a priori from a metaphysical one into a practical one. The synthetic judgments a priori thereby have the character of a relative truth.

If one reinterprets the Kantian 'a priori' in this way, there is no reason to consider the perceptions rather than the things as given. Just as in classical physics, we can speak about those events that are not observed in the same manner as about those that are observed. Therefore, practical realism is a natural part of the reinterpretation. Considering the Kantian 'thing-in-itself' Kant had pointed out that we cannot conclude anything from the perception about the 'thing-in-itself'. This statement has, as Weizsäcker has noticed. its formal analogy in the fact that in spite of the use of the classical concepts in all the experiments a non-classical behaviour of the atomic objects is possible. The 'thing-in-itself' is for the atomic physicist, if he uses this concept at all, finally a mathematical structure: but this structure is - contrary to Kant - indirectly deduced from experience.

In this reinterpretation the Kantian 'a priori' is indirectly connected with experience in so far as it has been formed through the development of the human mind in a very distant past. Following this argument the biologist Lorentz has once compared the 'a priori' concepts with forms of behaviour that in animals are called 'inherited or innate schemes'. It is in fact quite plausible that for certain primitive animals space and time are different from what Kant calls our 'pure intuition' of space and time. The latter may belong to the species 'man', but not to the world as independent of men. But we are perhaps entering into too hypothetical discussions by following this biological comment on the 'a priori'. It was mentioned here merely as an example of how the term 'relative truth' in connection with the Kantian 'a priori' can possibly be interpreted.

Modern physics has been used here as an example or, we may say, as a model to check the results of some important philosophic systems of the past, which of course were meant to hold in a much wider field. What we have learned especially from the discussion of the philosophies of Descartes and Kant may perhaps be stated in the following way:

Any concepts or words which have been formed in the past through the interplay between the world and ourselves are not really sharply defined with respect to their meaning: that is to say, we do not know exactly how far they will help us in finding our way in the world. We often know that they can be applied to a wide range of inner or outer experience, but we practically never know precisely the limits of their applicability. This is true even of the simplest and most general concepts like 'existence' and 'space and time'. Therefore, it will never be possible by pure reason to arrive at some absolute truth.


Hume had rendered the Age of Reason rationally nonsensical several centuries earlier, but when physics followed suit and the great rationalist political experiments all came a cropper--Marxism, Nazism, etc.--it officially ended the epoch. We are fortunate to live in the Western society that was most hostile towards the claims of pure reason and most willing to remain reliant on faith--it explains our elevated position in the world.


MORE:
The development of quantum mechanics (WERNER HEISENBERG, Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1933)

Classical physics represents that striving to learn about Nature
in which essentially we seek to draw conclusions about objective processes
from observations and so ignore the consideration of the influences which
every observation has on the object to be observed; classical physics, therefore, has its limits at the point from which the influence of the observation on the event can no longer be ignored.


July 23, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:35 PM

DANG GOOD DECADE:

After Labour's 10 years of Tony Blair ... the big five changes (Bill Jacobs, 7/21/04, Evening News)

1 Transforming Labour

TONY Blair was the first person in the Labour Party to realise that Margaret Thatcher was reducing it to a permanent Opposition rump.

She had successfully seduced those members of the working class who had become middle class since Labour introduced the welfare state after the Second World War.

After her 1979 election victory she assiduously wooed this group of people with policies designed to increase their wealth and detach them from their Labour and trade union roots. Most notable was the sale of council houses which turned millions of families dependent for the roof over their heads on Labour’s metropolitan fiefdoms into property owners for the first time.

She encouraged them to turn their wealth into shares and destroyed the power of the unions over businesses. More and more this newly affluent and upwardly mobile class saw Labour as part of a rather unpleasant path they didn’t wish to be associated with.

At the same time her policies over employment - or rather unemployment, benefits and the poll tax - created a growing underclass who detached themselves from society and failed to vote.

That certainly suited Thatcher’s strategists - they would have voted Labour anyway.

When John Smith became Labour leader in 1992, the Edinburgh-born and Fettes College and Oxford-educated Blair saw his chance.

As shadow employment secretary - ironically, up against Cabinet minister Michael Howard - he had spotted the effectiveness of the Tory strategy.

He persuaded a reluctant Smith to water down Labour’s opposition to Tory union laws.

Blair realised that without radical change Labour could be reduced to a permanent rump of around 150 MPs wedded to the trade unions, whom their former supporters would not consider voting for.

Once Labour leader, Blair wasted no time in reforming the party and in October 1994 announced a review of the famous Clause 4 of the Labour Constitution which committed the party to nationalisation.

After a knife-edge vote at the Scottish Labour Conference in Inverness, he defied his critics by getting the change through a special Labour Conference in 1995. Blair’s reputation as a Houdini-like politician who could escape from any spot, no matter how tight, was established.


This is the one that matters, the transformation of Labour into a fundamentally conservative party, though it's hard to believe it's more than a temporary change. Still, Bill Clinton had the opportunity to do the same for the Democrats and expressed the desire to do so, but failed even during his own presidency, thereby making the GOP the majority party.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 PM

WHY LIVE WHEN YOUR CULTURE IS KILLING ITSELF?:

Japan suicides reach record high (BBC, 7/23/04)

The number of suicides in Japan has risen to its highest level since records began.

More than 34,000 Japanese took their own lives in 2003, according to the National Police Agency - an increase of more than 7% from the previous year.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:13 PM

THE CASE FOR TORTURE:

Abu Hamza trial in US 'relies on torture witness' (Catriona Davies, 24/07/2004, Daily Telegraph)

Abu Hamza could not receive a fair trial in the United States because it would rely on evidence that had been obtained under torture, his lawyers argued yesterday. [...]

Hamza, 46, is accused of 11 offences relating to conspiracy to take hostages in Yemen in 1998, conspiracy to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, in 1999 and 2000, and sending a man to an al-Qa'eda training camp in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001.

James Lewis, QC, representing the American Government, read a statement from Michael Butsch, a special agent who co-led the FBI investigations into Hamza's activities.

He said Hamza had supplied the hostage-takers in Yemen with a satellite phone, paid for £500 of extra airtime and spoke to them the day before they kidnapped 16 tourists. Three Britons and an Australian died in the incident.

Witnesses in the case have been codenamed CC-1, an American who worked as Hamza's assistant when he was imam of Finsbury Park mosque; CC-2, whom he met at the mosque, CC-3, a top al-Qa'eda associate in Afghanistan; CC-4, a high-ranking member of the Taliban; and CC-5, another conspirator.

Hamza is accused of providing £4,000, men and equipment for CC-1 to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly.

It is also alleged that he asked CC-1 to take CC-2 to Afghanistan, paying for their airfares and lodgings out of funds raised at Finsbury Park mosque. While at Al-Farooq training camp CC-2 allegedly met Osama bin Laden.


So, if the alternative to torture is not being able to stop guys like this then where do folks stand on the issue?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 PM

HE RESIGNS NEXT WEEKEND:

Romney vetoes bill requiring special election for Kerry's seat (Associated Press, July 23, 2004)

Under current law, the governor would appoint a replacement, who would serve until the next general election in 2006.

Earlier this month, when the Democratic bill arrived on his desk for the first time, Romney sent it back with an amendment that would allow him to appoint a replacement until the special election took place. The Legislature rejected the compromise and sent the bill back to him.

While Romney's position on the bill has been evident from the start, he has admittedly dragged his feet on issuing the veto, taking full advantage of the 10 days allotted him in hopes that time would run out on the legislative session, which ends July 31.

The Legislature, however, intends to return to override the veto on Friday or Saturday, after the Democratic National Convention ends Thursday evening.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 PM

APING WARREN BURGER:

What's with Greenspan's Hawkish Talk?: Mainly, his stern words about guarding against inflation reflect his colleagues' thinking more than his own (Rich Miller, 7/22/04, Business Week)

To many in the financial markets, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan sounded a lot more hawkish than anticipated during his two days of testimony to Congress on July 20-21. While he reiterated that the central bank was likely to raise interest rates gradually, he went out of his way to say that the Fed was ready to move more aggressively should that prove necessary to keep inflation under control.

What's more, he opined that the economy was sturdy enough to take a rapid rate rise in its stride if that proves warranted. Not surprisingly, Treasury prices tumbled on both days after Greenspan's comments on fears the Fed chief was laying the groundwork for a shift in interest rate strategy.

Well, a sterner anti-inflation tone is one thing. But let's not get carried away. Sure, Greenspan made clear in his testimony that he's more concerned about inflation flaring up than he is about the economy faltering. But the fact is that he's not particularly worried about either one. He's confident that the economy is on track for a sustained expansion with low inflation. Beyond this, he believes that will enable the Fed to stick with its strategy of raising rates in a "measured" fashion.

So then the question becomes why the seeming shift in rhetoric? It has a lot do with whom Greenspan was speaking for and to whom he was speaking. Don't forget: In delivering the Fed's semiannual economic report to Congress this week, Greenspan was speaking on behalf of the central bank's entire policymaking Federal Open Market Committee, not just himself.

A number of members on that committee are decidedly more concerned about rising inflation than Greenspan is.


The indispensable role of the Fed is to appear hawkish on inflation, even when it isn't. It's all about consumer confidence in the value of money.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:55 PM

IMPORTED NATIVISTS:

Immigration isn't top Latino issue: Education, economy and Iraq are bigger worries, a poll finds (Michael Doyle, July 23, 2004, Sacramento Bee)

Schools trump immigration as an issue important to Latino voters, a politically provocative new survey shows.

It's not just schools.

Latino voters consistently and emphatically placed immigration reform behind other priorities, including health care, the war in Iraq and crime, according to the nationwide survey. The snapshot of Latino opinion, in turn, carries political implications for both major parties' presidential campaigns.

"The surprise, or maybe it's not a surprise, is that immigration ranks last among issues that Latinos pick as an issue that will decide their vote," said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center.

The nonpartisan center and the Kaiser Family Foundation prepared the in-depth survey of 2,228 Latino adults. It's part of an ongoing series of surveys conducted by the center, which is part of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication.


They're already here--they oppose immigration just like the rest of us.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:52 PM

THE TIMINGGATE SCANDAL GROWS:

Pentagon Releases Bush's Guard Records (AP, 7/23/04)

The Pentagon on Friday released payroll records from President Bush's 1972 service in the Alabama National Guard, saying its earlier contention the records were destroyed was an "inadvertent oversight."

If they're exculpatory prepare for complaints about the timing of the release so close to the Democratic convention. If they're damning the complaint will be that it was a Friday afternoon document dump. One way or the other there's a conspiracy angle.


MORE:
Bush Records Show No Flight Service During July-September '72 (Bloomberg, 7/23/04)

George W. Bush didn't accumulate any flying hours between July 1972 and September 1972 when he was serving in the Alabama National Guard, according to payroll records released today by the Defense Department.

Hard to see how this advances the ball any, particularly when he'd been suspended from flying in August 1972.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:48 PM

THE FREE TRADINGEST PRESIDENT EVER:

Morocco gets US free trade deal (BBC, 7/23/04)

A free trade agreement between Morocco and the United States has come into immediate effect.

The US House of Representatives gave its final approval on Thursday. It is the first trade agreement the US has signed with an African country.

Last month Morocco was designated a major non-Nato US ally by President Bush, in recognition of the country's support in the US-led war on terror.

US farmers are expected to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the deal.

"This free trade agreement... signals our commitment to deepening America's relationship with the Middle East and North Africa," US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said in a statement.

The deal eliminates more than 95% of tariffs on consumer products and industrial goods, other tariffs will end in nine years.


Morocco is one of the places where if we can get them developing fast enough economically they're on the verge of becoming a stable liberal democracy (hopefully a monarchical republic).


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:44 PM

WE PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN:

Arafat Challenged by Political Rivals in Gaza Strip (All Things Considered, 7/23/04)

NPR's Peter Kenyon reports on the situation in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is facing a revolt by disaffected members of his own political organization. The dissidents are demanding reforms to share power.

NPR has been derisively called National Palestinian Radio for its steady opposition to Israel and support for the PLO, but this report (available later tonight) sounded like it had been cobbled together by George W. Bush and Natan Sharansky. It's built around the premise that the Palestinian people want nothing more than political and economic liberalization but that Arafat stands in the way. It opens with a man in the street interview where the citizen says that what they need is a modern government but that even the minimal reforms they've gotten so far are entirely a function of pressure from the United States. The whole thing was basically an endorsement of what will eventually be seen as the most important moment in the war on terror.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:16 PM

A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR HELPS THE ELEPHANT GO DOWN:

President Emphasizes Minority Entrepreneurship at Urban League (Remarks by the President to the 2004 National Urban League Conference, 7/23/04, Detroit Marriot Renaissance Hotel)

Ours is a solid record of accomplishment. And that's why I've come to talk about compassionate conservatism and what I envision for the future. I'm here for another reason. I'm here to ask for your vote. (Applause.)

No, I know, I know, I know. The Republican party has got a lot of work to do. I understand that. (Laughter and applause.) You didn't need to nod your head that hard, Jesse. (Laughter.)

Do you remember a guy named Charlie Gaines? Somebody gave me a quote he said, which I think kind of describes the environment we're in today. I think he's a friend of Jesse's. He said, "Blacks are gagging on the donkey but not yet ready to swallow the elephant." (Laughter and applause.)

Now that was said a while ago. (Laughter.) I believe you've got to earn the vote and seek it. I think you've got to go to people and say, this is my heart, this is what I believe, and I'd like your help. And as I do, I'm going to ask African American voters to consider some questions.

Does the Democrat party take African American voters for granted? (Applause.) It's a fair question. I know plenty of politicians assume they have your vote. But do they earn it and do they deserve it? (Applause.) Is it a good thing for the African American community to be represented mainly by one political party? That's a legitimate question. (Applause.) How is it possible to gain political leverage if the party is never forced to compete? (Applause.) Have the traditional solutions of the Democrat party truly served the African American community?

That's what I hope people ask when they go to the community centers and places, as we all should do our duty and vote. People need to be asking these very serious questions.

Does blocking the faith-based initiative help neighborhoods where the only social service provider could be a church? Does the status quo in education really, really help the children of this country? (Applause.)

Does class warfare -- has class warfare or higher taxes ever created decent jobs in the inner city? Are you satisfied with the same answers on crime, excuses for drugs and blindness to the problem of the family? (Applause.)

Those are legitimate questions that I hope people ask as this election approaches. I'd like to hear those questions debated on talk radio, I'd like it debated in community centers, in the coffee shops. It's worthy of this country for this debate to go forward and these questions to be asked and answered.

I'm here to say that there is an alternative this year. There is an alternative that has had a record that is easy to see. If you dream of starting a small business and building a nest egg and passing something of value to your children, take a look at my agenda. If you believe schools should meet high standards instead of making excuses, take a look at my agenda. If you believe the institutions of marriage and family are worth defending and need defending today, take a look at my agenda. (Applause.)

If you believe in building a culture of life in America, take a look at my agenda. If you believe in a tireless fight against crime and drugs, take a look at this agenda. If you believe that our men and women in uniform should be respected and supported 100 percent of the time, take a look at my agenda. (Applause.)

If you're struggling to get into the middle class and you feel like you're paying plenty of taxes, take a look at my agenda. (Applause.)

If you're a small business owner who is trying to expand your job base and are worried about excessive lawsuits, increasing taxes and over-regulation, take a look at this agenda. (Applause.)

And finally, if you believe in the power of faith and compassion to defeat violence and despair and hopelessness, I hope you take a look at where I stand. (Applause.)

You see, I believe in my heart that the Republican party, the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, is not complete without the perspective and support and contribution of African Americans. (Applause.)

And I believe in my heart that the policies and actions of this administration, policies that empower individuals and help communities, that lift up free enterprise and respect and honor the family, those policies are good for the nation as a whole. That's what I believe. And I'm here to thank you for giving me a chance to come and express those beliefs.

I'm proud to be with an organization that does so good, so much good for the American people. I'm honored that your Chairman would extend an invitation to me. Thanks for coming, and may God bless you and may God continue to bless the country.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:54 PM

GLOBALIZATION MEANS EVERYONE (via John Resnick):

Germans OK Longer Hours to Save Jobs (Sabine Siebold and Mark Thompson, July 23, 2004, Reuters)

Pressure to lengthen Germany's working week looked set to increase after employees at carmaker DaimlerChrysler and tourism firm Thomas Cook agreed on Friday to work longer hours to save jobs and cut costs.

DaimlerChrysler workers agreed to implement a 40-hour week for some workers and to cut paid break time to secure 6,000 jobs in Germany, in a deal that will save the company 500 million euros ($613 million) a year from 2007.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder greeted the carmaker's deal with the IG Metall union as "a victory for common sense," which would strengthen Germany's economic recovery and set a precedent for talks at rival car maker Volkswagen.

"I am certain that after DaimlerChrysler the negotiations at Volkswagen over cost cuts and job security will lead to a successful agreement," said Schroeder, who is on holiday in Italy, in a statement.


You can run from market forces...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:25 PM

THE JEWISH PROBLEM:

The cons game: The Republican Party is torn between old conservatives and neocons. (Shmuel Rosner, 7/07/04, Ha'aretz)

[A] true war is being fought in the Republican Party. The gloves are off and the name-calling is in full swing: "opportunists," "impostors," "cowards," "America-haters," "dangerous." And also: "Jacobins," "McCarthyites," "Trotskyites," "anti-Semites." Plenty of "anti-Semites." And worst of all: "They're not true Republicans," the retort of the "they": "They're the ones who aren't true Republicans."

What are they squabbling about? Mainly about the war in Iraq. There are other issues, too, such as immigration, the budget, globalization and family values, but it's the war that caused the dam to burst.

That could be precisely because this is a war of a Republican president, which has the aim of "changing the face of the Middle East." He followed the advice of the Republican camp known as the "neoconservatives," or "neocons" for short, whose dream is global American intervention in order to improve the world, change its values and uphold its security. The neocons want an America of the kind that existed after World War II and of the kind that took action in Bosnia and Kosovo. An America that conducts an uncompromising war to promote democracy and human rights; an interventionist war that shows no consideration for the desire of neighbors and friends; a war with noble goals and great pretensions - perhaps too great. That, at least, is what the other camp, the angry camp, thinks. It too is a Republican camp. And its strength is growing apace.

The point is that it's not just those to the left of the president who are incensed about the war in Iraq. Not only the liberals from the Democratic wing of the demagogic director Michael Moore, and not only the moderate conservatives, those known as "realists," such as Scowcroft and Baker and Powell (and maybe the first President Bush, too).

The conservatives to the right of the president are equally angry. These are the "paleo-conservatives" ("paleo" in the sense of early, or ancient), conservatives of the traditional type who were thought to be extinct. Yet here they are again, outraged and cursing, threatening and provoking. They are led by Patrick Buchanan, whose article "Whose War?," published in March 2003 in The American Conservative, a relatively new monthly, added much fuel to a fire that has since become a conflagration.

Buchanan is hardly a new face in American public life. In the past he was a candidate for president of the United States - not that he had a chance to win, but it's a good way to put forth an agenda - and he continues to write articles and appear frequently on television, espousing clear-cut opinions on a variety of issues. Buchanan is the epitome of right-wing American politics: argumentative, sharp, articulate. He's already learned a thing or two about the media and is capable of utilizing it for his own ends and of getting its attention. "We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests, Buchanan wrote, and also spoke about a "cabal of intellectuals."

At that time, his defiant voice sounded weaker - a voice from the lunatic fringe. Bordering on comic relief. However, as the war in Iraq has become increasingly bogged down, his followers are growing in number and his voice is sounding stronger, with its refrain of "cabal," "intellectuals," "interests."

The voice of the neocons, who lambaste Buchanan unmercifully, labeling him - justly - an isolationist and a racist, is growing weaker in direct proportion to the mounting mess in Iraq. Buchanan is not alone in fomenting a gathering storm of emotions that is threatening the Bush camp and its prospects of reelection. Whose war, ask the Democrats on the left. Whose war, ask the conservatives on the right. And their answer sometimes unites in a disturbing chorus: Israel's war; not ours.


Hard to see how George W. Bush could survive if Pat Buchanan leads his following out of the GOP. Wait, what's that? You say he ran against the President in 2000 even though there was no Iraq war? And there's no one running against him this time, not so much as a challenger for the nomination? Well, how does that help the idea that this war within the Party is new and getting worse?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:14 PM

GOTTA HAVE SOMEWHERE FOR THOSE TROOPS IN IRAQ TO GO...:

Iran's Growing Threat (Rachel Ehrenfeld, July 23, 2004, FrontPageMagazine.com)

Recent events have made it clear that the threat posed by Iran should be dealt with sooner rather than later. Today's 9/11 Commission report documents extensive ties between Iran and terrorism, and the mullahs' drive to create a nuclear weapon is well known. In recent days, Iranian officials and clerics have increased the incitement for violence against American and Coalition forces in Iraq. However, ending the real threat this fundamentalist Islamic theocracy poses to the United States and the West may be impossible, thanks to the Left’s and the pro-Islamists non-stop assault on the president's credibility.

The case against Iran should be air-tight. The Bush administration is now armed with:

[1] The 9/11 Commission’s report, documenting the logistical, operational and material support from Iran and Hezbollah (Iran’s international terrorist arm) to al-Qaeda;

[2] Iran’s own admission of its intention to develop nuclear weapons;

[3] Iran’s increasing anti-American rhetoric; and

[4] Iran’s growing support of terrorism in Iraq.

Makes more sense to do Syria first, because it'll be easier militarily and Iran will fall soon just because of internal pressures. Oddly enough, an Iran war is more likely in the event of a Kerry win, because he'll need to prove he isn't a milquetoast.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 AM

THE ACCEPTED WISDOM IS ALWAYS WRONG:

How Could the Consensus of Experts Be Wrong? (Sallie Baliunas, 07/22/2004, Tech Central Station)

My colleagues are wrong, thought P, a famous physicist. So, too, are their lecture notes, exam problems, journal articles and textbooks, which have forwarded the bad ideas to students. They, in turn, would next engrave nonsense in the minds of their students. [...]

Planck agonized about his break with classical physics, "I can characterize the whole procedure as an act of despair, since, by nature, I am peaceable and opposed to doubtful adventures." Planck's willingness to allow facts to lead him, rather than prevailing opinion, ultimately secured for him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1918, and the honor of founding quantum physics, without which there would be no lasers, microscopic computers, or nuclear medicine to destroy cancers.

Planck's shattering of consensus so that knowledge could advance led him to comment on humans practicing science, "This experience gave me also an opportunity to learn a fact -- a remarkable one, in my opinion: A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up familiar with it."

Hence, next time the phrase "a consensus of scientists" is invoked regarding a scientifically complex matter, but unaccompanied by hard-won, reliable facts, demand evidence. It is the only way to know nature.


In the words of the French physicist Bernard D'Espasgnat:
Physicists [though we could substitute "scientists" generally] are like all other men. When, by and large, an allegory seems to be running well, their tendency is, bit by bit, to hypostatize the concept and never question it among themselves--and before their students--as if that concept were, really, the ultimate thing.

And, of course, all science is just allegory. We just happen to be living at a moment when the materialist allegory is on its death bed. Ludwig Feuerbach said that:
The old world made spirit parent of matter. The new makes matter parent of spirit.

But the new world always had a vital counter-culture--chiefly in the form of Christianity and the great British skeptics (Hume, Oakeshott, etc.)--which refused to yield and which may be on the verge of restoring the old world.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM

LET US DIE IN PEACE:

'Fortress Europe' keeps doors barred: But resisting immigrants has a price (Katrin Bennhold, July 23, 2004, IHT International Herald Tribune)

A complex mix of high unemployment, post-Sept. 11 security concerns and a long and sometimes bitter colonial history in many West European countries has fed a reluctance among European citizens to embrace foreigners. In stark contrast, immigrant countries like the United States, though they have tightened their borders since the 2001 terror attacks, have historically integrated foreigners into the work force more rapidly.

Even setting aside arguments of moral responsibility and cultural diversity, economists say, this recalcitrance deprives Europe of human capital that could translate into more economic growth and productivity.

Claude Bébéar, chairman of the supervisory board at the French insurer AXA and head of a government-commissioned study of equality of opportunity in the French labor market, sees a twofold challenge: Europe needs more people to work and pay taxes; it also needs to hold down the average age of the working population, which tends to be linked to the innovative capacity of an economy.

"If Europe wants to keep its place in the world it needs a younger population, and that means more immigration," Bébéar said in a interview by telephone.


But the point is that it doesn't. Some of the leaders may but the people appear perfectly content to die alone with no issue and take what little is left of their cultures with them.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:17 AM

WHAT DID THE EX-PRESIDENT KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?:

Covering up? (Inside the Ring, Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, 7/23/04, Washinton Times)

U.S. officials tell us that the FBI is focusing on a single document in its investigation of former White House National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger. Investigators are trying to determine why Mr. Berger improperly removed a highly classified after-action report by Richard A. Clarke, an aide to Mr. Berger, that was harshly critical of the Clinton administration's response to the so-called millennium terrorist plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport and other targets in late 1999. [...]

U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have used the millennium plot as an example of a counterterrorism success. But the Clarke memorandum is likely to portray a different picture.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 AM

WHERE'S BOSWELL?:

The 10 greatest Scots of all time (John Blundell, Adam Smith Institute)

Here is my list of the 10 greatest Scots of all time. Of course, there are infinite criteria on which one might base such a list, but since this is my list, I have chosen the following: those writers and thinkers who have contributed most to our appreciation of human nature, our understanding of society and, of course, our ongoing quest to live in freedom.

One would like to see Hume, who debunked the Age of Reason at its dawn and greatly influenced the Founding, placed higher.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:43 AM

WE ALSO FOUND THAT PLAYING DOCTOR IS PARTICULARLY HELPFUL

Teenagers favour peer-led sex lessons (Polly Curtis, The Guardian, July 23, 2004)

Teenagers want to learn about sex from one another rather than from their teachers, according to the biggest study of peer-led sex education.

The survey of 8,000 teenagers, who had formal lessons about sex from either other pupils or their teachers, revealed that pupil-led classes helped pupils develop better attitudes to sex. [...]

The research backs up last year's sex education report from MPs, which concluded that sex education is too often taught by embarrassed teachers.

It was led by Dr Judith Stephenson, from the Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research at University College London, and funded by the Medical Research Council.

She said: "Previous studies have shown that sex education has little effect on behaviour and pregnancy so it's rather encouraging that our study has shown some effects."

The peer-led lessons were more likely to engage pupils, she said, because young people were more likely to have active lessons, with role play introduced into sessions about negotiating sexual relationships and quizzes to help people understand sexual health issues. "They could also teach in smaller groups, which cut down on the embarrassment factor," she added.

Just when you think modern social science couldn’t be more hilarious, something like this comes along. One hopes fervently the kids were playing a huge and very funny prank. But give these straight-laced progressive types one thing. Although they been at this game for several generations with disastrous results, they have an uncanny ability to convince us they are just starting their heroic battle against ignorance and tradition and have years of work ahead before anyone could possibly hold them accountable for anything.



Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:14 AM

SAY IT AIN’T SO, YASSER

German politicians call on EU to stop sending aid to PA (Douglas Davis, Jerusalem Post, July 22nd , 2004)

Leading German politicians are calling on the European Union to freeze its aid to the Palestinian Authority amid reports that PA chairman Yasser Arafat made multi-million-dollar transfers to a personal bank account abroad.

The allegations, substantiated by documents, were made this week by German public broadcaster ARD, which reported that Arafat had wired some $5.1 million to his personal account at the Arab Bank in Cairo in September 2001.

Following the disclosure, Armin Laschet, co-chair of the EU parliamentary committee that oversees aid to the Palestinians, told the Hamburger Abendblatt that the Palestinians had used the funds illegally. And, he conceded, the EU had committed "grave errors" in its funding of Arafat.

Laschet, a representative of Germany's opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at the European Parliament, noted that the EU had provided the Palestinian Authority with some $10 million a month from 2000 to 2003. He admitted that there were inadequate controls over the funds.

Anything that cuts off funds to Arafat is welcome. However, the sole concern here seems to be personal corruption. The fact that Europe has stood by for years and watched its funds used to fund terror and kill Israelis is presumably not included in the “grave errors”or inadequate controls.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:05 AM

WHO WAS HE CALLING?:

Camera Cell Phones (Sandy Berger, 3/16/04, AARP)

I am not surprised by the popularity of the mobile phone. After all, they do offer constant communications from just about anywhere. What does amaze me, however, is the popularity of cell phones with cameras.

Today's cell phones can be used to send and receive e-mail, play games, send text messages, surf the Internet, and keep track of appointments. Yet it is the ability to double as a digital camera that has people excitedly purchasing new phones. These devices were introduced several years ago in Japan and have been available in the US for about two years. They are so well liked that some have predicted that they will be the most popular consumer device in history. Industry analysts say that 12% of cell phone sold last year (2003) had cameras and that number is growing rapidly. According to research firm IDC, more than 80 million have been sold worldwide.

It may seem that a camera phone would be no different than having a cell phone and a camera, but in truth, having a camera in a mobile phone makes for an entirely different experience. It means people have cameras with them constantly, that the camera will be always ready to shoot a quick photo, and that the images can be quickly and easily transferred to others.

People are using phones to take pictures of car license plates, accident scenes, and even would-be attackers.


and secret government documents?


July 22, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:58 PM

SOME HUMANS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS:

One-on-One
Sen. John Kerry Shares Thoughts on Abortion, Entertainment Industry, Biggest Speech of His Life
(ABCNEWS.com, July 22, 2004)

Peter Jennings: You told an Iowa newspaper recently that life begins at conception. What makes you think that?

Sen. Kerry: My personal belief about what happens in the fertilization process is a human being is first formed and created, and that's when life begins. Something begins to happen. There's a transformation. There's an evolution. Within weeks, you look and see the development of it, but that's not a person yet, and it's certainly not what somebody, in my judgment, ought to have the government of the United States intervening in.

Roe v. Wade has made it very clear what our standard is with respect to viability, what our standard is with respect to rights. I believe in the right to choose, not the government choosing, but an individual, and I defend that.

Jennings: Could you explain again to me what do you mean when you say "life begins at conception"?

Kerry: Well, that's what the Supreme Court has established is a test of viability as to whether or not you're permitted to terminate a pregnancy, and I support that. That is my test. And I, you know, you have all kinds of different evolutions of life, as we know, and very different beliefs about birth, the process of the development of a fetus. That's the standard that's been established in Roe v. Wade. And I adhere to that standard.

Jennings: If you believe that life begins at conception, is even a first-trimester abortion not murder?

Kerry: No, because it's not the form of life that takes personhood in the terms that we have judged it to be in the past. It's the beginning of life. Does life begin? Yes, it begins.

Is it at the point where I would say that you apply those penalties? The answer is, no, and I believe in choice. I believe in the right to choose, and the government should not involve itself in that choice, beyond where it has in the context of Roe v. Wade.

Jennings: Can you imagine yourself ever campaigning against abortion?

Kerry: Well, I don't think — let me tell you very clearly that being pro-choice is not pro-abortion. And I have very strong feelings that we should talk about abortion in a very realistic way in this country.


You're not off to a good start.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 PM

PLEASE, JUST SHUT UP AND SING:

Ronstadt, Moore together in LV? (Norm Clarke, 7/22/04, Las Vegas Review-Journal)

"It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I'd rather not know." -- Ronstadt, in a San Diego Union-Tribune interview

Are these people aware that every time they open their mouths it makes most of us wish John Ashcroft actually were getting rid of the 1st Amendment?


Posted by David Cohen at 7:11 PM

NOTHING'S TOO GOOD FOR OUR BOYS IN UNIFORM

Bigger Breasts for Free: Join the Army (Reuters, 7/22/04)

The U.S. Army has long lured recruits with the slogan "Be All You Can Be," but now soldiers and their families can receive plastic surgery, including breast enlargements, on the taxpayers' dime.

On the other hand, they do earn it:

US military cooks up 'add urine and eat' rations (Australian Broadcasting Company, 7/22/04)

United States food technologists have invented dried rations that a soldier can rehydrate by using dirty water or even his own urine, the British weekly New Scientist reports.
And the Marines lead the way:

Sergeant charges breast enhancement, car to Pentagon (AP, 8/17/03)

A Marine received 14 months in a military brig for using a military credit card for an unauthorized six-figure shopping spree that included a car, a motorcycle and breast enhancement surgery.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:58 PM

DEAD CAT BOUNCE:

Presidential race tied before convention (Susan Page and William Risser, 7/22/04, USA TODAY)

Kerry is at 47% among likely voters, Bush at 46% and independent candidate Ralph Nader at 4%. Among the larger group of registered voters, Kerry is at 47%, Bush at 43% and Nader at 5%.

The survey, taken Monday through Wednesday, spotlights the points Kerry needs to score among the small group of voters who remain open to argument, 17% of the electorate. He needs to convince them that he's a strong leader, that he holds unwavering convictions and that he has a plan for dealing with the war in Iraq.


That 17% will be moved by the improving of the economy and the fading of Iraq far more than by anything Cabana Boy can do. It still looks very much like a race where the incumbent gets to 55 or 56% and carries pretty much every state.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:45 PM

THEY CAN'T BE SERIOUS...CAN THEY?:

White House Knew of Inquiry on Aide; Kerry Camp Irked: The White House said that senior officials in its counsel's office were told months ago about the criminal investigation of Samuel R. Berger. (ERIC LICHTBLAU and DAVID E. SANGER, 7/22/04, NY Times)

The White House said Wednesday that senior officials in its counsel's office were told by the Justice Department months ago that a criminal investigation was under way to determine if Samuel R. Berger, the national security adviser under President Bill Clinton, removed classified documents about Al Qaeda from the National Archives.

The White House declined to say who beyond the counsel's office knew about the investigation, but some administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they believed that several top aides to Mr. Bush were informed of the investigation. President Bush himself declined to answer a question Wednesday about whether he had been told, saying: "I'm not going to comment on this matter. This is a serious matter, and it will be fully investigated by the Justice Department."

The disclosure of the investigation forced Mr. Berger to step down as an informal, unpaid adviser to Senator John Kerry's campaign on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the campaign accused the White House of deliberately leaking news of the investigation and said that Vice President Dick Cheney was involved in strategies to divert attention from the Sept. 11 report to be issued Thursday.

"The timing of this leak suggests that the White House is more concerned about protecting its political hide than hearing what the commission has to say about strengthening our security," a statement issued by Mr. Kerry's campaign said.


In the middle of an investigation into the worst security lapse in our history it's discovered that an official formerly responsible for that security is stealing documents and these knuckleheads are surprised that the executive was informed? FDR and Truman never wanted to hear about the security breaches in their governments, but is that a Democratic principle?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:30 PM

MEETS ALL THE OPPONENTS OBJECTIONS:

House votes to strip federal courts of power in gay marriage debate (MARK SHERMAN, 7/22/04, Associated Press)

The Republican-led House voted Thursday to prevent federal courts from ordering states to recognize gay marriages sanctioned by other states.

The Marriage Protection Act was adopted by a 233-194 vote, buoyed by backing from the Bush administration. Last week, the Senate dealt gay marriage opponents a setback by failing to advance a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions.

Federal judges, unelected and given lifetime appointments, "must not be allowed to rewrite marriage policy for the states," Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., said.


This is a perfect compromise, not amending the Constitution but still turning the matter over to legislatures rather than the judiciary.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:12 PM

THEY MAY NOT LIKE HIM, BUT YOU BET THEY RESPECT HIM:

Bush and Blacks: The message—both in words and action—is clear, consistent, and stirring. (Charles Upton Sahm, 21 July 2004, City Journal)

“We’ve got a president that’s prepared to take us back to the days of Jim Crow segregation and dominance,” says NAACP president Kweisi Mfume. Republicans’ “idea of equal rights is the American flag and Confederate swastika flying side by side,” says NAACP chairman Julian Bond. And the leaders of this supposedly nonpartisan organization are surprised President Bush declined to attend their convention last week?

Instead, tomorrow the president will address the National Urban League, a black organization whose mainstream leadership is focused on ideas for improving life in inner cities rather than on politics and racial demagoguery. The president will have a lot to talk about. Issues number one and two on his domestic agenda have been education reform and his faith-based initiative, both specifically targeted to help inner city minority residents, and both implemented by two accomplished African-American cabinet members, education secretary Rod Paige and HUD secretary Alphonso Jackson.


President Bush telling the NAACP to stick it reminds us of a story we told when
Joe Lieberman groveled before the Mau-Mau crowd:
There was a book in the '70's--The Wanting of Levine (Michael Halberstam--David's brother)--about the first Jewish presidential candidate. In the book, Levine proves himself worthy of the respect of a black civil rights group by refusing to eat the plate of feces, disguised as a steak, they serve him at dinner. He's told that most of those who come begging for an endorsement go right ahead and eat, complimenting every bite.

President Bush, to his credit, pushed the plate away. You've got to think Senator Kerry would ask for seconds and John Edwards for the recipe.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 3:58 PM

SAY WHAT?

Dutch PM praises Stauffenberg (Hans Verbeek, Radio Netherlands, July 21st, 2004)

The failed attempt on the life of German dictator Adolf Hitler on 20 July 1944 was commemorated in Berlin on Tuesday, with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende in attendance as a special guest. In his address to German troops and other guests at the ceremony, Mr Balkenende linked the courageous efforts of those Germans who tried to end Hitler's reign of terror with post-war efforts to unite Europe.[...]

In his speech to the assembled crowd, the Dutch prime minister strikingly linked the attempt on Hitler's life with recent efforts to draw up a European constitution. Mr Balkenende spoke of how members of the German resistance to Nazism had already held firm ideas about a future constitution for Europe.

Speaking in what German newspapers reported as being near perfect German, he said the attack of 20 July 1944 was an important step towards European co-operation and integration.

Mr Balkenende later clarified how he made this connection: "Von Stauffenberg and those around him had already thought about how Europe should be after the war. They even discussed the idea of European legislative bodies. So, they were already very much focussed on the future. That attitude, and working for freedom and democracy, and on values within society, those are issues which are still relevant today."

In other news, the Prime Minister of Sweden hailed the Viking practice of disemboweling whoever cheated them as a first step in the development of a pan-European consumer protection code.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:54 PM

IF ONLY THEY COULD SWERVE:

Train Taunter Hit by Locomotive (Fox News, July 22, 2004)

An angry, wheelchair-bound Wisconsin man who enjoys flipping off freight trains may have to cut back on his hobby — one of the trains hit him.

Leland Laird, 54, was at his customary position, middle finger proudly aloft, next to the train tracks in Appleton at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, reports the Appleton Post-Crescent.

That's when a Canadian National engine's gas tank clipped Laird's wheelchair, sending him tumbling to the ground.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:46 PM

MODO SAYS, GO!:

Right Axis. Wrong Evil. (MAUREEN DOWD, 7/22/04, NY Times)

President Bush says he's now investigating Qaeda-Iran ties, and whether Iran helped the 9/11 hijackers.

Whoops. Right axis. Wrong evil.

It's like Emily Litella - "What's all this fuss I hear about making Puerto Rico a steak?" - except the U.S. can't simply shrug "Never mind" because 900 American troops are dead.

The Bush administration had no good intelligence, so it decided to invade the Ira- that was weaker.

The war was based on phony W.M.D. analyses and fallacious welcome scenarios drummed up by the neocon Chihuahua Ahmad Chalabi.

Mr. Bush should have worried about the Axis of Evil in the order of the threat posed: North Korea, which has nukes; Iran, which almost has nukes; Iraq, which wanted nukes.


"Should have" would appear to put her on board for regime changing the other two members.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:42 PM

BLUE BATTLEGROUND:

Bush/Cheney Lead The Way In Ohio (CPOD, Jul. 22, 2004)

The Republican ticket of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney could carry the state of Ohio in the 2004 United States presidential election, according to a poll by Strategic Vision. 48 per cent of respondents would vote for the incumbents, while 43 per cent would support Democratic challengers John Kerry and John Edwards. [...]

Source: Strategic Vision
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 801 likely Ohio voters, conducted from Jul. 17 to Jul. 19, 2004. Margin of error is 3 per cent.


The media has been pretty careful not to poll down to likely voters, because they'd rob their story of any drama.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:35 PM

OPPORTUNITY SOCIETY FILES:

A Bipartisan Children's Savings Account Proposal (Centrist Policy Network)

This afternoon, Senators Rick Santorum and Jon Corzine, and Representatives Thomas Petri, Phil English, Harold Ford Jr., and Patrick Kennedy will announce the ASPIRE Act -- an innovative new bill to make every American a financial "stakeholder" with a "KIDS" personal savings account.

The bill grants a $500 account to every newborn. Kids born into families with incomes under the national median would get a supplemental grant of up to $500.

Families could voluntarily add as much as $1,000 a year to their kids' accounts, and matching funds up to $500 a year would be available for families under the median income. (Like a Roth IRA, family contributions would be "after tax." But the investment returns would grow tax-free, and distributions would be untaxed as well.)

An account could be tapped when the child reached age 18. It could be used for education, retirement savings, homeownership or for other purposes.

For example, take a child born into a low-income family that voluntarily contributed $250 a year to her account. By age 18, her "stake" would be $14,000 in today's dollars, assuming a "real" (inflation-adjusted) interest rate of 3 percent. If the family contributed $500 a year, the stake would be $26,000. If, by good fortune, the account earned a 5 percent real rate of return, the child's stake at age 18 would total $32,000 in today's dollars, assuming the family kicked in $500 a year.

The real goal of the KIDS accounts is to encourage families to save on an annual basis. The grant at birth is the seed, but the tax savings and matching funds are what really makes the account grow.


A terrific start, though those numbers should all be raised drastically. It's also another reminder that while the Left (and far right) obsesses over neocons, it's the neoconomics that will transform the nation.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:27 PM

HE'S GOT SPECIAL PROSECUTOR PROBLEMS BEFORTE HE'S EVEN GOT AN ADMINISTRATION:

KERRY'S OTHER DIPLO ADVISER GETTING RADIOACTIVE (DEBORAH ORIN, July 22, 2004, NY Post)

JOHN KERRY ditched adviser Sandy Berger over the "Socks Docs" probe, but is stonewalling questions about another national security adviser whose credibility is taking much flak — Bush-basher Joe Wilson. [...]

But so far, Kerry is sticking with Wilson. Kerry aides haven't responded to queries asking why he hasn't ditched Wilson as an adviser. The Kerry-Edwards campaign Web site even features a fund-raising e-mail from Wilson — serving as a character reference for Kerry.


Fortunately, with his thousands of advisors, the Senator can afford to lose a few.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:21 PM

ANTI-LIFE (via Mike Daley):

Abortion clinic objects to planned childcare centre (news.com.au, July 20, 2004)

A PERTH abortion clinic objected to plans for a childcare centre on a neighbouring property because the sight of children might upset its
patients.

Marie Stopes International Australia, which operates the clinic in the
eastern suburb of Midland, objected to the development of the childcare
centre on an adjoining block.

In an objection lodged with the City of Swan, the clinic operators said the
sight and sound of children playing in a neighbouring property might cause
emotional strain for women considering terminating a pregnancy.


People in Korea have no problem choosing which dog they'll be served for dinner, nor diners in Maine with picking their own lobster.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:17 PM

FOR YOU GLUTTONS FOR PUNISHMENT:

Here's a pdf of the 911 Commission Report.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:32 PM

SMEAR THE FAUX-QUEER (via Jeff Guinn):

The Metrosexual Superpower: The stylish European Union struts past the bumbling United States on the catwalk of global diplomacy. (Parag Khanna, July/August 2004, Foreign Policy)

According to Michael Flocker's 2003 bestseller, The Metrosexual Guide to Style: A Handbook for the Modern Man, the trendsetting male icons of the 21st century must combine the coercive strengths of Mars and the seductive wiles of Venus. Put simply, metrosexual men are muscular but suave, confident yet image-conscious, assertive yet clearly in touch with their feminine sides. Just consider British soccer star David Beckham. He is married to former Spice Girl Victoria “Posh” Adams, but his combination of athleticism and cross-dressing make him a sex symbol to both women and men worldwide, not to mention the inspiration for the 2002 hit movie Bend It Like Beckham. Substance, Beckham shows, is nothing without style.

Geopolitics is much the same. American neoconservatives such as Robert Kagan look down upon feminine, Venus-like Europeans, gibing their narcissistic obsession with building a postmodern, bureaucratic paradise. The United States, by contrast, supposedly carries the mantle of masculine Mars, boldly imposing freedom in the world's nastiest neighborhoods. But by cleverly deploying both its hard power and its sensitive side, the European Union (EU) has become more effective—and more attractive—than the United States on the catwalk of diplomatic clout. Meet the real New Europe: the world's first metrosexual superpower.


The silliness of this argument is almost too easily demonstrated: the metroxuals wanted Saddam in power; the heterosexuals didn't. He's not.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 PM

BORN AGAIN FROGKILLER:

A mighty fortress is his God: President Bush's form of American Evangelicalism enjoys massive popular appeal and, arguably, influences policy. (JOHNATHAN STEINBERG, 7/18/04, Miami Herald)

Journalist Bob Woodward, in his book Plan of Attack, reveals a lot about the governing style -- and the fervent faith -- of the president. Woodward writes that when he asked the president whether he consulted his father, Bush seemed surprised by the question: ''There is a higher father that I appeal to.'' And, when replying to a question about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush said to Woodward: ''But you run in different circles than I do. Much more elite.'' The remark pulls you up short. Bush -- the son of patricians on both sides, educated at Andover and Yale, former governor of Texas, president of the United States of America -- does not run in elite circles?

But that upper-class, Episcopalian and alcoholic playboy no longer exists. The reborn Bush is a Texas evangelical Christian, a Methodist, who feels at home among ordinary folks at the Midland Men's Community Bible Study Group in Midland, Texas. He has, in effect, become one of them. He talks like they do and believes what they believe: that the Bible is the literal truth. Good and Evil oppose each other. There can be no middle ground.

Hence, when Woodward relates how he asked the president whether he had ever doubted his course of action in Iraq, the president replied: ``I haven't suffered any doubt.''

''Is that right?'' Woodward asked. ``Not at all?''

``No. And I'm able to convey that to people.''

To those who had lost sons or daughters in the conflict, Bush said, ``I hope I'm able to convey that in a humble way.''

In the president's view, to doubt his policy would be to doubt his God-given calling. Shortly after his State of the Union message of 2002, in which he had called Iraq, Iran and North Korea ''the axis of evil,'' Bush addressed an audience in Daytona Beach. ''We've got a great opportunity,'' he said. 'As a result of evil, there's some amazing things that are taking place in America. People have begun to challenge the culture of the past that said, `If it feels good, do it.' This great nation has a chance to change the culture.''

In the State of the Union address of January 2003, Bush repeated his theme of moral transformation: ``Our fourth goal is to apply the compassion of America to the deepest problems of America. For so many in our country -- the homeless and the fatherless, the addicted -- the need is great. Yet there's power, wonder-working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people.''

The White House, the Cabinet and Congress all contain strong supporters of Bush's evangelical crusade. Bush appointed a devout Pentecostalist and member of the very conservative Assemblies of the Church of God, John Ashcroft, to be attorney general. Michael Gerson, the president's speechwriter, graduated with a degree in theology from Wheaton College in Illinois, a leading evangelical institution. Bush's electoral strategist, Karl Rove, received an honorary degree in May from the controversial evangelist, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, at his Liberty University for his ``commitment to conservative ideas.''

Exit polls in 2000 showed that 55 percent of those who voted for Bush placed moral reform as their highest political objective. All the so-called ''hot-button issues'' of this campaign -- conflicts over gay marriage, abortion, guns, feminism or stem-cell research -- reflect that. All those issues grow out of what evangelicals call ''secular humanism'' -- a movement they believe has debauched American life in the form of feminism, moral relativism, Bible criticism, Darwinian evolution and, worst of all, abortion.

For conservative Christians, the election of 2004 represents the ultimate struggle between good and evil in American life.


"arguably"? His entire presidency proceeds from his faith.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 AM

WHO'LL DEFEND HIM NOW THAT HE'S OUT OF POWER?:

Guards Finger Berger in Sox Docs Heist (NewsMax, 7/22/04)

After three days worth of denials from his legal team, eyewitnesses to Sandy Berger's top secret document heist have confirmed that the former national security advisor did indeed stash national security secrets in his socks, as well as his pants pockets.

"The stuffed socks and pockets is real," a senior law enforcement official told the New York Daily News. "The (theft) was reported by the guards." [...]

Guards also told investigators that Berger repeatedly asked to be left alone so he could make private phone calls. If Berger did make any calls from the top secret National Archives reading room, investigators will want to check his cell phone records to see whom he was contacting, and whether he was discussing the purloined documents.

Any calls to ex-President Clinton, who had dispatched Berger on the mission in advance of his own 9/11 testimony, could have staggering implications for the Democratic Party.

When Clinton testified before the 9/11 Commission on April 9, he was accompanied by Berger and his longtime damage-controller, Bruce Lindsey.


Hard to believe good Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Joe Lieberman will still whore their souls for Mr. Clinton now that he's out of office.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 AM

IF YOU DON'T HAVE YOU CAN'T SPEND:

Frugal Europeans hold up recovery: Struggle is on to persuade consumers to spend despite economic uncertainty (Nicola Clark, July 22, 2004, International Herald Tribune)

"The thing that is most disturbing is that as the economy has started to pick up, you haven't had a similar pickup in demand," said Michael Hume, an economist at Lehman Brothers International in London.

Marlene Kaldenbach, 52, a part-time saleswoman from Krefeld, about 50 kilometers, or 30 miles, north of Cologne, sees this hesitation on a regular basis, despite the longer shopping hours and other consumer incentives introduced by the German government in recent years.

"When people don't have the euros, they don't go shopping," she said.

In the United States, and increasingly in the credit-happy United Kingdom, the average shopper might well whip out a Visa or MasterCard to purchase those summer shoes. Perhaps the debt would be consolidated under a personal loan, through a mortgage - far more widespread in the Anglo-Saxon world than in continental Europe - or any number of vehicles that make it easier to spend more money than one has in the bank.

But people like Ficon are shaped much more by a cultural predisposition to save, a tendency exacerbated in Germany by lingering memories or stories of hyperinflation in the Weimar era between the two world wars. European savings rates are among the highest in the world.

In the euro area, made up of Germany and 11 other countries, annual household savings as a percentage of disposable income average around 12 percent, about double the rate in Britain and Japan; Americans save little more than 2 percent.

Ficon said she had never bought anything on credit. "I know how much income I have, and it will be the same next month as this month," she said. "If I can't afford something today, I can't see how I will later."

In the United States, "the share of people prepared to take risks is higher," said Norbert Walter, chief economist at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt. "There was a very specific selection of the kind of people who immigrated to America. All the risk-takers left, and the risk-averse people have stayed."

Prudence arguably breeds stability. But a nation, or nations, full of hesitant spenders neither ignites economies nor spurs the pace of growth when a cyclical recovery emerges, like the one that economists forecast for Germany.


The whole thing is hilariously inept, some highlights:

* Europeans don't have money and correctly fear their bleak future, why aren't they spending more?

* Europeans don't have equity to borrow against like Americans do, why aren't they borrowing?

But far and away the best is the comparison of German to American stability with Germany coming out ahead.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 AM

YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET:

Bush shifts gear, speaks of vision for second term: Answering critics, he cites plans for education, taxes (Anne Kornblut, July 22, 2004, Boston Globe)

Just one week before his Democratic rival will receive his party's nomination, President Bush last night offered the first outlines of what his own presidency would look like if he wins a second term, citing plans for changes in education standards and the tax code and seeking to dampen criticism that he has not offered a vision for how a Bush presidency would look if it continues to 2008.

''During the next four years, we will spread opportunity to every corner of this fine country," Bush said, saying he will work to eliminate junk lawsuits, impose higher standards in public high schools, and lower taxes. [...]

White House advisers originally said they were intentionally withholding the second-term agenda, seeking to let the suspense mount leading up to the Republican convention next month and to inject fresh issues into the campaign just as the public starts paying serious attention around Labor Day. They said it would be pointless to articulate new positions at this point, when they would be drowned out by the upcoming Democratic convention.


As Iraq fades into the background and the economy becomes a positive for the President, the agenda will roll out. Its main features will be elements of the Opportunity Society: private retirement accounts, HSAs; school vouchers; and the FBI. It would be helpful, though unlikely, for him to propose a major tax overhaul too--either a flat tax or a consumption tax to replace the entire current code.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:21 AM

ACE PRANK!

Lesbian couple in legal limbo as they seek to divorce (Gay Abbate, Globe and Mail, July 22nd, 2004)

After a quickie marriage, a lesbian couple was hoping for an equally fast divorce.

But the partners find themselves in a legal limbo. The federal government acknowledges that same-sex couples should be allowed to get divorced, but the divorce law still considers a married couple to be a man and a woman.

The Toronto couple is seeking Canada's first same-sex divorce since three provinces and one territory began to allow gays and lesbians to wed.

They had been in a relationship for almost 10 years when they tied the knot on June 18, 2003, a week after Ontario allowed same-sex marriages.

But their marriage lasted only five days.[...]

The stumbling block is the Divorce Act, which defines "spouse" as "of a man or woman who are married to each other." Although Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Yukon permit same-sex marriages, the federal government did not change the definition in the act.

OK, there is little doubt the feds or the courts will help these two sever the knot, but can anyone think of one good reason why the state should ever have had any role at all in their relationship, whether coming or going?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 AM

SEIZE OPPORTUNITY:

Our Coming Ideological Battles (Arnold Kling, 07/20/2004, Tech Central Station)

"What then is the virtue of increasing spending on retirement and health rather than on goods? It is the virtue of providing consumers in rich countries with what they want the most...The point is that leisure-time activities (including lifelong learning) - volwork - and health care are the growth industries of the twenty-first century."
-- Robert Fogel, The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100, p. 73

Economic historian and Nobel Laureate Robert Fogel foresees a 21st-century economy in which consumers will be focused primarily on leisure, lifelong learning, and health care. To me, this suggests that there will be major ideological battles over the size of government.

While most of the Left has conceded that the goods-producing sector is better governed by free markets than by central planning, that sector's relative importance in the economy is on the decline. It is precisely those sectors where Fogel sees growth -- education, health care, and longer retirement -- where the Left insists that the government must remain in charge. But if we "limit" government control to just education, health care, and Social Security, then in fact we will have brought socialism in through the back door. In this essay, I want to focus on how to avoid such an outcome for health care. [...]

Limited paternalism has the following components:

* Direct provision of health care services to the poor. For example, government-subsidized clinics in poor neighborhoods with nominal charges (say, $10 per visit).

* Aim to switch from a system of employer-provided health insurance to consumer-purchased health insurance, by ending the tax deductibility of insurance for corporations and eliminating requirements that companies provide health insurance.

* Mandatory catastrophic health insurance for all families not eligible for Medicaid. Rather than expand Medicaid and other government programs upward to the middle class, as some Democrats propose, tighten eligibility for these programs and require co-payments for all but the poorest participants. Eventually, phase out Medicaid and replace it with health care vouchers.

* Phase Out Medicare, and instead mandate health care savings accounts. This would change the medical portion of retirement security from a defined-benefit plan, which Congress will tend to pack with benefits that it cannot pay for, to a defined-contribution plan, which is much sounder financially and much fairer generationally.

* Institute government-provided "catastrophic reinsurance" for very high medical expenses. The Kerry campaign has proposed this for expenses of over $50,000 per year. The purpose of catastrophic re-insurance is to enable private insurance companies to compete for business without having to screen out high-cost individuals. Of all the mechanisms for spreading the cost of break-the-bank illnesses among the general public, catastrophic reinsurance would involve the government in the least number of individuals and the least number of medical decisions. While the rest of the Kerry health care plan tends to be the opposite of what I would like to see, this proposal strikes me as a good plank in any health care reform platform.

"Limited paternalism" may not be everyone's ideal. However, the most likely alternative will be creeping socialism -- or perhaps galloping socialism.


Economic conservatives/libertarians can argue 'til they're blue in the face that a system of complete laissez-faire is the most effective and freest solution to all our problems, but it is not the ideal system if the people have rejected it utterly, which they did in the 20th Century. So conservatives can either use their period in control of all facets of government to create a compromise that maximizes market forces but within the context of a safety-netted and universal structure or they'll end up with far worse alternatives. Of course, their principles will be unsullied....


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 AM

SAVE THE BUS FARE, GRANDMA:

Study: U.S. Generic Drugs Cost Less Than Canadian Drugs (Linda Bren, July-August 2004, FDA Consumer magazine)

If you think all drugs from Canada are cheaper than U.S. drugs, think again. In the United States, generic drugs--roughly half of all prescriptions--are often cheaper than both Canadian brand-name drugs and Canadian generic drugs, according to a study by the Food and Drug Administration.

FDA analysts looked at the seven biggest-selling generic prescription drugs for chronic conditions that became available as generics in the United States since 1993:

* alprazolam (generic for Xanax) for anxiety and panic disorders
* clonazepam (generic for Klonopin) for seizure and panic disorders
* enalapril (generic for Vasotec) for high blood pressure
* fluoxetine (generic for Prozac) for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and bulimia nervosa
* lisinopril (generic for Zestril and Prinivil) for high blood pressure and heart failure
* metformin (generic for Glucophage) for type 2 diabetes
* metoprolol (generic for Lopressor) for high blood pressure, angina, and heart failure.

For six of the seven drugs, the U.S. generics were priced lower than the brand-name versions in Canada . Five of the seven U.S. generic drugs were also cheaper than the Canadian generics. Of the remaining two U.S. generic drugs, one (enalapril) was unavailable in Canada generically, and its Canadian brand-name version was more than five times the price of the U.S. generic equivalent. The other U.S. generic (metformin) sold for less in Canada both as a generic and as a brand name. Metformin did not become available generically in the United States until January 2002, so U.S. generic prices have likely not fallen to the level they will eventually reach, say the FDA Office of Planning economists who did the study.


Wait a second, isn't Big Pharma evil?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 AM

ALL HUMOR IS CONSERVATIVE FILES (GREAT POP TOO):

Love Stinks: The best foul-mouthed breakup songs of all time (DAN LEROY, Jul 07, 2004, Riverfront Times)

Can't even find an excerpt that isn't so profanity-laced as to violate our rules, but it's one of the funniest things you'll ever read.


July 21, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 PM

OFT-FORSAKEN (via Buttercup, Tom Morin, & Governor Breck):

Go Ahead, Call Us Cowboys: A visit to the Alaska-Canada border brings home the differences between the cultures. (ANDREW KLEINFELD AND JUDITH KLEINFELD, July 19, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

Though detractors Marxify the cowboy into some sort of violent capitalist, the "Western" fable was actually a rebuke to the "Gilded Age." Americans did not choose as their heroes of song and image the men who financed the railroads and endowed the libraries. The Plains hero of Owen Wister's novel, The Virginian (a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt), had no property, no schooling, no social standing, no money and no interest in getting these things. What gave him pride was his courage, competence, self-discipline, self-reliance, physical prowess and most of all integrity and sense of justice. The cowboy, an impoverished hired hand who slept in bunkhouses or on the ground, was a figure of aristocratic honor. As Wister put it, "If he gave his word, he kept it; Wall Street would have found him behind the times." The cowboy was a knight, albeit one with no land or money.

High Noon portrayed a sheriff who, unable to get any of the townsmen to stand with him against brutal thugs taking over their remote town, faced them down alone, and survived only because his Quaker wife picked up a gun and sacrificed her abstract pacifism to the concrete virtue that the hero represented. "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" presented John Wayne as a military hero who, through great courage and skill, prevented an Indian war. In "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence," Jimmy Stewart played a lawyer who had no skill with a gun, happily wore an apron, and dried the dishes in the kitchen until he was forced by a sense of honor and justice to confront the villain who ruled the town by brute force. Shane told the story of a brave man who wanted peace but risked his life to protect homesteaders from the men who were destroying them. In all the classic Westerns the hero, by dint of great courage and competence, fights alone for justice, achieves it, and leaves without riches or fame, with nothing but honor.

Because the cowboy melded the aristocratic virtues of honor and indifference to material things with the democratic values of self-reliance, discipline, and independence, this myth appealed deeply to our national character. Freedom imposes burdens--isolation, inequality and anxiety about whether our choices are wise. The cowboy ideal stimulates in us the vigor to attempt difficult new tasks.

When foreigners see us as cowboys, they are not mistaken.


An untapped subtext here is that in Shane, Liberty Valence, and High Noon it required a particularly violent, though decent, man to maintain or restore the social order, because the regular townspeople, likewise decent, preferred accommodation to confrontation. In this sense particularly President Bush is an archetypal American figure.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:33 PM

DO THEY KNOW ABOUT THE FROGCRACKERS?:

Bush quietly meets with Amish here; they offer their prayers (Jack Brubaker, 7/16/04, Lancaster New Era)

President Bush met privately with a group of Old Order Amish during his visit to Lancaster County last Friday. He discussed their farms and their hats and his religion.He asked them to vote for him in November.

The Amish told the president that not all members of the church vote but they would pray for him.

Bush had tears in his eyes when he replied. He said the president needs their prayers. He also said that having a strong belief in God is the only way he can do his job.

This story has not been reported before. You might think an observant press follows the president everywhere, especially during a re-election campaign, but no reporter attended this meeting.

Sam Stoltzfus, an Old Order historian and writer who lives in Gordonville, spoke with a number of people present at the session with the president.

He related what happened to the Scribbler, saying the Amish “caught Bush’s heart.’’

The 20-minute meeting with Bush occurred immediately after the president addressed a select audience at Lapp Electric Service in Smoketown Friday afternoon.

An Amish woman who lives on a farm across Witmer Road from Lapp Electric that morning had presented a quilt to the president with a card thanking him for his leadership of the country.

Bush said he would like to talk to the quilter and her family.

So the Secret Service invited the family to meet the president. Friends wanted to come along, and the entire assembly eventually numbered about 60. They were evenly divided between adults and children of all ages.

The group walked together across the road to Lapp Electric.

Stoltzfus reports: “It took a while to get them through the metal detectors as these were farmers and shop men, with vice grips, pocket knives, and nuts and bolts in their pockets. Some ladies had baby gear. All pockets had to be emptied.’’

When the Amish were “found not to be a serious threat to national security,’’ they were allowed inside the office area of Lapp Electric and waited about 30 minutes for the president to appear.

“Babies got restless. Children squirmed,’’ Stoltzfus reports. “Suddenly the president and five Secret Service men stepped into the room. One housewife said, ‘Are you George Bush?’’’

The president replied in the affirmative and shook hands all around, asking the names of all. He especially thanked the “quilt frau,’’ who operates her own business selling quilts and crafts.

“He seemed relaxed and just like an old neighbor,’’ says Stoltzfus.


Crafty devil.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:10 PM

IN FAIRNESS TO SADDAM:

Anti-Iran sentiment hardening fast: Critics in Congress finger Iranian ties to Al Qaeda and influence in Iraq as cause for a tougher approach. (Howard LaFranchi, 7/22/04, CS Monitor)

Iran's governing mullahs may feel uneasy at the prominent attention they are attracting in the US as the 9/11 investigations conclude.

But a bigger worry for them may well be the growing signs that the US Congress - even without the 9/11 reports of Iran's ties to Al Qaeda - is pressing for a tougher approach toward Tehran.

With US interests in a reformed Middle East as strong as ever - even with Saddam Hussein out of the picture - Iran is emerging as the new Satan for some forces in Washington. That is particularly true on Capitol Hill, where pro-Israel and anti-Iran hard-liners are calling for an Iran policy advocating regime change - much like what happened with Iraq in the late 1990s.


Considering that we toppled Saddam who had no ties to terrorism, and everyone on the Left says they'd have supported the war if there were such ties, it seems only fair to do Iran.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 PM

ALL HUMOR IS CONSERVATIVE FILES:

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory. -Steven Wright
This would be called: Restating the Fall.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:03 PM

JUST PRAY IT NEVER COLLIDES WITH THE WEINERMOBILE (via Bryan Francoeur):

Ben & Jerry's co-founder inflamed by Bush (CHRIS RODKEY, 7/20/04, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Call it the burning Bush.

The co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is on the road, towing a
12-foot-tall effigy of President Bush with fake flames shooting out of the
pants.

Ben Cohen believes it is an acceptable way to point out what he calls the
president's lies.

"In a polite society, you don't go up to a person and look at them in the
face and say, 'You're a liar,'" Cohen said Monday in a telephone interview.

The Pants on Fire Tour rolled into Spokane on Tuesday.

"We think it's a lot more dignified and there's a lot more decorum to say,
'Excuse me sir, your pants are getting a little warm, don't you think?'"
Cohen said.


Doesn't this clash with their complaint that John Ashcroft has suspended the 1st Amendment?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 PM

THE REVOLUTIONARY (via Tom Morin):

Yes, the Education President (Sol Stern, Summer 2004, City Journal)

For NCLB’s reading initiative alone, Bush richly deserves the title “education president.” But in addition, NCLB, though not perfect, is a powerful instrument of reform in other ways. What’s more, a new Bush-promoted school voucher program for Washington, D.C., may point the way toward further education reform in a second Bush term. [...]

When President Bush signed NCLB without private school vouchers, many education reformers feared that the bill was a big setback for the school choice cause. Yet a major advance for school choice did make it into the act: Supplemental Educational Services (SES). Largely unnoticed by most commentators at the time of NCLB’s signing, the SES provision has turned out to be the new law’s school choice sleeper.

In effect, SES gives disadvantaged students in schools that have failed for three straight years a voucher—worth up to $1,700 in some states—to buy tutoring services from licensed providers, both public and private, including religious institutions. The tutoring money comes out of the federal funds allocated to the failing school’s district. Providers must win approval from state education departments and must sign contracts with the relevant school districts.

Some public school systems, feeling threatened by outside competition and wanting to hold on to the federal money, have balked at implementing SES services—delaying the signing of contracts or not informing parents of the tutoring options open to them. Last year, for example, the Buffalo, New York, public schools spent only $1 million in federal funds to tutor 800 kids, even though there were 9,000 eligible students and up to $14 million available for tutoring. In the Albany school district, where all the schools made the failing list, only one student is receiving SES tutoring so far, prompting Albany’s mayor to call school officials on the carpet publicly. Still, more than 110,000 children across the nation received SES tutoring in 2002–03.

And that number will surely climb as reform organizations rush to get the word out. National school choice organizations like the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Education Options are leading the way, having received federal grants to run SES information campaigns. At the same time, more and more providers are signing on, including, in New York State, the Boys and Girls Club, the Urban League, Sylvan Learning, Kaplan, Princeton Review, and even the Youth and Families Department of the City of Albany. And they are starting to get results. “I think we are beginning to see improvement with children who are way behind in reading skills,” says Angel Staples, a third-grade teacher from the Buffalo public schools, about her moonlighting job as a tutor in an SES program. “It’s partly because we use a very scripted phonics program and partly because we can give the children a lot of individual attention in our small classes.”

Tom Carroll, a seasoned school choice activist in upstate New York, thinks that over time SES will whet parents’ appetite for more reforms. “What parents are willing to accept from their public school districts will change when they see that there are private groups and churches that may be doing a better job of raising their kids’ academic performance,” Carroll says. Further, though the Bush administration makes no such predictions, Carroll argues that parents will eventually start asking why the local church school that tutors their kids after school can’t teach them during the day, increasing support for publicly funded vouchers. Teachers College professor Henry Levin agrees, albeit ruefully. SES, he thinks, could be a Trojan horse, ultimately leading to vouchers. “By 2014,” he predicted, “we’re going to hear that public schools can’t do the job, but that private schools can.” [...]

So we’ve now come full circle since congressional Democrats forced President Bush to drop the private school choice option in NCLB. A majority of Congress now perceives that choice limited to the public schools is not a sufficient remedy for kids trapped in dysfunctional school systems like Washington’s. Therefore, the top education reform goal of a second Bush administration should be to revisit NCLB’s accountability and choice provisions when the act’s reauthorization comes due in 2006. Since the branding of so many schools as “failing” has vexed public school officials around the country, President Bush, along with his education reform allies in Congress, could offer Democrats this deal: “Let’s agree to limit the number of schools considered failing, but if we can’t find room in successful public schools for the kids from the really bad schools, then at least let’s give those children a chance at private schools.”

Even a limited number of vouchers financed with federal money would be a huge prize worth aiming for. But meanwhile, our education president is now in a position to change the national discourse about the nation’s public education system, explaining why it achieves so little, despite spending so much. Instead of merely rebutting his liberal foes’ charge that his administration has “underfunded” NCLB, the president needs to go on the offensive and teach the country the real lesson of American public education—that, if anything, we are overspending on the public schools and are not even close to getting our money’s worth.

Nothing would be a better classroom exhibit for the president’s lecture to the American people than a successful Washington, D.C., voucher program. As Bush education official Rees notes, it will be “rigorously studied” by supporters and critics of choice alike—which is why, she says, “I am spending 75 percent of my time on the D.C. program, making sure it is implemented well and sold to parents.” The Census Bureau has just released figures showing that the D.C. public school district spends a mind-boggling $13,400 per pupil—higher than any state in the union. Yet as everyone now knows, Washington has the worst schools in the country. When, as is likely, thousands of D.C. voucher recipients manage to find perfectly decent schools for $7,500 or less, even the most mathematically challenged taxpayers will comprehend just how much the public education system that President Bush has valiantly worked to reform has been ripping them off. And then, perhaps, the idea of school choice will begin to seem as sensible and commonplace as compulsory schooling itself.


It has only taken conservatives two years longer than Ted Kennedy to figure out that George W. Bush duped the Democrats in the NCLB tussle. Ultimately the cost effectiveness of a market driven solution to the education program dooms the current mandatory public schools system. And once the State loses control of kids minds everything the Left has achieved over the last seventy years is up for grabs.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:59 PM

CONSTITUTIONAL RESTORATION:

Frist backs rule change on judges (Alexander Bolton, 7/21/04, The Hill)

Conservatives and members of the Senate Republican leadership say that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is committed to using a controversial procedural tactic that would rewrite the chamber’s filibuster rule.

While Frist said he was actively considering changing the Senate rules several months ago, it now appears that the majority leader is on board with an effort by leading conservative senators to execute the tactic, which would prohibit lawmakers from filibustering judicial nominees.

The most logical time to change the rules would be this fall or at the beginning of the new Congress in January.

Senate Democratic leadership aides have warned that if Republicans stripped senators of the power to filibuster judges, it would lead to a freeze in bipartisan relations that they compare to a nuclear winter. They say that Democrats would bring the chamber to a standstill in retaliation, but Republican proponents note that Democrats have, for the most part, done so already.


Filibusters are an okay self-limitation for legislation--where generally the less Congress does the better--but they're inappropriate in the appointment process, where they are preventing the executive from staffing the positions it's responsible for filling.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:51 PM

VOTE KERRY FOR YOUR 401K:

Presidents And The Stock Market (Dan Ackman, 07.21.04, Forbes)

Does the president affect your portfolio? Candidates would certainly like you to think that the answer is yes, and that the particular candidate doing the talking is better than the other guy.

Over the years, several studies have shown that the stock market has fared markedly better under Democrats than Republicans. The difference, according to Pedro Santa-Clara and Rossen Valkanov, both professors at the University of California Los Angeles Anderson School of Business, is much too large to be random and cannot be explained by fluctuations in the business cycle. Nor can it be explained by higher interest rates in Republican administrations.

The UCLA professors looked at data going back to 1927. Our own study of the post-World War II presidencies confirms their results. We found that the S&P 500 has averaged a total return of 14.1% per year under Democratic presidents since April 1945, and 11.8% under Republicans. The best total returns--17.4% per year--were under Bill Clinton, whose presidency ranked first in economic results. (see: "Presidents And Prosperity") Gerald R. Ford ranks second, followed by Harry S. Truman.


It is explained, obviously, by the discontinuation of major wartime spending by the Federal government: Peace dividends. In fact, a similar thing would almost certainly happen if John Kerry were elected and cut our National Security spending in half.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:44 PM

AN ANOMALY IN THE NORTHEAST:

Study Ranks States by Economic Freedom: Kansas, Colorado, and Virginia rank best on PRI Economic Freedom Index (John Skorburg, July 1, 2004, The Heartland Institue)

A new report issued by the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (PRI) ranks Connecticut, California, and New York lowest in terms of "economic freedom"--how friendly or unfriendly state governments are toward free enterprise. Kansas, Colorado, and Virginia rank highest in the report, which was featured in Forbes magazine's May 2004 "Best Places" issue.

"Where should you locate new businesses and subsidiaries?" asked Lawrence J. McQuillan, director of business and economic studies at PRI, in an article for Forbes. "In states with the fewest regulatory body blocks and fiscal obstacles."

PRI, an independent nonprofit research organization based in San Francisco, teamed up with economists Ying Huang and Robert E. McCormick of Clemson University to create the "U.S. Economic Freedom Index."

"In coming up with our ratings we evaluated 143 variables for each state, using the most recent data," explained McQuillan. "This snapshot includes tax rates, state spending, occupational licensing, environmental regulations, income redistribution, right-to-work and prevailing-wage laws, tort laws, and the number of government agencies. These we grouped into five sectors--fiscal, regulatory, judicial, size of government, and social welfare.

"For each of the 143 variables we ranked states from 1 (most free) to 50 (least free), calculated an average sector ranking, and then weighted them to get an overall score," continued McQuillan. "Welfare, fiscal, and regulatory matters counted about equally; government size and judicial ratings counted for less."


The map is especially revealing.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:05 PM

OUT OF HIDING, OUT OF HELL:

Surviving the most dangerous game: a review of Hiding in Plain Sight: The Incredible True Story of a German-Jewish Teenager's Struggle to Survive in Nazi-Occupied Poland by Betty Lauer (Steven Martinovich, July 19, 2004, Enter Stage Right)

During his trial in 1961 Adolph Eichmann famously declared that Nazi Germany was a state that had legalized crime. That reality was only fully known by its victims, the millions of people who perished in the death camps that dotted the Third Reich. Their very existence was a crime and the full resources of the state and the willing compliance of their fellow citizens were employed against them.

And yet some managed to survive that hell thanks to their determination to live. Betty Lauer was one of those fortunate few, a compelling story she relates in Hiding in Plain Sight: The Incredible True Story of a German-Jewish Teenager's Struggle to Survive in Nazi-Occupied Poland.


She's a great lady and hers is an amazing/terrible story.


Posted by David Cohen at 2:53 PM

WAS ANDREW SULLIVAN RIGHT?

CAPE COD DIARIST: Alter Girl (Masha Gessen, The New Republic, 07/21/04)

I gave up the homosexual lifestyle four years ago. That day, my girlfriend and I went from club to club in Moscow, drinking and dancing until we nearly dropped, then walked home at sunrise. The next day, we flew to a court hearing in Kaliningrad, where I was declared the legal mother of a three-year-old boy who had been given up at birth. Then we flew home to Moscow to find that our neighbors, whom we had never met, had decorated our door with balloons. They all came by to say something kind or to bring something for our new child. Then we spent a lot of time drawing, reading, lacing, cutting, kneading Play-Doh, and talking to pediatricians, child psychologists, speech therapists, neurologists, music teachers, and swimming coaches. We made new friends and got closer to old ones with children of the appropriate play-date age. Then I got pregnant and had a baby. Then, one day, someone was asking me about being a lesbian in Moscow, and I felt I had to tell the truth: I knew a lot more about playgrounds and children's theaters than about lesbian bars or bands. Svenya, my girlfriend, agreed. We were no longer lesbians. . . .

"Does this mean I now have to call her your wife?" asked my old friend Laurie, one of the most outspoken gay opponents of same-sex marriage. I've always cringed when someone referred to a same-sex partner as a "husband" or "wife." But it seems now I should refer to Svenya that way. I've never liked the sterile partner, preferring, whenever possible, to use the youthful girlfriend, but over the years I've come to appreciate the privacy-protecting lack of clarity inherent in both terms. (Russians are generally more likely to understand girlfriend to mean just a friend, and Europeans often refer to heterosexual mates as partners.) Now it seems like this visibility action will continue for the rest of our lives. Which again raises the question of why we did it. Because we could, and also because this was the first time we made our relationship visible in such a way that other people were moved to tears. And yes, I do think that the visibility, combined with the memory of listening to my wife's breath when we were wrapped in the prayer shawl, will help hold up the walls of our home.

The best argument for a legislature to choose to allow same-sex marriages has always been Andrew Sullivan's: marriage is an inherently conservative, stabilising institution that will help draw homosexuals out of an unhealthy, alienated lifestyle into the community. (All right, that's a tendentious version of Mr. Sullivan's argument, but you know what I mean.) The counter argument is, of course, that we don't really know how sound the institution of marriage currently is, we've knocked a lot of holes in marriage already, gay marriage is a pretty big hole, and no one's promising not to knock some more holes in the wall any time soon. Oh, and the collapse of marriage would be bad, for the very reasons Mr. Sullivan believes that its extention to homosexuals would be good.

While we each have our theories, this question can't really be answered without running the experiment. Thanks to our innate nobility, generosity of spirit and poor judicial nominating process, we of the Commonwealth have agreed to run the experiment for the nation. No doubt your thanks will be forthcoming.

As we begin to tote up the evidence (and, no, the case is not closed simply because my marriage didn't collapse on May 18), how to we score Ms. (Mrs.?) Gessen's story. It is deeply ambiguous. Far from needing, or even wishing for, the bait offered by the Commonwealth, Ms. Gessen and her wife were moved on their own to leave the lesbian lifestyle apparently characterized, at least in Moscow, by staying up late club hopping, partying too hard and drinking too much. While Ms. Gessen seems pleased by being married, it's not clear what we get out of it. In any event, we're not in it for lesbian nesting.

The biggest effect of marriage for Ms. Gessen seems to be to make it less likely that her wife can stay in the States and to make her relationship more public. These are somewhat ironic results, given the arguments made in favor of same-sex marriage. But Ms. Gessen's story remains ambiguous and can be construed as, if not strongly in favor of same-sex marriage, then against being strongly against same-sex marriage. Ms. Gessen had already adopted one child in Russia. Her wife has apparently (I found the story somewhat unclear) adopted her American born daughter in Massachusetts. So, these two women, before and after their marriage, are living together in the Commonwealth, raising two children, sharing legal and physical custody and subject to the state's police power. Having lost our chance to object when objecting would have been meaningful, how much difference does it make, now, that the state, as well as Ms. Gessen and her wife, will use the word "married" to describe their unchanged relationship?

I'm coming more and more to think that we should just get the state out of the civil marriage business; a position I first considered deep in my libertarian(ish) past while gay marriage was just a glint in Mr. Sullivan's eye.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:49 PM

WHILE THEY FRET ABOUT IMPRISONED JIHADIS (via Tom Corcoran):

Federal Thought Crimes (Cliff Kincaid, July 19, 2004, Accuracy in Media)

The U.S. Senate has passed Ted Kennedy's so-called "hate crimes" bill. In the words of the Traditional Values Coalition, it will criminalize a person's thoughts and provides unequal penalties for the same crime—depending upon the motivation of the accused. That means that the media that possibly provoked or influenced commission of the crime will come in for scrutiny. Yet our liberal media have remained silent on the constitutional and First Amendment implications of this approach.

Some, mostly on the conservative right, are speaking out. Besides the Traditional Values Coalition, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation has denounced the bill, noting that France has pursued the same approach in the prosecution of Brigette Bardot for a book she wrote critical of Islam. The Republican Study Committee produced an analysis of the Kennedy approach that concludes that it creates a federal "thought crime." The approach requires that prosecutors inquire into "an offender's overall philosophy or biases…" It declares, "The Kennedy bill makes philosophy, politics, biases, and general viewpoints the subject of almost every violent crime."


Which makes it especially amusing to hear Senator Kennedy or Kerry prattle on about how the war on terror is eroding our civil liberties.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:42 PM

THAT GIANT SUCKING SOUND--US ABSORBING THEIR BEST:

mmigrants' kids: Nation's brainy superstars (Scott Stephens, July 20, 2004, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Give us your tired, your poor . . . your scientists and your mathematicians.

The children of immigrants are becoming the top math and science students in the United States, dominating academic competitions and representing the strongest hope the nation has of keeping an edge in high-tech and biomedical fields, according to a study released Monday.

The National Foundation for American Policy, based in Arlington, Va., found that foreign-born professionals and students are contributing more to American society than first thought, and that their children are the nation's rising intellectual superstars.

"If opponents of immigration had succeeded over the past 20 years, two-thirds of the most outstanding future American scientists and mathematicians would not be here today because U.S. policy would have barred their parents from entering the United States," NFAP Executive Director Stuart Anderson, who authored the report, said at a news conference.

The study found, for example, that 60 percent of the finalists in the 2004 Intel Science Talent Search, 65 percent of the U.S. Math Olympiad's top scorers and 46 percent of the U.S. Physics Team members are children of immigrants.


Every time one of these immigrant kids makes good a stupid native kid loses an opportunity. Do we really want our doctors to be competent instead of white?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:31 PM

THANKS TO THE IRAQ WAR IT'S A RATTLE DICTATORSHIPS ASSOCIATE WITH REGIME CHANGE:

Now Bush Saber-Rattling Is Unnerving China (Chalmers Johnson, 7/19/04, History News Network)

Quietly and with minimal coverage in the U.S. press, the Navy announced that from mid-July through August it would hold exercises dubbed Operation Summer Pulse '04 in waters off the China coast near Taiwan.

This will be the first time in U.S. naval history that seven of our twelve carrier strike groups deploy in one place at the same time. It will look like the peacetime equivalent of the Normandy landings and may well end in a disaster.

At a minimum, a single carrier strike group includes the aircraft carrier itself (usually with nine or ten squadrons and a total of about eighty-five aircraft), a guided missile cruiser, two guided missile destroyers, an attack submarine and a combination ammunition, oiler and supply ship.

Normally, the United States uses only one or at the most two carrier strike groups to show the flag in a trouble spot. In a combat situation it might deploy three or four, as it did for both wars with Iraq. Seven in one place is unheard of.

Operation Summer Pulse '04 was almost surely dreamed up at the Pearl Harbor headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command and its commander, Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, and endorsed by neocons in the Pentagon. It is doubtful that Congress was consulted. This only goes to show that our foreign policy is increasingly made by the Pentagon.

According to Chinese reports, Taiwanese ships will join the seven carriers being assembled in this modern rerun of 19th century gunboat diplomacy. The ostensible reason given by the Navy for this exercise is to demonstrate the ability to concentrate massive forces in an emergency, but the focus on China in a U.S. election year sounds like a last hurrah of the neocons.

Needless to say, the Chinese are not amused.


The younger among you will probably not believe this, but there was a time in our history when the Left was not opposed to defending democracies against totalitarians.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:25 PM

CONTAINING MULTITUDES:

Inside a Republican Brain (WILLIAM SAFIRE, 7/21/04, NY Times)

What holds the five Republican factions together? To find out, I depth-polled my own brain.

The economic conservative (I'm in the supply-side division) opposes the enforced redistribution of wealth, advocating lower taxes for all to stimulate growth with productivity, thereby to cut the deficit. Government should downhold nondefense spending, stop the litigation drain and reduce regulation but protect consumers from media and other monopolies.

My social conservative instinct wants to denounce the movie-and-TV treatment of violence and porno-sadism as entertainment; repeal state-sponsored gambling; slow the rush to same-sex marriage; oppose partial-birth abortion; resist genetic manipulation that goes beyond therapy. However, this conflicts with -

My libertarian impulse, which is pro-choice and anti-compulsion, wants to protect the right to counsel of all suspects and the right to privacy of the rest of us, likes quiet cars in trains and vouchers for education, and wants snoops out of bedrooms and fundamentalists out of schoolrooms.

The idealistic calling grabs me when it comes to America's historic mission of extending freedom in the world. This brand of thinking is often called neoconservative. In defense against terror, I'm pre-emptive and unilateral rather than belated and musclebound, and would rather be ad hoc in forming alliances than permanently in hock to global bureaucrats.

Also rattling around my Republican mind is the cultural conservative. In today's ever-fiercer kulturkampf, I identify with art forms more traditional than avant-garde, and language usage more standard than common. I prefer the canon to the fireworks and a speech that appeals to the brain's reasoning facilities to a demidocumentary film arousing the amygdala.


What right to privacy?


Posted by David Cohen at 9:27 AM

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

Nuclear arms reportedly found in Iraq (UPI, 7/21/04)

Iraqi security reportedly discovered three missiles carrying nuclear heads concealed in a concrete trench northwest of Baghdad, official sources said Wednesday.
Think about your first reaction to this news, and then tell me that domestic politics hasn't screwed everything up.

MORE: Iraq Interior Ministry Says Report on Nukes 'Stupid'


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 AM

SCOTTISH REVULSION:

Man convicted of killing paedophile teacher he befriended in jail (JOHN ROBERTSON , 7/21/04, The Scotsman)

A MAN was jailed for life yesterday for murdering his best friend and then dismembering the body and dumping the pieces in a back green in the Merchiston suburb of Edinburgh.

Ian Sutherland, 33, who had struck up a friendship with Alan Wilson, 51, while both were in prison serving sentences for sex offences, had denied killing his friend.

The judge, Lord Dawson, told an emotionless Sutherland: "No words of mine can bring Alan Wilson back to life. No words of mine can adequately express the public’s revulsion at your behaviour in this whole affair.

"All I can do is reflect that revulsion in passing the only severe sentence the law allows me to pass [for the crime of murder], namely life imprisonment."

Lord Dawson said Sutherland would serve at least 15 years before he became eligible for parole...


15 years?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 AM

ALL FOR A FISH?:

Five die in puffer fish banquet (The Age, July 21, 2004)

A puffer fish banquet in Indonesia has left five people dead and four others in critical condition.

Several families from Sina Malaka in East Flores, 2,025 km east of Jakarta, gathered on Sunday to feast on some recently caught puffer fish, a delicacy that can be poisonous if not properly cooked or eaten indiscriminately.


Mad cow disease is a worthwhile risk to run for steak and burgers, but no fish is worth so much as a rash, nevermind death.


Posted by David Cohen at 8:01 AM

SOMEWHAT BETTER

Triplets mother wins IVF case (BBC, 11/16/2000)

A fertility clinic was in breach of contract when its treatment led to a woman giving birth to triplets, the High Court has ruled.

Patricia Thompson, and her husband Peter, are claiming damages equivalent to the cost of bringing up the third baby.

The Sheffield Fertility Clinic implanted three embryos, despite Mrs Thompson's belief that they had agreed that they would only put back two.

Unusually, all three embedded successfully and were carried to term - the only instance of its kind among 250 women who underwent the same treatment at the clinic in 1996.

Mrs Thompson gave birth to two boys and a girl.

According to the clinic's director Dr Elizabeth Lenton normal procedure was to implant three embryos to increase the chances of a woman becoming pregnant.

Prospective mothers could later elect to reduce the number if all three embryos implanted successfully.

However, Mrs Thompson, 34, said she would never have agreed to that as she and her husband did not agree with abortion.

In other words, "reduction" of multiples is part of the treatment regimen at this clinic.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 AM

WHAT'S BERGER'S HISTORY WITH FROGS?:

Berger on the grill (Tony Blankley, July 21, 2004, Townhall)

The first line of rhetorical defense was laid down early Tuesday morning on the "Today Show" by metropolitico-journalist David Gergen -- former advisor or staffer to Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton, and one of the designated wise men of Washington. "I think it's more innocent than it looks ... I have known Sandy Berger for a long time ... He would never do anything to compromise the security of the United States." Mr. Gergen added, "it is suspicious" that word of the investigation emerged just as the September 11 commission is about to release its report, since "this investigation started months ago."

This doubtlessly heartfelt defensive effort was actually slightly counterproductive. By asserting that it was more innocent than it looked, he let any doubters know that the events looked not innocent, even to friend David Gergen.

Moreover, as he didn't offer any hard evidence to justify his suspicion of innocence, he was left with offering evidence of good character -- which is marginally probative, but rarely persuasive in this age of so many fallen idols and clay-feeted men.

He simply asserted the point commonly argued in Pall Mall clubs in London in the 1950s during their plague of turncoat spies: "As a member of my club, he is a good chap, and a chap like that doesn't do a thing like that -- or if he does, he must have a bloody good reason for doing so." (NOTE: I am not even suggesting espionage or disloyalty of any sort by Mr. Berger. Such a thought is utterly absurd. I am only describing the clubby mentality that often drives well-born men of a certain type to defend their friends against the facts.)


That's the exact tendency Rick Perlstein was going on about, but Mr. Blankley thinks it rather natural and not an indication of unAmericanism to defend people you like.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:50 AM

CAN DARWINISM BE FAR BEHIND?:

The Dénouement Is Imminent (Hans Labohm, 07/20/2004, Tech Central Station)

Time is running out to beat about the bush. The man-made global warming paradigm is about to collapse. In its wake the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) process will have to change tack. In the mean time, the Kyoto Treaty seems to be moribund.

A couple of years ago I started to get interested in the man-made global warming issue. The issue was considered to be a scientific 'chasse gardée' in which climatologists call the shots. As an economist and foreign policy analyst I was, however, concerned about the possible devastating economic implications of Kyoto, because of its high costs, in terms of loss of economic growth and jobs, its adverse impact on competitiveness, its risks of triggering trade wars between compliers and non-compliers, and the danger of intrusive government intervention into the economy, thus jeopardizing our free enterprise system.

Initially, it took me quite a lot of trouble to start a dialogue with the climatologists in order to question them about their basic views and to discuss the wider implications with them. But as time went by, we established a reasonable working relationship. Of course they referred me to their 'bible': the 'Summary for Policymakers' by the IPCC -- a concise document which was specially written for people like me who only had vague notions about climatological science. As a policy analyst I read thousands of policy documents throughout my career, but I never encountered a document which was so riddled with inconsistencies. This made me suspicious about the man-made global warming paradigm and the IPCC process at large and I decided to read more about putative 'climate change' and to visit the panoply of websites by climate sceptics. It only confirmed my earlier uneasiness.

During the same period, in personal discussions with scientists, one of them confided to me that man-made global warming was the greatest scientific swindle of the 20th century. Since I had already acquired the same feeling, I asked him whether I could quote him in my publications. But he declined. Apparently this issue did not lend itself to freedom of speech.

At that time it was still pretty difficult to pinpoint where things went astray. But in the course of my further investigations I came across many instances of invocation of scientific authority to 'prove' points, illogical reasoning, political pressure, refusal to take cognizance of contrarian views, derision of opponents, suppression of crucial information, falsification and manipulation of scientific data, intimidation and even expulsion of scientists who did not adhere to the man-made global warming paradigm, etc. In short, all the tricks in the book, which looked so familiar to me in the light of experience that I had gained during earlier parts of my career in a totally different field.

The important thing about the global warming hoax is not the particular but the universal application--most reputable scientists believe the nonsense they're spouting to be true, because their political beliefs trump their scientific skepticism.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:44 AM

OUR PARENTS LIVED THE EASY LIFE:

All Worked Up (Edwin J. Feulner, July 16, 2004, Heritage.org)

Our economy has added 1.5 million jobs over the last 10 months. And as Heritage Foundation economist Timothy Kane wrote recently, “Since January 2001, American disposable incomes have risen by 7.5 percent, wages have risen by 2.4 percent, and the government projects 21 million good job opportunities over the 2002-2012 decade.”

These openings will include some “burger-flipping” jobs, of course, but nothing out of the ordinary. The Labor Department’s Occupational Outlook Quarterly projects 12 percent growth in the food industry over the next decade -- but that’s the same rate of growth it projects for the entire labor force. In other words, there will probably be zero real growth in “burger-flipping” jobs.

There will, however, probably be an increase in the number of Americans working for themselves. At least 7.5 million already do, and these jobs don’t show up in the payroll surveys used to tabulate employment numbers. There’s good reason, though, to suspect these workers are happy and prosperous. After all, polls confirm one of the most popular aspirations of Americans is to be their own boss.

Meanwhile, for those who decide to keep working for someone else, there should be plenty of growth in high-skill jobs. For example, the Labor Department projects a 45 percent increase in the number of software engineers, a 49 percent increase in the number of physician assistants, a 36 percent increase in the computer and information-systems sector and a 38 percent jump in the number of postsecondary teachers, to name just a few areas.

All those jobs should generate even more income growth, which would come on top of some amazing recent gains.

Since January 2001 real disposable income per person is up 7.5 percent. And annual real income per person has increased 5.2 percent, meaning the average person is taking home an extra $1,800 after inflation. According to Tim Kane, that’s enough for every American to buy an extra 900 gallons of gas.


Just as soon as someone buuilds a time machine we should make the next person who says the middle class has it harder now than they did several decades ago repeat that statement in front of a group of people transported here from the 70s. It'll look like a scene out of A Clockwork Orange.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:38 AM

THE GREAT BLACK HOPE:

MOZAMBIQUE BEATS ALL (RALPH PETERS, July 19, 2004 , NY Post)

I just returned from a stroll through Mozambique with my faith in the human spirit reinforced. Forever starved for tales of woe, our media only tell us of Africa's crises — the last time Mozambique made headlines was during the disastrous flooding in 2000. Yet, along with the continent's undeniable problems, there's more than one success story.

After a long civil war — fomented by the old South African apartheid regime — Mozambique almost miraculously converted its warring factions into political parties and held elections. With help from the international community, a model demobilization program turned tens of thousands of unruly soldiers into law-abiding citizens. Even the United Nations came through, removing countless landmines from the countryside.

When the Portuguese revolution of 1974 opened the door to independence, Mozambique was appallingly undeveloped and overwhelmingly illiterate. Then-fashionable socialist theories of regime organization and economics didn't help the new state.

But the country did have one advantage that Western observers misread: The leader of the liberation movement, Samora Machel, was more than a doctrinaire leftist.

He honestly believed in racial equality. And in social justice. He wanted to build a country, not a string of palaces.

At a time when African nationalists, from Idi Amin to Joseph Mobutu, were driving out the many hues of talent their countries desperately needed, Machel envisioned a multi-racial society that prefigured the achievement of Nelson Mandela.

Machel didn't want to see his country re-colonized by the East bloc or the West. He built his own path. The result? The whites-only South African government assassinated him, luring his aircraft into a hillside with a false navigational beacon.

But the seeds he planted took root. When socialist policies failed, Machel's successors switched to a market economy. As in all poor countries, corruption threatened to complete the country's ruin, but enough good men and women fought for the rule of law to move the society forward — including a courageous journalist, Carlos Cardoso, who paid with his life for taking on a Pakistani criminal family whose tentacles had penetrated the government.

Instead of blaming anyone else for their problems, the people of Africa's poorest country rolled up their sleeves and went to work. By the end of the century, Mozambique was posting the continent's highest economic growth rates.


And here the Realists tell us that Africans aren't capable of or interested in such things.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:37 AM

LOW HANGING FRUIT (via David Hill, The Bronx):

Some blacks shift from Democrats (CHRISTINA M. WOODS, 7/18/04, Wichita Eagle)

Shamin Rutledge grew up with Democratic values. But six years ago, she began to feel a conflict between the party's positions on abortion and homosexual rights and her personal values.

"The party just wasn't heading in a direction I was comfortable with," she said.

So she became a Republican.

Her decision placed her on the road less traveled by African-Americans, who overwhelmingly vote and identify with the Democratic Party. In the 2000 presidential election, for example, Al Gore received 90 percent of the African-American vote.

Despite the loyalty, political scientists and community members alike say there is increasing dissatisfaction among African-Americans with the Democratic Party. More are identifying themselves as independents or Republicans.

In 2002, 63 percent of African-Americans identified themselves as Democrats, down from 74 percent in 2000, said David Bositis, senior political analyst with the Joint Center for Political Studies in Washington, D.C. The center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that researches policy concerns of importance to African-Americans and other minority groups.

Ten percent of African-Americans identified themselves as Republican, an increase from 4 percent in 2000. The number identifying themselves as independent also rose, to 24 percent in 2002 from 20 percent in 2000. A third of those were ages 18 to 25. [...]

The Pew Center, an independent public policy and political issues research group, found that the percentage of black Democrats who say "people like me don't have any say about what the government does" increased to 58 percent in 2002 from 34 percent in 1999.

The organization found that white Democrats' views were more stable.

"There is a lot of dissatisfaction among blacks with the Democratic Party," said Ron Walters, a Wichita, Kan., native and a political scientist with the University of Maryland.


Moral/spiritual issues and the Opportunity Society make blacks natural Republicans. Once the psychological wall--that associates the GOP with racism--breaks, the flood should move quickly.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 AM

THE END AND THE MEANS:

On the National State: Empire and Anarchy (Yoram Hazony, Winter 2002, Azure)

The national state is one of the central ideas in the political tradition of the West, and it is in many respects the lynchpin of this tradition, serving as the premise—often a hidden premise, but a necessary one nonetheless—on which is founded our understanding of ideas such as popular sovereignty, the rule of law, and representative government, as well as our conceptions of personal liberty and civil equality. These and similar ideas emerged in the wake of the consolidation of the classical national states, and especially England, as the most humane alternative to the two major ordering principles that had been previously known to Europe: The idea of the centralized power of the imperial state, as represented by the memory of the Roman empire, and as pursued by the Catholic Church in such guises as the Spanish empire and the German Holy Roman Empire; and the ordered anarchy of the feudal system, in which the state often hardly existed, and even the right to make law and wage war was delegated down to countless local nobles arrayed in ever-shifting combinations.

The tyranny and disorder represented by these two alternatives was of course not new; it had persisted in nearly all times and places in history. But for Christians, especially after the advent of Calvinism and the Church of England had brought about the widespread circulation of the Hebrew Bible translated into the vernacular, there seemed to be another alternative, inspired by the history of ancient Israel. The Bible depicted the twin scourges faced by the Jews in terms that were hardly less apt for the passage of centuries: The fear, on the one hand, of a barbaric anarchy such as that represented by the period of the Judges; and that of enslavement to the imperial states represented by Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia, on the other. But it also described a recourse: The establishment of a united Jewish kingdom, whose purpose was to provide relief from anarchy, while at the same time resisting the world-embracing pretensions of the imperial states.

This biblical alternative, the theoretical counterpart to what we today call the national state, seems to have had a sympathetic hearing among the English from the dawn of their history. They had glimpsed a reflection of themselves in it as early as Bede’s Ecclesiastic History of the English People, which appeared in the year 730, and which had already then recognized the potential of the national state for freeing the English from the perpetual strife that persisted among their own petty kingdoms, as well as from the constant threat of subjugation to foreign invaders.8 For Tudor England, sustaining itself only with the greatest difficulty against domination by imperial Spain, this national alternative became the inspiration and the spiritual bulwark of English liberty. Such sentiment, familiar to us through Shakespeare’s nationalist histories from Richard II to Henry V—written in the years immediately following the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588—was accompanied during Elizabeth’s reign by intense public interest in English-language translations of the Bible, culminating in John Lyly’s conception of England as “a new Israel, his chosen and peculiar people.” It was this new Israel, as it proved its mettle against imperial power, that subsequently became the model for the contemporary national state, throughout Western Europe and beyond.9

Now, if we are to understand the significance of this political tradition of the national state, we must first ask what characterized the political world prior to the introduction of this new ideal. In other words, in a world of empire and anarchy, what is it that distinguishes between the one ideal type and the other? It seems to me that the distinction can be grasped most readily if we understand it to be rooted in a difference over principal political loyalty: In speaking of an imperial state, I have in mind a state whose jurisdiction tends towards the rule over all, whereas anarchy tends towards the rule of each one over himself alone. This is not to say, of course, that there has ever been a perfect anarchy in which each one ruled himself alone and was loyal to none other, any more than that there has ever been an imperial state that succeeded in ruling over all of mankind. But it is nevertheless true that what we mean by an empire is a state that is in principle boundless in terms of its extent, so that the individual proffers loyalty and obedience to a jurisdiction that might easily include, if not today then tomorrow, any other member of humanity. Under anarchy, on the other hand, the individual proffers loyalty and obedience to a collective whose bounds are sharply drawn, and circumscribed only to those people with whom he could in principle be personally acquainted—whether they be members of his family, clan, tribe, manor, town, militia, or gang. In other words, anarchy is the rule of the familiar man, who is presumed to care directly for the needs of the individual; whereas empire is the rule of the universal mind, which is presumed to care directly for the needs of mankind.

Understood in this way, we find that neither empire nor anarchy are concepts concerned in the first instance with numeric quantities such as the extent of the territory or population of the state, or the number of its competitors. Rather, we recognize the difference between empire and anarchy as a substantive difference in the nature of the political allegiance of the individual. For if allegiance is given to a familiar individual or lord, and if allegiance to this lord will remain unshaken on the day he withdraws his allegiance from his own lord and gives it to another, then there can be no question but that this is anarchy; and this is true even if we are no longer speaking of a crime family of a dozen individuals, but of a feudal fiefdom the size of half of France. The anarchic or feudal loyalty remains always with the particular and concrete individual who is our lord, and to whom we have sworn allegiance. Under empire, on the other hand, one’s allegiance is never to a familiar individual, but rather to the empire itself, whose ruler is distinguished precisely by the fact that he is so remote and unapproachable as to in effect be no more than an abstraction. If the appointed governor of an imperial province should on a given day determine to go over to the enemy, it should surprise us greatly to find that this defection would entail the automatic defection of the entire province. For the people of this province care not whether the governor is this individual or that one. His identity is immaterial, since their allegiance is to the abstraction of the empire, of which the governor is no more than a momentary representative. Indeed, the treason of a high official, although unusual, is known to every imperial state, no matter how well regimented, and can take place without altering the fundamental character of the empire. But on the day that we see such a treason take place, and this official’s underlings are found to declare their allegiance to the traitor, then we can be certain that the imperial state is in dissolution, and is become anarchy.

Once this difference is understood, it is obvious why men who live in an imperial political order find anarchy to be the greatest imaginable evil. For it is no doubt correct that great masses of humanity depend for their lives on the order provided by the empire. By placing his loyalty to the familiar individual above loyalty to the empire as a whole, one has in effect denied his obligation to all of the masses of humanity who are unfamiliar to him, and who depend on the empire for the order that makes life itself possible. In this way, he becomes an enemy not only of the empire, but of humanity as well. In the same fashion, we can see why men who are committed to an anarchic or feudal order regard the encroachment of agents of the imperial state with such horror. For in demanding that allegiance to the empire be placed above loyalty to the familiar individual who has in fact afforded protection to and cared for the needs of those dependent on him, these agents of empire demand nothing less than the sundering and betrayal of the concrete bonds of affection and self-interest that have stood at the foundation of society and stability.

On this basis, we can recognize that empire and anarchy are not merely political constructs, or competing methods of ordering political power. Each is in fact a political ordering principle that draws its legitimacy, and therefore its strength, from its rootedness in the moral order. It is for this reason that men understand the political order in which they live and to which they are committed in terms of principle; and that the struggle between empire and anarchy is not only a war of opportunists and villains seeking the greatest power for themselves, but equally a confrontation between men of good will who disagree regarding the degree of moral legitimacy and sanction that can be ascribed to each of the respective political orders.

Thus our effort to identify the principles that underpin the respective political orders leads us to conclude the following: First, that the imperial state is always predicated on the principle of the unity of unfamiliar humanity. Even in an empire which is not yet universal in its extent or in its official self-understanding, the individual is nevertheless asked to sacrifice on the basis of an obligation he is presumed to have towards the great mass of unfamiliar men, who, though they be perfect strangers to him, are nonetheless men such as he is. According to this principle, each individual must give his utmost to the common order of mankind, whether or not he is presently the beneficiary of this order, for only in this fashion can the generality of mankind prosper. And it is this, the claim to bring order and even progress to mankind, which gives moral sanction to the laws and wars of the imperial state, even where these seem to have no apparent bearing on the well-being of the specific individual.

The difficulty with this principle of unity with the mass of unfamiliar men is that, being so abstract that it is always detached from the apparent interests of each concrete individual, it quickly becomes detached from the concrete interests of all of them—while at the same time leaving none with the standing to complain about the expropriation of his property and life, since these are carried out in the name of the generality of humanity, whose needs and interests the individual cannot reasonably presume to understand. This being the case, it is also true that wherever this principle is imbedded in the heart of the state, whether this state seems on its face to be vicious or benign, it logically gives birth to conquest and to the subjugation of neighboring peoples, depending only upon the measure of force that it is capable of bringing to bear.


Discussed in these terms we can see precisely the extent to which America is indeed an Empire. However, it's an unusual sort of empire because rather than try to establish a single unified state it proposes that well the proper values of men (because they are God's) are universal men can still live in many different states. Mr. Hazony touches on this later:
With this in mind, I would like to consider what type of ordering principle arises once we have conceived of a political allegiance that rises above the familiar individual of the anarchic order, but stops only half as high as the celestial dome of unfamiliar humanity. Here, at the inflection point between anarchy and empire, one finds the idea of the independent national state. And here one finds a third ordering principle whose root is in the moral order, and the one that in my view is the best and most noble of the three: The principle of national liberty.

The principle of national liberty offers a nation with an evident capacity for self-government, and with the ability to withstand the siren songs of empire and anarchy, an opportunity to live according to its own understanding. Such a principle therefore conceives of the political order as one in which each such nation is left to pursue its own unique purposes in its own national state. The principle of national liberty thus takes as its point of departure that which is vital and constructive in each of the two principles with which it competes: From the principle of empire, it takes the ideal of direct allegiance to the abstraction of the state rather than to familiar men—the practical effect of which is a state monopoly on arms and law such as admits the possibility of domestic peace; and the possibility of living under an abstracted authority that is no longer connected to particular individuals by ties of familiarity, this being the most important condition for establishing impartial justice. From the principle of anarchy, it retains the ideal of a ruler sensitive to the actual interests and aspirations of specific persons living in a particular society; it is this that finds expression in the aim of government over a single nation only—an aim that in effect proscribes foreign conquest, and for the first time permits a conception of the liberty of other nations as a potential good in itself. Indeed, these same two components, exclusive government over a given nation, and the limitation of government to a particular nation, are the essential prerequisites of national liberty; and together they constitute the ideal of national sovereignty.15

We are accustomed to thinking of the political good in Platonic terms, as the quest for the good regime. But the foregoing suggests that the possibility of establishing the good regime may itself require the prior establishment of a tolerable political order, which can serve as the foundation for such a regime. For where the imperial and anarchic principles continue their rule, the good regime—and in particular the institutions that we today associate with free government—is impossible. A state which is not devoted to the principle of governing a certain nation alone, but which instead entertains thoughts of unification with various unfamiliar nations, is ultimately a conquering state, whose energies are constantly dispersed in the emergencies of extension and domination. Such a state tends to see before it imperial interests that are increasingly detached from the reality in which each of its subject peoples lives, so that it is necessarily lacking a proper concern for the troubles of any actual people. Consequently, this type of regime is hardly ever conducive to developing truly representative government or equality before the law, not to speak of a decent respect for liberty. Moreover, the imperial state, even when it is not engaged in overt conquest, can never restrain itself from menacing other governments, undermining their legitimacy and traditions, and the integrity of their rule, the better to continue on its course of extension the moment it sees an opportunity to do so.

In the same manner, we find that the premise of personal loyalty to familiar men, which is at the heart of all anarchic order, is in effect a principle of sedition and resistance against every impersonal government, whose role must of necessity be to replace the corruption of individual loyalties with a concern for true justice and the good of the people as a whole. In this, the anarchic principle is inevitably at war with the institutions of free government, as these can only develop where loyalty to individuals has been superseded as the ordering principle of public life by loyalty to all members of an entire people. Thus the principle of anarchy is found not only to be an impossibly poor soil for the development of the institutions of a free people, but also, like the principle of empire, to undermine these wherever they are found.

Taken together, these observations suggest that free institutions can develop only under a particular kind of political order: Such institutions must come into being, if they are to come into being at all, in that space that exists between the transition of a people from personal to national loyalties, on the one hand; and their acceptance of imperial assumptions for themselves, on the other. It is here, and only here, that one finds the possibility of political life ordered in accord with the principle of national sovereignty, and it is this principle that holds the key to the establishment of the good regime and of free government generally.


In effect, what America proposes is to establish everywhere the principle (and to impose the reality) of legitimate national sovereignty. But the legitimacy, as Mr. Hazony concedes, presupposes that each nation will be faithful to certain universal ideals like "a concern for true justice and the good of the people as a whole," which requires "the development of the institutions of a free people."

National liberty may be the happy medium between empire and anarchy, but its adoption as a form of government is basically being driven by imperial means. Perhaps we might think of it as follows: at the End of History lies national liberty, but we are hastening that End.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:30 AM

MOORONOMICS:

Kerry and Edwards Need to Think Again on Trade and Taxes (Clive Crook, July 13, 2004, Atlantic Monthly)

Kerry and Edwards both seem to agree with Michael Moore and other commentators that the interests of America and its multinational firms diverge. The reason is the corporations' determination to cut costs. The best way for companies to do that, or so it is assumed, is to move production abroad. Firms can then pay lower wages and lower taxes, and they can also lighten their burden of regulation. That's good for profits, the argument goes, but bad for American workers and for the American economy as a whole.

Multinational firms obviously want to lower their costs as much as possible, and one way to do it is by outsourcing production to foreign factories. But the scope for doing this successfully is often much smaller than you might think. It is true that wages abroad, especially in developing countries, are sometimes only a fraction of wages in the United States—but productivity, or output per worker, is nearly always much lower, too. Labor costs, in any case, may be only a small part of total costs of production, regardless of where goods or services are produced. So the economic logic of offshoring is more complicated than simple comparisons of wages suggest.

This is illustrated by the jobs figures themselves. According to a recent study by Matthew Slaughter of Dartmouth College, the foreign affiliates of American companies hired an extra 3 million foreign workers between 1991 and 2001, increasing the total from a little under 7 million to a little under 10 million. But over the same period, those affiliates' parent companies added more than 5 million American workers to their payrolls, raising the total from 18 million to more than 23 million. The idea that multinationals are a net drain on jobs at home is simply wrong. [...]

However, [Kerry] does have a point when he says that tax systems currently discriminate against domestic production by American companies. This is explained in a recent paper by Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Paul Grieco of the Institute for International Economics (www.iie.com). The authors lay out two issues. One is that profits earned abroad are typically taxed more lightly than profits earned at home. Many foreign countries now have lower rates of corporate income tax than America does. America's effective corporate tax rate is approximately 30 percent; Mexico's is 15 percent; Britain's is 18 percent; France's is a little over 20 percent; Ireland's is less than 10 percent; China's is about 10 percent; and Indonesia's is zero. The second anomaly is that many other countries, notably in Europe, rely heavily on value-added taxes. These taxes are imposed on exports from the United States to the countries concerned, but they are not levied on imports to the U.S. from the same countries. Again, this puts American production at a disadvantage.

Kerry's proposal has two main parts. First, he wants to reduce the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 33.25 percent. Second, he proposes to limit the deferral of American corporate tax on profits made abroad in respect of goods and services sold to America. (Profits made abroad on goods and services sold "in country" would continue to get the deferral.) The first part is fine, except that it is quite a timid reduction, too small to significantly narrow the big gaps between American and foreign tax rates. But the second part—increasing the tax on foreign profits—is a downright bad idea that would most likely hurt American workers, not help them. [...]

A simpler and better solution would be for America to cut its corporate tax rate by much more than Kerry is suggesting, to bring it more closely into line with the rates applied by other countries.


Zero seems about right.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:46 AM

WOULD YOU LIKE US TO SUPERSIZE YOUR BLOODY MARY, MONSIEUR?

French Cocktail Phobia (International Herald Tribune Archives, July 21st, 1929)

PARIS: A nation reared on the ruddy juice of the grape - a nation to which wine is poetry and food a ballast for fine drinking - is being endangered culturally according to two or three authorities on such types of danger, by the insidious trickling into France of the "cocktail mondain." M. Roger Devigne, in the "Quotidien," says that things have come to such a pass that in the most elegant homes the "bar américain" has crowded out the bookcase.

"Mondain" translates as "global". Shortly after World War II, France tried to prohbit Coca-Cola and only backed off when the U.S. threatened to ban their wines. No wonder they are never ready for Germany.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:43 AM

FAMILY TRADITION:

Earnhardt, Despite Crash Injuries, Is Expected to Start Race Sunday (VIV BERNSTEIN, 7/20/04, NY Times)

The Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is expected to start the New England 300 Nextel Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway on Sunday. But after sustaining second-degree burns in a crash on Sunday, there is some question about whether he will be able to finish it.

Earnhardt was released from the University of California-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento yesterday after treatment for burns over 6 percent of his body, including his legs and chin.


July 20, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 PM

WHEN 35 = 0:

Blow to France's 35-hour week law (Jo Johnson in Paris and Ralph Atkins, July 19 2004, Financial Times)

French workers at a car components factory owned by Bosch on Monday dealt a blow to the country's law limiting the working week to 35 hours, as they unilaterally accepted demands from the private German automotive group to work longer for the same pay.

The near-unanimity of the vote at Bosch's Vénissieux plant near Lyon is expected to encourage other companies to seek ways of securing greater flexibility in Europe's rigid labour markets, in the absence of political will for reform. The vote was the first of its kind in France and could set a precedent for a gradual de facto reversal of the 35-hour week.

Only 2 per cent of Bosch's 820 workers refused to amend their contracts to allow themselves to work 36 hours. Jacques Chirac, the French president, and his centre-right government have been struggling to regain control of a corporate trend that is growing in political importance across continental Europe.

In Germany, moves to extend working hours could become unstoppable. Siemens had said it would otherwise shift production to Hungary - a threat that Nicolas Sarkozy, French finance minister, described as "a form of extortion that would be unthinkable over here". Other big companies seeking longer working hours in Germany include MAN, Linde, Bosch and Opel.


Mr. Sarkozy is kidding himself--globalization takes away the leverage of states and workers.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:03 PM

THE SUFFRAGE OF OUR DAYS:

The Church of Bush: What liberal infidels will never understand about the president (Rick Perlstein, July 20th, 2004, Village Voice)

Here are some things that Christopher Nunneley, a conservative activist in Birmingham, Alabama, believes. That some time in June, apparently unnoticed by the world media, George Bush negotiated an end to the civil war in Sudan. That Bill Clinton is "lazy" and Teresa Heinz Kerry is an "African colonialist." That "we don't do torture," and that the School of the Americas manuals showing we do were "just ancient U.S. disinformation designed to make the Soviets think that we didn't know how to do real interrogations."

Chris Nunneley also believes something crazy: that George W. Bush is a nice guy.

It's a rather different conclusion than many liberals would make. When we think of Bush's character, we're likely to focus on the administration's proposed budget cuts for veterans, the children indefinitely detained at Abu Ghraib, maybe the story of how the young lad Bush loaded up live frogs with firecrackers in order to watch them explode. [...]

Once I interviewed a Freeper who told me he first became a committed conservative after discovering the Federalist Papers. "I absolutely devoured them, recognizing, my God, these things were written hundreds of years ago and they still stand up as some of the most intense political philosophy ever written."

I happen to agree, so I asked him—after he insisted Bush couldn't have been lying when he claimed to have witnessed the first plane hit the World Trade Center live on TV, after he said the orders to torture in Iraq couldn't have possibly come from the top, all because George Bush is too fundamentally decent to lie—what he thinks of the Federalists' most famous message: that the genius of the Constitution they were defending was that you needn't base your faith in the country on the fundamental decency of an individual, because no one can be trusted to be fundamentally decent, which was why the Constitution established a government of laws, not personalities.

"If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary . . . "

Conservatives see something angelic in George Bush. That's why they excuse, repress, and rationalize away so much.

And that is why conservatism is verging on becoming an un-American creed.


I talked to Mr. Perlstein briefly about the foolish idea behind this essay, but apparently to no effect. He makes here one of the signal errors that plagues those who revile Christianity, assuming that Christians believe themselves and their leaders to be without sin. Thus, it is mysterious to him how a boy who blew up frogs could grow up to be considered a decent man. Such obviously shallow thinking, and the persistence of it, really forces one to conclude that it is a function of willful ignorance. Even a casual acquaintance with Christian doctrine would more than adequately explain that all Men are Fallen and prone to sin, that it is in fact the defining condition of humanity. The most succinct and devastating statement of this truth comes from Romans, 7:18,19:
For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.

No person of faith would demand that a mere mortal be an angel, only that they strive to be as decent as they can be, given their limitations. This measure George W. Bush more than meets.

What makes the ignorance especially galling in this case though is that Mr. Perlstein therefore is blind to the fact that the Founding proceeds from and is entirely dependent on Judeo-Christian doctrine. It is the Leftist-progressivism that he adheres to which believes men and institutions to be perfectible. If only the U.S. spent a little more on AIDs there'd be none. If we just let the prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo go the Islamic extremists would like us. And so on and so forth. The conceit here is obvious--Mr. Perlstein and his ilk believe themselves to be as gods, capable of changing other people via government programs and their own actions. In their minds men are infinitely plastic and states and intellectuals are sculptors, capable of turning those men into anything they please. These beliefs are logical outgrowths of the death of God and, as importantly, of Satan, and their replacement by the whole panoply of anti-human isms--Darwinism,, Freudianism, Marxism, Nazism, etc--which deny the reality of human nature.

As Mr. Perlstein notes, almost accidentally, those who Founded the American Republic, to a man, knew this liberal/secular utopianism to be a crock. Jefferson himself, often regarded as the most liberal of the lot, rather ferociously declaimed:

In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.

Meanwhile, the Federalist Papers, which Mr. Perlstein cites here, and the Constitution they defend, do nothing but argue for and institutionalize the theology of Jonathan Edwards and our Puritan forbears.

The closing of Mr. Perlstein's essay then is absolutely correct: the belief that men are angelic is antithetical to everything the American experiment stands for--it is, in precise terms, heretical. But this is not a heresy of conservatives (well, libertarians, but they don't count); rather it is the very core of Leftism.

Oh, and you know what, even though he's wrong on every political issue of our times and most of the moral ones to--from preferring that Saddam were still in power to supporting abortion--I find nothing inconsistent in the crazy belief that Rick Perlstein could be a nice guy, just like George W. Bush.

MORE:
-Bush Points the Way: President Bush scored a humanitarian victory in Sudan this week, but unfortunately it is not far-reaching enough. (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, 5/29/04, NY Times)

I doff my hat, briefly, to President Bush.

Sudanese peasants will be naming their sons "George Bush" because he scored a humanitarian victory this week that could be a momentous event around the globe — although almost nobody noticed. It was Bush administration diplomacy that led to an accord to end a 20-year civil war between Sudan's north and south after two million deaths.


-AIDS Activists Misfiring (Sebastian Mallaby, July 19, 2004, Washington Post)
In the past few years, global AIDS activists have worked miracles. They have shaken rich governments awake, causing international AIDS funding to rise 15-fold. They have beaten back big pharma's jihad against cheap, non-brand medicines, creating an opportunity to treat millions of people in poor countries. But the activists, or at least some of them, are in danger of tipping from heroism into shrill anti-Americanism. The sound bites from last week's AIDS conference in Bangkok were straight out of a Michael Moore movie.

Inconveniently for those who enjoy stereotypes, the Bush administration is far and away the leader in the global AIDS fight.


-A Library of Quotations on Religion and Politics by George W. Bush (BeliefNet)
Q: How would you describe your faith, your religion?

Bush: Well, that may be obvious. It's not an easy answer. I'll start with the mundane. I'm a Methodist. I'm an active church member. I have been so–I mean, I attend church, I like church, I like–I've heard great preachers, I've heard not-so-great preachers. I love the hymns, I read the Bible daily. I am this year. Generally what I've done is I've got what's called the One-Year Bible, by Tyndale, and I read it every other year all the way through. And in the off years I'll pick and choose different parts of the Bible. I pray on a daily basis. I've got a structure to my life where religion plays a role. I understand religion is a walk, it's a journey. And I fully recognize that I'm a sinner, just like you. That's why Christ died. He died for my sins and your sins.
From US News Online, "George W. Bush: Running on His Faith"



Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:22 PM

WE DON'T BOTHER TO REPORT, YOU DECIDE WHAT WE WANT YOU TO:

NPR's "coverage" of the Sandy Berger story just now was priceless:

"Republicans have accused former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger of trying to help the Kerry Campaign. Mr. Berger acknowledges accidentally taking some classified documents from the National Archives to help prepare for his testimony before the 9-11 Commission. But the Commission says it received all the documents it needed to prepare its report."

On to the next story.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:32 PM

WHEN WILL SHE BE LOVED?:

Las Vegas casino boots singer Linda Ronstadt after performance (Associated Press, 7/19/04)

Singer Linda Ronstadt not only got booed, she got the boot after lauding filmmaker Michael Moore and his new movie, Fahrenheit 9/11 during a performance at the Aladdin hotel-casino.

Before singing "Desperado" for an encore Saturday night, the 58-year-old rocker called Moore a "great American patriot" and "someone who is spreading the truth." She also encouraged everybody to see the documentary about President Bush.

Ronstadt's comments drew loud boos and some of the 4,500 people in attendance stormed out of the theater. People also tore down concert posters and tossed cocktails into the air.

"It was a very ugly scene," Aladdin President Bill Timmins told The Associated Press. "She praised him and all of a sudden all bedlam broke loose."


What gives? Everyone she knows liked it.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:22 PM

ICH BIN EIN BERLIN PHILHARMONIKER:

Greenspan Calls Inflation-Led Spending Slump `Short-Lived' ((Bloomberg, 7/20/04)

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said a recent slowdown in consumer spending because of inflation ``should prove short-lived'' and that the central bank can continue to raise interest rates at a "measured'' pace.

"The expansion has become more broad-based and has produced notable gains in employment,'' Greenspan said in the text of testimony to the Senate Banking Committee. ``If economic developments are such that monetary policy neutrality can be restored at a measured pace, a relatively smooth adjustment of businesses and households to a more typical level of interest rates seems likely.''

The Federal Open Market Committee said it expects its preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy, to rise 1.5 to 2 percent this year. The outlook, presented by Greenspan today, was the first time the FOMC gave its forecast on a core basis, emphasizing the central bankers' view that volatile food and energy prices skew the inflation outlook.


Considering that the Maestro himself has testified that thanks to factors like substitution bias the rate may be overstated by as much as 1.5% it seems obvious that the deflationary cycle proceeds apace.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:20 PM

BLUE BATTLEGROUND:

Nader campaign could hurt Kerry in Minnesota (Associated Press, 7/19/04)

Another presidential poll found that Minnesota could go either way for president in November, and the new numbers suggest that Ralph Nader could be a deciding factor.

The poll commissioned by the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Minnesota Public Radio shows that 45 percent of Minnesota voters would vote for Democrat John Kerry, while 44 percent favor President Bush.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, which makes the race a tossup. Only 2 percent would vote for independent candidate Nader. The remaining 9 percent were undecided.

Nader is "keeping the state pretty competitive," said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the survey. Mason-Dixon conducted the telephone poll of 625 registered voters last Monday through Wednesday.

Without Nader in the race, Kerry's lead increases slightly, to 48 percent over 45 percent for Bush.


Mr. Kerry could end up like Walter Mondale, staging a last ditch effort in MN in hopes of winning 1.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 2:11 PM

WE FEEL YOUR PAIN, NOW PLEASE GO AWAY

Need some healing and closure? Read on (Margaret Wente, Globe and Mail, July 20, 2004)

I know a woman who once raised a chimp alongside her own kids as part of a scientific study. After a couple of years, the study ended and the chimp was banished to a monkey sanctuary. Chimps are not so very different from us, and he was furious. Many years later, the woman finally went to visit him. As soon as he saw her, he jumped on her, twirled her around a few times by her ankles, and nearly bashed her head in.

That was his way of achieving closure.

If people were more like chimps, life would be much simpler. Think how much money we would save on therapy and costly psychopharmaceuticals if, instead of brooding on the traumas inflicted on us by those we trusted, we simply jumped on them and tried to bash their heads in.

But we have evolved better ways of dealing with our feelings of grief and anger, separation and loss. We have healing and closure.

I am not sure when these terms began to leak from the world of therapy into real life. But now they are ubiquitous. No sooner does some catastrophe strike than people begin declaring that the healing has begun. Soon the victims are forgotten, and the spotlight turns to the real victims -- us.

Without a doubt the most confusing, morally offensive and emotionally debilitating concept the wonderful world of psychology has bequeathed us.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:05 PM

NO, HE IS GOD, HE JUST THINKS HE'S VON KARAJAN:

Greenspan Gets It Right: The Fed chairman made the right move with the last small interest rate hike. (Irwin M. Stelzer, 07/20/2004, Weekly Standard)

GAME, point, and possibly even match to Fed chairman Alan Greenspan. When he and his monetary policy committee raised interest rates by only 0.25 percent a few weeks ago, the inflation hawks were out in force. The economy, they said, was overheating, and the Fed chairman, wedded to the view that rising productivity would keep costs and prices under control, was refusing to take the vigorous action necessary to head off an impending inflationary surge. Rates should have been raised sooner and faster, they argued.

In the event, it turns out that Greenspan had it right. Late last week the government reported the largest drop in wholesale prices in a year, with energy and food leading the declines with declines of 1.6 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. Excluding those volatile elements, "core" wholesale prices rose only a modest 0.2 percent in June. Consumer prices also showed no signs of the inflation that so worries the hawks: core inflation rose a tiny 0.1 percent.


As long as he has sense enough to quit raising after that perfunctory hike showed he's paying attention.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:50 PM

PARANOIAC BY MARRIAGE:

Ex-Stanford physicist slams arrest of chess figure in Japan: BROTHER-IN-LAW ACCUSES U.S. OF USING BOBBY FISCHER AS PAWN (Nicole C. Wong, 7/20/04, San Jose Mercury News)

The brother-in-law of American chess legend Bobby Fischer blasted the Bush administration Monday for Fischer's recent arrest in Japan, saying Fischer is a pawn in a game of election-year politics.

"What Bobby's accused of is playing chess 12 years ago in Yugoslavia,'' said Russell Targ, a former Stanford laser physicist whose late wife was Fischer's sister. ``It looks like it's a distraction from the war and the economy. Let's arrest Bobby Fischer. That will take people's minds off their troubles.''


Ask the next ten people you meet if they've ever even heard of Bobby Fischer, nevermind that he was arrested.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:39 PM

THEY ALL LOOK ALIKE:

NYTimes.com > Corrections (July 20, 2004)

Because of an editing error, an article on Thursday about British prewar intelligence on Iraq misstated the location cited by President Bush in his State of the Union address when he talked about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium. Basing his comments on a British report, the president said Iraq had made those efforts in Africa. He did not specifically mention Niger, though that country was identified several weeks earlier — along with Somalia and Congo — in the National Intelligence Estimate provided to members of Congress on Iraqi purchase attempts.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:34 PM

THERE GOES THAT INVITATION TO THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION...:

Blair: War 'an act of liberation' (CNN, 7/20/04)

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has defended his decision to go to war against Iraq, insisting intelligence at the time left "little doubt" about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

"Removing Saddam was not a war crime, it was an act of liberation for the Iraqi people," he told parliament to cheers from members of his ruling Labour Party.

He said everyone should now rejoice in that liberation and work together to build a new future for the Iraqi people.


Posted by David Cohen at 12:49 PM

SPECIFICALLY, WE WON'T BE ADVERTISING DURING "EXTREME MAKEOVER HOME EDITION" ON SUNDAY, AUGUST 8

Aides expect the Kerry campaign committee to end up with enough money to make sizable transfers to the Democratic National Committee, state Democratic committees, and possibly the committees working to elect a Democratic Congress. The aim would be to have the committees, especially those in battleground states, air television ads on Kerry's behalf this fall, and finance get-out-the-vote operations on Election Day.

Such efforts at the national and state levels will help mitigate the spending advantage that President Bush has by virtue of his later nomination date. Candidates accepting federal financing must stop using their campaign's privately raised funds once they have accepted the nomination. Because Kerry's nomination will come on July 29 -- five weeks before President Bush's -- the Massachusetts senator's $75 million must cover 13 weeks, while Bush's $75 million will cover just eight weeks. . . .

The disbursal plan is one attempt by the campaign to protect Kerry during that five-week period. Doling out surplus campaign money will ensure that like-minded committees at the national and state levels have the capacity to air television ads should the Bush campaign launch its own ad onslaught in August. While federal law bars the campaign from coordinating with the committees and Democratic-leaning organizations known as 527s that have been supporting Kerry throughout the campaign, Kerry will be counting on them for support if necessary.

"All of those people are aware this is going to be a period when we are dark," said the second adviser, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Just in case you were wondering whether campaign finance reform was a farce, we have this story. John Kerry will take federal campaign funds, but give all his banked hard money funds to his friends, with the express understanding that they will use the money to support his candidacy while he husbands the federal government's money. This isn't at all illegal coordination; it's something else that's close to but not exactly the same as "coordination" like "knowing helpfulness" or "bought and paid for alignment." This cloud does have a silver lining, though. Anything that exposes CFR as a farce is good and MoveOn, et al., are bound to screw up, tell the truth (as they see it) and repulse more voters than they attract.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:58 AM

IF YOU SEE THE BUDDHA IN THE ROAD, SUE HIM:

Laotian monks discover American way of justice (CATHLEEN FALSANI, July 20, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

Adjusting an edge of his mustard-colored robes as he stepped in front of the judge's bench Monday morning, the slight, bespectacled Buddhist monk raised a nervous right hand.

He turned to face an interpreter standing next to him in the Kane County courtroom, who then asked, in his native Lao, if he would tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

And despite what he later described as immense discomfort at being asked to take the stand, Khen Kataviravong, 78, said yes.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:53 AM

NO, I'M SPARTACUS:

Don't sweat the sweat; it's natural and sexy, too (LISA LIDDANE, 7/20/04, Miami Herald)

From skin to air: Sweat is a natural, healthy response when your core body temperature rises. It's the evaporation of sweat -- not the perspiration itself -- that cools you off, said Robert Kersey, director of the athletic training program at California State University, Fullerton.

When damp clothes trap perspiration on your skin or when humidity keeps your sweat from evaporating, your body can't cool down sufficiently. Try moisture-wicking athletic clothes and socks, which move moisture away from your skin toward the surface of the clothes, where the sweat can evaporate.

Busting sweat myths: Some people perceive sweating a lot as a sign of weakness, inferiority or lack of fitness.


Nothing says, "I'm a man" like sweat-dripping back hair.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 AM

THEIR FIGHT NOW:

Iraqi police show resilience after deadly attack at station: When insurgents attacked Baghdad's biggest police station, killing nine Iraqis, officers stood their ground instead of running, as they did after a bombing last fall. (KEN DILANIAN, 7/20/04, Knight Ridder News Service)

Just as nearly 300 police officers were gathering in their station's parking lot for a shift change Monday morning, a white tanker truck came barreling down a nearby street, crashed into a brick wall and exploded.

With timing that suggested inside knowledge of police routines, the blast killed nine Iraqis, including two police officers, and injured at least 62, the Health Ministry said. It was the fifth vehicle bombing in the past week, including one suicide attack that narrowly missed the justice minister -- but killed five bodyguards -- and another that killed 11 people outside the protected area that houses the interim Iraqi government.

After a relatively calm period following the June 28 transfer of sovereignty, the strikes underscored the insurgency's undiminished resolve to destabilize the country. In a separate act Monday, militants killed a top official in the Defense Ministry in a drive-by shooting as he walked to his Baghdad home.

''They don't want security to prevail. They want the chaos to continue,'' said Officer Hatham Fawzi, standing where dozens of his colleagues had been wounded.

While some young officers sat speechless, dazed or distraught after the attack, many expressed a grim determination to continue their jobs.

''Surely this won't shake us,'' said Sgt. Raad Saad, who left the hospital to return to the police station despite a bruised leg that he could barely walk on.

Their resilience contrasted with officers' behavior following an attack on the station in October 2003 -- after which police fled the scene -- suggesting the police force has matured considerably.


Remarkable how fast folks grow up when you break their dependency.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 AM

YEOMAN NATION:


Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard: An illustrated version of Thomas Gray's 1751 poem
(Harper's New Monthly Magazine, vol. 7, iss. 37, June 1853, Thomas Gray)

Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton,—here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.


Posted by Robert Duquette at 10:11 AM

IT USED TO BE ABOUT THE MUSIC:

The meaning of Whorigami (James Pinkerton, 7/19/04, Tech Central Station)

The slogan for this conference was "Access for All." I now think it should have been "Everything for Everybody" -- which translates into "consciousness gets raised, but nothing else gets done."
...
The Foundation for Human Rights put up a huge poster in the lobby of the convention center, declaring, "The respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights is central to the AIDS agenda, and equally AIDS needs to be at the centre of the global human rights agenda." And what were some of the specifics to be respected and protected? Here's a partial list: "Freedom of opinion and expression, the right to freely receive and impart information … Equal access to education, an adequate standard of living, Social Security assistance and welfare." In other words, nothing was left out.

Much of the mindshare at Bangkok was devoted to feminist causes that were, at best, tangential to AIDS. These might be meritorious on their own, but breakout sessions such as "Women's Networking: Our Life, Our Decisions" and "The Community Sector: Assuming Leadership" were surely marginal to the targeting of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which infects some 38 million people worldwide.

Indeed, a strange kind of in-your-face feminism infected the conference. Also in the lobby, right in front of the media center was a show put on by the Australian-based "Debby Project," which celebrated the life of "sex workers," aka, prostitutes. The tagline was "Debby doesn't do it for free"; visitors were told, "It is not necessarily degrading to have intimacy with strangers. In fact, it is one of the most liberating things you can experience." Some of the art included a display of "whorigami" -- get it? -- and a painting entitled, "The C__ of Many Colors." It's worth pointing out once again that this display wasn't hidden away somewhere, wrapped inside a metaphorical brown paper wrapper. Nope, Debby and her Doings were large, in charge, and highly visible. One has to wonder how the celebration of sex workers might contribute to preventing or healing AIDS.

But strange as it may seem, celebrating sex seemed to be more important to many conferees than eradicating a sexually transmitted disease. Gregg Gonsalves, of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, a Manhattan-based activist group, walked around with a tee-shirt declaring that he was HIV positive. To my mind, that's unfortunate, but to Gonsalves, his medical situation seemed to be almost an asset, because it gave him a platform from which to unleash his own far-reaching social-activist agenda.

Looking at this as a biologist, you would have to describe this phenomenon as a parasitic infestation. Social causes are now no more than opportunistic parasites, glomming onto any disease, social pathology or politico-economic disaster to reproduce and spread their memetic material.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:32 AM

POUR QUI SONNE LA CLOCHE?

France: the long, slow death of Moulinex (Frederic Lordon, Le Monde Diplomatique, July 2004)

France’’s largest electrical appliance manufacturer, Moulinex, was a household name worldwide. In 2000 the Italian group Elfi bought out the company, but it fell deeper into financial crisis and eventually filed for bankruptcy. It is a textbook case of the effects of globalisation [...]

With constant threats from competitors, no respite is possible: attacks by rivals, themselves fighting for their lives, must be constantly repelled. This was globalisation’s great leap forward - or, rather, backward: demolition of the barriers that, by isolating national markets to some extent, permitted the development of protected production and avoided systematic comparison of costs and profit rates. With the deregulation of asset markets, such comparison has become a permanent obsession. Prices are scrutinised and profit rates recalculated under the watchful eye of shareholders determined not to give an inch. The twin constraints of the asset and financial markets will bring all but the most robust to their knees. But isn’t that the virtue of the market: that only the fittest survive?

So let those survive who, with prices in free fall, can guarantee a 15% return on investments. It’s not hard to see that few will pass the finishing post. These are now the objective constraints on com panies. Mostly the companies did not invent them, even if some bosses, usually those who head monopolies with the least to fear, are stupid enough to praise them.

This is where our analysis begins to bite. We have to admit that many arguments put forward by the Moulinex management to justify their successive restructuring plans were well founded, at least in terms of economic logic, the only criterion they recognised. It is true that Blayau found Moulinex to be far too vertically integrated. A company cannot do everything itself. To subcontract parts manufacture and become an assembler is not unreasonable. It is true that the production appar atus was badly configured. For reasons of product ivity that can hardly be faulted (on economic grounds), the manufacture of identical articles on many sites could not be allowed to continue. It was necessary to regroup and make economies of scale. It is also true that, short of committing industrial suicide, Moulinex could not watch while the price of microwave ovens dropped 40% in 10 years, imports of coffee-makers from southeast Asia doubled and the Russian crash of 1998 caused volume losses of 25-40% for some products. It is true that the general wisdom in situations of tough competition is to put everything into leadership positions and jettison the rest.

All these things need to be said. But we must also clarify what caused them - the constraints of generalised deregulation - if we are to stop fighting the wrong battles and stop expecting bosses to do anything other but fulfil the requirements of the system of structural constraints with which they have to contend. Rather than vainly hope that bosses will become socially concerned and virtuous, we must apply our efforts at that point where structures are redrawn and the great rules that determine all the rest are made.

Unbridled competition is a curse in its objective effects and its anonymity. Once the exploiter had a face, that of the boss and his class. Today’’s exploiter is depersonalised and abstract: a set of structural laws that are distant and intangible but remorselessly active. It is still the capitalist who gives the orders and puts on the pressure, but he can blame everything on objective constraints. And, sadly, his hypocritical protests are justified. The tragedy of employees fighting for their livelihood is that local struggles have become hopeless without the prospect of a global political solution. Workers will no longer find the answer to their misfortune in the boss’s office.

Le Monde is an establishment paper, sort of the New York Times of France, so this article gives a good idea of how what would sound like an unredeemed Stalinist rant in North America plays well in the political mainstream there. This popular, visceral contempt for the market and entrepreneurs is why the French remain solidly dirigiste and expect clever bureaucrats from L’Ecole Normale to guide them to prosperity and solve all their problems, including saving their aged relatives from heat waves while they are at the beach.

But although the language may be shrill and foreign, some of the ideas are not. Both the left and right in America score political points out of protectionism, outsourcing, deregulation, etc. and are able to convince many that the market is a cold and merciless force that cares nought for them or their families and must be tempered or controlled in some way. All the impressive macro-statistics showing unparalleled growth and prosperity mean little to the dutiful, hardworking middle-aged father of four whose plant just closed.

And they are right. The market is cold and uncaring, which is why radical libertarianism is bound to fail. Political freedom and free enterprise are proven essentials to a healthy and resilient society, but, unlike socialism, they are not self-contained, comprehensive philosophies that address all aspects of collective life, as Adam Smith recognized. A society that believes only in an atomistic individualism with no obligations beyond basic civility will leave behind the dull, the unlucky, the emotionally fragile, the unattractive, the socially unskilled, the unhealthy and many of those locked into family obligations. That is a lot of us. It is both morally offensive and politically dangerous.

Free societies must be built on a socially conservative plinth of interdependence of family, community and faith. They will flourish with citizens that see duty to others as the definition of the good life, not “finding the real me”, self-actualization or any of the other noxious creeds touted by educators and pop psychologists that serve only to drive practical and ethical wedges between us. The exact extent of these duties will always depend upon empirical realities and the vagaries of human nature and cannot be defined a priori. But to ignore or evade them will lead to both political instability and a sterile existence wherein life’s highest purpose is summed up by that old Yuppie joke: “He who finishes with the most toys wins.”


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:16 AM

NO, NO, WE ARE SWISS, WE ARE SWISS (via Matt Murphy):

When One Is Enough (AMY RICHARDS as told to AMY BARRETT, 7/18/04, NY Times Magazine)

I grew up in a working-class family in Pennsylvania not knowing my father. I have never missed not having him. I firmly believe that, but for much of my life I felt that what I probably would have gained was economic security and with that societal security. Growing up with a single mother, I was always buying into the myth that I was going to be seduced in the back of a pickup truck and become pregnant when I was 16. I had friends when I was in school who were helping to rear nieces and nephews, because their siblings, who were not much older, were having babies. I had friends from all over the class spectrum: I saw the nieces and nephews on the one hand and country-club memberships and station wagons on the other. I felt I was in the middle. I had this fear: What would it take for me to just slip?

Now I'm 34. My boyfriend, Peter, and I have been together three years. I'm old enough to presume that I wasn't going to have an easy time becoming pregnant. I was tired of being on the pill, because it made me moody. Before I went off it, Peter and I talked about what would happen if I became pregnant, and we both agreed that we would have the child.

I found out I was having triplets when I went to my obstetrician. The doctor had just finished telling me I was going to have a low-risk pregnancy. She turned on the sonogram machine. There was a long pause, then she said, ''Are you sure you didn't take fertility drugs?'' I said, ''I'm positive.'' Peter and I were very shocked when she said there were three. ''You know, this changes everything,'' she said. ''You'll have to see a specialist.''

My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets. I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to?

I looked at Peter and asked the doctor: ''Is it possible to get rid of one of them? Or two of them?''


Folks like to claim that there were no good Germans because they failed to get rid of Nazism--what will our descendants say about our blithe toleration of the Roe Holocaust?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 AM

BOTTOM UP REBUILDING:

Rebuilding Iraq, a Well at a Time: Across Iraq, dozens of modest construction initiatives are generating at least a taste of the good will that has been so elusive. (JAMES GLANZ, 7/20/04, NY Times)

Typical of the little projects is a hole in the ground that was being dug last week by an ungainly contraption, chugging along with big, spinning wheels and an enormous weight that smacked the muddy earth again and again outside the isolated village of Khazna, south of Mosul.

The machine was gouging out a well as part of a civil reconstruction program led by American military forces stationed here in the north of Iraq, financed mostly by Iraqi oil revenues.

As a convoy of big armored vehicles picked their way, rut by rut, over the village's zigzagging lanes toward the well, the dubious scene easily evoked the skepticism that has dogged the rebuilding effort all over the country.

But then a villager named Rabaa Saleh, standing among the swarms of children who had run out to meet the vehicles, gave his view of the proceedings.

"It makes people think good things are on the way,'' Mr. Saleh said through a translator. "When this well is done, each time somebody takes a drink of water they will say the Americans did something good.''

Still, while local citizens like Mr. Saleh say they appreciate the work and are willing to credit Americans for paying for it, they often do not want to see Western faces at the projects themselves, fearing terrorist attacks and general hostility from ordinary Iraqis. At a ribbon-cutting for a major school renovation in Mosul on that same morning, the city's education director refused to invite the American officers who had financed the project.

The man digging the well in Khazna was a Syrian Kurd subcontractor. That project will cost the United States Army just $35,000 and affect no more than a couple of hundred lives in a dusty village that has never had its own well.

It is hardly a match for the ambitious program of $18.4 billion approved by Congress last fall for rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure, money funneled largely through nonmilitary government agencies and major American contractors.

But for various reasons, ranging from the lack of security in Iraq to bureaucratic red tape, the projects in that huge pot of money have taken so much longer to begin than initially promised that Iraqis - those who have heard about the work at all - often have a hard time believing that they will ever really happen.

Around Mosul and elsewhere in Iraq, the American military, whether through wisdom or sheer luck, has hit upon an approach that seems able to overcome that skepticism, at least locally.


Who would have thought that "lucking into" solutions on the ground would work better than big projects designed by bureaucrats?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 AM

BUT THE DESIGNERS LOVED THE AIRBUS SUPERJUMBO...:

Small and nimble plane makers liven up race for profit (Daniel Solon, July 19, 2004, International Herald Tribune)

The so-called "100-seater" market, which covers jets with roughly 75 to 115 seats, was seen as a hot competitive arena some five years ago. Then came the economic downturn and September 11, cooling off -- or deep-freezing - plans by most airlines to expand fleets.

Now a thaw is under way and airlines large and small, full-service network operators and low-cost carriers alike, are taking another look at modernizing their fleets over the next five years or so.

In an era of rising fuel prices and of growing demand for more customized routes that often serve fewer passengers per plane, their plans are putting a new focus on mid-range aircraft.

By some reckonings, the only major new Western commercial hardware on offer at the moment is in this category: the Embraer EMB170, already operating for several airlines on both sides of the Atlantic, and its larger sister, the EMB190, which first flew in March and is scheduled to make its first showcase appearance at Farnborough.

Embraer's new family has been doing well in the marketplace. By the end of last month, 273 aircraft had been ordered and 23 delivered to customers that included US Airways, Alitalia and LOT, leaving a healthy backlog of 250 firm orders.

Important to airline fleet planners, the two models have lightweight airframes and engines, meaning lower operating costs. This is now critical because most network airlines, the classic hub-and-spoke giants, are under enormous financial pressure.

Gary Chase, an analyst at Lehman Brothers, sees little ground for optimism about most U.S. network carriers this year and in 2005 because "balance sheets are under continued stress."

This is bad news for manufacturers of larger airliners, because the U.S. market traditionally accounts for about 40 per cent of world airline traffic.


...why don't the proposed users?

MORE:
-For Airbus and Boeing, a slugfest over future (Mark Landler, 7/20/04, NYTimes)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:37 AM

THE END OF HISTORY MEANS YOU DON'T REALLY HAVE A CHOICE:

Eastward job flow puts Europe on notice (Eric Pfanner, July 20, 2004, International Herald Tribune)

Though it has lost three-quarters of a million manufacturing positions since 1997, many of them to Eastern Europe, Britain has been better than most of its neighbors at replenishing its overall jobs pool. In the case of Leeds, microtargeted initiatives have helped the region create 10,000 information technology jobs alone since the mid-1990s.

Fran and Geoff Elliott of Leeds have seen the process work first-hand. A year and a half a ago, Geoff lost his job as marketing manager at a press photography agency as the area suffered from economic slowing. Last July, as Geoff was looking for work, Fran was laid off from her job as public affairs manager at Norwich Union life insurance. With the jobs went a combined annual income of £90,000, or $169,000, enough to sustain a comfortable life, and two horses for weekend rides in Yorkshire.

"It was one of those moments when you wonder what on earth you're doing," Fran Elliott said.

Instead of floundering, they decided to start up their own photo agency and digital photo library business, aided by a network of local and national support initiatives. The two took advantage of a £60,000 small-business loan guarantee from Britain's department of trade and industry. Perhaps more important, they were also able to tap funding from West Yorkshire Ventures, a Leeds-based program designed to even out local employment levels by fostering entrepreneurship and job creation to offset the outflow of manufacturing jobs. It paid for a strategic marketing consultant, invested £3,500 in direct funding for their Web site and helps keep a student employee on the payroll. The company, Pic-Biz, opened for business in February, and works with corporate public relations departments, among other clients.

"We've got an awful lot of risk, but, at the end of the day, an awful lot of support, too," Fran Elliott said.

Such entrepreneurial spirit and job creation schemes are still sorely absent in much of Europe. The 10 relatively low-wage and low-tax countries that entered the EU on May 1 were already luring Western companies, and they may well yet offer even sterner competition for jobs and investment.

A likely solution, analysts say, is that more continental countries will shift towards the British model and edge away from the "social-market" economies that have ensured a half-century of labor tranquillity.

"Most politicians in Germany, France and Italy do not realize how quickly these processes can happen," said Sylvester Eijffinger, a professor of financial economics at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and a research fellow at the Center for Economic Policy Research. "They don't see how powerful this effect could be."

Lawmakers in the core economies of the euro zone have been unable to persuade voters to embrace radical overhauls of labor markets and fiscal policies that analysts say would raise competitiveness, and so have wound up dealing with the threat mostly by tinkering. In some cases, they are banding together to try to prevent undesirable aspects of competition: France and Germany, for instance, are calling on Brussels to put a floor under European corporate tax rates in an effort to stop what they call "tax dumping" in the new EU member states that has attracted businesses like a magnet.

But some smaller countries among the 15 pre-existing EU members are breaking ranks, in the first signs of the kind of chain reaction Eijffinger cites. Some, such as the Netherlands, are pushing for reductions in their own corporate tax levels to compete with the aggressively low rates of the new EU countries. Others are trying to loosen restrictions on hiring and firing workers, in an effort to lower labor costs. In some cases, policy makers and business leaders are forming regional alliances that aim to help businesses take advantage of the best features of "old" and "new" European economies in borderless proximity for the first time.


How's that whole choosing leisure over work deal coming along?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 AM

DO THEY MEAN A DIFFERENT KANSAS?:

Thomas Frank on the failure of liberalism (TomDispatch.com)

Oh Kansas fools! Poor Kansas fools!
The banker makes of you a tool.

These lines from a populist song of 1892 are the epigraph for Thomas Frank's new book, What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. They are a small reminder that Kansas, Frank's "homeland," the state where he grew up, was once part of the great progressive heart of this country. Going home again, he observes a simple fact of the voting map: "The more working-class an area is, the more likely it is to be conservative." His observation: "This situation is the opposite of what it was thirty years ago. And it is the complete negation of the Kansas of one hundred years ago, when those in the hardest-hit areas were the most desperate -- and the most radical."


Strange, the hardly radical William McKinley carried Kansas in 1900 even running against the populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:00 AM

THE GROWTH PRESCRIPTION:

The incredible shrinking deficit (Jack Kemp, July 19, 2004, Townhall)

Liberals are beside themselves. The so-called "structural" deficits that Paul Krugman and other left-wing economists have been fretting about are evaporating before their very eyes as a result of the Bush tax-rate reductions, which have ushered in a robust economic expansion. According to new data, the 2004 deficit will be slightly more than $400 billion this year, nearly $100 billion below estimates from earlier this year. That's what happens when you plug into the supply side of the economy.

Around the world there has been considerable hand-wringing over burgeoning budget deficits, especially during the last few years of slow economic growth. I have always maintained that we can grow our way out of deficits if we simply slow the growth of spending and lower tax rates to get the economy moving again. What is surprising is how quickly we forget the lessons of history, personal experience and common sense.


It's that slowing the growth of spending part that always proves tough.


July 19, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 PM

DEUTSCH DISEASE:

Kevin Patrick informs us Sandy Berger has a sticky finger problem.


MORE:
Clinton Adviser Probed in Terror Memos (JOHN SOLOMON, 7/19/04, AP)

President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, is the focus of a Justice Department investigation after removing highly classified terrorism documents and handwritten notes from a secure reading room during preparations for the Sept. 11 commission hearings, The Associated Press has learned.

Berger's home and office were searched earlier this year by FBI agents armed with warrants after he voluntarily returned documents to the National Archives. However, still missing are some drafts of a sensitive after-action report on the Clinton administration's handling of al-Qaida terror threats during the December 1999 millennium celebration.

Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed handwritten notes he had made while reading classified anti-terror documents at the archives by sticking them in his jacket and pants. He also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio, they said. [...]

Berger served as Clinton's national security adviser for all of the president's second term and most recently has been informally advising Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Clinton asked Berger last year to review and select the administration documents that would be turned over to the commission.

The FBI searches of Berger's home and office occurred after National Archives employees told agents they believed they saw Berger place documents in his clothing while reading sensitive Clinton administration papers and that some documents were then noticed missing, officials said.


John Solomon breaks an awful lot of big stories.


Posted by David Cohen at 7:17 PM

IS IT BON FOR LES JUIFS?

Chirac tells Sharon he is not welcome in France: TV (AFP, 7/20/04)

French President Jacques Chirac informed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon he is not welcome in Paris after he urged all French Jews to leave the country immediately, Israeli television reported.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:30 PM

PASS THE TINFOIL, BORIS:

Fischer's Price: Chess may have been the only thing that kept the champion in touch with reality. (GARRY KASPAROV, July 19, 2004, Wall Strett Journal)

The stunning news of Bobby Fischer's detention in Japan came at a moment in which the American former world chess champion was already very much on my mind. I am currently finishing the fourth of my six-volume series on the game's great players and it is precisely this volume of which Robert James Fischer, forever known as Bobby, is the star.

This project has involved going over hundreds of Fischer's chess games in minute detail. It also means trying to understand the man behind the moves and the era in which he made them.

Despite his short stay at the top there is little to debate about the chess of Bobby Fischer. He changed the game in a way that hadn't been seen since the late 19th century. The gap between Mr. Fischer and his contemporaries was the largest ever. He singlehandedly revitalized a game that had been stagnating under the control of the Communists of the Soviet sports hierarchy.

When Bobby Fischer rocketed to the top of the chess world in the early 1970s he was a fine wine in a flawed vessel.


Spasky wasn't exactly a vision of stability either.

MORE:
-Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame: Paranoia, hubris, and hatred—the unraveling of the greatest chess player ever (Rene Chun, December 2002, The Atlantic Monthly)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:23 PM

PALME TURNS TO ASH:

The Wilson-Plame Affair (Cont'd) (Michael Getler, July 18, 2004, Washington Post)

Wilson, in his letter, refers to "the Republican-written" report. It is a bipartisan report. Wilson says "the decision to send me to Niger was not made, and could not be made, by Valerie." Neither the report, nor the story, says she made "the decision." The story says Wilson was "specifically recommended for the mission by his wife." The report says "interviews and documents provided to the Committee indicate that his wife . . . suggested his name for the trip." A reports officer in her division told the committee she "offered up his name." There are other references as well to Plame's role.

Wilson takes issue with Schmidt's reporting that his report on the trip to Niger "bolstered the case" about purported uranium sales to Iraq. But the study concludes that Wilson's March 2002 report, which noted that the former prime minister of Niger said that in 1999 he was approached by a businessman insisting he meet with an Iraqi delegation (which he did not do), "lent more credibility to the original CIA reports on the uranium deal."

Marshall takes issue with The Post's reporting that "contrary to Wilson's assertions . . . the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the African intelligence that made its way into the 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address." Actually, the CIA fought hard, and successfully, to keep the material about Africa, aspects of which were a matter of dispute, out of a major speech Bush gave in October 2002. But the Senate study points out that in January 2003, the CIA, which still believed Iraq was probably seeking uranium from Africa, did not tell the White House to take out those 16 words from the State of the Union address and that then-CIA Director George Tenet had not even read the speech beforehand.


No wonder he seldom rears his head anymore given how easy it is to go upside of.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:14 PM

HISTORY WON'T BE CONTINUING ONLY ALONG THE NILE:

New surgeon, same old scalpels (The Economist, Jul 15th 2004)

BEING prime minister of Egypt is a thankless task. Like a doctor attending a chain-smoking diabetic, you are supposed to tackle such ills as swelling unemployment and rising budget deficits, but without exacerbating other chronic ailments, such as a palsied bureaucracy and spreading corruption. You have to do all this without inflaming those touchy organs, the army, the intelligence services, or the all-powerful presidency with its clinging appendage of business cronies. Worse, when your medicine fails to produce a miraculous cure, the blame falls on you, never on your boss, the untouchable president, or on the twisted constitutional scheme that stacks the odds against you.

So it was with a mix of pity and relief that Egyptians welcomed President Hosni Mubarak's appointment of a new man to the post on July 9th. Pity, because the outgoing prime minister, Atef Ebeid, had endured even more than the usual abuse during a five-year term marked by recession and policy drift. Relief, because the change this time was accompanied by a purge of other long-tenured and even less popular officials, and also because it ended a great wave of rumour-trading about Mr Mubarak's health. Last month, when he suddenly left the country for medical treatment in Germany, trading on Cairo's stock exchange virtually halted. Now, his slipped disc fixed, he is back to work.

There was also relief because the choice of the new team suggests that change is afoot. Along with nearly half the cabinet, half of Egypt's 26 regional governors, whom Mr Mubarak also appoints, were replaced. The presidency even answered longstanding pleas from journalists, among others, and named an official spokesman for itself, a move that may curb some of the Kremlinological excesses of Cairo's rumour mill.

To many, such moves hinted that Mr Mubarak, who seemed almost to enjoy ignoring pressure for change, now understands its urgency. Some see the hand of America behind this—noting the nudges from President George Bush, who said recently that the country which had led the region in peacemaking (and, after Israel, in receiving American aid) should also lead it in democratisation. Others see the influence of Mr Mubarak's ambitious, pro-business son Gamal, whose lobbying within the ruling National Democratic Party had so far been parried by reactionaries.


What's that now, about 5 regimes George W. Bush has changed in the Islamic world?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:41 PM

GIVEN THAT EVEN THE SUBJECT CAN NOT BE KNOWN OBJECTIVELY:

QED: science and philosophy: Science turns to philosophy in search for truth (Robert Matthews, 7/07/04, Daily Telegraph)

[A meeting I attended] was organised jointly by the Group of Policy Advisers to the European Commission and the London School of Economics, with the aim of showing what philosophers could contribute to the vexed question of dealing with risk.

The answer, it soon became clear, was rather a lot. Take the trade disputes that flare-up between America and Europe over the alleged risks posed by some or other product. One such dispute, concerning Europe's de facto moratorium on approval or marketing of genetically modified (GM) produce, is currently in the lap of the World Trade Organisation and shows no signs of being resolved any time soon.

On the face of it, the way to do so is simple: just call in the scientists, and ask them for an objective view of the evidence. Which seems perfectly reasonable until one considers the issues involved with philosophical rigour.

For example, one of the leading themes of current philosophy is that the notion of objectivity is utterly illusory. This is not some post-modern pose: the subjectivity of scientific knowledge has been proved with mathematical rigour. The upshot of these proofs is that data merely serves to update our pre-existing beliefs, and that its impact on those beliefs depends on such touchy-feely concepts as trust.


First comes your faith, then your "facts."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:56 AM

GANDER, MEET GOOSE:

Republican Help Pushes Nader Close to Spot on Michigan Ballot: Ralph Nader appears likely to secure a spot on the Michigan presidential ballot, but Democrats are calling for him to withdraw. (MATTHEW L. WALD, 7/19/04, NY Times)

Mr. Nader had gathered 5,400 signatures on petitions in Michigan but stopped collecting them over a month ago, deciding instead to go after the nomination of the Reform Party. After he stopped the petition effort, though, a split within the Reform Party made it uncertain that he would get the nomination.

But last Thursday, the deadline for submitting signatures, more than 50,000 signatures were submitted on behalf of Mr. Nader. The state requires 30,000 signatures.

It appears that it was the Republican Party that stepped in to help Mr. Nader. It is widely believed that if Mr. Nader is on the ballot in Michigan and other states, he would draw more votes from John Kerry, the likely Democratic nominee, than from President Bush.


Funny how the Democrats didn't see any problem in 2000 in having their members cross-over to vote for John McCain in the GOP primary....


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:51 AM

BUYING YOUR OWN BUNK:

Kerry Building Legal Network for Vote Fights: Mindful of election problems four years ago, John Kerry is assembling legal safeguards in an effort to monitor the election. (DAVID M. HALBFINGER, 7/19/04, NY Times)

Mindful of the election problems in Florida four years ago, aides to Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, say his campaign is putting together a far more intricate set of legal safeguards than any presidential candidate before him to monitor the election.

Aides to Mr. Kerry say the campaign is taking the unusual step of setting up a nationwide legal network under its own umbrella, rather than relying, as in the past, on lawyers associated with state Democratic parties. The aides said they were recruiting people based on their skills as litigators and election lawyers, rather than rewarding political connections or big donors.

Lawyers for the campaign are gathering intelligence and preparing litigation over the ballot machines being used and the rules concerning how voters will be registered or their votes disqualified. In some cases, the lawyers are compiling dossiers on the people involved and their track records on enforcing voting rights. The disputed 2000 presidential election remains a fresh wound for Democrats, and Mr. Kerry has been referring to it on the stump while assuring his audiences that he will not let this year's election be a repeat of the 2000 vote.


It's a complete waste of time, effort, and focus, but the logical outcome of believing your own propaganda. It's an article of faith for the Democrats that if their lawyers had only been a little better Al Gore would be president today and that this election is going to be razor tight. Squandering resources on this kind of stuff makes the latter even less likely.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 AM

POLITICAL TOOLS:

Kerry Keeps His Faith in Reserve: Candidate Usually Talks About Religion Before Black Audiences Only (Jim VandeHei, July 16, 2004, Washington Post)

Outside of black churches or meetings with African Americans such as those at the NAACP convention yesterday, Kerry has been largely silent about the personal Catholicism that once inspired a flirtation with the priesthood and the Christian beliefs friends and family say guide his life and political thinking. [...]

"If you listen to Bush and Kerry talk, you would be excused for thinking Bush is an incredibly religious man and Kerry is not [religious] at all," said Amy Sullivan, a former aide to Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) and one of a growing number of Democrats pressuring party leaders to talk more about religious faith. If Kerry confines his sermon to black churches, "that's a huge problem," she added.

Writing in a recent issue of Democratic Leadership Council's official publication, the Blueprint, Sullivan said speaking about faith to minorities alone is "not only a condescending strategy, but a foolish one."


We eagerly await the evidence that it hurts liberals to condescend to blacks.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:31 AM

A GOOD WARRIOR:

Charles Sweeney, Pilot Who Dropped Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki, Dies at 84 (RICHARD GOLDSTEIN, 7/19/04, NY Times)

Maj. Gen. Charles W. Sweeney, who flew the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, the second atomic strike on Japan in the final days of World War II, died Friday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. General Sweeney, who lived in Milton, Mass., was 84.

The cause was pulmonary complications of congestive heart disease, his son-in-law Brian Howe said.

Having the rank of major in the Army Air Forces at the time, he flew his bomber, the Great Artiste, to Hiroshima on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, accompanying the Enola Gay, piloted by Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr. When the Enola Gay dropped its uranium bomb on the city, unleashing the power of atomic energy for the first time as a weapon of war, the Great Artiste dropped measuring instruments.

On Aug. 9, Major Sweeney piloted the Bockscar, carrying a plutonium bomb even more powerful than the Enola Gay's bomb. At 11:01 a.m., the bomb was dropped on the industrial city of Nagasaki, killing and wounding tens of thousands, heavily damaging a steelworks and arms plant and demolishing thousands of residential buildings, according to an American bombing survey.

As Major Sweeney turned his plane to escape the blast, he saw a multicolor cloud "rising faster than at Hiroshima."

"It seemed more intense, more angry," he remembered in his autobiography. "It was a mesmerizing sight, at once breathtaking and ominous."

The Nagasaki attack proved harrowing for the crew. A mechanical failure reduced the fuel supply, and both the primary target, the city of Kokura, and the secondary target, Nagasaki, were obscured from the air. Major Sweeney landed on Okinawa with only a minute or so of fuel remaining.

Six days later, Japan surrendered, bringing World War II to an end.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:21 AM

FAILING BY LESS (via ef brown):

Tiny Agency's Iraq Analysis Is Better Than Big Rivals (DOUGLAS JEHL, 7/19/04, NY Times)

On Iraq and illicit weapons, the intelligence agency that got it least wrong, it now turns out, was one of the smallest — a State Department bureau with no spies, no satellites and a reputation for contrariness.

Almost alone among intelligence agencies, this one, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, or I.N.R., does not report to either the White House or the Pentagon. Its approach is purely analytical, so that it owes no allegiance to particular agents, imagery or intercepts. It shuns the worst-case plans sometimes sought by military commanders. [...]

With just 165 analysts, the bureau is about one-tenth the size of the Central Intelligence Agency's analytical arm. But its analysts tend to be older (most are in their 40's and 50's), more experienced and more likely to come from academic backgrounds than those at other agencies, and they are more often encouraged to devote their careers to the study of a particular issue or region. [...]

The bureau was apparently still wrong, along with other intelligence agencies, in asserting that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons. But Congressional officials say that over all, its recent record on Iraq has been better than that of its larger rivals, including the C.I.A., with more than 1,500 analysts, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, with more than 3,000.

The example of the State Department bureau, Congressional officials say, is being closely studied as the White House and Congress debate what changes may help intelligence agencies avoid additional failures.


Ah, sweet mystery of bureaucracy, where simply being less completely wrong than a rival makes you a model agency.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:14 AM

A HITLER/STALIN PACT FOR THE NEW CENTURY:

The Franco-German Alliance Against Market Freedom (Grant M. Nülle, July 19, 2004, Mises.org)

Since the Second World War, the deep-seated enmity between France and Germany, whose governments waged war against each other thrice in less than a century, has been exhausted.

Restrained from resuming their fratricidal tendencies by the bonds of the
corporatist European Coal and Steel Community, eventually superseded by the
European Union (EU), the countries no longer contemplate warfare as a means
of settling bilateral disputes. Rather, these two founding members of the EU
‚s original six have cooperated quite closely in forging today‚s common
market encompassing 450m people, a twelve-country currency union and a
nascent superstate.

As their markedly similar postwar social market systems reel from the
onslaught of globalization and the economic consequences of the rampant
interventionism championed by its architects and stewards, the Franco-German
axis has been reinvigorated. Unwilling and unable to scrap the welfare
state, the political establishments on both sides of the Rhine are jointly
mounting a tenacious offensive against all suspected assailants, domestic
and foreign alike.


Both peoples are more tolerable when they're killing each other and leaving the rest of us alone.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 AM

GIVE HIM A FILIBUSTER-PROOF MAJORITY:

Bush's Agenda on Slow Track: With Democrats united and the GOP divided, the White House faces a congressional logjam. Election-year politics are a key factor, experts say. (Janet Hook, July 19, 2004, LA Times)

After three years of getting most of the major legislation he wanted through a cooperative Congress, President Bush is coming up almost empty-handed this year as he heads into the homestretch of his reelection campaign.

Capitol Hill has turned into a sinkhole for the unfinished business on Bush's agenda, which includes bills to spur domestic energy production, crack down on lawsuits, extend his 2001 tax cuts and liberalize immigration rules.


The salient point being how much he achieved in his first three years. Indeed, contrary to the argument made by David Frum in The Right Man--absent 9-11 this presidency has been one of the most successful in history. Some heavy lifting remains though--Social Security privatization most importantly--and that will make early 2005 an especially exciting time.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:44 AM

WHO'S AN AGRARIAN?:

Women, Hispanics put new face on U.S. farming (Haya El Nasser, 7/19/04, USA TODAY)

Mirroring the demographic transformation of the USA, American farming is becoming more diverse. There is a marked increase in the number of women and Hispanics who are "principal operators" — those who run the farm.

Women and Hispanics have long played a significant role in farming, but often in supporting jobs from picking crops and milking cows to bookkeeping. But an aging population, the surge in Hispanics in every corner of the country and Americans' growing fascination with organic foods are propelling more women and Hispanics into owning and managing farms.

"Agriculture in this country is changing in ways we don't even know," says Ron Wimberley, an agricultural demographer at North Carolina State University and former president of the Rural Sociological Society.

The latest Census of Agriculture by the U.S. government shows that women's presence as principal farm operators is growing in 43 states. More Hispanics are running farms in all 50 states, planting roots in regions where their role in agriculture had been limited largely to migrant labor.

To those who cherish Thomas Jefferson's idea that farmers are the cornerstone of democracy, the growth is worth celebrating.

"It's very encouraging that there are people who want to farm," says Ralph Grossi, president of the American Farmland Trust, a non-profit group that works to protect farmland. "We're seeing a reconnect." [...]

Among the reasons for the increase in female and Hispanic farmers: [...]

• Love of land. Farming is deeply rooted in the culture of many Hispanic immigrants who have rural upbringings. Owning a farm brings some of them closer to achieving the American dream than does a house in the suburbs. The long history of abuse of Hispanic migrant workers makes such accomplishments even sweeter.

"Among our people, the land is very precious," says Felipe Llerena, the Texas-born son of Mexican migrant workers. Llerena and his 10 brothers and sisters own about 800 acres near Bangor, Mich. [...]

• Quality of life. Rural life appeals to families aching for a return to traditional values. Many long for a time when children did chores rather than play electronic games, a time when they knew that chickens have to be slaughtered to make chicken nuggets.

"Kids today are sort of plugged into computers, TVs. My kids aren't," says Lori Laing, who owns a 200-acre dairy farm near Battle Creek, Mich. Her children, ages 10, 8, and 6, do chores from feeding calves to cleaning the barn. "I think I'm going to have a different child than anybody else," says Laing, 42. "They know what work means."


There's something exquisite about the way Hispanics have the values that the nativists claim to be protecting.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 AM

TURNING THE FURY INWARDS:

Palestinians rage against their leaders: Protesters trade gunfire with police (Dan Ephron, July 19, 2004, Boston Globe)

Palestinian demonstrators burned government offices and traded gunfire with security officers in the Gaza Strip yesterday on the third day of demonstrations against what the protesters see as corruption and cronyism in Yasser Arafat's administration.

The violence, which appeared to reflect the breakdown of law and order and a power struggle ahead of an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, spread from Gaza City south to Khan Yunis and Rafah, two of the Strip's poorest districts.

In the West Bank town of Ramallah, the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei was scheduled to take effect today, turning his Cabinet into a caretaker government and deepening the political crisis.


So began the Third Intifada...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:41 AM

PALME'S PANTS ON FIRE:

Sixteen Truthful Words (WILLIAM SAFIRE, 7/19/04, NY Times)

Two exhaustive government reports came out last week showing that it is the president's lionized accuser, and not Mr. Bush, who has been having trouble with the truth.

Contrary to his indignant claim that "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter" of selecting him for the African trip, the Senate published testimony that his C.I.A. wife had "offered up his name" and printed her memo to her boss that "my husband has good relations" with Niger officials and "lots of French contacts." Further destroying his credibility, Wilson now insists this strong pitch did not constitute a recommendation.

More important, it now turns out that senators believe his report to the C.I.A. after visiting Niger actually bolstered the case that Saddam sought — Bush's truthful verb was "sought" — yellowcake, the stuff of nuclear bombs. The C.I.A. gave Wilson's report a "good" grade because "the Nigerien officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999 and that the Nigerien Prime Minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium" — confirming what the British and Italian intelligence services had told us from their own sources.

But a C.I.A. analyst opined "the Brits have exaggerated this issue" because "the Iraqis already have 550 metric tons of uranium oxide in their inventory."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 AM

REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE A KID AND THE LOSER ALWAYS CLAIMED HE HADN'T REALLY BEEN RACING?

Continent guards its right to leisure (Katrin Bennhold, July 19, 2004, International Herald Tribune)

This image of a casual West European work ethic tends to be viewed with something just short of scorn among the world's other wealthy economies.

As Europeans like the Ditlevs happily continue to trade in income for a slice of leisure time that would be unthinkable in the United States or Asia, the gloomy headlines about the Continent's economic future have multiplied.

Europe, the standard criticism goes, has failed to match America's economic expansion for the best part of the past decade and has even begun trailing Japan in recent quarters. Its citizens are on average almost 30 percent poorer than their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic, according to income-per-capita data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Potential growth in the next decade risks being stuck at about 2 percent - one percentage point below that projected for the United States.

Is Europe, which has about the shortest workweeks and longest vacations in the world, doomed to lag behind, a victim of its penchant for ever more leisure and an overly generous welfare state?

One response: If the answer is yes, then so what? [...]

As Joaquín Almunia, a European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, put it: For Europeans, economic growth is a tool, not an end in itself.

"We are not in a race with the U.S.," he said. "Our goal is not to grow as fast as the U.S. or anybody else but to do what we need to protect our economic and social model."


Yes, the race is with oblivion, which is winning rather easily.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 AM

50-0 FILES:

Greenspan's Mostly Happy Tune: Booming corporate profits and contained inflation are likely to make him upbeat before Congress. One threat: Election-related terrorism (Rich Miller, 7/19/04, Business Week)

When Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan troops up to Capitol Hill on July 20-21 to deliver the central bank's semiannual economic report to Congress, his message is expected to be a simple one: relax. [...]

Greenspan's likely bottom line: The economy is doing fine, and the Fed has plenty of time to raise interest rates, which remain near 46-year lows, back to more normal levels.

The monetary maestro bases his otherwise sanguine outlook for both growth and inflation largely on one thing: booming corporate profits. The earnings surge has left Corporate America flush with cash. According to the Fed's data, nonfinancial businesses took in $62.8 billion more in cash flow than they spent on capital investment in the first quarter, on an annualized basis.

Greenspan is convinced that companies are poised to put that money to work in expanding their businesses, which would give the economy a boost. "That's yet another shoe to drop in the expansion," he told the Senate Banking Committee on June 15. "And that's the reason why I think that this particular recovery has some momentum in it." With some corporate tax breaks on investment due to expire at yearend, companies have a particular incentive to boost capital outlays in the coming months.

The Fed chief is also counting on supercharged profits to help keep inflation in check. Commerce Dept. data suggest that profit margins were at their highest level in six years in the first quarter. That means companies have plenty of room to absorb the extra cost of adding workers or buying more equipment without feeling the need to raise prices to compensate.

What's more, the lure of fat profits should draw more competition into the marketplace, making it harder for outfits to raise prices without fear of losing sales to rivals. That should put a cap on inflation.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:01 AM

QUIT WHINING:

Schwarzenegger Calls Dems 'Girlie Men' (TIM MOLLOY, 7/18/04, Associated Press)

A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Sunday that the governor would not apologize for calling lawmakers "girlie men," despite criticisms from Democrats that the remark was sexist and homophobic.

Schwarzenegger dished out the insult at a rally Saturday as he claimed Democrats were delaying the budget by catering to special interests.

"If they don't have the guts to come up here in front of you and say, 'I don't want to represent you, I want to represent those special interests, the unions, the trial lawyers ... if they don't have the guts, I call them girlie men," Schwarzenegger said to the cheering crowd at a mall food court in Ontario.


Heck, that's not even pejorative, just descriptive. Even the Times just wrote that Democrats are the female party.


July 18, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:35 PM

OPPORTUNITY SOCIETY:

One girl's struggle to find a future: Rayola Victoria Carwell is transferring to a new school under a bold federal law--a move her mother hopes will lead to a better education. The switch, however, is just the start of a daunting odyssey. (Stephanie Banchero, July 18, 2004, Chicago Tribune)

Rayola Victoria Carwell sits quietly on a wooden bench in the principal's office and folds her arms across her stomach to calm the whirling butterflies.

She straightens the leg of her favorite jeans, the ones with the embroidered purple daisies, the ones she creased to perfection at 6 this morning. She grabs a braid cascading from the ponytail atop her head and slips it into her mouth.

It's the first day of school, and it's the first time the 9-year-old has set foot inside Stockton Elementary School. As pupils pile into the office talking about their summer vacations, Rayola stares at the floor, her slender shoulders hunched, her right leg bouncing nervously.

After shuttling among some of the city's worst schools near her home on the South Side, Rayola is enrolling in a new school on the other side of town. Her transfer is permitted and paid for by President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, one of the most expensive federal education experiments in history.

She has left a school in her Englewood neighborhood that repeatedly failed to teach children to read, write and do math at grade level and moved to a school 13 miles away in Uptown that is succeeding at all three. She is one of an estimated 70,000 students nationwide switching schools under the law.

The central promise of the law is simple: A low-income child can get a better education by transferring to a better school. In some respects, Rayola is an ideal candidate. She is bright and eager to learn. She pays attention in school, never gets in trouble and does her homework diligently.

But Rayola will face obstacles that the law does not address, obstacles her mother cannot seem to overcome and sometimes aggravates with her own impulsive behavior.

The circumstances of each child who transfers are as different as each of their faces, and there will be no way to quantify the success of the program for years. But Rayola's experience will show that getting a good education is more complicated than transferring to a new campus.

Schools can open their doors to children, but it is much harder to reach across the threshold into the home, where so much can influence whether a girl like Rayola will succeed academically.

The stakes are high for this girl and the nation's public school system.

For Rayola, the transfer is potentially life-altering. It gives her a shot at getting the kind of education and opportunities her mother, a high school dropout, has never known.


Contrary to the dreams of the Left we can't guarantee equality of results in life, but in order to realize the ideals of the Right we should provide everyone with equality of opportunity. Rayola has an opportunity now; may she make the most of it.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:24 PM

TONY THE TORY FILES:

Liberal law and order days over, says Blair (Alan Travis and Michael White, July 19, 2004, The Guardian)

Tony Blair will today make the provocative claim that Labour's new five-year crime plan heralds "the end of the 1960s liberal consensus on law and order" by putting the values of the law-abiding majority at the centre of the criminal justice system.

In tandem with the home secretary, David Blunkett, who has also attacked "Hampstead liberals" in the past, the prime minister will seek to refocus public attention on a key feature of the domestic agenda which is of growing concern to Labour voters.

While insisting that the sixties removed ugly prejudices and expanded individual freedoms, Mr Blair is expected to concede that the new lifestyles did not sufficiently foster responsibility to others, family discipline or role models - and focused the law and order system too much on offenders' rights.


Mr. Blair's accidental leadership of a party he loathes requires him to make certain rhetorical bows to liberal cant, but he may be the most conservative leader Britain's had since at least prior to the Great War.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 PM

KNOWING YOUR ALLIES:

Will Turkey Make It? (Stephen Kinzer, July 15, 2004, NY Review of Books)

Nine centuries after Pope Urban II sent the first Crusaders off to fight "the Turk," 321 years after the Ottoman army besieged Vienna, Turkey and Europe are approaching a historic encounter. In December, leaders of European Union countries will vote on whether to begin negotiations that would lead to Turkey's joining the EU. Every day it seems more likely that they will say yes.

If they do, it will be for two reasons. The first is that under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pronounced AIR-doe-an), Turkey has entered a period of astonishingly far-reaching change. Since taking office in March of last year, Erdogan has pulled Turkey further toward democracy than it had moved in the previous quarter-century. In fundamental ways, today's Turkey is almost unrecognizably different from the country I lived in until just four years ago. European leaders are beginning to admit that Turkey has become democratic enough to join their club.

The second reason why these European leaders may give Turkey a "yes" vote when they assemble in the Netherlands at the end of this year is that saying no could be dangerous. Islamic fundamentalists preach that Muslims must turn inward because the rest of the world wishes them ill. This argument has been immeasurably strengthened by the American invasion of Iraq, and European leaders are eager to counter it. The EU is concerned above all with stabilizing a large region of the world, and it cannot risk setting off the destabilization that would follow from rejecting Turkey after all Turkey has done to qualify for membership.

In little more than a year as prime minister, Erdogan has proven himself more committed to democracy than any of the self-proclaimed "secular" leaders who misruled Turkey during the 1990s. He has secured passage of laws and constitutional amendments abolishing the death penalty and army-dominated security courts; he repealed curbs on free speech, and brought the military budget under civilian control for the first time in Turkish history. He authorized Kurdish-language broadcasting, swept aside thirty years of Turkish intransigence on the Cyprus issue, and eased Greek–Turkish tension so effectively that when he visited Athens in May, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis proclaimed that the two countries now enjoyed "a relation of cooperation based on mutual trust."

This reform program is especially important because Prime Minister Erdogan, who is leading it with passion and vigor, has had a long career in Islamic politics. He prays every day, and his wife wears a head scarf. By clinging so firmly to Islam while pulling his country toward democracy, he undermines the view that the two are incompatible.


What makes today's Turkey a bad fit with Europe is less that it is too Islamic than that it is too conservative.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:44 PM

THEIR FIGHT NOW:

With pen and sweat, brokers push Iraq Stock Exchange to new highs (Tarek El-Tablawy, 7/18/2004, Associated Press)

The miniature Liberty Bell clanged. Elbows flew. Sweat poured down foreheads. Sales tickets were passed and, with a flick of the wrist, 10,000 shares of the Middle East Bank had more than doubled in value.

The frantic pace Sunday of those first 10 minutes of trading typified the enthusiasm behind the Iraq Stock Exchange a new institution seen as a critical step in building a new Iraqi economy.

In just five sessions, trading volume has nearly quadrupled and the value of some stocks has surged more than 600 percent, gains traders say reflects the pent up frustration of 15 months of closure.

''How can I not be excited by this?'' Taha Ahmed Abdul-Salam, the exchange's chief executive, said as he eyed the activity on the trading floor.

The ISX is temporarily housed in a converted restaurant. Looters had gutted the old exchange, so traders now jostle for position in a long room overlooking an old dining room. Where bartenders once chatted with patrons sidling up for drinks, a bank of secretaries log orders.

With space limited, investors are not allowed in the exchange, let alone the ''floor.'' Instead, from a makeshift courtyard, they can look in through the same windows that once offered diners a garden view. Joining them are the posse of men armed with assault rifles who provide security for the exchange.

Such scenes are standard in the tumultuous Iraqi capital. But the presence of security does little to dampen enthusiasm at the exchange.

The unofficial figures of the day's trade tell the story. Over $10 million in stocks changed hands, reflecting the movement of about 1.43 billion shares though only 27 companies are listed on the exchange.

''Iraqis have always been business savvy,'' said Abdul-Salam, the former research head at the old exchange. ''But that we have this much activity with so few companies listed shows just how much pent up frustration there was among investors under the previous regime.''

For Iraqis, these days have been a long time coming.


The bell tolls for History.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:39 PM

TAKE THE NORTHEAST BACK (via David Hill, The Bronx):

On trail, Bush stays close to right wing (Anne E. Kornblut and Susan Milligan, July 18, 2004, Boston Globe)

As Senate Republicans began accelerating the debate over gay marriage last month, President Bush got a warning about the potential for political fallout. Representative Charles Bass of New Hampshire, sharing a ride on Air Force One, told Bush to ''back off this gay marriage thing, that it was going to be devastating for him in the Northeast," where voters have a famously libertarian streak.

''I don't think they actively support gay marriage, but they have a subliminal distrust for government establishing a moral code for people's lives," Bass, a Republican, recalled telling Bush.

In response, Bass said, Bush ''looked at me like I was crazy." The president ignored the advice and actively supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that was defeated in the Senate last week.


Mr. Bass is a nice guy but could hardly be more wrong--Vermont became a Republican state again after its civil union fiasco.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:35 PM

HINDENBURGERS:

Eurofighter Project May Wind Down, Imperiling Thousands of Jobs (Bloomberg, 7/18/04)

Eurofighter GmbH, the venture in charge of Europe's biggest defense project, may start to wind down production, threatening thousands of jobs, unless the U.K. and other countries buy a second group of 236 planes this month.

``A binding commitment for funding'' by the end of July is ``the minimum we need followed by an undertaking that contract signature will follow,'' said Eurofighter Chief Executive Officer Aloysius Rauen, 47, in an interview. ``The Eurofighter partner companies are preparing steps to run down the program.''

The U.K., Germany, Italy and Spain have pledged to buy 620 planes in three batches from Munich-based Eurofighter GmbH. The combat plane, conceived 20 years ago for air defense against Soviet MiGs, is built by BAE Systems Plc, European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Co. and Finmeccanica SpA's Alenia unit.

Eurofighter is at least six years behind schedule already and the cost has tripled to more than 83 billion euros ($103 billion). The program employs about 10,000 people working on the airframe and another 10,000 working on the engine and other equipment.


Boy, Rick Perlstein was really on to something when he compared the future of liberalism to that of Euro-aviation


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:30 PM

A CANDIDATE WE CAN'T REFUSE:

Cain Makes Inroads in Ga. Senate Bid: Black Hopeful Scores With Conservatives (Manuel Roig-Franzia, July 18, 2004, Washington Post)

Herman Cain, fast-food millionaire turned U.S. Senate candidate, fixed his gaze on the semicircle crowding around him at the local political hangout and grinned. It was showtime. The women in the red-white-and-blue blouses had set aside their fried chicken plates and ambled into the lobby of the Plaza restaurant, idling attentively beneath the autographed picture of former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

"If you want to define conservative," Cain told them, punching up that last word for emphasis, "I'll spell it for you: C-A-I-N."

Cain, a former Burger King executive who owned Godfather's Pizza for 15 years before selling the chain in December, has chosen the most unconventional of stages for his political debut. In a state where more than half the Democratic voters are black, he is bidding to become the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate from the Deep South since Reconstruction by running as a Republican -- and a highly conservative Republican at that.

He has no delusions of appealing to masses of African American voters, saying he would expect to draw some support from black Democrats, but "no avalanche," if he pulls an upset over the front-runner, Rep. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and makes it into the general election. In recent years, two African Americans have been elected to Georgia statewide offices -- attorney general and labor commissioner -- though both are Democrats.

"We're as redneck as it comes, but we've come a long way," said Kay Godwin, a Cain supporter who also serves as a regional grass-roots coordinator for President Bush's reelection campaign.

Appealing to the mostly white, rural and small-town audiences that turn out for his speeches, Cain touts his opposition to abortion and his desire to abolish the Internal Revenue Service on damply humid courthouse squares, under century-old oaks, anywhere he can find someone who will listen.


A whole lotta folk will be listening when he speaks at the Convention.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:25 PM

THE POOR FOOLS WHO'VE GIVEN US A TWENTY YEAR BOOM:


How the Left Lost Its Heart
: Now, the working class has no true champion (Thomas Frank, July 18, 2004, LA Times)

That our politics have been shifting rightward for more than 30 years is a generally acknowledged fact of American life. That this movement has largely been brought about by working-class voters whose lives have been materially worsened by the conservative policies they have supported is less commented upon.

And yet the trend is apparent, from the "hard hats" of the 1960s to the "Reagan Democrats" of the 1980s to today's mad-as-hell "red states." You can see the paradox firsthand on nearly any Main Street in Middle America, where "going out of business" signs stand side by side with placards supporting George W. Bush.


What's most interesting here is the complete contempt Mr. Frank dem,onstrates for the very people he claims to be championing, the assertion that they're too stupid to know what's good for them. And the Left wonders why Americans historically disdain intellectuals...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:58 PM

TURNING THE FURY INWARDS:

Militants Sack, Burn Palestinian Offices (LARA SUKHTIAN, 7/18/04, Associated Press)

Militants sacked and burned Palestinian government offices Sunday, the latest sign of growing anger over Yasser Arafat's decision to reach into his old guard and choose a loyalist relative as his new security chief.

A confrontation was brewing between Arafat — reluctant to yield significant power — and Palestinian militants, including some of Arafat's own officers. They are demanding deep reforms and new faces, Palestinian analysts said.

The divide between the two sides centered on the appointment of Moussa Arafat, Arafat's cousin, as the new head of Palestinian security. Many Palestinians rejected him as a symbol of corruption and cronyism, propelling long-held dissatisfaction into the open.

Dozens of masked gunmen marched through the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza after sundown Sunday, chanting, "No to Moussa Arafat, yes to reform."


Give them statehood and Israel isn't the enemy anymore.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:47 PM

NO PUPPETS, NO POINT:

No Strings Attached: The Thunderbirds are back: they’re younger, with cooler spaceships, bigger effects and no puppets … just don’t tell Gerry Anderson (Graeme Virtue, 7/18/04, Sunday Herald)

[T]hunderbirds director Jonathan Frakes is no stranger to updated 1960s TV shows. Although he’s sat in the big chair for a number of films, he’s still probably best-known as an actor, creating the role of Commander William Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 1990s respray of Gene Roddenberry’s original space soap that went on to become an enormous success.

When Frakes first became attached to the project, he had no knowledge of the source material. “To me, a Thunderbird was just a car, the coolest Ford,” remembers the 51-year-old, “so I was a complete novice until I got a look at all the DVDs of the original show. I thought the tone of it was great fun, it was just a great place to tell a story from. Even though the characters were wooden, you got them, you got that they were a family, you got the relationship between Lady Penelope and Parker. And the visuals, the ships, were fantastic.”

It would be inaccurate to describe this new Thunderbirds as an American production; it was made by Working Title, the British-based company behind Four Weddings And A Funeral and Love, Actually, and filmed at Pinewood studios near London. “There was a British crew, an Irish photography director, Scottish assistant director, an English producer,” explains Frakes. “I was practically the only American there, apart from Paxton and the three kids.”

But a deal was struck with Hollywood studio Universal to help with financing – the film is rumoured to have a budget of around $80m – and it’s clearly been made with an eye on the lucrative US market. The plot sees the grown-up members of International Rescue conveniently stranded on space outpost Thunderbird 5, leaving a surprisingly young Alan Tracy alone to battle The Hood.

“This is more of a prequel,” says Frakes. “Alan Tracy is only 14 and we’ve aged down Tin-Tin, and we’ve also created a new character, Brains’s son. So it’s three young heroes, not unlike Spy Kids or Harry Potter.” [...]

Lady Penelope’s FAB1 – a futuristic 27-foot-long pink runaround – has been a real controversy magnet. In the original series, it was a stately Rolls-Royce with twin machine guns concealed behinds its grille. Unfortunately, the company wouldn’t give permission for a Rolls-Royce to be used in the film, so Parker now drives her ladyship round in a rocket-shaped Ford.

Fans are crying foul, and it was this contentious motor which led to original series creator Gerry Anderson walking away from his painstakingly-negotiated advisory role on the film. Anderson has gone on record to say, “I knew damn well that if I stood in front of that car saying, ‘Isn’t it wonderful!’, there’d be people asking, ‘How much did they pay you, Gerry?’” He’s also refused to promote the film (despite being offered a reported £400,000), has no plans to see it and even demanded that his name be taken off the credits. Pointedly, his current project (a computer-generated TV remake of one of his most famous creations) has the official title Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet, so “nobody can take it away from me”.


Is it really Thunderbirds without Supermarionation?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:54 PM

NO ONE WOULD TRADE PLACES WITH HIS FATHER:

Hourly Pay in U.S. Not Keeping Pace With Price Rises (EDUARDO PORTER, 7/18/04, NY Times)

The amount of money workers receive in their paychecks is failing to keep up with inflation. Though wages should recover if businesses continue to hire, three years of job losses have left a large worker surplus.

"There's too much slack in the labor market to generate any pressure on wage growth,'' said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research institution based in Washington. "We are going to need a much lower unemployment rate.'' He noted that at 5.6 percent, the national unemployment rate is still back at the same level as at the end of the recession in November 2001.

Even though the economy has been adding hundreds of thousands of jobs almost every month this year, stagnant wages could put a dent in the prospects for economic growth, some economists say. If incomes continue to lag behind the increase in prices, it may hinder the ability of ordinary workers to spend money at a healthy clip, undermining one of the pillars of the expansion so far. [...]

"There's a bit of a dichotomy," said Ethan S. Harris, chief economist at Lehman Brothers. "Joe Six-Pack is under a lot of pressure. He got a lousy raise; he's paying more for gasoline and milk. He's not doing that great. But proprietors' income is up. Profits are up. Home values are up. Middle-income and upper-income people are looking pretty good."


There are so many questions about the premises of this story that it's hard to know where to begin. The most obvious may be where does this guy think any serious inflationary pressures are going to come from if wages are flat? But also, Robert Reich was prattling on about how wages were flat while profits are rising the other night on NPR. He vowed that people would not tolerate such a thing and that in particular they'd demand that we start taxing profits and not income. It would seem he's accidentally stumbled into the point of the matter there--American workers have over a trillion dollars just in their 401ks, never mind any other type of stock holdings. Why isn't it a sensible decision on their part to prefer to see their 401k, funded with pre-tax dollars, grow more rapidly than their after tax wages? And do measures like the ones cited above and by Mr. Reich even measure benefits and compensation or are they just talking about wages? Because given how fast things like health care costs are rising an employee could easily be getting a huge effective raise if his company is just covering his health care in whole or in part. And if the surveys aren't even measuring 401ks--as they are not included in the national savings rate numbers--then you could have relatively flat wages over the past decade or more but folks reaping huge hidden benefits.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:48 PM

BOOKNOTES:

Grant and Twain: The Story of a Friendship That Changed America by Mark Perry (C-SPAN, 7/18/04, 8 & 11pm)

In the spring of 1884 Ulysses S. Grant heeded the advice of Mark Twain and finally agreed to write his memoirs. Little did Grant or Twain realize that this seemingly straightforward decision would profoundly alter not only both their lives but the course of American literature. Over the next fifteen months, as the two men became close friends and intimate collaborators, Grant raced against the spread of cancer to compose a triumphant account of his life and times—while Twain struggled to complete and publish his greatest novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In this deeply moving and meticulously researched book, veteran writer Mark Perry reconstructs the heady months when Grant and Twain inspired and cajoled each other to create two quintessentially American masterpieces.

In a bold and colorful narrative, Perry recounts the early careers of these two giants, traces their quest for fame and elusive fortunes, and then follows the series of events that brought them together as friends. The reason Grant let Twain talk him into writing his memoirs was simple: He was bankrupt and needed the money. Twain promised Grant princely returns in exchange for the right to edit and publish the book—and though the writer’s own finances were tottering, he kept his word to the general and his family.

Mortally ill and battling debts, magazine editors, and a constant crush of reporters, Grant fought bravely to get the story of his life and his Civil War victories down on paper. Twain, meanwhile, staked all his hopes, both financial and literary, on the tale of a ragged boy and a runaway slave that he had been unable to finish for decades. As Perry delves into the story of the men’s deepening friendship and mutual influence, he arrives at the startling discovery of the true model for the character of Huckleberry Finn.

With a cast of fascinating characters, including General William T. Sherman, William Dean Howells, William Henry Vanderbilt, and Abraham Lincoln, Perry’s narrative takes in the whole sweep of a glittering, unscrupulous age. A story of friendship and history, inspiration and desperation, genius and ruin, Grant and Twain captures a pivotal moment in the lives of two towering Americans and the age they epitomized.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:27 AM

I'M AN IDIOT, NOT A LIAR:

"A Little Literary Flair": Joe Wilson wasn't a truth-teller (Matthew Continetti, 07/26/2004, Weekly Standard)

By last October, when Wilson accepted the "Truth-Teller" award, the Niger scandal had taken an unusual turn. The Justice Department was investigating whether an administration official or officials had broken the law by telling columnist Robert Novak in July 2003 that Wilson's wife was a CIA operative. The Justice Department investigation afforded Wilson further media opportunities. He seized them. Appearing for a second time on Meet the Press on October 5, he was asked by Tim Russert, "Was there a suggestion that this was cronyism, that it was your wife who had arranged the mission?"

"I have no idea what they were trying to suggest in this,"Wilson said. "I can only assume that it was nepotism. And I can tell you that when the decision was made, which was made after a briefing and after a gaming out at the agency with the intelligence community, there was nobody in that room when we went through this that I knew." He makes a similar claim in his memoir, The Politics of Truth, published earlier this year: "Valerie could not--and would not if she could--have had anything to do with the CIA decision to ask me to travel to Niamey." And Wilson told liberal blogger Joshua Micah Marshall the same thing, at greater length, in a September 2003 interview:

For those who would assert that somehow [my wife] was involved in this, it just defies logic. At the time, she was the mother of 2-year-old twins. Therefore, sort of sending her husband off on an eight-day trip leaves her with full responsibility for taking care of two screaming 2-year-olds without help, and anybody who is a parent would understand what that means. Anybody who is a mother would understand it even far better.

And yet here, too, the Senate Intelligence Committee found problems with Wilson's story. "Some CPD [Counterproliferation Division] officials could not recall how the office decided to contact [Wilson]," its report says. "However, interviews and documents provided to the Committee indicate that his wife, a CPD employee, suggested his name for the trip." There's more: "The CPD reports officer told Committee staff that the former ambassador's wife 'offered up his name,' and a memorandum to the Deputy Chief of the CPD on February 12, 2002, from the former ambassador's wife, says, 'my husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.'"

Wilson continued to receive uncritical press. Walter Pincus wrote up his October 5 Meet the Press appearance for the Washington Post the next day, and two days after that, Wilson and his wife were the subjects of another gauzy Washington Post profile by Richard Leiby and Dana Priest. In January 2004 came Vicky Ward's 7,000-word profile of the couple in Vanity Fair. In May 2004, when Wilson's book was released, he appeared once more on Meet the Press, where he scolded Tim Russert:

"Remember," he said, "when you talk about [being] partisan, what I did was my civic duty to hold my government to account for what it had said, a pattern of deception to the Congress of the United States and the American people, including these 16 words in the State of the Union address"--in which the president said Iraq had been seeking uranium for its weapons program in Africa. He paused. "I did not put those 16 words in the State of the Union address. Indeed, had the president heeded the report that I and others had submitted, had the vice president heeded what the CIA briefer had told him, had the national security adviser and her deputy remembered the two memoranda and the telephone call relating to this particular subject, that line might not have been in the president's State of the Union address."

His eyes grew wide with fury.

"Either they were derelict or they were deceptive."

According to the conclusions of Sen. Pat Roberts, the words "derelict" and "deceptive" might better describe Joe Wilson:

During Mr. Wilson's media blitz, he appeared on more than thirty television shows including entertainment venues. Time and again, Joe Wilson told anyone who would listen that the President had lied to the American people, that the Vice President had lied, and that he had "debunked" the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. As discussed in the Niger section of the report, not only did he NOT "debunk" the claim, he actually gave some intelligence analysts even more reason to believe that it may be true. I believed very strongly that it was important for the Committee to conclude publicly that many of the statements made by Ambassador Wilson were not only incorrect, but had no basis in fact. . . . .

The former Ambassador, either by design or through ignorance, gave the American people and, for that matter, the world a version of events that was inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and misleading.


Pretty much a low point in your life when you hope folks conclude that you're ignorant, rather than the alternative.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:18 AM

PREACHING TO THEIR CHOIRS:

Campaigns Use TV Preferences to Find Voters: Patterns in TV advertising shed new light on where the Bush and Kerry campaigns see the most opportunity. (JIM RUTENBERG, 7/18/04, NY Times)

When deciding where to run his television advertisements, President Bush is much more partial than Senator John Kerry to crime shows like "Cops," "Law & Order" and "JAG." Mr. Kerry leans more to lighter fare, like "Judge Judy," "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "Late Show with David Letterman."

Those choices do not reflect either man's taste in television, but critical differences in the advertising strategies of their campaigns, which are spending more money for commercials than any other campaigns in presidential history.

Crime shows appeal to the Bush campaign because of its interest in reaching out to Republican men who are attracted to such programming. By contrast, the Kerry campaign is more interested in concentrating on single women, who tend to be drawn to shows with softer themes.


The party of men vs. the party of women.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:11 AM

I'M TAKING MY BALL AND GOING HOME:

Philippine leader riles closest allies in yielding to kidnappers (PAUL ALEXANDER, July 18, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

Two weeks ago, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was one of Washington's best friends. Angelo dela Cruz was toiling in anonymity 5,000 miles away, starting a drive into Iraq with a truckload of fuel.

Then, with a rattle of gunfire, Iraqi insurgents hijacked both of their lives, setting off a chain of events that has left Arroyo criticized by her closest allies even as dela Cruz, a father of eight, has emerged as an unlikely national icon.

Behind the scenes, it is a tale of negotiations that led to a policy flip-flop that could hurt the rest of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

Washington says ties with Manila won't be affected, but the question now is whether it will remain willing to continue counterterrorism training with the Philippine military.


National security isn't conducted like a game of kickball on the playground. The idea that we'd give up the fight against Islamic extremists in the Philippines just because we're mad about a discrete mistake is unserious.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM

TALKING PAST EACH OTHER:

'How can Blair live with Iraq deaths?' (YAKUB QURESHI, 7/18/04, The Scotsman)

THE church minister who condemned Tony Blair and George Bush at the funeral of a Scots soldier killed in Iraq has fanned the flames of controversy by asking how the Prime Minister can live with himself following the Butler report.

It's strange how differently the two sides see things, but we wonder how he can live with himself having supported the continued murderous reign of Saddam Hussein.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:14 AM

AND DON’T THROW AWAY THOSE WIDE PAISLEY TIES, EITHER

Warning: nicotine seriously improves health (Robin McKie, The Guardian, July 18th, 2004)

Nicotine could soon be rehabilitated as a treatment for schizophrenia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, as well as hyperactivity disorders.

Research shows that the chemical that has addicted millions to smoking has a powerful impact on brain activity in patients who suffer from psychiatric and degenerative disorders.

Some experiments have shown that nicotine can slow down the onset of Parkinson's symptoms; others have had revealed its power in curtailing the hallucinations of schizophrenics.

'A whole range of psychiatric conditions seem to be helped by nicotine,' said Dr Dan McGehee, a neurobiologist at the University of Chicago. 'However, such benefits do not justify smoking. The lethal effects of cigarettes far outweigh any help they provide. On the other hand, our research does suggest that derivatives of nicotine, administered medically, could help to alleviate a range of psychiatric problems.' [...]

Similarly, it has been found that nicotine can sometimes slow the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson's, a disease caused by the slow destruction of certain types of brain cells.

'Either nicotine stimulates other types of brain cells to compensate for the loss of the cells involved in Parkinson's, or it is somehow providing protection to remaining healthy Parkinson's cells,' said McGehee. 'Either way, the effect is noticeable.'

There is no more reason to accept this at face value than any one of the hundreds of other scientific reports modern man must suffer daily. But it was inevitable and we will see more of this kind of report, however slowly. Just wait until correlations between smoking and weight start to be reported.

A social habit many found noxious became completely out of control after World War II and the consequent widespread overindulgence resulted in people living in a constant haze of smoke and serious health consequences for many. Those who decided to try and rein it all in became zealous missionaries, turned the issue into a moral one and made the mistake all highly motivated opponents of vice tend to make–they let their visceral disgust lead them to exaggerate, even lie about, the dangers and rely on junk science to justify draconian prohibitions.

It won’t last forever because all efforts to eradicate vice founder on the shoals of small-minded oppression and youthful rebellion, at least in free societies. The objective should be to isolate, caution and control, not eradicate. And, for crying out loud, let's tell our children the truth!


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 AM

OVER, NOT UNDER:

Is 'real' inflation higher than the CPI?
(Roger Bootle 18/07/2004, Daily Telegraph)

Is there a systematic bias in all inflation measures towards under-recording? Economists who have studied this issue have more or less unanimously concluded the opposite. They reckon that there is a systematic tendency to overstate true inflation, thanks mainly to the tendency for the quality of goods to improve over time. Take cars, for instance. The same model may go from a bog standard version where they barely include the wheels, to inclusion of a sunroof, air-conditioning, ABS brakes, air bag and CD player. If it still costs the same at the end of this process of improvement, then the effective price has fallen.

Statisticians attempt to take account of this when compiling indices such as the CPI, but the prevailing belief among economists is that they do not fully succeed.

When it comes to services, though, the picture is not so straightforward. Take the railways. There have been some improvements but plenty of rail users would say that overall quality has deteriorated.

Equally, think about "customer service". Whenever I hear those words I think of recorded messages asking me to listen to an announcement and choose between umpteen options, followed eventually by a saga of unanswered queries and unreturned phone calls.

Yet curmudgeon though I am, even I have to admit that some services are better, mainly those which depend upon the internet, giving quicker access to information, a greater spread of information, easier booking and so on.

So what is the inflation rate? Of course, there are some things whose prices are rising sharply; CPI inflation turns out extra-low because it omits some of them. Nevertheless, I reckon that, taking account of quality improvements, the picture given by the CPI, namely that there is hardly any overall inflation, is probably about right.


Not to mention such built-in flaws as the indexes requiring that the same item be measured every month. Thus, they'll go right on measuring that one model car every month even though the comparable model from a rival manufacturer is available this month with a $2000 rebate. The models rule out the possibility that consumers shop.


July 17, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:28 PM

THEIR FIGHT NOW:

Fallujah Savors Most Peaceful Spell in a Year, Residents Say No Need for U.S. Military (Hamza Hendawi, 7/17/04, Associated Press)

Two months after U.S. Marines pulled out, residents of Fallujah feel safe again, sleeping on their roofs to escape the heat without fear of the once-constant nighttime gunbattles, and traveling the streets without worrying they could be stopped or detained.

Fallujah, they say, is savoring its most peaceful spell in more than a year. U.S. forces camped on the city's outskirts say they want to return to help out, but no one here is interested.


Time to move on to Syria.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:18 PM

THE EXPERTS JUST FIGURED THIS OUT?:

Kerry gambling on economy, experts say (WILL LESTER, 7/17/04, The Associated Press)

An AP-Ipsos poll this month found that voters were about evenly divided about the current president's handling of the economy, with 49 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving. Also, consumer confidence has been on the rise.

In a twist on the old Reagan question, those in the AP poll were asked: "Compared to four years ago, is your family's financial situation better today, worse today or about the same?"

Four in 10 respondents said better, 34 percent said the same and 26 percent said worse.

In July 1992, only one-quarter of Americans said they were doing better than four years earlier.

"By far, Kerry and Edwards have a harder case to make," said Marlin Fitzwater, a spokesman for Reagan and the elder Bush.

"In 1980, it was a successful argument for President Reagan because everybody in the country felt the weight of the failing economy on a daily basis. It was a truly fearsome reality to see how inflation was taking hold," Fitzwater said.

Should the economy continue to improve, it could complicate the Democrats' message of protecting jobs and reviving the economy.


It's a bad bet.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 2:29 PM

AND THE TRAINS ALWAYS RUN ON TIME TOO

Norway is number one (Arne Lutro and Carin Pettersson, Nettavisen, July 15th, 2004)

They are wealthy, well educated and have a high life expectancy. For the fourth consecutive year, Norway was ranked as the best country to live in by the UN’s Human Development Index.

The aim of the Human Development Index is to give an indication of the developmental level in the countries in the world based on more than just the country’s income and economy.

Since 1990, the report has every year measured countries development based on education, life expectancy and average income.

Paradise


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:27 PM

NOT THEIR WARS:

Where politics shouldn’t go (Susan Jacoby, July 11, 2004, Newsday)

Like most Americans, I responded to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with an immediate wave of anger and grief so powerful that it left no room for alienation.

Walking around my wounded New York, as the smoke from the ruins of the World Trade Center wafted the smell of death throughout the city, I drew consolation from the knowledge that others were feeling what I was feeling - sorrow, pain and rage, coupled with the futile but irrepressible longing to turn back the clock to the hour before bodies rained from a crystalline sky.

That soothing sense of unity was severed for me just three days later, when the president presided over an ecumenical prayer service in Washington's National Cathedral. Delivering an address indistinguishable from a sermon, replacing the language of civic virtue with the language of faith, the nation's chief executive might as well have been the Reverend Bush. Quoting a man who supposedly said at St. Patrick's Cathedral, "I pray to God to give us a sign that he's still here," the president went on to assure the public not only that God was still here but that he was personally looking out for America.

"God's signs," Bush declared, "are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that his purposes are not always our own ... Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, can separate us from God's love. May he bless the souls of the departed, may he comfort our own, and may he always guide our country."

This adaptation of the famous passage from St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans left out the evangelist's identification of Jesus Christ as God - an omission presumably made in deference to the Jewish and Muslim representatives sharing the pulpit with the president.

Bush would surely have been criticized, and rightly so, had he failed to invite representatives of non-Christian faiths to the ecumenical ceremony in memory of the victims of terrorism. But he felt perfectly free to ignore Americans who adhere to no religious faith, whose outlook is predominantly secular and who interpret history and tragedy as the work of man rather than God. There was no speaker who represented my views, no one to reject the notion of divine purpose at work in the slaughter of thousands and to proclaim the truth that grief, patriotism and outrage at injustice run just as deep in the secular as in the religious portion of the body politic.

According to a religious identification survey by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, more than 14 percent of Americans - a much larger minority than any non-Christian group - describe their outlook as "entirely or predominantly secular." There are more secular humanists than there are observant Jews or Muslims - but one would never know it from the makeup of supposedly ecumenical civic rituals that are ecumenical only for those who believe, to paraphrase Bush, that God is at the helm of our country.

Bush's very presence in the pulpit represented a significant departure from the behavior of other presidents in times of crisis. Franklin D. Roosevelt did not try to assuage the shock of Pearl Harbor by using an altar as the backdrop for his declaration of war and Abraham Lincoln, who steadfastly refused to join any church even though his political advisers urged him to do so, delivered the Gettysburg Address not from a sanctuary but on the battlefield where so many soldiers had given "the last full measure of devotion."

The merger of religion and patriotism is especially dangerous in wartime, because it leads naturally to the conclusion that God is on our side.


Bad news ma'am, Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR read y'all heathens out of the Revolution, Civil War and WWII also:
The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies (In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776)
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


Abraham Lincoln: First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1861)
Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.

By the frame of the Government under which we live this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief, and have with equal wisdom provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new Administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it."

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone 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.


Abraham Lincoln Second Inaugural Address (March 4, 1865)
Fellow-Countrymen:

AT this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.


The Gettysburg Address (Nov. 19, 1863)
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Pearl Harbor Speech, December 8, 1941
To the Congress of the United States

Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:54 AM

"NOT TO MENTION LOTS OF FRENCH CONTACTS":

LETTER TO THE EDITORS: Debunking Distortions About My Trip to Niger (Joe Wilson, July 17, 2004, Washington Post)

For the second time in a year, your paper has published an article [news story, July 10] falsely suggesting that my wife, Valerie Plame, was responsible for the trip I took to Niger on behalf of the U.S. government to look into allegations that Iraq had sought to purchase several hundred tons of yellowcake uranium from that West African country. Last July 14, Robert Novak, claiming two senior sources, exposed Valerie as an "agency operative [who] suggested sending him to Niger." Novak went ahead with his column despite the fact that the CIA had urged him not to disclose her identity. That leak to Novak may well have been a federal crime and is under investigation.

In the year since the betrayal of Valerie's covert status, it has been widely understood that she is irrelevant to the unpaid mission I undertook or the conclusions I reached. But your paper's recent article acted as a funnel for this scurrilous and extraneous charge, uncritically citing the Republican-written Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report.

The decision to send me to Niger was not made, and could not be made, by Valerie. At the conclusion of a meeting that she did not attend, I was asked by CIA officials whether I would be willing to travel to Niger. While a CIA reports officer and a State Department analyst, both cited in the report, speculate about what happened, neither of them was in the chain of command that made the decision to send me. Reams of documents were given over to the Senate committee, but the only quotation attributed to my wife on this subject was the anodyne "my husband has good relations with both the PM (Prime Minister) and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity."


Of course no one thinks that his wife, a mere functionary, made the decision. The assertion is that she recommended him, which the quote he cites rather conclusively demonstrates.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:28 AM

SLOW LEARNERS:

DEMS EYE DUMPING N.J. GOV FOR CORZINE (FREDRIC U. DICKER, July 17, 2004, NY Post)

Nervous New Jersey Democrats may dump scandal-scarred Gov. Jim McGreevey in favor of Sen. Jon Corzine in next year's gubernatorial election, sources said yesterday.

McGreevey, buffeted by widening allegations involving two of his biggest fund-raisers — one of whom was charged this week with hiring prostitutes to blackmail potential federal witnesses — faces growing restlessness among fellow Democrats fearful a serious Republican challenger will soon emerge.

"If a consensus emerges among the Democrats to dump McGreevey, Corzine just might do it," a longtime Democratic operative told The Post.

A Democrat close to Corzine told The Philadelphia Inquirer, "If the circumstances are right, he'll do it."

Corzine and his backers, in private discussions with key Democrats, have not tried to squelch interest in his candidacy, the paper reported.


You'd think Jerseyans would have figured out by now that their Republican governors serve multiple terms and retire popular (Tom Kean, Christie Whitman) while the Democrats are chased out after one term (Jim Florio) and/or leave office despised (Brendan Byrne).


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 AM

TRAPPED IN THE TRIANGLE:

Unholy Trinity (Lowell Ponte, 7/16/04, FrontPageMagazine.com)

“WHEN A WHITE PERSON KILLS A BLACK PERSON, we all go out in the street to protest,” said Reverend Floyd Flake. “But our children are being educationally killed every day in public schools and nobody says a thing.”

Rev. Flake understands this problem – and why few outcries are heard. He once was part of the conspiracy that causes this. He served for six terms in Congress as a New York Democrat.

The Democratic Party’s two evil co-conspirators in this systematic destruction of black childrens’ minds, dreams and futures are a labor union, the National Education Association (NEA), and what used to be regarded as a civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

All three groups in this unholy trinity exploit children – as surely as did 19th Century plantation slave owners or Dickensian industrial factory owners – destroying millions of young African-American lives for their own selfish gain.


And the white middle class is only too happy to have black kids quarantined in the inner city, instead of sitting next to their own kids in school. So you're left with the interesting situation that the only folks looking out for these students are rank-and-file blacks (their parents) and conservative Christian ideologues.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 AM

CLASSICIST:

Think Fast, Mr. Motown: Interview with Loren D. Estleman (J. Kingston Pierce, January Magazine)

As a boy growing up in rural Whitmore Lake, Michigan, outside of Detroit, [Loren D. Estleman] habitually sneaked downstairs in his family home to watch The Untouchables on television, when he should have been sleeping. More than four decades later, Estleman still has a fond eye for mobsters and molls and other low-grade malefactors, only now he's calling the shots, writing such characters into private-eye tales that can be as engrossing as Eliot Ness' adventures, but boast a punchier line of patter.

It's impossible not to recognize the cadences of America's hard-boiled detective traditions in this author's novels -- 17 of them so far, including the new Retro -- that feature cynical, computer-illiterate and lone-wolf Detroit P.I. Amos Walker. Here, for instance, is Walker preparing for his workday, in Sinister Heights (2002):

I got out of the robe and into the shower, scraped off the Cro-Magnon growth of the night, put on a fresh suit from the cleaners, and drove to the office, where I sat around making a good impression on the walls until the telephone rang at ten.

Or consider the gumshoe's description, in Poison Blonde (2003), of his car -- which suggests at least as much about Walker's resilience amid the steady passage of time as it tells you about vintage Detroit rolling stock:

I climbed under the wheel of the venerable Cutlass and tickled the big plant into bubbling life. I'd replaced the carburetor recently, steam-cleaned the engine, and yanked the antipollution equipment I'd had installed to clear my last inspection. The body was battered, the blue finish broken down to powder, and thirty blistering Michigan summers and marrow-freezing lake effect winters had cracked the vinyl top, but I could hose Japan off the road in a head wind.

Although some critics might dismiss this first-person, wisecracking narrative style as old-fashioned ("not especially original," Mike Ashley writes of the Walker outings in The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction), the three-time Shamus Award-winning Estleman is no slavish imitator of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and their fellow Black Mask alumni. Sure, Amos Walker drinks and smokes with scant concern for his health, and he regularly makes the mistake of standing too close to goons with knuckles bigger than their brains -- all of which are staples of American P.I. fiction, along with the protagonist's luckless love life (Walker has an ex-wife and too few girlfriends). But at least he acknowledges being a politically incorrect anachronism in the 21st century, which allows for some colorful introspection in these books. And over the last 24 years, since the roll-out of his first Walker novel, Motor City Blue, Estleman has not only been honing this series' prose, but infusing it with a melancholy appreciation for Detroit that almost makes the reader look back nostalgically on the belching smokestacks and clattering assembly lines that once made the city of Henry Ford and Joe Lewis great.


Mr. Estleman's Amos Walker series is quite the best modern series of private eye novels, precisely because they are true to the conventions of the genre. Think of him as the anti-Parker.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:25 AM

60-40 FILES:

A gutsy woman for Senate (THOMAS ROESER, 7/17/04, Chicago Sun-Times)

[S]tate Republicans have an opportunity to consider a candidate eager to carry the GOP flag: Elizabeth Gorman, the Cook County commissioner from Orland Park. She's different from other GOP prospects: She has won an election and is governing. Refreshing, no?

An Irish Catholic, pro-life conservative, Liz Gorman's a former Democrat who crossed over for Ronald Reagan and stayed to get elected to the Cook County Board, where she's in the thick of the fight to cut taxes and spending. She's a fireman's daughter, the only girl on Beverly's Little League team who hit a home run the first time at bat (and the only girl on a boys basketball team at Christ the King School). Gorman and her father toughed it out together when the Democrat precinct captain found out that independent-minded Liz was voting GOP. ''Control the votes that come out of your house or you'll be transferred,'' he growled. They called his bluff. Now 39 and gutsy, Gorman and her husband have three boys: Conor, Liam and Shane. With a degree in marketing from the college many Dem politicos go to, St. Mary's in Winona, Minn., Gorman started her own insurance agency, which she runs today.


All they need is a warm body and they can hold the seat.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 AM

BALANCE:

Gov: 'We do in fact have a balanced budget' (CHRIS FUSCO, July 17, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

Legislative leaders emerged from a Friday afternoon meeting in Gov. Blagojevich's office talking optimistically of finally ending an overtime legislative session in Springfield that's cost taxpayers more than $200,000.

A tentative agreement on a $54 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that began July 1 has been reached, the governor and leaders said. It should be voted on by the General Assembly next week.

While details are to be hammered out this weekend, Blagojevich -- at odds with many of his fellow Democrats, including House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), of late -- said Friday's proposal would reflect many of the priorities he set in February. It cuts spending by more than $1.1 billion to help close a $2.3 billion deficit.

"The parameters are clearly set, and there's been consensus across the board . . . that we do in fact have a balanced budget," the governor said.


Remember all those hand-wringing stories from two years ago about the dire state of the states?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM

PROVIDENCE DOESN'T WAIT ON POLICYMAKERS:

US sets sights on toppling Iran regime: Re-elected Bush would act to foment revolt, says senior official (Michael Binyon and Bronwen Maddox, July 17, 2004, The Times)

THE US will mount a concerted attempt to overturn the regime in Iran if President Bush is elected for a second term.

It would work strenuously to foment a revolt against the ruling theocracy by Iran’s “hugely dissatisfied” population, a senior official has told The Times.

The United States would not use military force, as in Iraq, but “if Bush is re-elected there will be much more intervention in the internal affairs of Iran”, declared the official, who is determined that there should be no let-up in the Administration’s War on Terror.

To what extent the official, known to be hawkish, was speaking for the White House was unclear, but his remarks are nevertheless likely to cause alarm in Europe. He hinted at a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, saying that there was a window of opportunity for destroying Iran’s main nuclear complex at Bushehr next year that would close if Russia delivered crucial fuel rods. To destroy Bushehr after the delivery would cause huge environmental damage. The rods would allow the Iranians to obtain enough plutonium for many dozens of nuclear weapons, he said.

The official also stepped up the pressure on Britain, France and Germany to take a tougher line on Iran, voicing the disdain within the Administration for the Europeans’ attempt to defuse the Iranian nuclear threat through diplomacy. Britain had joined the effort in order to demonstrate its European credentials, he said. France and Germany had teamed up with Britain because they realised that the pair of them could no longer run Europe alone.

Washington believes that the trio has been embarrassed by Iran’s failure to hold good to a deal it struck with the Iranian regime last October. Iran pledged to give UN inspectors the freedom to make snap inspections, and also to suspend uranium enrichment.

Since then, some members of the Administration have begun referring in private to Britain, France and Germany as “the Tehran three”, and to Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, as “Jack of Tehran”.


The punditocracy and the media have convinced themselves that Iraq will have so humbled the neocons that they'll be more cautios in the future. That may be true, but has nothing to do with what President Bush will do in the future. He's a theocon, not a neocon, and so has no choice in the matter. He's obligated to help people who live in tyranny, because their oppression violates God's plan for Man:
Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today, and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come. In many nations of the Middle East -- countries of great strategic importance -- democracy has not yet taken root. And the questions arise: Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom, and never even to have a choice in the matter? I, for one, do not believe it. I believe every person has the ability and the right to be free.

Some skeptics of democracy assert that the traditions of Islam are inhospitable to the representative government. This "cultural condescension," as Ronald Reagan termed it, has a long history. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, a so-called Japan expert asserted that democracy in that former empire would "never work." Another observer declared the prospects for democracy in post-Hitler Germany are, and I quote, "most uncertain at best" -- he made that claim in 1957. Seventy-four years ago, The Sunday London Times declared nine-tenths of the population of India to be "illiterates not caring a fig for politics." Yet when Indian democracy was imperiled in the 1970s, the Indian people showed their commitment to liberty in a national referendum that saved their form of government.

Time after time, observers have questioned whether this country, or that people, or this group, are "ready" for democracy -- as if freedom were a prize you win for meeting our own Western standards of progress. In fact, the daily work of democracy itself is the path of progress. It teaches cooperation, the free exchange of ideas, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As men and women are showing, from Bangladesh to Botswana, to Mongolia, it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path.

It should be clear to all that Islam -- the faith of one-fifth of humanity -- is consistent with democratic rule. Democratic progress is found in many predominantly Muslim countries -- in Turkey and Indonesia, and Senegal and Albania, Niger and Sierra Leone. Muslim men and women are good citizens of India and South Africa, of the nations of Western Europe, and of the United States of America.

More than half of all the Muslims in the world live in freedom under democratically constituted governments. They succeed in democratic societies, not in spite of their faith, but because of it. A religion that demands individual moral accountability, and encourages the encounter of the individual with God, is fully compatible with the rights and responsibilities of self-government.

Yet there's a great challenge today in the Middle East. In the words of a recent report by Arab scholars, the global wave of democracy has -- and I quote -- "barely reached the Arab states." They continue: "This freedom deficit undermines human development and is one of the most painful manifestations of lagging political development." The freedom deficit they describe has terrible consequences, of the people of the Middle East and for the world. In many Middle Eastern countries, poverty is deep and it is spreading, women lack rights and are denied schooling. Whole societies remain stagnant while the world moves ahead. These are not the failures of a culture or a religion. These are the failures of political and economic doctrines.

As the colonial era passed away, the Middle East saw the establishment of many military dictatorships. Some rulers adopted the dogmas of socialism, seized total control of political parties and the media and universities. They allied themselves with the Soviet bloc and with international terrorism. Dictators in Iraq and Syria promised the restoration of national honor, a return to ancient glories. They've left instead a legacy of torture, oppression, misery, and ruin.

Other men, and groups of men, have gained influence in the Middle East and beyond through an ideology of theocratic terror. Behind their language of religion is the ambition for absolute political power. Ruling cabals like the Taliban show their version of religious piety in public whippings of women, ruthless suppression of any difference or dissent, and support for terrorists who arm and train to murder the innocent. The Taliban promised religious purity and national pride. Instead, by systematically destroying a proud and working society, they left behind suffering and starvation.

Many Middle Eastern governments now understand that military dictatorship and theocratic rule are a straight, smooth highway to nowhere. But some governments still cling to the old habits of central control. There are governments that still fear and repress independent thought and creativity, and private enterprise -- the human qualities that make for a -- strong and successful societies. Even when these nations have vast natural resources, they do not respect or develop their greatest resources -- the talent and energy of men and women working and living in freedom.

Instead of dwelling on past wrongs and blaming others, governments in the Middle East need to confront real problems, and serve the true interests of their nations. The good and capable people of the Middle East all deserve responsible leadership. For too long, many people in that region have been victims and subjects -- they deserve to be active citizens.

Governments across the Middle East and North Africa are beginning to see the need for change. Morocco has a diverse new parliament; King Mohammed has urged it to extend the rights to women. Here is how His Majesty explained his reforms to parliament: "How can society achieve progress while women, who represent half the nation, see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence, and marginalization, notwithstanding the dignity and justice granted to them by our glorious religion?" The King of Morocco is correct: The future of Muslim nations will be better for all with the full participation of women.

In Bahrain last year, citizens elected their own parliament for the first time in nearly three decades. Oman has extended the vote to all adult citizens; Qatar has a new constitution; Yemen has a multiparty political system; Kuwait has a directly elected national assembly; and Jordan held historic elections this summer. Recent surveys in Arab nations reveal broad support for political pluralism, the rule of law, and free speech. These are the stirrings of Middle Eastern democracy, and they carry the promise of greater change to come.

As changes come to the Middle Eastern region, those with power should ask themselves: Will they be remembered for resisting reform, or for leading it? In Iran, the demand for democracy is strong and broad, as we saw last month when thousands gathered to welcome home Shirin Ebadi, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The regime in Teheran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy.

For the Palestinian people, the only path to independence and dignity and progress is the path of democracy. And the Palestinian leaders who block and undermine democratic reform, and feed hatred and encourage violence are not leaders at all. They're the main obstacles to peace, and to the success of the Palestinian people.

The Saudi government is taking first steps toward reform, including a plan for gradual introduction of elections. By giving the Saudi people a greater role in their own society, the Saudi government can demonstrate true leadership in the region.

The great and proud nation of Egypt has shown the way toward peace in the Middle East, and now should show the way toward democracy in the Middle East. Champions of democracy in the region understand that democracy is not perfect, it is not the path to utopia, but it's the only path to national success and dignity.

As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop -- as did our own. We've taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice -- and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey.

There are, however, essential principles common to every successful society, in every culture. 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 an elite. Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selecting applying -- selectively applying the law to punish political opponents. Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions -- for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media. Successful societies guarantee religious liberty -- the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution. Successful societies privatize their economies, and secure the rights of property. They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people. They recognize the rights of women. And instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people (Applause.)

These vital principles are being applies in the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq. With the steady leadership of President Karzai, the people of Afghanistan are building a modern and peaceful government. Next month, 500 delegates will convene a national assembly in Kabul to approve a new Afghan constitution. The proposed draft would establish a bicameral parliament, set national elections next year, and recognize Afghanistan's Muslim identity, while protecting the rights of all citizens. Afghanistan faces continuing economic and security challenges -- it will face those challenges as a free and stable democracy.

In Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council are also working together to build a democracy -- and after three decades of tyranny, this work is not easy. The former dictator ruled by terror and treachery, and left deeply ingrained habits of fear and distrust. Remnants of his regime, joined by foreign terrorists, continue their battle against order and against civilization. Our coalition is responding to recent attacks with precision raids, guided by intelligence provided by the Iraqis, themselves. And we're working closely with Iraqi citizens as they prepare a constitution, as they move toward free elections and take increasing responsibility for their own affairs. As in the defense of Greece in 1947, and later in the Berlin Airlift, the strength and will of free peoples are now being tested before a watching world. And we will meet this test.

Securing democracy in Iraq is the work of many hands. American and coalition forces are sacrificing for the peace of Iraq and for the security of free nations. Aid workers from many countries are facing danger to help the Iraqi people. The National Endowment for Democracy is promoting women's rights, and training Iraqi journalists, and teaching the skills of political participation. Iraqis, themselves -- police and borders guards and local officials -- are joining in the work and they are sharing in the sacrifice.

This is a massive and difficult undertaking -- it is worth our effort, it is worth our sacrifice, because we know the stakes. The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Iraqi democracy will succeed -- and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran -- that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.

Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo.

Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace.

The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom -- the freedom we prize -- is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.

Working for the spread of freedom can be hard. Yet, America has accomplished hard tasks before. Our nation is strong; we're strong of heart. And we're not alone. Freedom is finding allies in every country; freedom finds allies in every culture. And as we meet the terror and violence of the world, we can be certain the author of freedom is not indifferent to the fate of freedom.

With all the tests and all the challenges of our age, this is, above all, the age of liberty. Each of you at this Endowment is fully engaged in the great cause of liberty. And I thank you. May God bless your work. And may God continue to bless America.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:03 AM

PALMESTRY:

How a serial liar suckered Dems and the media (Mark Steyn, 7/17/04, Chicago Sun-Times)

Joe Wilson campaigned with Kerry in at least six states, and claims to have helped with the candidate's speeches. He was said to be a senior foreign policy adviser to the senator. As of Friday, Wilson's Web site, restorehonesty.com, was still wholly paid for by Kerry's presidential campaign.

Heigh-ho. It would be nice to hear his media boosters howling en masse, "Say it ain't so, Joe!" But Joe Wilson's already slipping down the old media memory hole. He served his purpose -- he damaged Bush, he tainted the liberation of Iraq -- and yes, by the time you read this the Kerry campaign may well have pulled the plug on his Web site, and Salon magazine's luxury cruise will probably have to find another headline speaker, and he won't be doing Tim Russert again any time soon. But what matters to the media and to Senator Kerry is that he helped the cause of (to quote his book title) The Politics Of Truth, and if it takes a serial liar to do that, so be it. [...]

Some of us are on record as dismissing Wilson in the first bloom of his unmerited celebrity. But John Kerry was taken in -- to the point where he signed him up as an adviser and underwrote his Web site. What does that reveal about Mister Nuance and his superb judgment? He claims to be able to rebuild America's relationships with France, and to have excellent buddy-to-buddy relations with French political leaders. Yet anyone who's spent 10 minutes in Europe this last year knows that virtually every government there believes Iraq was trying to get uranium from Africa. Is Kerry so uncurious about America's national security he can't pick up the phone to his Paris pals and get the scoop firsthand? For all his claims to be Monsieur Sophisticate, there's something hicky and parochial in his embrace of an obvious nutcake for passing partisan advantage.

Any Democrats and media types who are in the early stages of yellowcake fever and can still think clearly enough not to want dirty nukes going off in Seattle or Houston -- or even Vancouver or Rotterdam or Amman -- need to consider seriously the wild ride Yellowcake Joe took them on. An ambassador, in Sir Henry Wootton's famous dictum, is a good man sent abroad to lie for his country. This ambassador came home to lie to his. And the Dems and the media helped him do it.


The Senator's eagerness to believe the worst of his own country and the best of Saddam is especially instructive--he seems instinctively anti-American.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 AM

WITH YOU:

A Mile and a Promise (Ralph Kinney Bennett, 07/15/2004, Tech Central Station)

There's this young Army National Guard sergeant lying in bed at an Army hospital.

He's really down. He lost his right leg to a landmine in Afghanistan. Lot of hustle and bustle out in the hall. Someone's coming to visit the wounded.

Turns out it's the President of the United States.

He stops by the young sergeant's bed. They talk. It's a little awkward. What do you say to a guy that loves to run, loves physical activity, and now his leg is gone from the knee down.

But this sergeant tries to be upbeat and he's been told all about prosthetic legs and he has resolved that, dammit, one day he'll run again.

The President is impressed. Tell you what, he says to the sergeant, let's keep in touch and when you're ready to run a mile I'll run it with you.

Yeah, sure.

But, sure enough, ...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 AM

OBLIGATORY NAZI REFERENCE OF THE DAY:

Bush to Skip N.A.A.C.P Convention (BLOOMBERG NEWS, July 10, 2004)

Mr. Bush declined to speak at the convention, to be held July 10 to 15 in Philadelphia, because of "scheduling commitments," Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday, adding that the group's leaders have made "rather hostile political comments about the president over the past few years."

The group's chairman, Julian Bond, said in a June 2 speech that Republicans' "idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side by side."


Mr. Bond making even less sense than usual.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 AM

LEGS TOO:

Armstrong Gains as Tour Reaches Higher Ground (SAMUEL ABT, 7/17/04, NY Times)

With a lot of help from his friends, Lance Armstrong began his bid to take control of the Tour de France, gaining more than two minutes on his major rivals Friday and moving within striking distance of the overall leader.

Armstrong, who is seeking a record sixth title in the Tour, did everything but win the 12th of 20 daily stages, and the first of two in the Pyrenees. He was second in the stage and moved to second from sixth in the overall standing. Perhaps most important, he crossed the finish line far ahead of his most dangerous rival, Jan Ullrich, a German and the leader of T-Mobile.

Ullrich, who won the Tour in 1997, looked stricken as he pedaled up the final section of the last of two major climbs, losing 2 minutes 30 seconds to Armstrong.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM

METHINKS CABANA BOY DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH:

Values, Values Everywhere: When John Kerry uses the word "values," it's meant to send a message: I am not who I am. (DAVID BROOKS, 7/17/04, NY Times)

Of course, if Kerry really shared our values, he probably wouldn't have to tell us so every minute, and once, just once, he might actually say what the values we share actually are.

But never mind, because focus groups show that we voters like a presidential candidate who shares our values. We Americans are not really sure we have virtues, convictions or principles, which seem kind of demanding. But you get a pollster to ask us about values, which seem so much friendlier, and we're just over the moon.

And, of course, the candidates can't just go be themselves and let us draw our own conclusions about their values. These days all campaigns are based on the consultants' conviction that voters are like particularly slow-witted sheep who have to be told exactly what to think.

This is the age of meta-narrative politics. Candidates become the narrators of their own campaigns, and they pummel the moral of every story into our heads: Hi, I'm running for president and I share your values.

This is like going on a date with someone who spends the whole night telling you what a great personality he or she has.

"What are your hobbies?"

"I've got a great personality."

"But what are your interests?"

"Have I mentioned my personality, which is really, really great?!"

Kerry and Edwards are going to keep using the word "values." And, given the overmanaged structure of their campaign, they probably have a Values and Spirituality Task Force. I see a values teleconference: Oprah on the speakerphone, Joseph Campbell coming in through the Ouija board, the Dalai Lama patched in by satellite.


If you were John Kerry would your message be "I am what I am"?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 AM

SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITY:

Germans salute the man who tried to kill Hitler (SANDY CRITCHLEY AND ALLAN HALL, 7/17/04, The Scotsman)

On Tuesday, the 60th anniversary of the bomb plot, Germany will remember its most celebrated modern-day martyr, Claus Schenk, Count von Stauffenberg. Gerhard Schröder, the chancellor, will lead the tributes at a ceremony at the Bendlerblock memorial, the former military headquarters planned as the nerve centre of the revolt following Hitler’s death. It became instead the execution site for Stauffenberg, who was summarily shot in the early hours of 21 July, 1944, by SS men loyal to Hitler. Many of his co-conspirators suffered a slow, bloody death, hanging from meat-hooks at Plötzensee Prison, where there will be a service of remembrance on Tuesday.

At face value, Stauffenberg seemed an unlikely assassin of the Führer. Not only was he a war hero and a favourite of Hitler but he had been badly wounded at the front in North Africa. An Allied fighter-bomber attack in Tunisia the previous year had cost him his left eye, his right hand and two fingers of his left hand. [...]

[A]fter a long series of abortive operations, finally it fell to Stauffenberg to inject renewed vigour into efforts to eliminate the tyrant. Like other army officers, he initially supported some of Hitler’s actions - the reintroduction of conscription, the remilitarisation of the Rhineland and the Anschluss - but was gradually sickened by the excesses of National Socialism. It later emerged that he said in late 1942: "It’s not a question of telling the Führer the truth but of killing him and I’m ready to do the job."

Through contacts in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden and elsewhere, the conspirators tried repeatedly but in vain to gain support for a putsch from the UK and United States. But it was what would now be described as a "Catch 22": the Allies might have been better convinced of the worth of the opposition if more senior generals had come on board, while a critical mass of generals might have joined the plot if Allied support had been evident. The insistence on unconditional surrender, formally adopted at Casablanca, was a huge obstacle that the plotters were unwilling for a long time to accept. Many on the other side believed there were "no good Germans".

But as the Allies landed in France and embarked on their march eastwards, heading towards the Red Army forging west, the Gestapo was also closing in on the dissidents, making the need to act swiftly doubly urgent. Weeks before the eventual attack, Stauffenberg made up his mind fully to kill Hitler himself. He told his intimates: "It is now time something was done, but he who has the courage to do it must do so in the knowledge that he will go down in German history as a traitor. But if he does not do it, then he will be a traitor to his own conscience."

The conspirators planned to subvert a carefully set up cover plan, an exercise to mobilise reliable sections of the reserve army to suppress a potential revolt by the millions of foreign workers in Germany. The reserve army would then itself be used to topple the Nazi government. The operation was codenamed Valkyrie and after two false starts, on 11 July and 15 July, Stauffenberg and his adjutant, Werner von Haeften, boarded an aircraft in Berlin on the morning of 20 July, 1944, to fly east to brief Hitler at the Wolf’s Lair. They carried two bombs, only one of which Stauffenberg managed to activate on arrival, because he was interrupted by a phone call.

To make matters worse, a colleague insisted on helping the disabled Stauffenberg by carrying the briefcase containing the live bomb into the room, placing it on the floor with a massive table leg between it and Hitler.

Stauffenberg left the room on the pretext of taking a phone call and shortly afterwards, heard an ear-splitting explosion. As he and Haeften were driven away from the scene, they saw a body covered with Hitler’s cloak carried from the wrecked briefing room.

Stauffenberg was certain Hitler was dead - but although his eardrums were perforated and his uniform shredded, the Führer was very much alive. [...]

But what if Allied support had been forthcoming? What if the coup d’état had succeeded and a government of decent men had managed to take over the Germany of July 1944? Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives could have been saved: in the cities later bombed, in the death camps, on the battlefields.

If Germany at that stage had surrendered on all fronts, as the Allies wanted, and the war had ended before the Red Army overran eastern and much of central Europe, how different might the maps have looked in the second half of the 20th century?

But the putsch failed and the conspirators’ sacrifice was derided by the western Allies as merely an attempt to save something from the ruins. The Times of 22 July, 1944, described the generals who had rebelled as "champions not of liberty but of militarism". In Parliament Churchill said dismissively: "The highest personalities in the Reich are murdering one another."


A very stupid, if not outright shameful, moment for the Allies, whose political leadership had bought its own anti-German propaganda so thoroughly that they failed to seize several; golden opportunities to end the war earlier, at a time when every passing day left more and more of Eastern Europe under a Bolshevism indistinguishable from Nazism.


Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:19 AM

GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN

Lesbian Monkeys (Liesbeth de Bakker, Radio Netherlands, July 13th , 2004)

The sexual behaviour of some Japanese macaques is challenging one of Darwin's central assumptions: that of choosing the best mate to ensure the best offspring. Some apparently lesbian macaques appear to get together for pleasure - not reproductive or social gain.

According to Charles Darwin, females should be choosy, sit back and let the males compete for them. This way the females are able to select the most attractive - i.e. the most successful - male as their preferred mate. But the behaviour of some Japanese macaques is challenging this idea.

Dr Paul Vasey of the University of Lethbridge, Canada, has observed a lot of homosexual behaviour in Japanese macaques in the wild. "Some females solicit each other for sex using a whole variety of vocalizations, gestures and postures, such as hitting the ground or lip quivering. Between bouts of sexual activity they stay together in a temporary but exclusive sexual relationship called a ‘consortship'. They'll follow each other, groom each other and sleep together as a unit."

These lesbian relationships appear to be very strong. In 92.5% of the cases males are unable to break them up, says Dr Vasey: "The female, who is the object of both male and female attention, chooses to remain with her female partner rather than begin a new courtship with the intruding male."

As gay relationships do not result in reproductive success, Vasey spent many years figuring out what other benefit there might be for the individuals involved. After testing several hypotheses, it became clear that the lesbian monkeys didn't do it for any social benefit, such as alliance formation, conflict resolution or dominance demonstration. "There's no evidence for that at all," says Vasey. "In order to understand this behaviour you need to look at the history of the species, and think more in terms of evolutionary history."[...]

So, says Vasey, there is an immediate sexual reward associated with mounting and clearly some females are preferred over some males because in general females are more co-operative and less aggressive. "At that point in the evolutionary history of the species, a female might be prepared to compete with males for access to a specific partner. He might be competing for a reproductive opportunity, but from the female's perspective she's competing for fun."

Why we see instances of homosexual behaviour among animals is undoubtedly food for thought, but isn’t Darwinism becoming a bit of a postmodern joke when systematic studies of many years’ duration conclude that a species selects for fun?



July 16, 2004

Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:19 PM

REMEMBER THE GOOD OLD DAYS WHEN THEY JUST SHOT US


TV code calls for 'bias' warnings
(Tom Leonard, The Telegraph, July 15th, 2004)

Foreign news channels such as Rupert Murdoch's Fox News may be made to carry on-screen "health warnings" under proposed new guidelines published yesterday covering accuracy and impartiality on television.

The broadcasting regulator Ofcom is to ask broadcasters and viewers for their opinion on the idea, which it said was a response to complaints about coverage of the Iraq war.

The requirement would compel foreign news channels to carry labelling to alert viewers that their content was originally intended for viewers in other countries. The foreign broadcasters would still have to comply with Ofcom's rules on accuracy and impartiality.

Ofcom's proposed guidelines would also allow channels greater freedom to transmit polemical programmes, with presenters expressing strong views on controversial issues. Again, these would have to be clearly labelled to viewers.[...]

Fox News was notorious for taking a gung-ho, unashamedly partisan approach to the Iraq war with presenters talking about "good guys" and "bad guys". Last month, it was censured by Ofcom over complaints about anti-BBC bias. Ofcom also plans to give young viewers greater protection from scenes of sex and violence on television but programmes for adults will be less tightly regulated. [...]

An Ofcom spokesman said: "The draft code is designed to reflect the realities of today's television and radio environment, setting out consistent principles with the flexibility appropriate to an era of digital multi-channel broadcasting."

Oh, well, if you put it that way, I guess that’s ok then.



Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:07 PM

THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE RECOVERY:

Steven Hawking: I was wrong (news.com.au, July 16, 2004)

AFTER almost 30 years of arguing that a black hole swallows up everything that falls into it, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking did a scientific back-flip today.

The world famous author of a Brief History of Time said he and other scientists had got it wrong - the galactic traps may in fact allow information to escape.

"I've been thinking about this problem for the last 30 years, and I think I now have the answer to it," Mr Hawking told the BBC Newsnight program.

"A black hole only appears to form but later opens up and releases information about what fell inside. So we can be sure of the past and predict the future," he said.

The findings, which Mr Hawking is due to present at the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Dublin on July 21, could help solve the "black hole information paradox", which is a crucial puzzle of modern physics. [...]

According to current theory, Hawking radiation contains no information about the matter inside a black hole, and once the black hole has evaporated, all the information within it is lost.

However this conflicts with a central tenet of quantum physics, which says that such information can never be completely wiped out.

Mr Hawking said that the recapturing the information had important philosophical and practical consequences. [...]

If Mr Hawking succeeds in making his case, he will lose a bet that he and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) made with John Preskill, also of Caltech.

The terms of the bet were that "information swallowed by a black hole is forever hidden and can never be revealed". Mr Preskill bet against that theory.

The forfeit is an encyclopaedia, from which Mr Preskill can recover information at will.


It's one of those dead-end theories that could easily have been avoided by reference to faith--our souls, which are essentially information, are permanent, so the odds against information being unrecoverable have to be pretty bad.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:57 PM

ENDING HISTORY ON THE CHEAP:

Expenses We Cannot Afford (Rep. José E. Serrano, July 16, 2004, In These Times)

It is difficult to comprehend what all those zeros mean, but the sad reality is that they represent billions of dollars worth of lost opportunities for ordinary Americans. The $400 billion we are in the process of sinking into Iraq could have fundamentally transformed America—brought millions out of poverty, ended the deficit, improved our schools, trains and hospitals. With New York’s share of the cost alone, we could have hired 214,000 school teachers in our state, built 161,000 housing units for New York families or put 175,000 more cops onto our streets. With the money we’ve already sunk into Iraq, we could have provided medical insurance for every uninsured child in America for more than 12 years.

Put another way, for less than 18% of one year of Federal expenditures we've liberated Iraq from the most murderous tyrant of the past several decades and are rebuilding it into a democracy. At bargain prices like that we could do one a year until at least North Korea, Cuba, and Syria are likewise on the path to liberal democracy.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:45 PM

HANDS ON LIBERALIZATION:

Allawi shot inmates in cold blood, say witnesses (Paul McGeough, July 17, 2004 , Sydney Morning Herald)

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".


He's new to leadership so he should be cut some slack, but Mr. Allawi needs to work on delegating better.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:41 PM

WHICH WOULD EXPLAIN THE KERRY CAMP ABANDONING EVERYTHING SOUTH OF MARYLAND:

Poll: Bush widening Ariz. lead (Jon Kamman and Billy House, Jul. 16, 2004, The Arizona Republic)

The Rocky Mountain Poll results, released Thursday, had Bush at the same level as three months earlier, 46 percent, among registered voters. Kerry dropped 6 points, to 36 percent.

In effect, all of Kerry's loss went into the undecided column, now at 18 percent. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Explanations for Kerry's decline ranged from an improving Arizona economy, to voters' growing faith in Bush's consistency of policy, to Kerry's announcement in Phoenix that he would make immigration reform an early priority of his administration.



Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:37 PM

DAMN MEDDLESOME YANKEES


Moore Madness: Canadians fight back!
(Peter Jaworski, NRO. July 16th, 2004)

Michael Moore might be in trouble in America for violating the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance rules. Fahrenheit 9/11, a movie lambasting President George W. Bush for the decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, comes awfully close to being a political advertisement. The message? Don't vote for Bush. That's what David T. Hardy, coauthor of Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, thinks. He says McCain-Feingold is a "weird law" that would apply to the advertising for Moore's recent flick.

And now, a new website is claiming Moore is also in breach of an election law north of the border. When Moore waddled into Canada's June 28 federal election with exhortations to vote for someone other than Conservative party candidate Stephen Harper, he may have broken the law.

Chargemoore.com, a Canadian website petitioning Canada's election officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley to charge Moore, claims that when Moore said things such as: "You've got four days after it [Fahrenheit 9/11] opens to get people out to the polls to make sure that Mr. Harper does not become your next prime minister," he violated Canada's law.

"Michael Moore is a loudmouth who has done a good job of annoying Americans," says Kasra Nejatian, a Queen's University business student and founder of the website. "The problem is that he usually only annoys people, this time he broke our laws. Not only is he a loudmouth, he is a loudmouth foreigner who breaks our laws."

Nejatian is quite serious about having Moore charged. To that end, he's retained the services of Jonathan Denis, a Calgary, Alberta lawyer, as legal counsel. Denis explains that Moore may have violated Section 331 of the Canada Elections Act. The Section reads: "No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate unless the person is (a) a Canadian citizen; or (b) a permanent resident."

Denis thinks the violation is pretty obvious.

Of course, the downside is that the election officer is now going through the Brothersjudd archives with fine tooth comb. Time for a road trip, Raoul.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:36 PM

SHIPS THAT CROSS IN THE NIGHT:

Socialism and Prosperity? (Gabriella Megyesi, Jul 12, 2004, Digital Freedom Network)

I have been in Canada for just two weeks and already I feel at home. I feel at home not because of the landscape or climate. Nor do I have any family here. But public policy in Canada reminds me of growing up under a communist regime in Hungary during the 1970s.

I recently looked at The Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom Index, which measures the economic freedom of 122 countries (based on the ingredients of personal choice, protection of private property, and freedom of exchange). It revealed that Hungary has been doing quite well since its transition from a command economy to a market-driven economy. Its rating, after stagnating for a long time in the 1980s at 4.8 out of 10, suddenly jumped up to 7.4 in the 1990s due to massive deregulation, privatization, and a free market economic structure that made it possible to have wage incentives. I have seen these changes at work in Hungary's economy and witnessed the beneficial results.


Sadly, Brian Mulroney did more to liberate Eastern Europe than Canada.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:27 PM

I BEEN DONE SEEN 'BOUT EVERYTHING, WHEN I SEEN A WHITE ELEPHANT FLY (via Robert Schwartz)


Airbus's `Big Baby,' the A380, Fights Weight Problem (Bloomberg, 7/16/04)

Lifting a curtain at a new Airbus SAS factory
outside Toulouse, France, in May, Chief Executive Noel Forgeard unveiled
a two-story aircraft with an 80-meter (261-foot) wingspan: ``our big
baby,'' he told his 4,000 guests.

It's bigger than the parent expected. Six months before flight tests and
a year before its first scheduled public flight in June 2005, the A380
is still overweight by as much as 4 metric tons, says Tim Clark,
president of its biggest customer, Emirates, the Middle East's biggest
carrier. [...]

"Because this plane has been sold on an efficiency basis, the impact of
being overweight may be more significant for the success of the program
than on other planes,'' says Jack Hansman, professor of aeronautics and
astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
"Any extra weight is payload you're not carrying.'' [...]


Airbus can't deliver the efficiencies it has promised in range or
payload given its struggle to reduce the A380's weight, says Randy
Baseler, vice president of marketing for commercial airplanes at
Chicago-based Boeing. Boeing never found customers for proposed versions
of a larger 747 that would have carried as many as 516 passengers.

"If the plane's heavier, it consumes more fuel,'' says Baseler, 55.
"That drives up landing and navigation fees, and also maintenance
costs, especially for wheels, tires and brakes.''


Boy, it really is just like liberalism, a bloated inefficient mess, sustained only by government government power and wasted tax dollars.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:54 PM

THE ALL BLUE BATTLEGROUND:

Kerry reduces ads in Missouri, Arizona and the South (RON FOURNIER, 7/14/04, Associated Press)

Despite promises to expand the election playing field, John Kerry has reduced his ad spending in Missouri, Arizona and throughout the South in the run-up to the Democratic presidential convention. [...]

In Virginia, the Kerry campaign dramatically reduced its ad buy. Last month, he pulled his ads out of Louisiana and Arkansas.


Not only are they conceding the presidential but in LA and AR they're bailing out on a couple of their most-winnable-vulnerable Senate seats.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:40 PM

NOONE MISSES THE '70S:

How Much Worse Off Are We? (Arnold Kling, 07/15/2004, Tech Central Station)

This essay consists mostly of a deluge of statistics. But before I get to that, let me just ask you to consider what you can see with your own eyes. Is your family worse off than it was in the 1970's? Are many of the families that you know worse off? Do the people that you see in shopping malls, on vacation, on the highway, or in restaurants look like they are worse off than they were thirty years ago?

In the 1970's, ordinary working people drove Vegas and Pintos. They did not eat out much. They rarely traveled by airplane. Many of their jobs were dangerous. Do you really think that there are many working Americans today who would trade places with their 1970's counterparts?


The statistics are well worth reading, but the answer to Mr. Kling's question is so obvious as to demonstrate the deep silliness of much of Democratic (and democratic) politics.


MORE:
-PROCEEDINGS: Toward a Postmodern Egalitarian Agenda (Robert W. Fogel, August 23, 2002, COMMONWEALTH NORTH FORUM)
-SPEECH: Can We Afford Longevity?: Our Future as the New Leisure Class (Research by Robert Fogel, Fall 1998, Capital Ideas)
-ESSAY: Economists Have Problems Measuring Intangibles (Bruce Bartlett, April 7, 1999, NCPA)


Posted by Peter Burnet at 12:10 PM

FINALLY WE GET TO THE NUB OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Mandela's star shines at AIDS gathering (Stephanie Nolen ,Globe and Mail, July 16, 2004)

Nelson Mandela came to town yesterday, and everyone from Peruvian AIDS patients to Thai teenagers to a normally jaded international press corps went into a collective swoon.

The self-described old-age pensioner -- a man who is hard of hearing, plagued by eye trouble and achingly slow when he walks -- sent an electric thrill through the 15th annual International AIDS Conference, generating far more excitement and energy than any other event in a week of meetings, bickering and protests.[...]

Mr. Mandela spoke about "46664," an AIDS-awareness initiative funded by his foundation and named for the prisoner number assigned to him during 27 years in jail under the apartheid regime.

"Despite the efforts of the apartheid regime to reduce us to prison numbers and so reduce our humanity, the world did not forget," he said, his unmistakable slow, deep tones reverberating in the packed arena.

"Today I call upon all of you, every global citizen, not to forget. We must seize this opportunity to demonstrate that we share a common humanity and that it matters who my sister or brother is. We must never reduce the issue to statistics."

International donors must increase funding for the AIDS fight, he said, adding a specific plea that they "include the treatment of marginalized populations such as refugees, intravenous drug users, prisoners and sex workers."

"As former prisoner number 46664, there is a special place in my heart for all those that are denied access to their basic human rights," he said, to wild cheers from activists who are demanding anti-retroviral treatment as a human right for people with AIDS in poor countries.


Mr. Mandela’s personal suffering, courage and messages of reconciliation have earned him hero status wherever he goes and whatever he says. But did he really mean to compare AIDS patients to the victims of apartheid’s brutal racism?

If access to publically supported drugs and funds to treat AIDS is now a basic human right, does it not follow that sex with whomever, however, is as well?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:35 AM

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN:

Queen of Salsa lives on a year after her death: On the anniversary of Celia Cruz's death from cancer, a memorial takes place in New York and fans pay homage with books, films, even a musical (LYDIA MARTIN, 7/16/04, Miami Herald)

Dozens of purple roses will appear today at Celia Cruz's star on Calle Ocho.

Her favorite, they are from her husband, Pedro Knight, who this morning will be at a private memorial at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx marking the anniversary of his wife's death.

It was a year ago today that the Queen of Salsa was stopped, at 77, by brain cancer. But she was hardly silenced.

One of the Latin world's greatest legends, Cruz lives on in seemingly endless projects, some already out, some in the works. There are CDs, books, video documentaries, a film, a musical.

And slated to open in 2005: an exhibit at the Smithsonian featuring Cruz's dresses, wigs, shoes, sheet music and other artifacts.

''She spans half a century of music,'' said Miami filmmaker Joe Cardona. He has been asked by the Smithsonian to work on video for the exhibit, Cardona said. ``She was the thread through Cuban music -- and through salsa, which was hugely important.''

Cardona has spent six years working on a film about Cruz that he hopes will find theatrical distribution next year.

Also planned for 2005 is Assuca!, a musical about Cruz's life starring Cuban singer Lucrecia. Producing will be Oscar Gomez, a longtime collaborator of Cruz's and the producer of the CD Dios Disfrute a La Reina (God Enjoy the Queen), out this week on Universal Latino and featuring Cruz recordings that had never been released.

Knight seems faded since his wife's death. But he is closely watching most of the projects and will spend the weekend in New York doing book signings for her just-out autobiography, Celia: My Life (Rayo, $24.95). Then he'll travel to Miami. Wednesday he appears at Books & Books in Coral Gables, and Thursday he will be at Borders on Kendall Drive.

The autobiography joins the unauthorized biography Azucar! (Reed Press, $19.95) by Eduardo Marceles. Published in June, it made minor, if clichéd, waves by suggesting Cruz sang for Fidel Castro. Though in her autobiography Cruz spoke of the night she and other Cuban artists were roped into performing for Castro, she refused to stick around after her number and make nice, so she didn't get paid.

''If I have to belittle myself to make money, I'd rather not have any,'' she told the artistic director who docked her.


Here's a report on her funeral last year by our jazz critic, Glenn Dryfoos.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 AM

IT'S NOT THE LEFT'S FIGHT:

Iraq war: why all the shock and awe now? (Mick Hume, 7/16/04, Spiked)

Call me an old cynic, but is anybody really surprised that the British and American governments' claims about the causes of the Iraq war turn out to bear little relationship to reality? When was a war ever launched without an accompanying bombardment of black propaganda and distorted facts? [...]

[W]e have long been taught that the First World War did not really start as the culmination of international rivalries between the competing empires of Britain, Germany, France and Russia, but simply because a Serb gunman shot an Austrian Arch-Duke in 1914. When Hitler's Germany sparked the Second World War by invading Poland in 1939, the Nazis claimed that they were only acting in self-defence after the Poles had attacked them.

That might seem a ridiculous excuse to us now. But it is surely no more absurd an invention than the justification that American President Lyndon B Johnson offered for launching a full-scale war in Vietnam in 1964. In the crucial 'Tonkin incident', communist forces from North Vietnam were said to have launched two unprovoked attacks on US Navy vessels. In fact, the first of these incidents was a response to American attacks on North Vietnam, and the second one was a complete invention of US officials. [...]

The row about governments using intelligence sources to provide political support for the Iraq war seems even more surreal. What does anybody imagine the intelligence and security services are there for? To support world peace? To sit in independent judgement of the evidence, in a state of priestly isolation from political considerations? Hardly. The security services are an arm of the machinery of government, and in times of crisis intelligence has always served as a tool of propaganda. Far from crying foul as they are today, most of the media has proved readily complicit in broadcasting dubious tales about the enemy as hard news.

To imagine otherwise, one would have to be struggling with serious naivety issues. [...]

Yet Bush and Blair find themselves in more trouble at home than their predecessors faced over such blatant war lies. This is all the more remarkable since, unlike Britain's Boer War or America's war in Vietnam, the Iraq invasion ended in an overwhelming victory over Saddam's rag-tag army.

This state of affairs can have little to do with events in Iraq. However bad one believes things there to be, it cannot seriously be argued that Iraq is in a worse state than other warzones. What is different this time around is the out-of-control state of affairs in America and Britain.


Close. Actually the defining difference is that it's the first time that a conservative has ever led the Anglo-American alliance to war (George H. W. Bush, whose conservatism we can debate, essentially followed the U.N.).


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM

AT LEAST HE'LL BE HOME IN TIME TO SPEAK AT THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION...:

Ex-Chess Champion Bobby Fischer Detained: Fugitive Held in Japan on Charges Stemming From '92 Spassky Match in Yugoslavia (Allan Lengel, July 16, 2004,
Washington Post)

The hunt for Bobby Fischer, the unpredictable chess legend, ended this week when he was detained in Japan, where he awaits possible deportation on charges that he attended a 1992 match in Yugoslavia in violation of a U.S. ban. [...]

In August 1992, the Treasury Department sent Fischer a letter warning him not to go to Yugoslavia to play Spassky for the world class chess match. It explained that U.S. citizens were forbidden to get involved in "business or commercial activities" with Yugoslavia because of its role in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"We consider your presence in Yugoslavia for this purpose to be an exportation of services to Yugoslavia in the sense that the Yugoslav sponsor is benefiting from the use of your name and reputation," the letter said.

Fischer ignored the letter and headed off to Yugoslavia to square off against Spassky. Fischer had surrendered the world championship in 1975 after he refused to defend it against Anatoly Karpov of Russia. [...]

In a radio interview May 24, 1999, in Baguio, the Philippines, Fischer remarked: "America is totally under control of the Jews, you know. I mean, look what they're doing now in Yugoslavia. . . . The secretary of state and the secretary of defense are, are dirty Jews."

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Fischer remarked on Philippine radio: "This is all wonderful news. It's time . . . to finish off the U.S. once and for all. . . . This just shows what comes around, goes around."


Wow, normally to hear talk that crazy you have to pony up the $7.50 for Farenheit 9-11.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 AM

60-40 FILES:

Cellucci's return raises issue of Senate run (Raphael Lewis, July 16, 2004, Boston Globe)

Former governor Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts said yesterday that he will resign from his position as US ambassador to Canada in January and return to his native state, sparking speculation among Republicans eager to find someone to run for the US Senate if John F. Kerry wins the White House.

The seat will be open far sooner than that.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 AM

TAXING THEIR WAY TO GROWTH?:

Tax cuts postponed as France bows to Brussels on deficits (Richard Carter, 7/16/04, EU Observer)

French President Jacques Chirac will go back on an electoral promise to cut income taxes in an effort to move the French budget deficit to within acceptable levels for Brussels.

One of the main promises Mr Chirac made to the French electorate before elections in 2002 was that income taxes would be cut, but he has now announced that he will postpone these cuts for a year. [...]

But postponing tax cuts will be unpopular with voters and could reduce French competitiveness to outside investors, further slowing already sluggish growth.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 AM

TURNING THE FURY INWARDS:

Isolated and Angry, Gaza Battles Itself, Too: It is something of a historical paradox that Gaza -- poorer than the West Bank -- would emerge as the proving ground of a Palestinian state. (JAMES BENNET, 7/16/04, NY Times)

Some Palestinians glimpse in an Israeli pullout a new chance at statehood, a chance to create a model of self-rule that will spread to the West Bank, leading to a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

But 10 years after Yasir Arafat returned in triumph to Gaza under a previous experiment in self-rule, the Oslo peace process, these would-be leaders are scrambling for a way forward. The alternative, they say, is all too clear: a destitute enclave ruled by warlords and militants, an outcome they fear will doom their national movement.

As the panelists suffered under the lacerating questions, one of them, a Palestinian legislator and political scientist named Ziad Abu Amr, finally fired back: "Do you want us to lie to you concerning the depression you are suffering from? You know who is determining everything. Arafat hasn't proposed a vision for the Palestinian people."

While he spoke, a murmur swept the room. Flanked by beefy bodyguards, Muhammad Dahlan strode through the door. He was to give the next talk, "An Independent Vision."

Mr. Dahlan, for years the leader of the Preventive Security Force in Gaza, is more feared than loved here.

But he is favored by Israeli, European and American officials as strong enough to run Gaza, and he has embarked on a political campaign. He sees the Israeli withdrawal as an opportunity - for the Palestinians and maybe for himself - and he is determined to take advantage of it.

Like many other Palestinians, he says Israel has deliberately sown chaos by striking at the Palestinian Authority during the conflict, an accusation Israel denies. Now, he argues, if the Palestinians fail here, Israel will point to the example and refuse to cede more of the West Bank.

Mr. Dahlan is not a reckless man, and his speech was cautious. But then came the barrage of questions. The moderators tried to avoid the woman in black, but she would not be denied, seizing the microphone to stridently challenge what she saw as a muddled speech.

Mr. Dahlan raised his own voice in return, and his message grew stronger as well. He asked if Palestine wanted to go the way of Iraq or Libya. Palestinians could either build a model in Gaza, or embrace "chaos and destruction."


It's the genius of statehood, imposing responsibility on the Palestians for the sorry status of their society.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 AM

THE ANTI-AMERICAN RIGHT (via Danny Postel):

Neo-conservatism and the American future (Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, 7/07/2004, OpenDemocracy)

At these stress-points, it appears that the combination of a crusading idealism, an assertion of the universal applicability of American values, and the willingness (indeed eagerness) to use force to back them can overwhelm the venerable “checks and balances” considered integral to the American political process. [...]

[T]he true legacy of the neo-conservatives may be to have revealed a systemic problem that must be addressed if the American foreign policy process is to recover its consistency and predictability. The current neo-conservative moment may be passing, like a comet that streaks through the skies at regular intervals before disappearing into space. The result, in the short- to medium-term, may be a more familiar, collegial and substantive, American foreign policy. This will provide opportunities for the United States’s allies not just to agree with American policy but to influence it for the better.

But as comets return, so will the neo-conservatives’ themes - especially the preference for unilateral military power as the option of first resort. Neo-conservatism offers a recurrently powerful ideological booster-rocket in support of America’s military pre-eminence.


It's helpful to just reverse what they see as the "problem"--they are arguing against idealism, the universality of American values, American military pre-eminence, and the use of force. In other words, they oppose the nation and its history.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:44 AM

FLAKKING THE MAU-MAUERS:


NAACP Hasn't Advanced Anything in a Long Time
: Why should Bush speak to a hostile group that has outlived its usefulness? (John H. McWhorter, July 15, 2004, LA Times)

Last week, for the fourth year in a row, President Bush declined the NAACP's invitation to speak at its annual convention. Predictably, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume railed that the Bush administration failed to recognize the nation's oldest and largest civil rights group as being significant or important in any way.

The sad thing is, the Bush administration's attitude toward the group is justified.

The NAACP is stuck in a mind-set that worked 30 years ago but makes little sense today. Mfume and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond boast that the organization is committed to "speaking truth to power," continuing the whistle-blowing tradition that the organization was founded upon in 1909. This was urgent in an America where lynching was commonplace and segregation was legal.

But almost a century later, black America's main problem is neither overt racism nor more subtle "societal" racism. Lifting blacks up is no longer a matter of getting whites off our necks. We are faced, rather, with the mundane tasks of teaching those "left behind" after the civil rights victory how to succeed in a complex society — one in which there will never be a second civil rights revolution.


The problem would still seem to be racism, but it's the racism of black leadership that asks nothing of and promises everything to blacks.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 AM

REICH RISING:

The EU constitution is 'unfair', according to game theorists: Independent analysis reveals that complex voting doesn't add up (Roger Highfield, 14/07/2004, Daily Telegraph)

The European Constitution is unscientific, will not achieve the objective of "one person one vote", and will give Germany undue influence, according to a new analysis.

As Britain prepares a referendum on the new constitution, the study by scientists says that there are flaws in the most controversial aspect, the voting rules at the EU Council of Ministers.

Germany will gain the most voting power by far under the new constitution, giving it 37 per cent more clout than the UK, when they will have equal influence when the Treaty of Nice is introduced fully later this year.

Spain and Poland, who have held up the constitution in previous negotiations, will be the biggest losers.

The claims, in the journal Physics World, are made by Dr Karol Zyczkowski, a physicist, and Dr Wojciech Slomczynski, a mathematician, both from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and are backed by about 50 scientists across Europe.

Overall, the constitution favours the biggest and smallest states in a systematic way. "The medium-sized states are losers," said Dr Slomczynski.

"The vote of a citizen in one country ought to be the same as for any other member state and this is strongly violated both in the voting system of the Treaty of Nice and in the constitution."


That last bit's nonsense, but it is helpful to know that even if one man one vote is their aim they muffed it.


July 15, 2004

Posted by David Cohen at 11:21 PM

WHY CAN'T A WOMAN BE MORE LIKE A MAN (From OJ)

Bay State Nation: What if America were more like us? (Robert David Sullivan, Commonwealth Magazine, Summer 2004)

But just how liberal is John Kerry's home state? For people who actually live here, the adjective is oversimplified, to say the least. Outsiders may see the Bay State as overprotected, permissive, and complacent—or "soft," to borrow a concept from Michael Barone's new book Hard America, Soft America. But Bay State natives are more likely to view their state as a tough, competitive place that encourages hardball politics and economic innovation. Indeed, a 1998 study by California State University professor Robert Levine concluded that Boston was the fastest-paced city in the US —based on how quickly people walked, how many people wore wristwatches, and the speed of interactions with Post Office staffers. Whatever they might think in Texas, few of us in Massachusetts actually spend hours at a time listening to our iPods and reading the latest issue of The Nation at Starbucks. Most of us don't even have the time to read the latest pop sociology findings from David Brooks, supposedly every liberal's favorite conservative.

Massachusetts is misunderstood. That's not to say that every preconception is a misconception. But the caricature of the Commonwealth is sufficiently off-base as to require serious adjustment. The question is, how to set the record straight?

Perhaps the best way to define the character of the Bay State, in politics and civic life, is to ask: What if America were more like Massachusetts?

In my mind's eye, I can see you shuddering.

This is a failed attempt to make some pretty dry statistics interesting by asking, what if the rest of the country was just like Massachusetts. Fortunately, it's not, but it would help if the article actually understood Massachusetts. Sullivan presents only a snapshot of the state and ignores any historical context. Massachusetts is a northeastern urban state (3/5's of the population lives in the Boston metropolitan area), so it is more liberal than, say, Mississippi. But the key fact about Massachusetts isn't so much that it is liberal as that it is in thrall to the Democratic party. Massachusetts now has the highest percentage of Democrats in its legislature and they can, when disciplined, override the Governor's veto and do anything they wish. This article tries to boast that Massachusetts scorns federal pork, but really Massachusetts, which sends only Democrats to Washington, can expect no favors from a Republican controlled federal government.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:20 PM

TOP OF THE POPS (via ef brown):

CD OF THE WEEK: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (#3) (Henryk Gorecki)

An unknown Polish composer, writing very dark, sombre music, based on deeply religious texts, in a style that does not have instant appeal, but demands the attention of the listener for almost an hour. Hardly the stuff to outsell Madonna and Britany.

And yet, that is what Henryk Gorecki's Symphony no.3 (The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) did. In 1993, a recording with Dawn Upshaw and the London Symphonietta topped not only the classical music charts, but the popular charts as well, and remains the best-selling album ever of music by a contemporary composer.

That any classical CD should sell so well is remarkable, but for a contemporary classical piece, full of such depth of feeling to sell over one million copies is unheard of.

And most surprised of all, perhaps, was Henryk Gorecki himself, who never set out to write popular music. He was part of the radical school of composers that included Szymanowski and Serocki who became known as the Polish school, known for their difficult, dissonant sound mass composition style. The group wrote music that dispensed with rhythm and melody and focussed only on tone color - and the harsher, louder and more jarring, the better.

But Gorecki was always an individual whose compositional style has changed with time. He came late to composition but eventually became the Professor of music at the university in Katowice. He studied in Paris, and was influenced by Webern, Stockhausen, and especially Messiaen, their music unavailable in communist-controlled Poland.

Gorecki's biggest source of inspiration, however, has always been his fervent Catholicism and his respect for his Polish cultural heritage, including folk and medieval texts. For Gorecki, music should always have meaning and message.

After the 1960's avant-garde period, Gorecki moved away from dissonance to consonance, away from harshness to harmony. In the 1970's he picked up on the minimalist movement in the west and fused all these ideas and influences into his unique voice.


Funny how once you actually start trying to communicate to listeners instead of tickling your own navel and those of fellow intellectuals you can move folks to tears.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 PM

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR:

Business hits at Chirac for not reforming 35-hour week (Jo Johnson, July 16 2004, Financial Times)

Business leaders in France criticised Jacques Chirac yesterday for taking a timid and incoherent approach to reforming the 35-hour working wee